August 29, 2008

Labor Day Weekend At The Perfect Pour

Reminder: drink responsibly, or better yet grab some bottles at a place like The Perfect Pour or any of several other fine beer stores in Maryland (many of them indexed on my links at right under "Stock Up").

On Friday from 5-8 and Saturday from 3-7, they'll be tasting more summer seasonals as we edge towards fall. Mentioned brews include Harpoon Summer & Summer Sampler, Troegs Sunshine Pils and Pete's Rally Cap Ale.

They'll be open on Labor Day from 10-6.

DuClaw Labor Day Good Cause

DuClaw is inviting people to head on over and get growlers filled with their various brews. And in addition from Saturday through the end of Monday, $2 from every new growler purchase and $1 from every growler refill will go to help an injured (really cute) dog named Megan.

Megan is a 4-month-old black retriever/shepherd with a "badly broken knee". Her operation costs $1,500. Full story here.

August 28, 2008

Eastern Shore Brewing Opens Friday

From my inbox:
We open tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So there you go. Be sure to email me a report if you make it their way in the coming days and weeks.

August 24, 2008

Flying Dog New Brew: Dog Schwarz

One more as we cruise the Flying Dog website and find new items to share with you.

In October they will release a smoked double lager called "Dog Schwarz", in time for the Great American Beer Festival held in Colorado. It will be a release from their "Wild Dog" series, individually bottled in 750ml champagne-style bottles, limited quantities. More on schwarzbier, here.

Its a bit heavy at 7.8% ABV, but sounds interesting.

Flying Dog Food and Beer Night

Third time's the charm for Flying Dog's (free) Food & Beer Night. The upcoming theme: "South of the Border".

Thursday September 4th, 6-8 p.m., free of charge but limit of 50 guests, RSVP to


Roasted tomato, chipotle corn salsa (Tire Bite Golden Ale)

Queso dip (Horn Dog Barley Wine)

Corn, black bean, roasted red pepper salsa (Road Dog Porter)

Guacamole (Wild Goose XPA)

Pineapple Salsa (In-Heat Wheat Hefeweizen)

Events: Flying Dog Gonzo Fest

Frederick's (late of Colorado) Flying Dog Brewery pairs with Hard Times Cafe and the Heartly House (serving survivors of violence and abuse) to create the 2008 Gonzo Fest.

It will be on September 13that the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Md. Prices are $12 in advance, $15 at the door (under 21 must be with an adult), from 3-9 p.m.

Admission includes beer, music, brewery tours, souvenir mug and chili competition samples. The chili cook-off is allegedly for the state championship. Proceeds benefit Heartly House.

(301) 694-7899

Advance tickets may be purchased at the brewery M-F 9-5 and Saturday 130-4.

Flying Dog Releases "Dogtoberfest Marzen"

Tis the season. It's a little bit dark and a lot malty, at 5.3% ABV and a modest 30 IBU's.

Flying Dog boasts it is made of 100% imported German ingredients. Make a run at this beer while it's available.

Thirst and Ten: Maryland Terrapin Style

Any Maryland Terrapin football fans? Or Navy fans for that matter, my question to you as it relates to The Wizard of Odds' "Thirst and Ten" series: where do you go before/after a game for a good brew? Particularly craft beers.

Let me know via email or in the comments section below.

August 22, 2008

Look What Arrived In The Mail

Want a good way to know when someone's a real friend? They send you the following, unsolicited, pure generosity of the heart type deal:

Russian River Pliny The Elder IPA (500ml bottle)
Lost Abbey Oak Barrel/Bourbon Aged Angel's Share (12.7 ounce)
Russian River Blind Pig IPA (500ml)
Founder's Devil Dancer Triple IPA (12 oz)
Firestone Union Jack IPA (12 oz)
Maui Brewing Co. CoCoNut Porter (12 oz can)


Those Russian Rivers are fairly hard to come by, particularly for us East Coast folk. In succession I now will be able to enjoy the No. 9 (Pliny), No. 11 (Angel's Share) and No. 46 (Blind Pig) beers on the planet, according to Beer Advocate users.

