November 28, 2008

The Masala Mama Shall Be Ours

Some brewery called Minneapolis Town Hall makes the world's highest-rated IPA on It is called Masala Mama and my friend Steve who writes Summer of Beer has managed to acquire a growler of this hard to find beast in anticipation of my trip out here.

I'm heading his way from San Diego today, so hopefully we'll be able to split that and see what the great reviews are all about. Nice friend, huh?

November 27, 2008

Blob's Park Progress

Still unopened, but there's a YouTube video of their progress. Beer steins, a large dining hall, tables, etc. The usual as they build towards opening. German beer/dining halls, why do I love thee so?

Pazo Needs Great Beer

I recently went with the family to what amounted to an enjoyable and joyful dinner at Pazo, in Harbor East. Pazo is an up-up-upscale tapas place. The food is mostly excellent to put it mildly.

But this is a beer blog. And as much as my wino old man loved the wines he had, and the great recommendations from the waitress, the beer offerings were just considerate enough to get by.

Its not my business to push beer on places that clearly won't make huge money from beer anytime soon. Pazo is upscale and beautiful and people go there to spend money, and beer isn't usually associated with that. But perhaps times are changing.

They did have a limited bottled selection, and I enjoyed my Pilsner Urquell's. If I remember correctly they also had a Stella Artois and several others, so there was at least some attention to beer, but no taps (particularly the great Ozzy and Resurrection from Brewer's Art), no 750 ml bottles of something special, but loads of potential to entice an influential crowd with great beer.

Ever read Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point? Social phenomena often grow through mavens, connectors and influencers. There's plenty of all three hanging out at Pazo. Its a great place to make craft beer compete with wine among the ritzier crowds.

Regardless, head to Pazo with or without beer. Its fun and delightful in its own classy way. But if you do, maybe sneak in a word here or there about trying to introduce the guests to great beer.

San Diego Day II

On this day I was finally able to check out the famed Pizza Port. Pizza Port is a pizza and beer place that is basically the same company as the great Lost Abbey Brewing. Where Lost Abbey operates as a Belgian inspired brewery with tasting room, Pizza Port is the classic pizza and beer joint, except with incredible beers. There are three Pizza Port locations, in Solana Beach, Oceanside and San Clemente (Orange County).

I made a stop at the Solana Beach one since it was easily the closest of the bunch. Unfortunately it also happens to be the smallest, so there was no bar, but rather a walk-up order counter and their famous first-come picnic table seating. Not feeling supremely hungry I ordered some beer buddies (see their menu) and a Lil' Wednesday "Extra Pale" Belgian pale ale. I've got a thing for Belgian style beers, and this thing lived up to the general style. It was exciting, light and refreshing but with that weird flavor created with Belgian yeast, a creamy texture, slightly cloudy, just hit the spot.

After that I ordered what I think was called Black Spider, a black west coast pale ale, on cask. Usually I'm conservative when ordering new beers and I had wanted to try several other of Port's options, but the risk paid off, another delicious offering with a huge frothy head thanks to the cask kicking just as my pour went through.

Pizza Port has exactly the right concept of family friendly vibe with various video games and pizza on the menu, to go with that beachy feel. There were several surfers taking a break inside while I was there. Its a few blocks from the beach in one of my favorite beach areas in San Diego, Solana Beach, not far from the Amtrak station there and a street designated purely for artsy type shops. The pizza + beer thing reminded me of the Russian River Brewpub in Santa Rosa. Its all very relaxed and unlike most pizza joints paired with great beer.

I guess at the other two locations there's an actual bar to sit down to, and multiple levels. Next time. On the way out they had memorabilia, glassware and a few bottles of their own creations as well as those of Lost Abbey for sale.

After that I started getting a little beer heartburn, which seems to happen after I've been drinking strong for a few days. Its painful and slows me down so the rest of this day's trip was colored by that.

After leaving Pizza Port, I ventured down to the AleSmith brewery hoping their tasting room might be open. No go, however, as they're only open on Friday and Saturday.

From there I almost decided on a return trip to Ballast Point since I had so much fun, but instead went to Stone Brewing Company's World Bistro and Beer Gardens. I've been here a million times before but its always a great stop with all it has to offer. Unfortunately the heartburn was still flaring up so I grabbed a single beer before departing. It was an Echt Kriekenbier, another Belgian offering. I should have enjoyed this more, as its one of my favorite beer styles, a Flemish sour cherry ale and quite tasty when one is not in pain, heh. The rest of Stone's draft and bottle menu was great as usual, so a return trip would definitely be in the works.

However, that was it for Day II of the beer adventures.

