January 30, 2009

The Beer Fridge

Its looking a little lonely. Between travel and my deep love for fresh tap beer, the fridge has gotten bare.

Pictured: Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (limited release!)
Brewer's Art Green Peppercorn Tripel (new!)
Founder's Breakfast Stout
Clipper City Pale Ale

Look for those to disappear Super Bowl Sunday. At least three of those beers will be phenomenal. I'm spoiled.

January 29, 2009


As noted at Yours For Good Fermentables, Brewer's Art is now selling bottled versions of their Green Peppercorn Tripel which is a fantastic brew.

Be sure to also check out YFGF's photo review of the new Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill.

Also, a more comprehensive, informed discussion of the history of beer and cans.

On February 11th, Frisco Grille will have a firkin of Troegs' famed Nugget Nectar.

DuClaw has a growler fill special all this weekend, Friday through Super Bowl Sunday. New growler fills will be $4 off, and regular refills will be $2 off.

Just ... dammit.

HowChow ably explores the Howard County beer scene, with some too-nice words to say about this little project that is Baltimore Beer Guy. The "Sudsy Triangle", I like that.

Nice thread find at ChowHound -- finding Russian River and Bell's beers in Washington D.C.

Just a reminder given the snowy weather of late, $1.50 National Bohemians at Todd Conners in Fells Point on snow days.

They also have a "weekly draft beer special", rotating every Friday and selling that selection at a Happy Hour price all day and night.

The Perfect Pour in Columbia is will be pouring samples of Innstadt Bock Weisse, Old Suffolk English Ale and Rogue Mocha Porter on Friday from 5-8 PM, and Anderson Valley Brewing (High Rollers Wheat, Hop Ottin IPA and ESB) on Saturday from 3-7 PM.

They're also selling cases of loose bottles of Yuengling for $14.99 and 12 pack bottles of Tsingtao for $11.99 to mark the Super Bowl. They also promise Iron City and Iron City Light by 5 PM Friday for the Steeler faithful (boo!).

Amusingly, Frederick based Flying Dog (whose tasting room BBG reviewed this week) announced the arrival of their French styled Garde Dog -- named after the French Biere De Garde style -- this week "wee wee, haw haw!" heh.
Garde Dog has a lighter body and is subtly sweet but also has a complex yeast character and balanced malt profile. Traditionally brewed in the winter and consumed in the Spring and Summer months, "Biere de Garde" means "beer for keeping," but you'll have to pick it up soon because it's just a seasonal brew
They've got a busy week ahead of them. There's an in-store tasting at Ye Old Spirit Shop in Frederick on the 30th from 4-7 PM, an in-store tasting at Westridge Liquors in Frederick on the 31st from 2-5 PM, and a tasting at Tenley Whole Foods in Washington D.C. from 1-4 PM on the same day as part of a regional tasting.

They'll also participate at the "A Taste of Blakefield" at Loyola Blakefield from 5-9 PM on February 7th. They'll then appear at the Montgomery County "Beers & Cheese" on February 8th from 1-4 PM as part of a regional beer tasting.

Finally, later in the month they'll arrive at the venerable Brickskeller in Washington D.C. for a strong beer tasting on Feburary 25th at 7 PM. I hunch that'll be one of those $35 Brickskeller events so you might want to check out the Brick's website if you plan on attending.

Oh, and they're also on Twitter. Should BBG set up a Twitter page?

Mahaffey's change of course: they've found an old school beer they haven't done before -- Old Milwaukee Light. Be on the lookout for that.

They're taking pre-orders for 1.5 L bottles of Duvel, $30, let Wayne know ASAP if you want one.

Upcoming beers: Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, Ommegang Rare Vos. Oh and they still have the Ola Dubh 40 cask on as of last night. Only six were made available in the entire United States.

Reminder: the week of February 1st is IPA week at The Judges Bench in downtown Ellicott City. Its been a while since I've been there, I'll have to sneak in for a late night at some point.

We're getting that much closer to the great Belgian Beer Fest at Max's as well. It runs February 13th-15th. Just about time to start doing my homework on what beers I most need to target. Here's the final tap list, posted at Yours For Good Fermentables.

Beer Haiku Daily has a dilemma about the beer fest that isn't
. Everyone knows about it, for better or worse and its gonna be jammed just like last year.

January 27, 2009

Joint Baltimore Beer Guy, Summer of Beer Homebrew Update

On my recent trip to California I made a stop at my friend Steve's -- of Summer of Beer fame -- place, to make a batch of beer. That is, basically watch him make it after he'd procured all necessary ingredients since I'm such a novice at this.