Having had a taste while on my trip to Santa Rosa a few months back, I'm positively giddy to dig into those Russian Rivers as well as the other offerings. I couldn't get enough Firestone while I was out there either. Maui is new to me but highly regarded and I love and respect their use of the can. Founders (out of Michigan) is also new, so that should be interesting.

And then there's the Lost Abbey, making Belgian inspired brews which has been my near obsessive focus of late. Good times.

Stone Night at Frisco Grille

This will be jammed with people, be forewarned.

Wednesday August 27th starting at 7 p.m.
This is something of a release party for the new (to Maryland at least) Levitation amber and the Anniversary 12 bitter chocolate oatmeal stout. In addition, Adam and the gang will be pouring 5 mystery Stone beers that they've been saving for a special occasion (guess this qualifies).
This event takes place on pint night, which typically means some local or regional representative from the brewery will be on hand to answer questions. Also, customers receive a free pint glass with the first purchase of the featured beer/beers.
Baltimore Beer guy should be in attendance, hooray.

Brewer's Alley Beer Dinner

They're calling it "A Taste of Italy"

Tuesday September 9th, first seating 5:30 (Bookend Room), second seating 7:30 (Mayor's Room on 2nd floor overlooking downtown Frederick). It is a "culinary tour through Italy prepared by Executive Chef Joseph Canlas".

$45/person (6% tax and 18% gratuity in addition), call (301)631-0089 for reservations which are required. Menu pasted below. Nice touch using nothing but house brews.

They have also announced two more beer dinners before the end of the year: October 14th and December 2nd.

Belgian-Style Wit Beer
Welcome Beer

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
Vanilla Lobster Broth and Baked Parmesan Crisp

Oatmeal Stout Potato Gnocchi
Truffled Pancetta and Blue Cheese Cream Sauce
Oatmeal Stout

Tuna Picatta
Rosemary Seared Rare Ahi Tuna with White Wine Caper Sauce and Tomato Orzo

Petite Filet Marsala
Grilled 5 ounce Hereford Beef Tenderloin with Crimini, Oyster, Black Trumpet and Portabella Mushrooms in Rich Marsala Wine Sauce
Smoked Porter

Chef Christine's Individual Tira Misu
Ginger Sabayon and Toasted Coconut
Black Frost Barleywine

This Week At The Perfect Pour

My favorite stop to find great beers. And no, they're not paying me for the plug.

Friday (8/22) beer tasting 5-8 p.m. featuring Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale and Lagunitas We're Only In It For The Money!

Saturday (8/23) Belgian beer tasting 3-7 p.m. featuring La Binchoise Blonde and Brune.

Sign up for their email list. This week's coupons incude 15% off the Flying Dog "Canis Major" mixed four pack. It includes their Gonzo Porter, their Horn Dog Barley Wine, the Double Dog Pale Ale and the Kerberos Tripel. I highly recommend it.

There's also 10% savings on their mix-n-match 6-packs of 750ml/220z bottles when you purchase the 6-pack holder for $3.99.

August 15, 2008

Beer Tasting: Stone 12th Anniversary Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

In progress ...

22 oz. bomber of this sucker poured into a nonic shaped pint glass, dark black, one finger head which is surprising as Steve from Summer of Beer couldn't coax a head out of his pour. There's a certain "Stone"ness to the aroma, a certain hop and malt character. The obvious whiff of coffee, but not overpowering which is good. Roasted grain.

Nice creamy first sip, a bit watered down for a craft stout, which is fine by me. No notable alcohol flavor -- again, nice. There's a certain mellow sweetness to this, not just malt, which I'm guessing is the chocolate working its magic. I'm not picking up the bitterness necessarily, but an overall more smooth profile.

There's a ton of writing on the back of the bottle, but the ingredients are the important part: barley, oatmeal, chocolate, hops, water and yeast. Easy does it, right?