Follow along with yet another custom Baltimore Beer Guy beer map.

San Diego Day I

Documenting beer travels in one of the craft beer meccas of both America and the world ...

My first stop was at a place called O'Brien's Pub. Its a bit of a dive, but they absolutely know and embrace their beer here, particularly hoppy beers. I've been here on occasion when they're carrying an "O'Brien's IPA", made by Alpine Brewing, also in San Diego. Its very refreshing and although hoppy, not so intense or off-putting as some of the usual west coast IPA's.

Anyway, aside from their great fish tacos, I went with an Alpine Pure Hoppiness IPA, an AleSmith Yulesmith and a Russian River Blind Pig IPA. The Alpine was fantastic, much in line with the O'Brien's IPA.

The Yulesmith is a seasonal cult favorite made twice a year by San Diego's AleSmith. In the winter its an imperial/double red. It was much more malty and complex than the others, obviously, a bit more hearty of a beer.

And then there's Blind Pig, one of the great American IPA's made by Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa, California. Russian River recently became available in Philadelphia and parts of Pennsylvania and is incredibly popular and in demand outside of California. I know plenty of folks in the Baltimore/D.C./NoVa corridor hoping and praying for its arrival in their neck of the woods, but it could be a while if ever since in interviews the owner/brewer is content to brew enough to keep his brewpub in business and distribute where and when he can elsewhere, mostly in the state of California.

Overall O'Brien's has about 20 taps and two beer engines for cask beers which they pour on certain nights. They hold various beer events, regulars have their own mugs, their available beers posted on the website, I saw on the walls posters for a Belgian beer trip they're organizing. Just a lot going on, a strong devotion to beers. Their bottle list is also strong and as I was chilling at the bar I saw several gentlemen splitting a couple bottles of something by Cantillon, a fantastic Belgian brewery.

After O'Brien's, I went to the Ballast Point Brewing Company tasting room. Ballast Point is on a bit of a roll lately as an award-winner at several major beer festivals. They have a nautical/fish theme going (Black Marlin Porter, Big Eye IPA) and enjoy wide distribution in the San Diego area. Their tasting room was nice because unlike most of the really good breweries, it is open most days and I was able to sneak in on a day other than Friday/Saturday.

They had about five standby beers available for a tasting flight, as well as growlers and pints of those plus another four or five special and rotating seasonals, most of which were too heavy for my tastes and stamina after O'Brien's. So I went with a taster flight of the the standards:

1)Yellowtail Pale Ale
2)Calico Amber Ale
3)Big Eye IPA
4)Black Marlin Porter
5)Wahoo Wheat

They were universally delicious, and although not into porters lately the Black Marlin was lightly smoky and delicious. I've had the wheat before, at a Dave and Buster's of all places. The pale is a Kolsch-style, so a bit more unique of a pale ale. For good measure I socialized with the good hosts a bit longer and ordered up an extra pint of the Big Eye IPA.

Other than that, there's not much else beer-related to report from Day I other than the Claim Jumper where we had dinner had several in-house beers of which I enjoyed a Hef with my meal.

Update: I've created a Google Map that should give an idea of the locations of the various beer stops made on this trip. I'll update it the further I get along in the trip.

November 26, 2008

Abbey Burger Bistro

The concept has a ton of potential. Burger bar + Belgian name ... good beer?

There's a thread at about this. Waffle fries, beef from Roseda Farms, yada yada. All in Federal Hill, which is bizarre given its frat rep. I was thinking more Canton or Mt. Vernon, perhaps? Or Belvedere Square.
We ddin't delve too deeply into the beer selection, but I had an Arrogant Bastard -- not widely available around here. They seem to be concentrating on Belgian beers. The waitress said more were on the way.

Brewer's Art Potpourri

The great Brewers Art's holiday beer, St. Festivus will make its first appearance on Thanksgiving eve (that is, this Wednesday). I've been told it usually sticks around for at least a month or so before supplies kick.

I've yet to try this beer, but look forward to it when I make it back to Charm City.

On my last visit they still had the very good Cerberus Tripel on, but that may give way to St. Festivus.

SIN at Victoria Gastro Pub

SIN stands for Service Industry Night but everyone's welcome as far as I know. On Wednesday November 26th From 10 pm-close (2am) its 1/2 off draft beers and Victoria has a decent selection of them. Worth a try if you've got the hours.

Things can be a little crowded just an FYI, as they scuttle the dining area and shift all traffic to the sizable bar area. Its festive and lively and loud but the prices are much improved from the usual rate.