We settled on a Belgian Strong Pale/Golden Ale to make. After much debate various malts and yeasts were decided upon. It would have been one yeast strain but I'm crazy and didn't feel like doing things perfectly by the book.

The brewing was fun, and we enjoyed much delicious beer in the process. But that's over with and its now in that intermediate stage of fermentation for a bit. Steve was kind of enough to send along a few photos of the early fermentation. It isn't much to look at but I thought I'd share. Can't wait to see how this puppy turns out.

Update: one more image -- initial fermentation complete!

January 26, 2009

Review: Flying Dog Brewing Tasting Room

The folks and myself made our way west to lovely Frederick, Md. Saturday to revisit the Flying Dog Brewery and tasting room. Flying Dog relocated to Maryland from its home base in Colorado several years ago, acquiring and sharing its current facility with Wild Goose Brewing.

Flying Dog is open on Saturdays from 130-4 PM, with tours at 2 and 3. We skipped the tour this time, but its usually lively and casual and recommended if you have the time and haven't done it before. Flying Dog also has a small gift shop to pick up glasses, shirts, clean growlers and so on.

The tasting room was the focus for us this time. Most of their regular lineup was pouring, except they had subbed the Kerberos Tripel for an offering from their Wild Dog series, Dog Schwarz. That Dog Schwarz, bytheway, was quite smokey. I was expecting something a bit more sweet and subdued, but this came out like a smoked/rauch beer, such as Alaskan Brewing's Smoked Porter or the famous German smoked beers from Schlenkerla in Bamberg.

Additionally, they had a full line of Wild Goose taps including their winter seasonal Snow Goose and their fall seasonal pumpkin beer. Flying Dog also had a cask although it wasn't pouring, and a "nitro blend" with their Horn Dog Barley Wine and something else mixed in there. For those unfamiliar, a nitro tap is what something like Guinness usually (always) is poured from, it seems to soften the beer and creates that cascading effect which is so visually enticing. The reason I was excited to go, however, was the day-of availability of their spring seasonal offering, the Garde Dog modeled after the French Biere De Garde style beers.

The tasting room inevitably ends up a very lively place packed with people, but Flying Dog has wisely done some things to tone it down a tad. The last time I was there, you could purchase a glass for $5 and there would be pretty much unlimited half-pours. Now, all the glasses are marked with a 6 oz line and you are handed (6) fanned bottlecaps upon entry to redeem for tasters. What you choose to do with them is your discretion.

I targeted the Garde Dog but was told they were out. Stunning. However, about an hour later I found them pouring from the Garde Dog tap, so I guess another keg had been put on, which didn't last long either. I had it from a bottle once last year and enjoyed it, but like many beers this came across much more lively and fresh on tap, even at just over six ounces. It was spicey and earthy, pale in color but not so floral or funky as some saisons but in a similar general range of flavor to it. I was hooked.

Equally impressive, and to my surprise, was their Doggie Style classic pale ale. I've generally passed over this beer, but several ounces in it woke me up a bit. The flavor was solid, but what really hit me was the aroma. It reminded me of some of the great IPA's and pale ales I had been enjoying recently in San Diego. Checking their literature, Flying Dog named the hops: Northern Brewer and Cascade. It was described as having a "powerful Cascade hop aroma with a sweet caramel body and a distinct hop bite. Dry hopped during fermentation with a shitload of Cascade hops".

Which prompted me to text my friend Steve, Anchorman style, "I love Cascade". I love Cascade!

Only now have I begun paying attention to hopping and the details behind beers, so apologies for sounding like a novice at times even a year into this Baltimore Beer Guy thing. I don't homebrew although I am looking into that. However I did work with Steve to make a Belgian Pale Ale on my recent trip to California, more details about that later in another entry. But back to Flying Dog.

Everything else there was fun, obviously we didn't try every beer, but got around to most of Flying Dog's offerings and a few from Wild Goose, which tends to be a bit conservative in flavor for me. They're modeled more after British ales and lagers, so are more subdued and classic in temperament.

It is also worth mentioning Flying Dog offers growler fills. They sell growlers in the store, but many people there had brought their own various growlers to take home the good stuff. Near the entrance to the tasting room there is a beer fridge where guests can get take-home 4, 6 and 12 packs of whatever Flying Dog's put in the fridge. As mentioned here a few days ago they also have 12-packs of the 7-oz "pony" bottles, that are available. I saw one customer also had a 750ml bottle of the Dog Schwarz ready to go.

