March 31, 2010

Beer Notes

-- Heavy Seas' Letter of Marque 'Hop Rye Porter' will be officially released at Mahaffey's on Thursday April 1st from 5-7 PM. It was the creation of homebrewers Frank Butt and Neil Heinlein.

Heavy Seas will host another Ladies Night at their brewery on Friday April 16th from 6-8 PM. Tickets are $10 and registration is required.

And on May 1st there will be a Heavy Seas Beer & Tapas event at Alexander's, listed in Ellicott City (did they mean Alexandra's at Turf Valley golf resort?)

-- The Judges Bench in Ellicott City will celebrate its third anniversary with a Heavy Seas event and a Big DIPA firkin on Friday April 2nd.

-- Upcoming events at Victoria Gastro Pub include the Rogue Beer Dinner on April 14th, the Allagash 'Meet the Maker' event from noon-3 PM with a ton of Allagash taps, a Trappist beer dinner on May 11th and then 'Victoria Day' on May 24th with the raffle drawing for a trip for beer club members.

They've recently redesigned the bar menu a bit, with daily updates of whats on tap, information on upcoming beer dinners and featured breweries on Beer Club night Monday, and much more. Do seek those out.

-- April marks the beginning of IPA month at Mahaffey's, but they've already put 13+ IPA's on tap through late March! Be sure to stop by all month and celebrate one of the tastiest beer styles out there.

Also in April at Mahaffey's: 1)Anniversary Party on April 17th with free catered buffet 2)Pints & Pancakes breakfast on April 18th from 10 AM to 2 PM 3)Allagash Night on April 21st.

-- Timonium's Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival will be held on April 10th.

-- April Fools Day must be the most competitive beer day in a long time with so many events, and DuClaw is jumping in on the action with $1 beers ALL DAY. Much more info from them via their new blog -- bookmark it.

-- Fordham is releasing their Queen Anne Kolsch at Ram's Head Tavern on Thursday, April 1st. For $4 you get commemorative glassware and a first pour, with each additional pour just $1 from 4-6 PM.

There will also be a 'meet the brewmaster' event featuring brewer Walter Trifari at Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits on Saturday April 3rd from 1-4 PM.

-- For those out in the Salisbury area, be sure to check out the brand new Specific Gravity Pizzeria and Bottle Shop. Its brought to you by some members of the Evolution Brewing team. I'm a big fan of the Evolution crew, hopefully that venture's as cool as everything else they've done so far.

March 25, 2010

Firkin Thursday and Friday

Frisco Grille will have Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter on the bar tonight and it will be full pours (16oz) as opposed to the chalices.

At Max's they'll have Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, Brew Dog Paradox Smokehead, Brew Dog Paradox Springbank and JW Lees Harvest Ale (on the bar).

At Metropolitan they'll have the last Troegs Nugget Nectar firkin of the season!

And on Friday a special firkin from Stillwater Ales, their Stateside Saison at Alonso's!

DuClaw is contributing two of their own: a Cinnamon Vanilla Sawtooth at all three locations and an etra Peppermint Infused Imperial Chocolate Rye Porter (tapped after the Sawtooth is finished) at the Arundel Mills location.

March 24, 2010

BrewDog Event at Max's Tonight

Also tonight, and you probably already know this, the owner of BrewDog, James Watt, will be on hand at Max's all the way from Scotland.

Festivities kick off at 6 PM and will feature a huge line of their offerings including the pricey and rare Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink The Bismarck.

Paradox Smokehead
Paradox Springbank

Punk IPA
Hardcore IPA
5am Saint
Brew Dog/Stone Bashah

Atlantic IPA
Brew Dog/Stone Bashah
Chaos Theory
Brew Dog/Mikkeller Divine Rebel
Paradox Islay
Paradox Glen Grant
Paradox Macallan
Paradox Port Dundas
Paradox Smokehead
Paradox Speyside

Evolution Pint Night at Frisco Grille

Frisco Grille's latest pint night event is happening today (Wednesday) starting at 7 PM.