November 25, 2008

Touchdown, San Diego

I'll be in San Diego and the Southern California region for about two weeks doing the vacation and family thing, along with seeing a few football games.

There will still be Maryland beer news and hopefully I'll get to reworking the mess of links on the menu at right a bit, improving the maps, etc. to make this all more useful and relevant.

In the meantime I'll try and provide notes from my various beer adventures in San Diego, which is a tremendous beer city, hopefully can compare and contrast and see what works there that can work in Maryland, what works in Maryland that San Diego isn't doing, and so on.

November 24, 2008

Beer Rumor

We hear the former Tiber River Tavern in downtown Ellicott City will be reopened under new ownership and be called the Diamondback Grill. There will be a strong Maryland theme in the menu and taplist. I've heard they'll have something like six taps potentially featuring Maryland natives Clipper City and Flying Dog, and maybe another handle for Stone mixed in there.

Stay tuned.

Update: CORRECTION, lets call it Diamondback Tavern, not Diamondback Grill.

November 20, 2008

Max's Rare and Obscure Beers Event

Just a reminder, its tonight, 5 pm until close. The list:
George Gales Prize Old Ale
JW Lees Harvest Ale Aged in Calvados
De Regenboog Catherine The Great
BFM Abbaye De Bon Chien
BFM La Mandragore
JW Lees Harvest Ale
Southern Tier Choklat
Southern Tier Creme Brulee
Smuttynose Brett & I
Smuttynose Jack Daniels Porter
Smuttynose Oak Aged Barleywine 2005
Great Divide Espresso Yeti
Dogfish Head 120 Minute
Dogfish Head Theobroma
Dogfish Head Palo Santo
Dogfish Head Pangaea
Allagash Victoria
Allagash Black
Birra De Borgo TE
Birra De Borgo Genziana
E. Dupont Organic Bouche Brut 2007
Samichlaus Helles
Piccolo Birrificio Chiostro

I'm not familiar with all of those obviously, and my favorite resource to study up and get relevant advance information including reviews, ABV and style is Beer Advocate. Searching within their site's search engine is a bit clumsy at times though, so my trick is to go to Google and type, for example, "Piccolo Birrificio Chiostro Beer Advocate" and that will usually pull up the specific page for that beer on the first return. If not, play around.

November 18, 2008


Found via flickr


Tom Cizauskas at Yours For Good Fermentables (and fellow C.R.A.B.B.) writes prolific on mild ales. I confess ignorance, but this was an education and gives intrigue to a potential visit to Oliver's/The Wharf Rat. These beers are right up their wheelhouse.

Also more Baltimore Beer Week talk (see here, here) and the Sun's "winter beer tasting" featuring an all-star cast of local beer folks to be published at an unknown date and time.

Greg at Food, Wine, Beer, Culture had a nice night at Max's recently.

HowChow reviews Frisco Grille, probably my top beer hangout.
But it's also fun if you're a neophyte who wants to taste a few beers before you order your pint. Frisco Grille has no pretentions. You can sample and explore.
Ram's Head Tavern has a blog. I'll add that to the links soon.

Finally, an interesting profile of Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione and by extension the entire craft beer industry at the New Yorker. Gives yourself a few minutes to work through this, it's The New Yorker after all (via Kasper on Tap).

The Lists Grow

As noted in the most recent entry, Baltimore Beer Guy found Fell's Point dining establishment Todd Conner's to have at least one craft beer on tap, and I've read online several places now that people have found them to be craft beer friendly.

Looking at the website for Ryleigh's in Federal Hill, it seems the've got a few craft beers as well. Needless to say we'll be adding them to the various beer maps and lists on here. If you know of other spots and can vouch for them, feel free to send along an email so they can be added and possibly mentioned.

For example, I've hear rumors that a place along Route 40 in Ellicott City named Jilly's has recently put up some excellent craft beer taps. At some point I'll take a look but if you know more on that or other places, feel free to let Baltimore Beer Guy know.

Kasper on Tap recently pointed out several good beer places that weren't on my radar. Westminster's Buffalo Wild Wings will carry a porter made by a craft brewer and produced by DOG Brewing (headquartered in Westminster but pizza/pub locations in Columbia and Federal Hill downtown).

National brewery chain Gordon Biersch with D.C. and Rockville Md. locations is opening again in Maryland, this time in Annapolis in the Town Center at Parole.

Finally, Beer in Baltimore notes that a beer bar with ties to the great Brewer's Art is opening in Northwest Baltimore. It will be called The Parkside. It will be a restaurant, bakery, market, carrying, deli, kid friendly, basically a lot of things to hopefully a lot of people.