This being winter, everyone was crammed inside, but in warmer times there's a patio that I've read employees will sometimes crank out the BBQ, and people can generally relax just outside the tasting room. The patio covering was draped with hop vines last time I was there, but was empty this time. Hopefully those make a return.

Coming up ... a review of Growlers (Gaithersburg, Md.)

Pictured above: two nice ladies we met at the tasting room, Deborah and Barb; Baltimore Beer Guy feeding the goose

Coming Up

Reviews of Flying Dog's tasting room and Growlers of Gaithersburg.

Good times.

January 23, 2009

More Diamondback Tavern Info

We've written a bit before about the Diamondback Tavern, a Maryland-themed eatery and bar in downtown Ellicott City.

One of the managing partners, Lee, emailed yesterday to clarify some things about their beer program. As suspected, Guinness and Yuengling probably aren't going anywhere, but they've got four other taps to work with and continue to rotate things in (Lee mentioned Rogue's Dead Guy Ale is on right now).

They're doing their best to not simply sell out to big sellers of the Bud/Miller/Coors variety, which is admirable especially at a new place in a bad economy in a location that simply hasn't done as well in Ellicott City for whatever reason. Their efforts are risky and should be applauded in that department.

They'll also be working on hopefully acquiring at least one very recognizable and popular local tap, I'll leave that to them to announce if/when that happens. In the meantime, they've made it clear they care about good beer and are putting their money on some good taps. I encourage you to visit them.

First enticement: $2 draught beer all day on Sunday. You know you want it. Parking is in the lot just across the street from the Tavern, just off the main drag. The Tavern itself is up the hill a touch from the T-intersection at the center of downtown Ellicott City. I strongly recommend visiting them to grab a bite and a beer as a pregame of sorts before strolling the Ellicott City shops or taking on its other beer wonders: Ellicott Mills Brewing and The Judge's Bench.

Jack's Bistro Beer Dinner

The hits keep coming.

One of the specials at Jack's Bistro in Canton is a Thursday beer dinner. For $20 you get a two-course meal and a matching beer.

Ellicott Mills Brewing New Website

The headline does most of the work here.

The old site was OK and this new one has potential but I hope its still a work in progress because there's a lot of tiny little errors that need fixing. They mention what beers are currently on tap and what's upcoming (great!) but there's no way to link to it and add it to my sidebar right now.

The intro video is nice though, something I've noticed if you click around at Victoria Gastro Pub's website as well.

More Updates

This is what happens when I skip town for a bit ... backlog.

The 2nd Chance Saloon, newly opened in Columbia, is now blogging. Or, we hope they're blogging, its just one entry right now from January 7th.

Hair O' The Dog Wine & Spirits in far out Easton, Maryland, also has its own interesting blog. Not being a born/bred Marylandian (sp?) I don't have much affinity for parts beyond the Chesapeake and they're a bit of a hike but its still Maryland and well, they care about good beer so they'll soon be merrily indexed here.

And just so we're clear, Maryland is up there with two-piece Michigan among the oddest shaped states in the union. Any other favorite oddly shaped states worth mention?

So Yeah Dood has finally launched. Interesting, informative and thoughtful beer blog, it is.

File this under muddled and confusing: Wharf Rat is sold, but stays open, the original Fells Point property stays in the hands of the old owner, the newer property on Pratt Street stays open with the new owners. Except there was a rumor it closed and Beer Advocate noting it as "closed" added to the confusion. But now it really is closed starting January 30th, for renovation you see.

Got all that?

Beer In Baltimore's on top of things though, so keep track of all that, over there.

Blob's Park has officially opened. Here's the dates/times (and entertainment schedule):

Friday & Saturday doors open 630 PM, music from 8 PM to midnight, closes at 1 AM
Sunday doors open at 2 PM, music from 4-8 PM, closes at 10 PM

Mark your calendars, the first week of February is "IPA Week" at The Judge's Bench in downtown Ellicott City. I haven't been there in a while (or Ellicott Mills Brewing), should make my way over especially since its so close. Its a nice place, if a bit tiny, with really easy parking and 17 above average taps and a well-organized bottle list. They also do some take-home beers, kind of cool.

Greg from the Food, Wine Beer & Culture website continues to do some excellent beer exploration, hitting up Flying Dog and Brewer's Alley in Frederick, Red Brick Station in White Marsh which I need to visit at some point, Kooper's in Fells Point, and Red Star in Fells Point.

Its an interesting and versatile blog he's put together discussing home brewing, dining, cooking, wine and the like.

