April 29, 2008

Brew Review: Ommegang Three Philosophers

Ommegang is America's foremost Belgian-style brewer. They are good, and every beer fan should be tasting some of what they offer. Tonight's offering was another solid example of the unique craftwork achieved in the Belgian style.

The Three Philosophers is their "Quadrupel" beer. Their description says:
Created by blending a rich, malty, Belgian-style ale with authentic Kriek, a classic cherry-Lambic from Belgium.

Got it? Oddly, if this was purely a Belgian-style ale I wouldn't have enjoyed it. The blended beers did much to make this an interesting beer. Overall I wasn't blown away and there are some things less enjoyable that can be noted, but overall the craftsmanship stands out.

I did things a little different tonight, pouring the 12 oz bottle into a 10 oz specialty glass from Stone Brewing (obtained at a "Double Bastard Ale" event at their brewery/restaurant a while back). It poured a cloudy gold to brown color, with minimal head that acted up a bit before rapidly dissolving. There was some light carbonation, but the beer was still active and alive without a heavy bubble presence. Hmm ...

The best thing about this beer was its aroma. It smelled like cider, raisins, apple, spice, and a lot more I couldn't quite pin down. It was intoxicating and I spent a good deal of time taking that all in. That's fairly unusual so far in my beer tasting experiences, so I made the most of it.

As far as taste, it had a certain weird thing going on at the back of my tongue, it was sort of harsh and that was a bit of a fight. Still, the taste was more mild than the aroma and had to be appreciated with a little bit of time. As several reviewers at Beer Advocate noted and the bottle advises, this should be served at about 50 degrees. It certainly improved as I let it warm up. The cherry Lambic part of this brew was quite mild initially, but presented in earnest once it warmed up. That helped things quite a bit, and should provide guidance for the next go-round.

Overall this beer rated a 4.11 by Beer Advocate readers, well above average.

Brew Review: Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA

Hmmmm ... not good.

This beer sounded quite interesting and had splendid reviews on Beer Advocate (4.23 average score!), but I really struggled with it.

It was billed as a double IPA, "without the harshness". Weyerbacher used synthetic Simcoe Hops, developed in 2000 by Select Botanicals LLC, allowing for maximum aromatic oils and minimum harshness. For whatever reason, and this is likely a purely personal thing, this went down poorly. Obviously this is nothing against the brewer particularly of such a well regarded beer, but it didn't work for me. Maybe my tastes were off, maybe it was a skunked bottle, who knows.

It's rare when I struggle with a beer as much as I did this one so I'm a little depressed at the experience. I don't know how to describe it other than that I was almost queasy in the stomach as I finished the last half of my pint. I absolutely love harsh IPA's and their power. This thing actually came across as equally powerful but with something else strange going on.

As far as the basics, it came from a 12 oz bottle poured into a standard pint glass. There was a fun root beer float type head, and the pour was your standard dark amber IPA color. Its aroma was almost candylike, quite sweet and light. The hop taste was much more pine than citrus, but there was an odd back of the mouth taste.

I asked my friend Summer of Beer Steve about this and he also didn't like it, although as we looked at his review over instant messenger he laughed that it sounded tasty right now given what he'd said about it.

It's anecdotal at this point, but Alexander D. Mitchell IV of "Beer in Baltimore" also disliked this double IPA, saying "Weyerbacher's Double Simcoe a few years back left me almost wincing in semi-pain as just too "over-the-top" in more ways than one". Yikes. Our voices are in the minority, but that's taste for ya, everyone's is a little bit different.

We're open minded here so this Pennsylvania brewery and the particular beer won't be written off, but this wasn't the best of starts.

April 24, 2008


Something popped up and I'll be out of town so BBG won't be able to report or review these events sadly. I encourage any of you out there to attend, however, and be sure to report back via comments or email what all went down.

Maryland Beer & Foodfest

10-5 Saturday and Sunday (4/26-4/27)
Ripken Stadium Aberdeen, MD
$15 adults, $10 designated drivers 21+, $10 ages 13-20, FREE 12-under

City Paper Brewfest
1-5 Saturday (4/26)
Broadway Square/Fells Point downtown Baltimore
$25/$20 in advance

In conjunction, DuClaw Brewing
After the Brewfest, walk down to DuClaw's Fells Point location, they'll be tapping two special firkins (Blueberry Bare Ass Blonde Ale and their new American style IPA, Hellrazer), plus the last of this year's Venom Pale Ale on their NITRO tap.