Update: Also, a new burger bistro and bar called the Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill has promise. Anything to do with Abbeys should have some beer ties, particularly Belgian beer right?

We'll note these in Baltimore Beer Guy's various maps and lists soon.

November 17, 2008

Downtown Baltimore Beer Report

Went on a little excursion last night. Some findings:

The Brewer's Art is great as always. They have the usuals on tap, plus their seasonal Cerberus Tripel served in a smaller snifter type glass as its a potent one at 10% ABV. They also have a guest beer on tap, which is the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, a Christmas IPA that is a cult favorite with the beer crowd.

Downtown at Max's, they're clearing the decks this week to make room for their Rare Beers event (Thursday night, FYI). Even with a leaner beer menu I found plenty of solid choices and enjoyed a rare winter Saison from DuPont.

Elsewhere, Ale Mary's had the usual six taps, one of them being I believe a Sam Adams chocolate stout or porter of some kind. I passed on that but did enjoy some steamed shrimp. Of course after that I reeked of Old Bay. As an aside, this city does great steamed shrimp, just delicious. I thought I had it great when I was living in the Florida Gulf Coast and several places down there had fresh steamed fish as well, usually with more of a Cajuned-up version of Old Bay. Baltimore does it equally well and they seem to be a staple on the menu most places in town.

While wandering around I also peeked into several small, almost-invisible places, several of which would have maybe one tap. The big winner among those places seemed not to be Bud or Miller but Dogfish Head. Nice to see. I also finally took a quick peek at Todd Conner's, which has a small row of handles including Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA I think it was. There were some boring standards but its nice to see they have a craft option or two in there as well.

Part of the appeal was walking around in the cold and wind. I'm a bit of a reptile and am at home in fairly high temperatures, but a brisk walk around our old city in fresh -- albeit crisp and cold -- air is good for the soul. I'm a cheerful sort, but its easy to imagine a more tortured, restless Edgar Allen Poe possibly walking the same streets albeit at a later hour and deep in thought, cold air chilling his face and fingers. Here's thinking a great brew at Max's in modern day might've settled him a bit.

To learn of other great beer options in and around downtown Baltimore, be sure to consult Baltimore Beer Guy's custom map, Downtown Baltimore Beer with links and addresses in a useful Google Map.

November 14, 2008

More On The Way

LOTS coming down the pike. Really this could be a full-time job finding good beer and beer notes and anecdotes from the area. Think the Sun would pay for someone to provide that kind of service?

November 12, 2008

Best Beer Bar Concepts

I've used this term before but it has relevance in the beer world: barrier to entry. The beer world can be sort of intimidating if you don't know the ropes, and often requires you to ask a lot of questions, sometimes of people that don't want to be bothered even though its to their benefit they answer them.

For whatever reason, many beer bars have this speakeasy feel where you are supposed to either know everything by the tap handles (which might be all over the bar instead of in one place, or away from where you're seated and blocked by the heads of the people sitting directly in front of handle row) or ask a million questions to find out.

I've gotten accustomed to this and rarely complain, but there's something not right about it. Sure its more social but paradoxically isn't all that inviting either.

The places I've most appreciated remove that information barrier.

For example, the bars the have an ever-updated tote board of wooden signs with the names of the beers (and their brewery) available on tap. Better yet ones that also mention the style of beer, its alcohol percentage and if it will be served in something other than a standard pint glass.

We need more of those.

In the absence of that, paperwork showing what's available. The problem with the papers is that they cost money and are out of date as soon as a new beer is added and another one removed but at least they provide the general feel for what's going on and a few simple questions can usually bring you up to speed on what is available.

I'm a huge fan of two things they do at Frisco Grille in Columbia. Number one, they post the available tap beers on their website, so ahead of time I can look them up and see if there's something I want and/or Google the items I'm less familiar with. They also do a great job of keeping that listing up to date, as its posted online the minute they take a few seconds to make a simple update in their website.

For example, I saw yesterday they had Lagunitas' Hop Stoopid on tap and made sure to trek on down there to get a pour. Maybe some of my other favorite places have an interesting item on tap, but I don't know and would rather avoid the guesswork and that makes me a less frequent customer than I could be.

Once at the restaurant, they also have a video board high on one of the walls listing what's available. It would help to also list the style and ABV, but this is already more than most places do and you can look at the board from the entire establishment if you're not sitting at the bar and still know whats available.

Those are some of the concepts I prefer in good beer establishments. What say you?

November 10, 2008

Freeze Frame

Ok so a little about my Maryland beer tastes and preferences here, a snapshot of this moment in time what Baltimore Beer Guy is all about.

