July 31, 2009

Real Time

Nice head! Pratt Street Ale House cream ale at Frisco Grille, yummmmmmm

Update: Tape delay! This arrived almost a day later than I sent it from my phone. Regardless, enjoy.

July 30, 2009

The Great Beer Summit

I don't really have too much commentary to add that hasn't been said by other beer nerds and afficionados. More than anything I'm just amused at nationwide interest in the particulars of what beer each participant is having, not in a cynical way or anything, just amusement.

Flying Dog took their camper down to D.C. to advocate the President and Co. drink local beer. That's cool, I'd rather they have drank something more flavorful and interesting but it doesn't have to get tied up into the drink local thing. Just drink flavorful. Craft. Whatever.

At the end of the day more power to the President to drink the stuff use craft beer nuts don't like, its a free country, so long as we amicably get in our two cents and battle for hearts and minds not by leveraging others but plain old education and word of mouth.

July 29, 2009

Tasting Room Question

Are there any "tasting room" type places for local breweries besides Flying Dog, Clipper City and Eastern Shore Brewing? We're looking at you, Clay Pipe, Dog Brewing, etc.

I absolutely love tasting rooms -- you can interact with brewery folk at their facility, have a low-cost range of tasting options, maybe get a snack, maybe buy some merchandise, maybe take home a growler if available, and maybe get a tour. During my most recent travels we hit up several tasting rooms and had a great time.

So far I've experienced Flying Dog's tasting room which is a blast, and hopefully can get into Clipper City's (as part of their brewery tour) before college football season starts and my Saturdays become booked solid through December.

I'm sure there's all kinds of legal hurdles to them here in Maryland, but in my mind its a great thing for breweries to do.

Obviously some breweries have attached restaurants and bars (Pratt Street Ale House, Brewer's Art, Ellicott Mills, Red Brick Station) so this is less of a concern, but even with that I've seen such places open a satellite tasting room or used their brewery as the tasting room facility and opened separate bars/restaurants.

Hopefully that becomes more of a trend here in lovely Maryland.

MDbeerspotter Twitter

So I've set up a Twitter account that might be useful if enough beer nerds participate.

It is called MDbeerspotter

Basically, tweet your unique, interesting, whatever, beer finds to @MDbeerspotter and I'll retweet/republish them in a hopefully timely matter. It can be a low energy way to see what's available all around Maryland, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Be sure to follow and then whenever you're out, text over interesting finds. For example, if I'm at Frisco Grille and I see they have a Brewer's Art Saison L'Ombre on, I can text that over, something in under 140 characters obviously, example: "BrewersArt Saison L'Ombre, Frisco Grille 7/29" You can name multiple beers in multiple tweets, just don't go overboard obviously.

Or even pass along interesting news items or whatever seems applicable. Lets have some fun with this.

July 28, 2009

Continually Evolving

Recently I was asked to provide tasting notes on various beers I've mentioned. Its a fair request but philosophically Baltimore Beer Guy is trending away from that for various reasons.

One, I'm no expert. Although I have opinions about beers, mine may not necessarily make all that much sense or sound vague to more developed palates. Speaking broadly no two people have the same impression on any beer. Speaking narrowly my impression doesn't matter all that much.

I think generally people have an idea what they're drinking, and expertise and understanding is gained not from reading others' sentiments but experiencing on one's own (plus there's the enjoyment factor). Now, there's nothing wrong with advance work and that is something I try to do in boning up on a new beer or a style I haven't tried yet.

In the absence of offering a bunch of tasting notes on here, I will say my general suggestion for those seeking more specifics about a particular beer or style is to use the popular tools out there like the reviews at Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. I definitely do this on my own, seeking out reviewers whose tastes seem to dovetail with mine. Additionally, I look for repetitive trends -- people saying the same thing about a particular beer as a guide for what to expect and reference when it comes time to try a particular brew.

Plus, there's that ever-expanding mental library of flavors and beers that comes from my heavy tasting over the years that is hard to put into words.