10th Annual Manayunk Brew Fest Extravaganza
12-4 Saturday (4/26)
Manayunk Brewery, Philadelphia PA

Beer Tastings at The Perfect Pour
Friday: TommyKnocker Brewery (4:30-7:30)
Saturday: Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel (4-8)
New Arrivals: Brewer's Art Le Canard, Harpoon Summer, Arcadia Ales

Customer Appreciation Day at Your Wine & Spirit Shoppe
Saturday (4/26), 10am to 6pm wholesale pricing on virtually all items in stock

Happy Hour Kick-Off at Victoria Gastro Pub
Friday (4/25) from 4-7 pm with free Passed Hors D'Oeuvres and $2.95 "extraordinary beers".

April 22, 2008

Fancy Feast At Brewer's Art

Well, not too fancy. A culotte steak is just a culotte steak after all, no matter how you dress it up. Even if mine came with a tasty gravy, rosemary garlic shoestring fries and a fancy lettuce salad.

A stop at Brewer's Art is something I've targeted since I arrived in town, so the visit last week was a big day. Before getting down to the nitty gritty, here's the overall impression:

It's a great place to drink beer and get lost in the building's mix of funky and classic stylings. The dining experience was still solid but nowhere near as spectacular as the overall vibe and libation experience.

Brewer's Art is located downtown along Charles Street and as you can see from the website, they picked a great building with classic white columns guarding the entrance. Once inside there's a small but respectable bar and lounge area overlooking the street. Immediately adjacent is another lounge area that serves as the gateway to the twin dining rooms and the basement bar.

I had reservations so I wasn't able to spend much time in either room, but most everyone seemed to flock to that area of the establishment. It's very relaxed and inviting.

The basement bar was quite dark and similarly small, but had a cool dark and moody vibe from the limited light and odd pieces of art. Before sitting down to dinner, the family and myself sampled several of the in-house drafts.

The old man and myself started with the Resurrection, Brewers Art's signature beer. Most everything there is brewed in the Belgian style, and is geared towards a unique drinking experience more than fitting any classic styles. This is a good thing and I think their brewers have a good touch in creating new tastes. The Resurrection itself was a reddish pour, and fairly bland at the start before opening up. After a few sips its sweet, malty character came out. There wasn't else much to say, and I'll have to try it again to give a more meaningful description. Perhaps something was going on in my mouth for that first pour that dulled the experience?

Meanwhile, my mother went for a bottle of German import Pinkus Muller Organic Hefe Weizen. My one sip of that found it to fit the Hef profile, if a bit more mild and less fruity than your normal Hef.

For a second round, the old man bravely tried something that I was a bit leery of trying: the Green Peppercorn Tripel.

BA's description: "A belgian style triple spiced with madagascar green peppercorns. A blonde ale with a hint of spice and smooth finish".

This beer taught a lesson I usually follow with beer but got stupid this time: try things! It was quite good, as it obviously carried a mild to medium peppercorn flavor. But, it was the good, floral notes from the peppercorn that came out, not the overpowering spice that comes when you bite into a peppercorn. There was a nice floral aroma to it as well, and it had a nice sweet but not too sweet taste.

Next up: the Tiny Tim, a "one-of-a-kind ale brewed with buckwheat honey, hibiscus flowers, and rosemary. An herbal, slightly floral refresher for the warm spring weather." Yep, you get a good herbal kick in this pale pour. There was actually a menthol aroma at first hit, which is decidedly unusual for a beer.

Next up: Ozzy, their "tribute to the 'Devil' beers of Belgium. This beer is light in color with a rich flavor and dry finish." This was a fresh, light pale ale.

The old man followed that with a 7 Beauties, their "country rye ale brewed with 7 types of malt, Brewer's Gold, Northern Brewer and Sterling Hops." He particularly enjoyed it, as it was a dark brown/red pour with a roasty, heavy coffee-like flavor. It was almost like a breakfast beer, if that makes sense.

Finally at dinner, mom tried a bottle of Ichtegem Grand Cru. I didn't take any notes for that, but it's described as a "oak aged Flemish ale". I finished with a bottle of Belgium's Delirium Tremens which is widely available but quite good.