I'm curious how this would be on tap (hopefully I'll have a chance to find out at the Stone night at Frisco Grille on the 27th), better yet on cask.

Going down better than expected, as this is my first real roasty, heavy beer in a while. I've been on a major Belgian beer kick, even avoiding my customary ridiculously hopped IPA preference. Maybe the tastes are changing? We'll find out, in time. In the meantime this isn't bad, I'm enjoying it cold but things will almost certainly improve as the beer warms up a few degrees.

Back! OK got sidetracked watching this. A wine guy doing beer, interesting. That's like when I throw a few great beers in my old man's direction. He's coming around to beer a lot more than I'm coming around to wine. I don't think that's an accident, and he's a huuuuuuge wine guy. Moving along.

I'm finally getting the chocolate out of this, it's quite good. The chocolate aspect, not so much the beer, not to knock this painstakingly crafted Anniversary offering from Stone, the beer gods of all beer gods in my world. This thing is getting a little more thick and creamy, without being slick, which I like. The chocolate is starting to come out. Its a little more bitter now, which might be the chocolate or it could be the alcohol too. The back of my tongue is now very much engaged after feeling sort of lonely for a while there.

Wrapping things up ... nice offering, high quality, few complaints although lacking some distinction. Interesting choice with the bitter chocolate. Didn't pick up much of the oatmeal or maybe it presented itself in the creamy character of the beer? Good stuff regardless, be sure to grab a bottle at The Perfect Pour if they have any left.

Coming Soon

The Vouch List and the Target List.

This way, you'll have a better idea of where I've been, and where I'm going, as far as breweries, bars, brewpubs and the like.

Review: The Owl Bar

Just down the street from Brewer's Art in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood, inside the lobby floor of the Belvedere Hotel is The Owl Bar. It is so named because during Prohibition days it was a speakeasy and the giant owl structures overlooking the bar would signal impending raids.

Today there are no such worries, and they are but a bit of the many eclectic items decorating this old bar and dining establishment. They have mounted zebra and other animal heads, other assorted owls, etc. on display throughout. The brickwork near the ceiling is rather elaborate and notes to a much different era than our own. There are some cozy booths to sit down in, but most of the dining is between the booths and the bar, with tables galore. They also have a brick oven off to the side for the in-house pizzas. Nice touch.

The bar itself is loooooooong, with two rows of tap handles at opposite ends of the bar. They have the usual all audiences stuff like Stella Artois and Sam Adams, but also a few craft offerings. Those include two in-house brews, the "Owl Pale" and the Ole something or other I've since forgotten. Also: Troegs Troegenator seems to be a regular, and I saw a Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, a Shiner Hef and a Leinenkugel Summer Wheat available. Nothing too fancy, but enough to intrigue.

The dining menu looked solid as well, including Bang Bang Shrimp which I need to try at some point. Happy Hour is impressive as myself and my guest were able to turn jumbo portions of nachos and Old Bay wings plus four pints for less than $18. The Old Bay wings were new to me, but our bartender sold us on having to try them to be a true Baltimorean. They were delicious, with more of a salty flavor than an old bay flavor, but the key was the wings being fried. Not enough places do that right, there was no slimy skin or slightly undercooked chicken meat to be found, just moist, crispy skin and meat.

The Owl Bar is listed at Beer Advocate, so they're seen as a place to enjoy craft beers, but they're far from the first place I'd go. They did have some stuff I don't see often which is part of the appeal, but they also make sure to cater to all audiences which isn't the worst business decision ever. The rest of the experience is quite nice and worthy of more visits, partaking in the history of the place and drinking downtown somewhere other than Fell's Point or Canton.


Brewer's Art What's On Tap

I was at The Brewer's Art last night, hoping to sneak in one more pouring of their Nein! German style Kolsch. It was not to be as that incredibly delicious seasonal brew had been pulled.