Again, experience comes in handy. It may not make sense until you've had a few examples (and then some) from a particular style how vast of a gap there is between say Avery's Maharaja as a Double IPA and Clipper City's newly released, sickly sweet Big DIPA. Others may quibble but I found these two to be divergent interpretations of the same darn style and it has to do with the malt and sweetness and approach to hop flavoring that isn't easily explained by a layperson like myself.

In the meantime I'm more than happy to offer thoughts if asked and will continue to offer opinions where I see fit, but yeah, not everything's necessarily going to get much in the way of tasting notes.

July 27, 2009

Brewer's Art, Max's Earn Baltimore Magazine Best Bar Honors

In its readers' poll. Ya dig?

Pratt Street Ale House

Good stuff going on there since the oddly configured ownership change.

The website is great, although still in progress, and there's a news feed/blog area worth visiting.

Bookmark it, you're missing out on items like Brewer Steve Jones getting tattooed with the "3 Lions Ale" logo on Wednesday August 12th. As a reward there will be a kilderkin (20+ gallons) of Oak Aged 3 Lions (strong brown ale) available on cask, its been aged for over two months "so its going to be full of wonderful oak flavors". Plus, beer specials all night long, giveaways from 8 PM, and general fun times.

I'm not the hugest fan of that 3 Lions, but I had an excellent pour of their Iron Man Pale at Frisco Grille the other day, Steve's an excellent brewer to put it mildly. I still haven't gotten down there yet since the reopen/renovation so that's on the agenda for hopefully very soon.

Also, some interesting trivia questions with fun freebies, get in early when the odds are good and the entire town hasn't discovered the trivia stuff yet.

And as noted earlier here, Jones will be at Frisco Grille on August 15 around noon to demonstrate some all-grain homebrewing magic.

July 26, 2009

Frisco Grille for August

Scan down to the bottom for the August calendar, expertly designed by owner Adam Carton. Funny picture there of Pratt Street Ale House brewmaster Steve Jones, who will be on hand August 15th around noon to demonstrate some all-grain homebrewing magic.

Wednesday Pint nights:

August 5th - Stoudts
August 12th - Otter Creek
August 19th - Sierra Nevada
August 26th - Dogfish Head

This coming Wednesday they'll also have some selections from Fuller's available.


--- "Waynestock", celebrating Mahaffey's owner Wayne Mahaffey, goes off Saturday September 19th. More details when we get them.

--- Max's will host a one day Ciderfest this Tuesday July 28th at 6 PM. See the YFGF lnk for whats available. I missed last week's Christmas in July which per reports was a great success.

--- Reminder, Baltimore Beer Week will be from October 8th-18th. See website, twitter account for more info but the basics:

Opening tap event aboard the USS Constellation (cool!), Maryland Oktoberfest and The Chesapeake Real Ale Festival.

--- The Bowie Baysox have been hosting several beer dinner events this season. Their 4th such event will be on Thursday August 13th from 6-9 PM. It will be called "OctoBEERfest", sponsored by Spaten. For $41 ($27 without beverages) you get access for two hours to an all you can eat buffet, a three-hours all you can drink event, a ticket to the game against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and free parking "from the ease and comfort of a luxury suite".

The dinner will include salad, assorted hors d'oeuvres, german style sausage and apple bake, grilled pork loin with mushroom bier sauce, cheese pasta with spinach and nutmeg, braised cabbage, roasted summer vegetables, and german chocolate brownies and strawberries.

On tap will be draft Spaten Oktoberfest, Spaten Munich Dunkel, Spaten Optimator, Franziskaner Dunkel Weiss and Spaten Lager.

Tickets must be purchased by 3 PM on August 11th.

Also, their fourth and final beer event will be on September third, more details as they arrive.

--- The next available tours at Clipper City will be at 1 and 230 PM on August 8th, 15th and 22nd, reservations recommended.