Lesson: there's a tremendous variety of tasty in-house beers as well as an impressive bottle selection from around the world. Being at Brewer's Art is a great beer-drinking experience.

The atmosphere is fun as well.

Dinner itself was solid, but uninspiring. They nicely dress up some standard dishes (steak, pork tenderloin, lamb shank), but they don't really excite. This is no mark against the kitchen, but I think they've intentionally chosen hearty but bland dishes (even among the fish items grouper and char) and added a little creative touch but otherwise let the dishes avoid distracting from the atmosphere. The dining room itself is like something from a Poe novel: tall, imposing ceilings, bookshelves, white linen. It stands in contrast to the casual chic lounge area, but creates its own more subdued space.

Things improved with their dessert and cordial selection. They make some fantastic desserts (I had a chocolate torte) and offer a nice selection of after-dinner drinks.

Overall there's a lot to like about Brewer's Art. I'll be back many times. Please do go, you'll enjoy it particularly if you're going for drinks.

Brew Review: Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale

This is real-time: I usually take notes and write these up a few days later.

First things first, this beer comes out of a can and it is quite intentional. Be sure to visit the Oskar Blues website to learn why they do what they do.

This Colorado native was poured out of a 12 oz can into a standard pint glass (my giveaway pint from beautiful and elegant Del Mar Racetrack in San Diego). The head was a little large, but settled nicely and has sort of glopped itself on top of the beer with these fairly big bubbles propping it up. There's also fine layer of bubbles inbetween the glops, almost the color of the beer. Color is kind of a standard gold/amber/caramel blend, but not so see-through. It smells like your standard pale, but the hop aroma is quite noticeable. Hell, it's the definining smell.

Taste? Delicious. The can says it's hopped like a mutha, and the taste reflects as much. They're tasty hops though, and I'm really enjoying this. It's almost an IPA, in terms of hop bite and ale base flavors. But there's sort of a thickness to the beer, not so watery but not creamy either.

Good stuff. There were four Oskar Blues offerings that I found at The Perfect Pour, but went with the Pale Ale because that seems to be their signature beer. Good choice, although at some point I'll be sure to review the others. Thumbs up to Oskar Blues' Dale's Pale Ale. This is definitely a beer you can sit down to and have a couple and watch a game or shoot the breeze, so long as you can stomach a little hop bit.

April 21, 2008

What's New In My Fridge

From The Perfect Pour

Six pack (cans!) of Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale (CO)
750 ml bottle Rodenbach Grand Cru (Belgium)
16 oz bottle St. Sebastiaan Golden (Belgium)
16 oz bottle St. Sebastiaan Grand Reserve Belgian Ale (Belgium)

From Corridor Wine & Spirits

Six pack Victory Whirlwind Witbier (PA)

12 oz individual bottles the rest of the way:

Clay Pipe Hop-Ocalypse IPA (MD)
Clay Pipe Backfin Pale Ale (MD)
Wild Goose Nut Brown Ale (MD)
Clipper City Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale (MD)
Clipper City Holy Sheet Uber Abbey Ale (MD)
Clipper City Red Sky At Night Saison Ale (MD)
Flying Dog Garde Dog Bier De Garde Seasonal (MD)
Hacker Pschorr Weisse (Germany)
Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager (CA)
Smuttynose Hanami Ale (NH)
Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre Deep Mahogany Ale (DE)
Dogfish Head World Wide Stout (DE)

Couple thoughts here:
  • I'll discuss it more later, but I wanted to try beer out of a can. It's been a long time since I've had beer out of a can (back then I didn't know any better and was drinking Coors Lights and Tecates), but thanks to a tip from Summer of Beer Steve, I'm giving it a chance. The folks at Oskar Blues actually make a great case for producing high quality beers in a can.
  • I'm trying to get a taste for the smaller local breweries that I see from time to time at liquor stores. Thus: Clay Pipe, Wild Goose. I've actually had Wild Goose's award-winning IPA, but didn't enjoy it much. It is very much in the British style and not the American style. No worries though, that's why we try things and why beer is so great, there's tremendous variety and I bet somewhere Wild Goose has something I'll really enjoy.
  • Clipper City is also local, but it seems to be a much bigger name. Several of their products are intriguing and I've previously enjoyed a bottle of the Holy Sheet.
  • I haven't hyped it up yet, but Corridor Wine & Spirits is great. It's a bit out of my way down in Laurel, but their selection is above average. My old man goes there for the wine, but they have plentiful selection of six pack beers as well as an impressive wall of individual bottles from around the states and the world.
  • Little tip from the friendly clerk at Corridor: bust your tail down to Corridor if you enjoy Clipper City's Red Sky at Night. That item tends to fly off the shelves, per his claim.
So that's that. Hopefully those will keep me entertained for a while.