And this, from my friend Dan in California who passed this along -- Coors celebrates the 50th anniversary of their introducing the brewing industry and the world to the aluminum can. Environmentally friendly, replacing the old -- now collectable -- tin cans. The can is making a comeback in craft brewing, and I support the movement.

Its more portable than bottles, does a much better job of protecting the beer and its flavors from light, no longer imparts odd flavors, and can be reused and cheaply. Botters are more aesthetically pleasing and easier to display and collect and don't give off that cheap look aluminum cans do, but they're not as good for the beer.

Thanks Dan.

And finally, I'll have a discussion about downtown Ellicott City's Diamondback Tavern in an upcoming entry. They sent a nice email along which I need to respond to (as well as Dan's, actually), but I'll tease with this:

$2 tap beer, all their tap beers, all day Sunday at Diamondback. Not bad, hm?

Beer Pairing Question

I don't put much thought into pairing beer with food. Maybe I should, but while thinking about local culinary treats, its worth contemplating about what beers might best go with them.

Crabs are an obvious local favorite, and at least when doing them pick-and-eat style, the pairing is simple enough. You need a more mild beer that does just a mild scrubbing job and doesn't overpower the crab's delicate flavors that are already contrasted with the heat emanating from the various Old Bay influenced seasoning. Old school offering National Bohemian is an obvious, local choice. Same with a Clipper City Pale, or McHenry Lager, or a Yuengling, and so on and so on.

Whats more interesting is considering what to pair with pit beef. What do you think?

Its an interesting preparation of meat, fairly cooked on the outside with some nice caramelization and charring going on, while inside it can get moderately pink and raw. Its not the most complex combination of flavors around, even with some horseradish or BBQ or whatever inspired toppings (at least when done sandwich-style) come to mind.

At first glance something dark and roasty and robust is considered. A thick, chocolatey, or coffee-ish or toffee-like stout or porter perhaps? No, maybe not, those are more of a sipping beer. They're casual and so is the meal, but it doesn't seem quite right.

More or less a hop-head, I find a refreshing west coast IPA can go with almost anything, but even here, it might be just a bit overpowering and not in harmony with the pit beef.

Perhaps more of an east coast pale ale or IPA is in order, with more subdued hops, a stronger, roastier malt background providing some balance and pep without being overbearing. Maybe even a British-styled bitter, hopefully casked with its more delicate carbonation and warmer ambient temperature. Its something you can drink all day and not feel bad about.

Or perhaps something more readily available and macro: a Bass, a Harp, a Smithwicks?

I really don't know. What are your thoughts? Any out of left field Belgian offerings come to mind?

January 22, 2009

Catching Up

Today there's a free (via RSVP) "Soup for the Beer Lover's Soul" event at Flying Dog in Frederick, a pairing between themselves and the always excellent Frisco Grille which makes great Southwestern food.

On Friday January 23 Flying Dog will participate in an Annapolis pub crawl, starting 9 pm at Davis Pub then moving to Boat Yard Bar and Grill, Armadillo's, Acme, Rockfish and Ram's Head (down bar).

Also, they'll hold a release party for their Garde Dog (spring seasonal Bier De Garde style) beer on Saturday January 24th at the Frederick Beef O'Brady's from 8-11 pm.

Flying Dog, thanks to some unique bottling equipment inherited from their current location, has come out with a "small bottle" 8-pack of their Canis Major series beers. Its a great way to drink smaller portions of their higher-alcohol offerings, at just 7 ounces/bottle.

This Friday, the Bel Air DuClaw will be tapping a pair of firkins: a blueberry version of their Kangaroo Love and a double dry hopped Venom. Taps go on at 5 pm.

On Friday at The Perfect Pour in Columbia from 5-8 pm Suzanne from Washurn Distributors will have the Biere Du Boucanier (Belgium) sampler pack available. On Saturday from 3-7 pm winter beers is the theme with local-made Wild Goose's Snow Goose and Magic Hat's Roxie Rolles and more. New beers include Harpoon Hiberna and Magic Hat HIPA 12 packs.

Mahaffey's in Canton promises a casked keg of 40-year-old single malt scotch Ola Dubh around mid-weekend. This is a hard-to-find beer, and potent at about 14% ABV. Sadly their email says the old school beers thing they had going has ended as they've "done them all".

Clipper City's Saturday tours remain open except for what looks like February 7th. Tasters are free with the purchase of a $5 souvenir take-home glass. RSVP's are recommended for the 1 and 230 pm tours.