In its place is their Sublimation, which was solid, particularly in the nose. Their description:
This blonde, abbey-style ale is named for the physical process of turning solids into spirits. A semi-sweet nectar with just a hint of herbal bitterness (6.0% abv).
Not bad, there is a very light and persistent odd taste to it which I assume was the herbal bitterness. Still had that Belgian mild bitterness and a touch of sweet that I love.
The usuals are also on tap (Resurrection, Ozzy, House Pale, Proletary) along with the seasonal Wit Trash.

Personally I'm looking forward to the return of the Green Peppercorn Tripel and to sample their winter offerings: La Petroleuse and St. Festivus. Regardless, you absolutely cannot go wrong with the either of the Resurrection or Ozzy.

Victoria Gastro Pub Beer Dinner

Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia is hosting its first-ever beer dinner. It will be on Tuesday September 16 from 6:30-10:30 p.m. and feature beers from Maryland's own Clipper City Brewing.
Winter Storm Cask Release

Jumbo Lump Crab, Avocado
Ruby Red Grapefruit Salad
Loose Cannon

Yucatan Niman Ranch Pork
Seville Orange, Banana Salsa
Hang Ten

Colonel Kricki's Buttermilk Fried Cornish Game Hen
Jalapeno Corn Bread Muffin & Braised Mustard Greens
Small Craft Warning

Peg Leg Imperial Stout Float
Espresso and Vanilla Gelato
Bittersweet Chocolate, Fresh Bing Cherries
Peg Leg Imperial Stout

Reservations are $85/person, and can be made by calling (410)750-1880. Tickets go on sale Wednesday August 20, but are available now to beer club members along with a 10% discount.

AIDA Bistro Beer Dinner

AIDA Bistro in Columbia will have a beer dinner on Tuesday August 19 at 6:30 p.m. They will have a four course menu plus Amuse.

The featured beers will be Troegs and Clipper City, with their respective Brew Masters slated to join.

$55/person, reservations at (410)953-0500

Events: The Perfect Pour

From this week's email:

Great Divide tasting this Friday from 5-8 p.m. Ken from Legends will be there, pouring the Wild Raspberry, Denver Pale Ale and IPA.

On Saturday from 3-7 p.m. they'll be tasting Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale from Black Sheep Brewery and Anderson Valley's High Rollers Wheat Beer.

New arrivals in the store include Sierra Nevada Anniversary Ale, Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale and Green Flash's Le Freak.

Also note, there will be a "Gala Tasting" on Saturday Sept. 6 from 3-7 p.m. There will be beer & wine tasting stations with food provided by Mamma Lucia (two doors over and very tasty!) along with special discounts during the event.

August 14, 2008

Side Beer Trip To Washington D.C.

Suffering under the occasional fit of restlessness, I trekked down to Washington D.C. last Saturday for a good old fashioned beer trip. 'Twas a good decision, and a good time.

Thanks to the help of Google and the Beer Advocate forums, I was able to patch together a rough plan of what to hit. My goal was to get to 3-6 places, with about a beer at each stop, and hopefully nail down a few of those stops on the Metro rail instead of driving all around town and trying to find parking everywhere. Mission accomplished.

In order, my stops were:

1)Pizzeria/Birreria Paradiso
2)Capit0l City Brewing Company
3)Regional Food & Drink (RFD)
4)Cafe Berlin
5)Dr. Granville Moore's

There's much more to do in D.C. and I'll keep that in mind for future trips, heading to places like Belga Cafe, Brasserie Beck, The Big Hunt, the Brickskeller, and the District ChopHouse & Brewery.

Without a doubt, the two best stops were the first and the last. I arrived at around noon in Georgetown, right around the opening for Pizzeria Paradiso. After fighting to find parking, I discovered their much hyped downstairs bar hadn't opened yet. However, they sent me over to the smaller upstairs bar and I was told all their tap offerings were available just the same. Cool.