--- The excellent SoYeahDood has pieced together a Baltimore based homebrew club of sorts, looks kind of cool, its called "Baltibrew". Their next meetup is at 630 PM on

--- Looney's North is running its annual "kiss-a-pig" competition, purchase a pig for $1 which goes to support youth development programs with the Boys & Girls Clubs in Harford County. Pigs can be purchased now through August 20th, where the kissing occurs during the Ironbirds' game at Ripken Stadium.

--- Looks like we missed Belgian Independence Day last week. Bummer, a nod in the direction of the Belgian people and particularly their master brewers that keep us beer nerds inspired.

--- The Society for the Preservation of Beer from Wood (SPBW) is having its annual bus trip on Saturday August 8th. They'll leave the Timonium Fairgrounds park-n-ride at 930 AM before heading to Stoudts, Victory and Sly Fox. Price is $30 for the ride on the luxury coach with a small buffet on the last leg at Sly Fox. Open to all.

They'll also host a crab feast at Goddard Space Flight Center Rec Center on Saturday September 19th. It includes all you can eat steamed crabs, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, burgers, dogs, coleslaw, desserts, cask ale, sodas, water, with games for adults and kids. Price is $35 for adults, $10 for 7-13 year old kids, free for those six and under. Bring homebrewed beer (they'll take care of the ice), a mallet or crab picking knife and yourself. Advance tickets only. See the website for specifics and important ticket and arrival info.

--- There will be a five-day inaugural "DC Beer Week" starting August 16th through the 20th involving more than a dozen breweries and 25 restaurants.


--- The Judges Bench in downtown Ellicott City earned mention in Sunday's Howard section of the Baltimore Sun. It was mostly about owner Mike Johnson (pictured in the article) and his encyclopedic knowledge of beer and brewing.

It happens to be one of my regular stops and I swung in there yesterday to give congrats to Mike and staff. In my view its the second best beer bar in Howard County, behind Frisco Grille and certainly one of the best in Maryland with its 17 consistently rotating and versatile taps and excellent, underrated bottle fridge.

--- Everyone loves Brewer's Art Ozzy, even those all the way across the country.

--- Clipper City has now released its "Hang Ten" weizen dopplebock, a hefty 10% ABV unique brew.

--- Be sure to check out Just Beer News, a growing compendium of beer items and news releases.

--- Also, check out Pizza Blogger, who appreciates good brews as well as great pizza. Great site.

--- The great HowChow reports the opening of a place called Dog House Pub & Grill in Columbia, apparently similar to the Pub Dog near Frisco Grille also in Columbia. I'm curious the beer situation there, as a reader emailed of $3 pints for beers like Flying Dog and Dogfish Head. Hopefully a website arrives for them soon.

Cool new blog find, "Drinking the Chesapeake" from a Fordham brewer (as seen at Beer Activist)

--- The Brewing News has updated its calendar feature, its more customizable now.

--- New Atlanta-based but hopefully nationally and globally inspired beer mag, The Beer Connoisseur.

--- Any reports from the new 13.5% winbar as far as beer goes? Pizza Blogger says they've got eight beers on tap and dozens of bottles. Sounds a bit like the excellent, underrated Grand Cru in Belvedere Square.

--- Great writeup of D.C. beer stops from the Washingtonian. I've been to Birreria Paradiso, District Chophouse, Granville Moore's, RFD and Rustico. Thoughts on them at a later point, but email if you're curious in the meantime.

--- DC Beer says there will be a new and improved Pizzeria Paradiso opening August 17th in DuPont. Look for 12 drafts, over 150 bottles. Woohoo!

--- Relentless Thirst spoke with Patrick Rue, CEO of California's The Bruery, which is working to get some placement in Virginia (Maryland next? Pretty, pretty please?). They make excellent, unusual Belgian inspired beers.


Back from a lengthy trip. Whatever, its summer in Maryland, lets talk beer!

July 11, 2009

Alpine Beer Co.

Probably the best or second best IPA, Pale type brewers in my book.

July 7, 2009

Judges On A Roll

Avery 16th, Creme Brulee, Big Red, Maharaja, Hennepin, Hop Devil, Prior 8, Tremens, Karmeliet, Le Merle, Backfin Pale all on tap.