The places you'd most likely find me when I'm out having a beer:

1)Frisco Grille (Columbia)
2)The Judges Bench (Ellicott City)
3)Dog Pub (Columbia) -- I'm a sucker for their IPA.
4)Victoria Gastro Pub (Columbia)

Obviously I live in Howard County ...

The places I'd most likely be if we all had those Star Trek teleport things and could get anywhere in a moment, driving wasn't an issue particularly after a few beers, etc.

1)The Brewer's Art (Mt. Vernon/Baltimore)
2)Max's (Fell's Point/Baltimore)
3)Frisco Grille
4)Mahaffey's (Canton/Baltimore)
5)Ale Mary's (Fell's Point/Baltimore)
6)Judge's Bench
7)John Steven Ltd. (Fell's Point/Baltimore)
8)Flying Dog's tasting room on Saturdays (Frederick)
9)The Owl Bar (Mt. Vernon/Baltimore)

The beer places I haven't been to yet but hunch I'd really enjoy and might enter such a list in the future:

Grand Cru (North of Downtown)
Metropolitan Coffeehouse (Federal Hill/Baltimore)
Duda's (Fell's Point/Baltimore)
Dogfish Head Alehouse (Gaithersburg)
Olney Ale House (Olney)

How about you? Comment below with your lists.

New Banner

You like?

Its a rough cut made by Baltimore Beer Guy friend Steve from Summer of Beer. I think it's pretty darn cool. We'll ponder it for a while before deciding its fate but its got a good shot at survival.

Update: Just added a modified version ... this Steve guy has some talent with the banners methinks.

November 8, 2008

Flying Dog American Homebrewer's Association Rally

Interesting event today (Saturday November 8th):

Entrance is free for current American Homebrewer Association (AHA) members, $33 for non-members and renewing members that becomes a subscription to the AHA (normally $38).

The event will be at the Flying Dog Brewery in Frederick, Maryland.
Entrance to the event includes these opportunities:
• $33 One-Year Membership to the AHA (reg. $38)
VIP Brewery Tour
Meet the Flying Dog "Brew Crew"
• Nineteen house beers on tap including Wild Dog, Brewer's Reserve and K9 Cruiser (seasonal)
• Chance to win great door prizes from the AHA and Flying Dog Brewery
The AHA membership is actually pretty cool as it grants you a subscription (every other month) to Zymurgy magazine and some great discounts at breweries and pubs. My friend Steve at Summer of Beer is a member and has taken great advantage of various discounts in his beer travels. This reminds me I should look into what kind of discounts AHA members get in Maryland (feel free to email me or comment below with further details and insight, I'm not a member ...).

Be sure to check out Baltimore Beer Guy's assortment of custom beer maps at right (example: Maryland beer & brewers including several in Frederick). Also see my Frederick entries tag, my Flying Dog tag, and let me know any details about the beer at Firestone's in downtown Frederick. It is rumored to be associated with the Firestone family of tire and later beer fame in California and advertises a strong beer selection.

November 7, 2008

A Link from HowChow

The awesome Howard County dining blog HowChow just threw a link Baltimore Beer Guy's way today. I have to admit I've borrowed some concepts from HowChow, that's how thoughtfully organized their site is.

Plus it points me to good places to eat in my home base, Howard County here. Be sure to bookmark them and explore (I tend to get lost in there clicking through all the reviews and before I know it a lot of time has passed).

Morton's Steakhouse "A Taste of Tradition" Chimay Tasting

Cool email I got a few days ago and am finally able to unload on here.

Basically, the very classy Morton's Of Chicago is having a tasting pairing several of the Chimay Belgian trappist beers with Morton's signature hors d'ouevres.

It will be held on Friday November 21 from 530-7 pm at the Morton's location in Baltimore. The cost will be $45/person and include tax and tip, with $5 of that going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. To RSVP call (410) 547-8255.
The tasting includes three of Belgium’s finest brews, crafted by the Trappist Monks of the Abbey de Scourmont—Chimay Premiere, Chimay Grand Reserve, and Chimay Cinq Cents. These are then paired with Morton’s signature hors d’oeuvres, including tuna tartare canapés, petite filet mignon sandwiches, sliced smoked salmon, and Morton’s Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake.
This looks ten kinds of awesome and I highly encourage you to attend if you've got the time and the resources.

Clipper City Beer Dinner at Y Not Bar and Grill

Clipper City will be the featured beer at a beer dinner at the Y Not Bar and Grill on Veterans Day Nov. 11 (this coming Tuesday). Please RSVP by Nov. 8th as seating is limited. The dinner will be $55/person, social hour at 6 pm, dinner at 7 pm.