The beer menu was tremendous, with about 18 tap offerings (mostly Belgian beers including a ton of hard-to-find brews) and almost limitless and eclectic bottled selections including rarities. I ordered a glass of Augustijn to go with my terrific pizza. What's cool is that after my pizza I tried a "build your own" 5 oz. taster flight. They let you pick 3 or 4 draught beers (or choose their preset offering) for $9 or $11. I went with the Belgian flight, knocking down an Avril, Hopsinjoor and XX Bitter. Good stuff. It was nice to relax and people watch, as Georgetown was hopping and filled with beautiful (and not so beautiful) people.

After that it was a fairly quick if turnabout-crazy drive across town to Union Station. From there I grabbed a quick ride to the Metro Center stop and walked a few blocks over to Capitol City Brewing Company. It was hot and I made a bland choice in going with the Boysenberry beer. Eh. The big windows and high ceilings are inviting and some of the offerings looked interesting but that particular beer hastened my departure. They have about five house beers and another five seasonals available.

From there it was a quick walk over to the bustling Chinatown, and RFD. RFD is the sister establishment to the Brickskeller, which boasts the world's largest bottled beer menu. I heard many complaints about Brickskeller and passed. Notably, it seems you have to order several beers before they have something in stock. That adventure was for another day, so RFD it was. The interior was boring, but I enjoyed my first ever Bell's beer. I chose the Oberon, which was refreshing. They had about 18 tap offerings as well, plus a decent sized fridge stocked with great beers.

From there I hopped on the Metro again and got lost for a while, grabbing the wrong train. Happens. After rerouting, it was back to Union Station and a quick walk to a nice German restaurant called Cafe Berlin. They usually have 3-4 beers on tap, and I went with the hef (I think it was Paulaner?). They serve them in cool half or full glasses with various German brewery logos. A guy a few tables over was actually drinking out of one of those oversized beer boots. I try not to listen in to conversations but he mentioned to someone at another table that was the only boot there and he'd gotten there early to ensure the boot was his for the evening.

So uh, if drinking authentic German beer from a boot is your thing, Cafe Berlin is the place to be.

From there I grabbed the car again at Union Station and made my final stop at Dr. Granville Moore's. GM's doesn't open until five, just a word to the wise. This place was featured on FoodTV's "Throwdown" with Bobby Flay, which is how I heard about it. They're famous for their Belgian food, particularly the mussels & fries (moules + frites). But of course they have Belgian beer, and who can pass that up?

Some people may be a little put off by the neighborhood this place is in, but it reminded me of my days at USC, living near a poorer section of town. I can see how people say parking can be a hassle, but I found a spot on a parallel street just behind GM's. Unfortunately there's no easy Metro or transit access here (or Pizzeria Paradiso, for that matter), so driving is the best bet even if it's only a mile from Union Station.

The upstairs area of GM's was featured in the TV show, but I opted for the dark and moody downstairs bar. I ordered up some frites with ALL their available dipping sauces and went with a Gulden Draak and something Donker. Both were quite delicious and served in appropriate glassware. GM's only has about four taps, but a tremendous bottle list of Belgian beers, many of them listed on the chalkboard as you enter.

Thing were quiet until about 630 when a steady stream of people rolled through. It's a tiny place, so that was my cue to surrender the seat for a more thirsty soul.

Not a bad day, in particular at Paradiso and Moore's. Washington D.C. clearly has a lot to offer and explore when it comes to beer and I'll definitely be back (hopefully while the weather is still warm!).

August 13, 2008

DuClaw New Release: Mysterium

A "Belgian spiced ale":
This golden Belgian ale will mystify you with its medium body, its subtle malt and hop profiles, and its complex blend of spices. Fruit flavors, produced by a special strain of Belgian yeast, combine with Belgian candied sugar, chamomile, grains of paradise, and cardamom to create an unfiltered ale
Sounds interesting.
Check it out at the release parties at DuClaw's four locations today and tomorrow. Note: it looks like you have to be a member of their Pint Club to participate.