July 6, 2009

Related Brewers Art

Above, the Brewer's Art bottled beer list (beautiful booklet, really) and their present tap list. Brewer's Art obviously makes all their own beers on tap, the seasonals on at present are two distinct saisons, one dark one light, and the Kolsch mentioned below. Perfect summer offerings.

I overheard an employee mention that this week they're changing their dining menu, something they do about six times a year to reflect seasonal food availability and chef inspiration and whatnot.

On the bar menu I noticed they've changed up the mac and cheese recipe, this time including grilled spring onion, smoked tomato and thyme. Sounds delicious, I'll have to try that next time I'm in, its neat how they serve it in a mini cast iron dish. The grilled pork banh mi sounded interesting as well, with spicy carrot and daikon slaw, butter lettuce, sriracha aioli and cilantro, plus a side of their delicious rosemary garlic fries.

Best get yourself down there, its a great little beer and food place discussed frequently enough on here, with two distinct bar areas, a lounge of sorts and two spacious white linen dining rooms.

Owner/founder/however we shall call him Volker was at the bar for a few moments while I was there today as well. I probably should have introduced myself and genuflected but oh well, next time.

Real Time

Brewers Art upstairs bar, thats their excellent Nein! Kolsch-style I've been longing for. A bit zippy with hops and carbonation, balanced with whatever malt they're using.

This is the kind of light (4.5 ABV) but flavorful beer America should be drinking.

The Horse You Came In On

The Horse You Came In On Saloon, allegedly one of the oldest still-standing establishments in the United States. Its in Fells Point, a few doors down from Duda's. I haven't gone in yet, doesn't seem like a craft beer place but whatever, its relatively ancient Americana!

Update: From Mid-Atlantic Brewing News' Alexander D. Mitchell, in the comment below:

"We pretty much disproved the "one of the oldest bars in the United States" claim in a recent issue of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News. A past owner somewhat disingenuously extrapolated the age of the building/deed into the "age" of the business. During part of the time since the earlier-alleged start of business, it was owned by a local Methodist minister--and Methodists were notorious for being anti-alcohol activists in that era!"

So there you go - Ed.

July 5, 2009

Real Time

THE template upon which many Belgian pales are built. Pilsner malt, and then madness from there.

Ever Notice

Certain beers tend to crop up around the same time at several of the major beer stops here in Maryland? For example, I'll see something from say, Weyerbacher at my main hangout, Frisco Grille. And then I'll look around or be on the road and see it on the lists at either Max's or Mahaffey's or The Judges Bench, etc.

It makes sense as the vendors hawk their wares on the main beer places, and I think its a positive. There's still plenty of variety among these watering holes and they don't seem to carry specific beers all at the same time so we can see them space them out a bit and follow certain beers around town, if you will.

July 4, 2009

Also Elsewhere in Ellicott City

The *fairly* recently opened Win Bin in downtown Ellicott City, directly across from The Judges Bench. They've got a nice enough beer section in back, for a wine place. Its an open and inviting interior. Nice touch that first picture, a basket of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA's.

Elsewhere in Ellicott City

1) Het Anker's Gouden Carolus Ambrio (fascinating taste!) at The Judges Bench

2 & 3) Outside shots of the Ellicott Mills Brewery

July 2, 2009

Real Time

Other notes at The Judges Bench:

- Other goodies include Delerium Tremens, Racer 5, Victory Golden Monkey tripel, Tripel Karmeliet on tap with Avery Maharajah and St. Bernardus Prior 8 on the way.

- Cheese plate now on the menu

- Kwak glass at the bar, thats new, plus Kwak bottles in the fridge

- Update: Forgot to mention they had Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA on tap. They operate on a "pin" system so the beers tend to kick a lot more often there, selection tends to change quite often.

Real Time

Duvel Green at The Judges Bench in Ellicott City, one of a limites handful of places in Maryland.

Tastes like a less bright, slightly zippier Duvel, a little creaminess to it as well although it has the clear yellow to gold of a pilsner.