Donations will be made to Maryland Family Support and VA and MD Fallen Soldiers.

First Course
Fried mini crab cake with a smoked jalapeno aioli and Asian coleslaw
Beer: MarzHon

Second Course
Pulled pork BBQ
Beer: Oxford Class Organic Amber

Third Course
Glazed cedar salmon served with a balsamic frieze and melon salad
Beer: Small Craft Warning Uber Pils

Fourth Course
Buffalo roulade with spinach and roasted peppers finished with a plantain and brown sugar reduction
Beer: Peg Leg Imperial Stout

Fifth Course
Petite rib eye burger topped with shitake, red onion and cognac relish on brioche bread accompanied by yucca fries with homemade ketchup
Beer: Winter Storm Category Five Ale

Sixth Course
Beer battered crepes with apple butter
Beer: Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale

Clipper City Picks Up New Distributors

Congratulations to Maryland's own Clipper City for picking up a pair of distributors in Washington D.C. and Virginia.
New Washington, DC distributor. We are very pleased to announce that we are now represented in the nation's capital by Premium Distributors. (202)526-3900
New distribution in Charlottesville, Va. We are also very pleased to announce that our beers are now available in parts of central VA through J W Sieg in Charlottesville. They can be reached at (434)296-5531

Brewer's Alley Seasonal Beer Tapping: Baker's Brew

Copied and pasted from their website. Brewer's Alley is a brewery/restaurant in quaint downtown Frederick Md. about an hour west of Baltimore city.
November 13, 2008 — Baker's Brew Seasonal Beer Tapping
Meet Brewmaster Tom Flores and his New Head Brewer Maggie Lenz from 4-6pm for our seasonal Beer Tapping of "Baker's Brew".

Baker's Brew - This Beer was inspired by the flavor of Banana Nut Bread, a Wonderfully aromatic baked good. The malts we used were a combination of four different types, which lends a variety of roasted and nutty flavors. The malt flavor in this beer is a dominant part of its overall character.

We employed a special strain of weizen teast for fermentation in order to develop a faint banana and clove character. For additional spiciness, we added vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove to the brewkettle. This helps to amplify the clove flavor which the yeast naturally produces. Additionally, as a compliment to the spices, we dry-hopped this Beer with Cascade hops. The combination of the hops and other spices creates a flavor characterized by subtle complexity, especially in the aroma

Brewer's Alley Holiday Beer Dinner

There are still some seats available via RSVP for Brewers Alley's Holiday Beer Dinner on Tuesday December 2nd. Per usual there will be two seatings, the first at 530 pm in the Booking Room and the second seating at 730 in the Mayor's Room upstairs overlooking downtown Frederick.

Cost: $45/person plus tax and 18% gratuity. Reservations call 301-631-0089.

Assorted Flat Bread Pizzas
Roasted Chestnut Soup
Oxtail Risotto
Cabernet Wine and Oatmeal Stout Braised Oxtail, Green Peas, Arborio Rice, Angel Hair Potatoes and Natural Jus
Stuffed Cornish Hen
Sausage and Raisin Stuffing, Baby Carrots,
Chipotle-Apple Butter
Roasted Wild Boar Chops
Cherry Salsa, Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes
and Braised Salsify
Apple Purse

November 6, 2008

This Week's Events

At The Perfect Pour in Columbia there will be a pair of beer tastings as usual. On Friday from 5-8 pm Lee from Stone Brewing with pour their various offerings including the IPA, Pale Ale, Ruination and more. On Saturday from 3-7 pm Suzanne from Washburn Wine Co. will offer an array of beers from Germany and Belgium.

They also mention that their fall seasonals are dwindling as they make room for an increasing number of winter seasonals. Among the new arrivals are: Brooklyn Winter, Southern Tier Old Man Winter, Scaldis Noel, Wild Goose Snow Goose, Anderson Winter Solstice, De Ranke Pere Noel, Clipper City '08 Below Decks, Corsendonk Christmas, Innstadt Wintersud, Sam Smith's Winter Welcome, Mikkeller Santa's Helper and Troeg's Mad Eld Ridgeway Mad Elf.

It's almost a little late for this, but Clipper City Brewing will be part of a "meet the brewery" night at the newly reopened Metropolitan Coffeehouse in Federal Hill from 6-9 tonight (TH).

As a reminder, DuClaw will release it's "Devil's Milk" barleywine, their best-selling seasonal, next week on Wednesday (Nov. 12) and Thursday (Nov. 13) nights.