We Win! We Win!

Or something.

Good news out of the World Beer Cup (San Diego, CA): several Maryland brewers have won awards in the prestigious competition.

Notable: Gold medals for Clipper City Winter Storm (International Pale), Wild Goose IPA (English-Style IPA), Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter (Imperial Stout).

Other local winners can be found in Kasper's link below, and a full listing is available at the World Beer Cup link above. Congratulations to all the local winners!

(Hat Tip: Kasper on Tap)

Post-Mortem: Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival

I didn't go. I was out of town that weekend, but the Baltimore Sun's Rob Kasper and colleague Steve Sullivan went. You can read their thoughts and the names of some of what they sampled here.

An amusing take from Kasper:
When I arrived at 1:30 and saw the long lines, my first impression was that this beer festival thing was becoming a new form of adult weekend recreation.
Good observation, and probably something the Sun should find a way to make an entire article out of in the future.

Whoever thought of this particular festival is a genius. The concept is simple, but it's three items that are very much Americana and make for a great time. I believe in the 60's Congress actually went to the trouble of designating Kentucky Bourbon America's official distilled beverage.

Culturally this is a good place to hold the festival anyway, in a region with Southern ties but links to both the North and the South. Craft beer seems to be much more heavily brewed and appreciated in the North, while Bourbon is more of a Southern thing. Barbeque brings everyone together. Like I said, brilliant.

Notable beers available, per Kasper: Oxford, Stone, Flying Dog, The Raven

Anyone else go? What were your thoughts?

(Image: Spider-Man, MorgueFile.com)

Brew Review: Troegs Troegenator Doublebock

Yet another sampling from Harrisburg, PA's Troeg's Brewing.

Tonight's sample was from a 12 oz bottle, poured into a standard pint glass. You know how that goes.

It didn't stay long, but the initial aroma jumped out. It was that sweet, slightly chocolate/coffee smell you usually find in a thick, syrupy porter. The head was thick and lumpy, but quickly settled to something quite flat once I took a sip. In color it was a nice mix of brown and orange and burgundy, which seems to have been reasonably approximated on the bottle label. Nice job guys!

The taste was malty, and a little sweet. I struggled to draw out any specific flavors to reference, but just doing some quick reading on double bocks it seemed to be a more than adequate representation of the style. One thing that stood out is that this was dancing all over the "sour" areas of my tongue. I didn't really taste sour, but that's the area of the tongue that demanded attention.

Overall this is a good beer to sit down and enjoy. I had no complaints, and would drink it again. If anything I'm curious what foods would pair with it, as it might stand up really well to certain more subtle foods with its sweet, slightly creamy, just strong enough taste.

This beer earned a 3.85 (B+) from Beer Advocate reviews.

Update: Speak of the devil, The Baltimore Sun's Rob Kasper has a brief entry about bocks from last week, calling it the beer of springtime. Thinking locally, there's usually at least one bock on tap at Ellicott Mills Brewing, as they're fully committed to making German beers.

April 20, 2008

More On Gunther Brewing

Gunther Brewing was in business from 1881-1959.

It was started in Baltimore by Bavarian Native George Guenther, in limited production. Eventually, the company gained popularity as it battled with downtown "Brewery Hill" rival National Brewing Company.

Of note, Gunther was an early proponent of canned beer They contributed to the area culture by sponsoring a "Quiz of Two Cities" radio show and heavily promoting the Baltimore Orioles when they arrived in 1954.

Gunther's has changed names several times, notably during Prohibition as the George J. Guenther Mfg. Company making "near beer".

The brewery was later bought in 1959 by the Theodore Hamm brewery, which immediately eliminated Gunther products in the local market. That lasted for three years before Gunther was sold to Schaefer. They then reintroduced Gunther locally as a budget beer, but operations stopped in 1976 and that appears to be the abbreviated Gunther Brewing Company story.