Arundel Mills
Wednesday, August 13th (6pm - close)
Thursday, August 14th (6pm - close)

Bel Air
Wednesday, August 13th (7pm - close)
Thursday, August 14th (7pm - close)

Bowie Town Center
Wednesday, August 13th (6pm - close)
Thursday, August 14th (6pm - close)

Fells Point
Wednesday, August 13th (6pm - close)
Thursday, August 14th (6pm - close)

DuClaw Real Ale Festival 2008

Just found this on the DuClaw website.

DuClaw Brewing Co. Real Ale Festival 2008
Saturday Sept. 6th 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
DuClaw Brewing in Bel Air Md.
$45 for tickets
Live music, free buffet, rain or shine
Portion of proceeds to Fallston Animal Rescue Movement
Sale of individual Colossus (21%) bottles

12 participating breweries:

Barley and Hops, Brewer's Art, Clipper City, Pub Dog, DuClaw, Flying Dog, Franklin's, Growlers, Olivers/The Wharf Rat, The Raven, Red Brick Station

August 8, 2008

Power Plant Live

Personally I've never been, just curious if there are any decent "beer" places there?

Just saw this at Beer Advocate, looks like a place called Luckie's Tavern will open there with 16 beers on tap (hopefully interesting ones!) and serve "grilled cheese, steak and fries". Sounds like my kind of place.

August 6, 2008

Beer Breakfast At The Royal Mile Pub

Interesting concept. Be sure to check Yours For Good Fermentables for all the details.

Scheduled beverages:

Clipper City Hang Ten Weizen Dopplebock, Beer Bloody Mary (?), Berliner Weiss w/syrup, Aecht Schlenkerla Bock, Paulaner Salvator, Warsteiner Pils and Troegenator Dopplebock.

I'm not a fan of the Hang Ten, but the Troegenator is pretty darn good and so are some of the food offerings. Think greasy sunday, post-hangover breakfast at Denny's gone European with pomme frittes, pork schnitzel, German sausage, liverwurst crostini, potato pancakes etc. Mmmm ...

$35, (301)946-4511 for reservations on August 24/10 a.m.

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA Tasting

Courtesy of the fine folks at Dogfish Head who actually sent me a bottle of this (as well as a Palo Santo Marron and a DVD about the Palo Santo Marron and some stickers) a few months back. The cool thing is that it has been aged a little over a year, smoothing out the flavor profile just a bit.

And like the Palo, I'll be simultaneously tasting with my good friend Steve from "Summer of Beer". My bottle is dated 6/10/2007, his a 10/10/2007.

Poured into a Dogfish Head logo snifter purchased at the Milton, DE brewery facility. Initial pour, rapidly dissipating, bright yellow head. Slightly cloudy amber color. Unusual aroma, not very pungent surprisingly. Sort of got a root vegetable smell/earthy. No hop aroma that I'm aware of.

Sweet, fruity flavor, like passion fruit maybe. Only mild bitterness. Definitely not what I expected. A lot of people have called this a sweet beer, and I agree with them.

Steve just said something really interesting, and after a few sips I think he's dead on about this:

(9:59:22 PM):
the finish is really strange
Steve (9:59:25 PM): like sugary something
Steve (9:59:34 PM): like burnt marshmallows
Steve (9:59:41 PM): like when you set the mallow on fire
Steve (9:59:49 PM): and then you taste that carmelized burnt outside part

I wonder when the 21% alcohol starts to kick in?

Still getting lots of sweetness, starting to get a bit sticky now. Some kind of fruit in there, haven't quite nailed down but its refreshing. Definitely not like any beer I've ever had before.

Another good offering from Steve, who seems to have a good grasp of this beer tonight:

(10:02:59 PM):
i hate to use the term for so many beers but maybe it's like an orange marmalade
Steve (10:03:13 PM): certain hops really give off that sorta sweet orange flavor

After a while this tastes distinctly Dogfish Head. It's interesting how certain brewers have a trademark flavor no matter how differing the styles they brew. If I'm blindfolded and trying a bunch of beers and you try to sneak anything Stone or Sam Adams in front of me for example, I'll know. Same thing with Dogfish Head, it seems.

Its hard to describe the specific uniform taste, but it never fails to reveal itself.