Also tonight (Th Nov. 6) is "Flying Dog" night at Max's in Fell's Point. They'll have 9 Flying Dog beers on tap including the new Wild Dog in bottles. They will also hold a vertical tasting of the Gonzo Imperial Porter. For whatever reason I haven't found Flying Dog on tap at many places in the state of Maryland so hopefully this is a signal of better things to come.

Alright I'm off, but more updates to come as I stumble across them, my inbox is pretty flooded this week and I've barely been able to respond to and read a lot of what's been sent to me. I'll hack some of that down later and share the goodies with all of you.

Here's Thinking I Need To Check Out the Annabel Lee Tavern

Nice photodocumentation of a visit to the Annabel Lee Tavern on the Eastern edge of Canton from "Strawberries in Paris".

Southampton Saison Deluxe on ice? What looks like Ozzy in an authentic Brewer's Art chalice? Mercy me ...

For other nearby options, check out my ever-expanding custom made Downtown Baltimore Beer map and Grab a Pint map. Feel free to email in suggested additions or changes to these maps.

Smaller Pints

I like!

Good news for British drinkers who think that a pint is too much beer to tackle at a sitting: Reuters reports that Britain’s National Weight and Measures Laboratory is considering allowing the sale of two-thirds of a pint. Says Reuters: “Currently, pubs can only serve pints, half pints and a third of a pint, a measure rarely seen in pubs but popular at beer festivals where drinkers try lots of different ales.”

Two points, from an American perspective: First, a pint is, in fact, an awful lot of beer. A typical bottle is 12 ounces; a pint is 16. Secondly, in an era of massively video-documented binge drinking, any law that lets bars serve less alcohol to people who want less alcohol is probably not a bad thing.

I'm all for the occasional half-pour of craft beer anyway, sometimes I later realize I don't like a beer as much as I thought I would and would rather finish half my glass and move on without being rude.

November 5, 2008

Brew Review: The Bruery Batch Levud's

Batch No. 1 of Orange County, California based The Bruery's Batch Levud's, a Belgian style pale/golden ale brewed with Belgian sugar (#1038/2157). Shipped to me courtesy of the great Steve at Summer of Beer.

I'll be parallel tasting this with Summer of Beer Steve, with our review notes appearing at a later point on his website.

First things first, I'll pour this into a room temperature tulip glass as recommended. This beer comes in a 750ml green glass bottle, and is signed (awesome) by what looks like Tyler King (the head brewer I believe) and Patrick Rue (the owner).

Unlike most of the Bruery tastings so far, this one doesn't go crazy with the carbonation and head. There's an absolutely gorgeous bright white, big bubbled but overall modest sized head cresting the glass.

Its a medium murky dark golden color, smells fruity right away, like pears and passionfruit. The head is a sight to behold, Steve calls it sea foam-like, good description there. First taste is ripe fruit, more of the same flavor combinations, with a little something else I'll chase for a bit. This is nothing like the standard BSPA's, much less yeasty and hoppy, more malty and fruity.

If you've had the Ozzy BSPA from Baltimore's great The Brewer's Art ... this is nothing like it. They share a similar color and general direction, but this one veers off from convention (and Ozzy itself is unconventional) and goes fruity, sort of like a white wine meets BSPA.

Once again The Bruery has taken us into what I assume is uncharted territory. These guys have a special talent in doing the obscene and making it palatable for the 21st century beer drinker. In a way they have probably a certain similarity to the extreme brewing going on at Dogfish Head, but with less alcohol and a much greater nod to classic and Belgian styles.

I'm struggling to come up with a comparable beer, but my memory is surging with thoughts from some of the beers I tasted at The Trappist, a truly great Belgian beer bar in Oakland, California that I visited this summer.

This is quite refreshing, a bit out of season now in the Eastern fall as the leaves turn, the sun sets early and my mood darkens just a touch. It's not so refreshing as a fantastic summery Saison, but is more in the heavily fruited white wine class, like a beer-y Gewurztraminer with apples and pears and passionfruit to go with the grape.

Its going to take a while to drink this tonight, as it's really, really sweet. Anyway, I'm off to enjoy the rest of it, I'll offer any other insights if the relevant thoughts surge into my brain.

November 3, 2008

Tis The Season of Winter Beers

Fall came and went, and many beer drinkers fell in love with the various Fest beers, Marzens, Oktoberfest beers and pumpkin beers. But not I. No sir, those are a tough sell, but my heart is warmed as the weather cools by the arrival of some pretty cool winter beers.