Nice piece of Americana/Baltimoria.

All information was found from the following sources:

Gunther Brewing History
Gunther's Ale: February 2004 Can of the Month

(Image via this website)

April 18, 2008

Baltimore and Prohibition

From the latest edition of the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News.

1)On the night the prohibition of beer (through amendment of the Volstead act) effectively ended, brewers from across the region and the nation sent shipments to the White House. Among them, a "five-case consignment from Baltimore's Gunther Brewing Co. by "high-powered touring car".

2)In the words of authors Steve Frank and Arnold Meltzer:
No other state defined the failure of Prohibition better than Maryland, especially in the defiant city of Baltimore. Maryland was the only state to never pass a state enforcement act, proudly labeling itself a wet state and earning the lasting nickname "The Free State".

Unaided by local police, Federal agents trying to enforce Prohibition sometimes found themselves surrounded by angry mobs, pelted with bottles, and occasionally beaten.

Bet you didn't know that!

Personally I'm curious what happened to Gunther Brewing Co., so it's off to Google now.

Two Publications Of Note

I made a great discovery at the entryway of Ellicott Mills Brewing Co. last Saturday: copies of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News and the Ale Street News. Both publications are obviously focused on beer.

I gave only a cursory glance at the Ale Street News, but the MABN has a great deal of information inside. Their feature article was about "Brew Year's Eve" or "New Beer's Eve" as it was called at the time. There are some interesting Baltimore connections and side-stories.

Both publications are free at the doorway but I'll probably put in for a subscription to one or both once I review each further.

April 14, 2008


Hang in there, updates coming.

A taste of what I've drank in the last week or so:

Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat, Spaten Optimator, Weihenstephan Weis, Lancaster Hop Hog IPA, Southern Tier Unearthly IPA, Hook & Ladder Golden Ale.

April 7, 2008

Declining U.S. Economy is Good For The Macros

And thus bad for the craft beers. That's the finding from an MSN news article citing a "Beer Institute" study.

This brings us to beer, America's alcoholic beverage of choice. Shunned for years by a public crazed by fancy wines, imported beers, and micro-brews, plain domestic beer looks ready for a renaissance as consumers retrench and get back to basics. Instead of $45 pinot noirs with accents of spice, berries, and rose petals, budget-conscious shoppers will opt for the cheap 12-pack. This bodes well for Anheuser-Busch , the largest brewer in the United States and the fourth-largest worldwide.

Lester Jones, chief economists of the Beer Institute, an industry group, sheds some light on this trend in his latest industry update. Using data from a survey of consumer expenditures by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he found that while U.S. households spend about $426 on alcoholic beverages per year on average, there is a definite shift towards beer as income falls. For households with more than $50,000 in income, 41% of their "alcohol budget" is spent on beer. In comparison, this share is nearly 60% for lower income households. So, as consumers continue to feel poorer through declines in real income and home equity, look for beer sales to grow at the expense of fancier grape-based avenues to inebriation.
In other words: wine down (good), micros down (bad), everything but beer down, boring domestic superbrands up (bad). Hopefully the industry can successfully navigate these temporarily stormy seas.

Aside: Beer Institute? That makes me think of the movie Thank You For Smoking.

(Image: mindexpansion, MorgueFile.com)

Ding, Dong, (Beer) Prohibition Is Dead

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the re-legalization (through amendment of the Volsted Act).

Summer of Beer Steve passes these items along about celebratory events in the area:

  • Select 33-cent pints from 9-close and half price burgers from 4-close at Red Brick Station (White Marsh Brewing Co.)
  • $2 drafts all day and 1/2 price appetizers (bar only) and 33-cent drafts (bar only) from 8-close at Barley and Hops Grill & Microbrewery in Frederick.
Hopefully you can get out tonight and have a celebratory brew or two!

April 4, 2008


From my inbox to your life. Or something.

Columbia's The Perfect Pour is offering two tastings this weekend. Today (Friday) from 430-730 it's Merchant Du Vin Importers (tasting Sam Smith, Lindeman's and Ayinger). On Saturday from 4 to 7 it's Maryland's own Hook & Ladder Brewing. Discounts will be available during the tastings.