Anyway, this is nice, much less harsh than I would have expected. If not for the ridiculously potent alcohol level (21%), I'd probably say this is a beer you could repeat in a single sitting and many times over the months. That's an unusual thing given my mixed relationship with several other DFH offerings (although the 60 and 90 minute IPA's are tremendous and are good early and often).

Many thanks to Sonia at Dogfish Head who sent all these fine DFH offerings to me. It's been tremendous fun. Now if you don't mind, I have a few more ounces of this DFH 120 Minute IPA to enjoy.


Trappist Achel Tasting

I'm on a Belgian kick lately if you can't already tell.

This is a 330ml bottle of a dubbel, and I'm pouring it into a tulip glass (although a snifter probably works even better).

Ohhh yeah, big head here, lots of cool looking bubbles there. It looks a bit more like that crunchy snow that could use a little more water. Smells sort of like a lager, but with some spice. Naturally for a dubbel/bruin it's dark. Held against light reveals some purple, some burgandy, even a little green tinge.

The first taste fires right away with malty sweetness and body. It's a little tart/bitey, but not what I'd expect. Alcohol is definitely part of the flavor profile. There's a little fruit in there, oh so quiet, something between a mild apple and mild cherry. Yeah another big alcohol blast there. Normally that'd be off-putting but I've run into several beers lately that are far worse in this department.

Enjoyable so far, each sip is a little better than the last. A certain tart/sourness is pervasive, which I don't mind but is worth noting. A lot of Belgian beers seem to be that way. Nothing too sweet here, definitely a little more subdued on the sweetness compared to say, the respected Belgian dubbels. The sweetness here seems to be more from the malt than candi sugar or other additives. I love the candi sugar taste, but there's nothing to complain about here.

Refreshing stuff here.

Update: I'm a dummy sometimes. Changed from BSDA to dubbel, which was what I thought when I first tasted. Ahh, distinction. Whatever, I like dubbels, and you should too!


August 5, 2008

Victory Brewing Beer Dinner

From the pages of Mid Atlantic Brewing News:

Victory Brewing Company Beer Dinner to be held Wednesday August 6th at Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg, VA. Special guest Bill Covaleski.

More Changes

I'm going to make this more Maryland-centric (is that a word?), so effective almost immediately, the links sections on the sidebar for Delaware, Pennsylvania etc. are going bye bye.

August 4, 2008

Trying Out Brewers Art's "Le Canard"

And by trying out, I mean I'm locked in for a 750ml bottle here, purchased at The Perfect Pour.

It is a seasonal offering from Brewer's Art, in their description a "strong, copper-colored ale with a mild, sweet malt character. Brewed with lots of Belgian candi sugar and slowly fermented for a month. Sublime (8.5% ABV)".

Got that?

Notes: I love the cork and cage setup, always a good start. The cork was incredibly stubborn on the way out, however, and embarrassed my normal steady hand with a loud pop after what I thought was a nice finesse opening. Oh well.

True to form there's a coppery, almost honeyish color. Cloudy. Massive but consistent head, lots of medium sized bubbles, quite fun to look at. Lots of spice in the aroma. Good start with that typical Belgian bitey/stingy hit on the tip of the tongue to start. Initial mild sour/tart flavor through the back and sides of the tongue. I think a little while that will start tasting more sweet than tart as the candi sugars (and malt sweetness) come to the fore.

Starting to sweeten just a touch. I should mention I poured this in a snifter (bearing the Dogfish Head logo, purchased at the Milton, DE location). I love drinking out of my tulip glass, but Beer Advocate suggested a snifter over a tulip. I'm getting more of the candi sweetness than the malt.

Really smooth to drink after the peppery, active liquid start. Creamy but not syrupy, about where this style should be. Well done on many of the technical elements (beer BS talk alert!). Not my favorite beer ever, but this is fun and I'm pretty much enamored of everything I've tried at Brewer's Art.