Their Holy Sheet Belgian style beer, is beginning to ship so be on the lookout for that. Apparently the new movie "He's Just Not That Into You" is set in Baltimore and makes use of various Clipper City beers and signage in its bar scenes. Clipper City's Oxford Organic line of beers is rumored to be featured on an upcoming episode of the "Emeril Green" show on the Discovery Network.

On February 11th Clipper City will have a pint night and bring a cask of their Holy Sheet at Grand Cru from 5-7 pm.

Just a reminder, the great, and I do mean GREAT, Max's Belgian Beer Fest will be held from February 13th-15th at ... Max's in Fells Point. Here's an updated tap list, about 90% complete.

These folks really, really don't like Budweiser.

On Thursday February 12th, Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia will hold a Stone Brewery beer tasting. Tickets are $85 and include a full meal paired with Stone's Levitation Ale, IPA, 2007 Double Bastard, Smoked Porter and 2006 Russian Imperial Stout.

Ruddy Duck Brewery has yet to open but is now slated to begin business in late April to early May 2009.

The Baltimore Sun recently reviewed the Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill, which features several Belgian-style beers. I'm really looking forward to heading over there at some point.

This person is attempting to catalog every beer available in Maryland. Godspeed.

The great Brewer's Art is currently featuring their Cerberus Tripel and La Petroleuse on tap.

January 19, 2009

Help HowChow: Best Beer in Howard County

Our friend at the HowChow blog is doing a great series on Howard County dining and related. Check his site for the whole series but right now he's inquiring about best (burgers and) beer in Howard County. Be sure to leave a comment.

Frisco Grille is atop my list, but the Judge's Bench and Victoria Gastro Pub do excellent work with their taps and bottles as well. The Perfect Pour is an amazing bottle shop in the area and I have to at least mention the two breweries, Ellicott Mills and Bare Bones although Bare Bones really doesn't get much love from the beer geeks although their Hef has always been decent enough the few times I've been there.

January 12, 2009

Night In

InNOut double double (no onions, extra cheese) and grilled cheese (off the not so secret menu, no onions, extra cheese).

Plus, I picked up a cold Port Brewing Wipeout IPA and Boulevard Brewing Saison at BevMo. Good times.

And and and, Orval is I think $5.49 here, way cheaper than what I've seen in Maryland.

January 9, 2009


So I'm back in San Diego for a while ...

One day, I hope, what San Diego has as far as beer, will happen in Maryland.

Look at what is possible on this Friday alone:

Stone Brewing has tours at 2 and 6 Monday through Friday. They'll also have a special Smoked Porter + Vanilla Bean on cask. Lost Abbey just down the road, is open from 4-8 and they're holding some kind of welcoming event as they hired a new brewer from the excellent Boulevard Brewing, complete with some special brew they've put together for the event.

Other breweries with tasting rooms and/or tours on Friday and Saturday include AleSmith, Green Flash, Ballast Point, Alpine and Lightning among others.

At perhaps the greatest bar in the world if you dig hoppy beers, O'Briens, they're having a Green Flash event with 10 taps. And then Summer of Beer Steve tells me at a place I also need to check out named Downtown Johnny Brown's, they have Ballast Point's wonderful Sculpin IPA on tap right now. Tentatively we have plans to check that out (or O'Briens, or La Jolla Brew House or Toronado or Hamilton's or...) and catch the Ravens game down here. Good times.

I've got some things to do Friday so I'm pulling my hair trying to figure out how much if any of that I can squeeze in especially with traffic and family but wow. The best and worst part is its not any particularly special weekend, there's just a ton of great beer down here and the big boys tend to have something going on all the time whether its special beers, events, growler fills and so on.

All that said, I've got my eyes on the prize, one of the greatest beer events anywhere, the February 13th-15th Belgian Beer fest at Max's in Baltimore. San Diego would be lucky to have that kind of event, glad we have it in Baltimore though.

January 7, 2009

Interesting Mail

I'll post a photo at some point, but Jessie who runs HoCoBlogs sent me something from her personal collection -- an old "Baltimore Brew" bottle opener. I don't know much else about it, but its darn cool Breweriana. The opener also has Vaughan and Chicago etched into it and the handle has a beer bottle design etched in it.

This thing just looks old and awesome, a definite collectible from another era. I'll update as I find more information about it.

Many thanks Jessie!

January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Er, Brew Year?

Anyway, hope your New Year's Eve festivities were safe.

Hopefully I don't take for granted that last year I was able to drink great beer all over the United States, from Florida to Maryland, to Washington D.C. to Las Vegas, Northern California and San Diego.

I can't wait to see what 2009 brings, particularly in Maryland!