Also: a new arrival on their shelves is Williamsburg AleWerks (VA).

Customer Appreciation Day at Your Wine & Spirit Shoppe (Woodstock, MD) is April 26 as they're offering wholesale prices. There's also 12-pack special beer prices this week on Spaten Premium, Leinenkugel's Explorer, Foster's Lager and Stella Artrois.

There's a new tour policy at Clipper City. You must now make online reservations as they will be limiting the number of people at each session.

The next tour dates are April 12th and 26th (free) at 1 and 2:30 PM. They will feature their "Loose Cannon" and 2008 "Red Sky at Night" on tap, and both of the new Oxford Organic Ales. For $5 you get a take-home tasting glass that allows you to sample their beers.

Clipper City will have a sampling and tasting night at Hard Times Cafe April 7 in Frederick.

DuClaw will debut its new Schwarzbier "Blackout" on April 9th and 10th at its four area locations. Be sure to get on their email list for much more information about the events, freebies, etc. It seems sort of insider-ish.

(Image: Kristine Kisky/MorgueFile.com)

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival

It's coming to town on Saturday (4/5).

I love all three and would be there, but I've got family business in D.C. on Saturday.

If any of you out there happen to go, be sure to come back here with a report, I'd love to know what breweries made an appearance and what the overall scene was like.

Background Information

Saturday April 5
Maryland State Fairgrounds
From 2-6 PM (noon-6 for VIP's)
Souvenir pilsner glass allows "all you can eat" sampling of beverages
Musical guests
$35 general admission ($30 if paid in advance online), $15 for designated drivers
Save $2 by donating a pair of NEW shoes to Sister Slippers

They're promising 60+ beers and 40+ bourbons to taste.

April 3, 2008

Brew Review: Troegs Nugget Nectar

This fine Pennsylvania creation comes highly recommended from Summer of Beer Steve.

I sampled it tonight out of a 12 oz bottle poured into a standard pint.

Right away this thing carries the smell and aroma of an IPA. True to form, the bottle promises a "hopheads nirvana", with "93ish IBU's". There was a modest if undistinguished head with the pour, and it displayed an orange-amber color.

Heavily hopped beers like IPA's tend to carry a "piney" or "citrusy" aroma. Sometimes that's true, sometimes it isn't as I think there's a third smell I can't quite name. However, this time the aroma was most definitely piney. What that means for you I don't know, but it's normal and unoffensive to my general experience.

My general impression is that this has a residual hop taste. It isn't overpowering by any means, but it lingers on. For the IPA nut and "hop heads" this is part of the experience but obviously for the untrained taster it can be disconcerting. I should point out that this isn't an IPA, but rather an Imperial Amber, but the experience is about the same.

Other notes:

Initial tasting comes in real sweet, but as stated above there's a rapid bitter/piney flavor that lingers in the mouth. This is a good beer to sit down with and then wait a few minutes. I finished 90% of my pint and then went to the business of writing this. As I gulped down that last mouthful it suddenly tasted a hell of a lot better. That's kind of how wine works sometimes, so this beer is in good company if you've got patience.

Like another one of my recent tastings, this was a holdover, older bottle that had been hiding in my fridge for a while and sometimes time doesn't do good things to beers like this. That said, this tasting was consistent with the other, fresher bottles of my Nugget Nectar six-pack I'd tried.

Here's the review from Beer Advocate (4.37/A, very well regarded!), and here's a glowing review from Summer of Beer.

April 1, 2008

Stocking Up: The Perfect Pour


That's how I feel after entering Columbia's The Perfect Pour last weekend. Their beer selection is fantastic, a better version of what I've enjoyed at west coast beer/liquor chain Beverages & More (BevMo) which tends to have an impressive beer collection.

TPP's entire back wall is at least eight feet high loaded with beers from literally every style imaginable. Trying to name the collection would take forever, but trust me all but the most fussy beer nuts would enjoy their selection. From the outside it doesn't look like much, as the tiny doorway wedged into its strip center hides a decent-sized interior. They also carry a modest wine selection, some liquors, and have a respectable fridge keeping various beverages cold.

The place still smells brand new, like that construction dust smell that you either love or hate. Everything is clean and orderly and I found at least one member of the staff to be quite helpful. This store is actually a second Perfect Pour, as they own another shop somewhere else in Maryland that escapes me right now.