Second pour: another massive head. I've got a room temp glass and the bottle's started to warm up as well, so that shouldn't be the problem. Lots of proteins in the beer, perhaps, or just a terrible pour, heh. Whatever, I can wait. The aroma isn't going to knock your socks off, straightforward for a BSPA, but still nice with the spice notes in there (is that nutmeg? coriander? Maybe even a little banana fruitiness).

Ok, I'm satisfied, this is a really nice beer. Score one yet again for Brewer's Art, our surprisingly secret imaginative slice of the best of Belgian beer, right here in Maryland. Be on the lookout for their bottled releases and buy some (save me a few!).

Update: just switched to the tulip glass, this seemed to help. I'm getting a little more complexity here, a little more malt sweetness and complexity. Yes, glassware matters! Be sure to google around and find a place for some good beer glassware or pick some up at Crate & Barrel type place or breweries themselves.

Maybe I'll review the Ozzy later in the week, I've already consumed two or three bottles of that in the limited time since its bottled release, with another one in my fridge crying out to me every day "drink me! drink me!".

The canard has spent a lot more time on the shelves and isn't as popular, but it's much better than I thought. Maybe it's the packaging? Sort of a drab brown label with a duck just chilling out. One thing beer bottles (and beer bars!) could use more of is identification. There's still sort of this speakeasy feel to beers, like you're supposed to know ahead of time what someone's beer is by the name. This Le Canard bottle, all it says is "Ale". Being an ale man and a Brewer's Art fan, that should be enough, but for the casual, new beer person I think a little more explanation is in order.

Ale is simply too broad of a descriptor, as is the physical appearance. Even in decent light it was a bit challenging to see if it was a dark or light liquid. Why not just write "Belgian Strong Pale Ale" on the bottle? Many people still might not understand what that means, but once they begin to try more styles they can begin to categorize it in their minds.

Same thing at beer bars. I go crazy when all that's listed is the brewery and the name and maybe a one word style reference such as "stout or IPA". That's good, but what kind of stout? Plain Jane stout? Oatmeal Stout? Flavored stout? Is it a regular IPA, a double IPA, a triple IPA? English style or Hoppy West Coast style? These things matter and as informed as most of us beer folks are we don't always remember each and every brewery's exact detail in our heads.

Sure, part of the fun is trying (and Lord do I blindly try things), but a little extra information never hurts. Just sayin'.

August 3, 2008

New Beers At The Perfect Pour

My favorite beer store in Maryland, FWIW.

Southern Tier Creme Brulee
Stone 12th Anniversary
J.W. Lees Harvest in Port Casks

I've had bottles of the Creme Brulee and Stone 12th. The Creme Brulee was well executed, but I thoroughly didn't enjoy the taste. The Stone 12th was tasty but I was a bit buzzed at the time which made it a little more difficult to accurately review and have since gone back to purchase another bottle.

Dogfish Head: New Brew Theobroma

Copy and past follows.
This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish Head’s Theobroma (translated into 'food of the gods') is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs (from our friends at Askinosie Chocolate), honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds).

Theobroma is 10% abv and will be available in Champagne bottles for a September 2008 release.
Sounds relatively interesting, although I've found DFH's experimental stuff to be hit-or-miss.

Dogfish Head: More Tours

From the inbox:
Since the spring, we've added even more fermentation tanks (more beer available for you!), a super-fantastic HVAC/humidity control system (happy co-workers!), and completely re-vamped tour program (happy visitors!).

We'd love it if you came to check out the brewery and all the new stuff. Our spruced-up Tasting Room now has regular sampling hours and we now offer lots 'o tours throughout the week! The tours are free, but we do ask that you make a reservation to reserve your spot (and please wear closed-toe shoes) - we want to keep the tour groups small enough so you can hear what we're saying over the din of the brewery.
Speaking as a tour veteran, its quite difficult at times to hear the tour host. I realize I've yet to write about the visit to the brewery and brewery restaurant, but it's coming don't worry.

Slight Change In Format

Instead of a weekly massive events update, I'll simply post interesting events or beer news as I come across it.