As noted earlier, Sierra Nevada has released its "Celebration" Ale, a tasty IPA that reminds me of some of the better flavors I get from the great Firestone Brewing's pales and IPA's. Right now I'm knocking down a bottle of Harrisburg PA based Troegs' Mad Elf, a sort of sweet winter ale made with cherries and honey. This is a much coveted brew and I gotta admit I'm enjoying it.

But then, I'll enjoy almost any decent cherry beer (Brewers Art Charm City Sour Cherry, any of the various Belgian cherry lambics, Mad Elf, etc.).

Elsewhere, I definitely recommend the Corsendonk Christmas beer available on tap right now at Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia.

Locally, I've talked to several people who swear by Frederick MD based Wild Goose's Snow Goose. And then there's Clipper City with its Winter Storm, a "winter warmer" that is on draft all over the place (Frisco Grille, Judge's Bench, etc.).

Lest I forget, the great Brewer's Art downtown should have some form of a winter beer available (I think its called St. Festivus?) if it's not already on tap.

Feel free to email me with other notables or comment below.

Related: cask conditioned beer/ale in Baltimore and Maryland, pumpkin, Oktoberfest and fest beers (bier) in Maryland

As always, be sure to use my various links on the side as resources in tracking down beers, places to drink and local breweries. Particularly useful for this entry are the Howard County Beer maps and Maryland Beer and Breweries Maps.

The Sun to Review Brewer's Art

Simply put, The Brewer's Art is one of my favorite places in Maryland. It's got a neat vibe, decent dining and tremendous beers.

The Baltimore Sun's Elizabeth Large will review it in next Sunday's Arts & Entertainment section (and online), so be on the lookout for that.

Unfortunately ...
Because I'm not a beer drinker, I sort of forget about it although I've had very good meals when I've eaten there in the past.
Well at least we'll get a feel for what the new menu is like. I thought it was just OK under the previous chef when I reviewed them in April. The garlic fries are always good and I always seem to find great reviews for the burgers online. Next time ...

New at DuClaw: Devil's Milk Barleywine

From the inbox ...

DuClaw's next seasonal release beer will be its "Devil's Milk" barleywine. These are potent brews, and DM checks in at 10.5%. They claim it is their most popular seasonal brew.

As usual, DuClaw will host release parties at its four locations, on Wednesday November 12th and Thursday November 13th from 6 or 7 pm to close. If you're on their email list you can print out a flier that makes you eligible for freebies and giveaways at the events. I've yet to attend so I can't vouch for what exactly is given away, I assume keychains and bottle openers and the like.

Barleywine is not my favorite style, but it has its devotees. The name is a bit odd, but here's some clarification from Beer Advocate:
Despite its name, a Barleywine (or Barley Wine) is very much a beer, albeit a very strong and often intense beer! In fact, it's one of the strongest of the beer styles. Lively and fruity, sometimes sweet, sometimes bittersweet, but always alcoholic. A brew of this strength and complexity can be a challenge to the palate. Expect anything from an amber to dark brown colored beer, with aromas ranging from intense fruits to intense hops. Body is typically thick, alcohol will definitely be perceived, and flavors can range from dominant fruits to palate smacking, resiny hops.

English varieties are quite different from the American efforts, what sets them apart is usually the American versions are insanely hopped to make for a more bitter and hop flavored brew, typically using American high alpha oil hops. English version tend to be more rounded and balanced between malt and hops, with a slightly lower alcohol content, though this is not always the case.

Most Barleywines can be cellared for years and typically age like wine.

November 1, 2008

Proud C.R.A.B.B.

Not sure what it all entails just yet, but we'll take it. More details at Yours For Good Fermentables.

C hesapeake
R egion's
A lliance of
B eer
B loggers

The Last Chance Saloon, Reborn?

This place predates my arrival in Maryland but I've read it was quite the place for craft beer nuts back in the day. At Hedgehog Report via HowChow, it looks like the shuttered establishment will take new ownership and attempt to re-open as "Second Chance Saloon".

There's even a website.

Oct 15th, 2008: We are remodeling our Saloon under new ownership, and are getting ready to reopen our establishment. Our Web Site is also under construction.

We will announce our upcoming events here shortly.
Return again to see the latest news and opening dates. Thank you.

It's tucked away in the sneaky little loops of Columbia so I'm extremely curious what it'll be like and how it will affect other Columbia and Howard County beer spots (Frisco Grille, Judge's Bench, Ellicott Mills Brewing, etc.).

Stay tuned ... and feel free to email me tips and updates if you hear anything of what's going on and what their plans are.

Be sure to check out Baltimore Beer Guy's custom Howard County Beer map, along with many other useful custom beer maps on the menu at right.