Their website offers nothing right now, but I did sign up for their email list. They advertise various beer and wine tastings, usually on Fridays and Saturdays according to the white board near the door as I left with my clutch of beers. On the day I went, they were pouring a Victory Prima Pils and some other Victory offering I've since forgotten. I tried the Pils and found it above average, but it's not a style I enjoy much. Still, that's a nice gesture to get a taste of a good label beer without having to make a purchase and discover it's not very good.

Speaking of tasting, the best feature of The Perfect Pour and something I took advantage of is that they allow you to buy individual bottles from within their six-pack collections. I've heard of this at Trader Joe's (but not in Maryland stores per ridiculous state law --- yet another item to be addressed later), but never seen it in action. Naturally, I grabbed a generic white six-pack holder they offer customers and selected six beers to take home. Oh, and two bombers of other brews to be listed in a moment.

Again, this is a welcome (and in my mind, wise) gesture from the Perfect Pour. Most of their beer selections are available in various four and six packs on the back wall. An employee tipped me off to this individual bottle purchase option, saying it's a way to try other beers without getting stuck with an entire sick pack. Please take advantage of that policy if you find yourself at The Perfect Pour. I wish more beer/liquor stores would be so considerate.

Feel free to argue with me about this, but for now The Perfect Pour's Columbia location gets a high grade from me. They give beer fans options, decent tastings on certain days, a clean store, helpful staff, and a vast selection of good beers. It's basically all you can ask for in the states other than making a stop at those mythical bars and beer stores with selections you wouldn't think possible.

Ok, so my beer haul from that night (remember last week, "what's in your fridge?"):

12 Oz Bottles

Lancaster Hop Hop IPA (PA)
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA (PA)
Urthel Hop It Blonde Ale (Belgium)
Ommegang Three Philosophers Belgian Style Blend (NY)
Troegs Troegenator Doublebock (PA)
Smuttynose Robust Porter (NH)

22 Oz Bombers

Southern Tier Unearthly Imperial IPA
Avery Collaboration Not Litigation Ale (CO)

All of the following will be new tastes, outside of the Collaboration, which I've had multiple times on tap at Stone's World Bistro & Gardens in beautiful San Diego, California.

Map It (For some reason Marie Curie Dr. isn't on the various map services. It's across from the Costco/in that center if you take the 95 South and exit onto the 175 East, first right and then another right)

(Image: Clara Natoli/MorgueFile.com)

Brew Review: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

This puppy is a classic. Not that I've sampled many, but this is easily the best east coast IPA I've consumed. Today's sampling was a 12oz bottle served in a standard pint.

It was caramel-amber in color, with a fluffy head and a wonderful hop aroma. With something like wine the nose does a lot of the tasting, but you can get away with a more mouth-driven flavor experience with beers. That said, this beer just smells good.

There's not much to detail about the flavor: it's a delicious, consistent IPA that is one of the standard-bearers for what a well crafted IPA should look like, smell like and taste. To me it's got sort of a slightly creamy consistency, just a little more thick than your standard IPA.

DFH's "minute" series of IPA's are well-respected, with the 120 Minute IPA a fairly expensive and sometimes hard to find option. I've yet to try it so your word is as good as mine when it comes to the 120. However, and mind you this is just my opinion and it might change: I like the 60 minute more than its well-respected kin the 90 Minute IPA. Both are worthy of repeat purchases.

Regardless, DFH's IPA's are hard to dislike. As a bonus, the original brewhouse is in Delaware (Milton/Rehoboth Beach), only a modest drive from most areas of Maryland. Dogfish Head actually has a handful of brewery/restaurants, one of which is located in Gaithersburg (closer to D.C. than Baltimore, although I'm not finding anything online about the G-Burg location, did it close?). They seem to have decent national distribution, although Summer of Beer Steve has had some difficulty locating bottles in California. It's a cinch finding them in Maryland, and they even distributed down in the craft beer averse Florida panhandle where I used to live.

Although I poured a bottle today, the Mangia nearby has the 60 Minute IPA on tap, so be sure to hit that up if you're looking for a fresher pour.

This IPA is well-respected at BeerAdvocate, with a 4.07/A- average rating. Summer of Beer Steve didn't enjoy his first go-round with DFH, but later came around after a second tasting.