Delaware's excellent Evolution Brewing will be on hand with a cask conditioned Rise Up Stout as well as the brand spanking new Lot #6 Double IPA, the excellent Lot #3 IPA, the Exile ESB and something called Sprung.

Don't miss out!

March 23, 2010

Heavy Seas Big DIPA Beer Social At Max's

This Tuesday, Max's will feature local stars Heavy Seas showing off their Big DIPA double IPA on tap and on cask. The Clipper City crew will be on hand, and festivities will kick off at 6 PM in the Mobtown Lounge.

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
Olivers 3 Spires
Flying Dog Doggie Style
Avery Mephistopheles
Blaugies La Moneuse Special Winter
Cazeau Tournay
Contreras Valeir Blonde
Contreras Valeir Extra
Fruli Strawberry
Fullers Mr Harry
Italiano Tipo Pils
Lagunitas Wilco Tanco Foxtrot
Otter Creek Raspberry Brown
RJ Rockers Son of A Peach
Smuttynose Big A IPA
Southern Tier 422
Southern Tier Iniquity
Southern Tier Oak Aged Unearthly
The Bruery Rogbrod
The Bruery Saison De Lente
Troegs Nugget Nectar
Unibroue Trois Pistoles

March 22, 2010

Flying Dog Victoria Gastro Pub Event

Speaking of Flying Dog, they'll be at Victoria Gastro Pub tonight (Monday) from 5 PM onward with a huge selection of beers plus rep Matt Crow and special guest brewer Matt Brophy.

On tap:

Doggie Style Pale Ale (firkin)
Gonzo Imperial Stout (nitro)
Kerberos Tripel (retired!)
Road Dog Porter
Garde Dog (end of the season)
Double Dog Double Pale Ale
Old Scratch Amber
Raging Bitch

March 19, 2010

St. Patricks Day at Nicks Cross St. Market

Picture from early in the day on St. Patrick's Day at Nick's Oyster Bar at the Cross St. Market in Federal Hill with Flying Dog's Matt Crow and Metropolitan Coffeehouse (+ Wine Bar) owner Bruce Dorsey.

This being a Matt Crow trip there was a tap of Flying Dog's Doggie Style Pale Ale on tap at Nick's. Dorsey smartly closed down his establishment at 3 PM so as to avoid the inevitable rowdies on St. Patricks Day.

Again, this picture, its contents, cannot be independently be verified and are potentially made up by the bozo who took the picture.

It looks like next week's firkin at Metropolitan could be Troegs' Nugget Nectar and they still have a Stillwater Artisinal Ales Stateside Saison firkin in the works while plans are also in the works to run Flying Dog's Raging Bitch Belgian IPA at the upstairs bar alongside the LaChouffe Houblon Chouffe Belgian IPA as sort of an amusing side-by-side comparison of Belgian IPA interpretations.

Also, Mr. Dorsey mentioned the possibility of a 'Friday the Firkinteenth' once a month coinciding with the Friday each month that falls on a 'teen' date of the month (15th, 16th, 17th, etc.).

Ale Mary's St. Patricks Day

This picture of Flying Dog's Matt Crow and Ale Mary's Tom Rivers cannot not be independently verified by the owner, or something.

ByTheWay there are now two Flying Dog tap handles at Ale Mary's because of the gentleman on the left (and right). But maybe this is all faked, or a conspiracy.

March 15, 2010

Beer Notes

-- For those seeking out the excellent, brand new Stateside Saison from Stillwater Artisinal Ales, here's the complete list of local establishments carrying it on draft, firkin or in bottle. And, here's the latest events schedule of where to find brewer Brian 'Stillwater' Strumke and his beers.

3/15 DC launch at Churchkey
3/16 Max’s Tuesday Beer Social featuring Stateside
3/17 Stateside tapping at the Baltimore Tap House
3/19 Stateside tasting @ The Wine Source
3/20 SPBW Real Ale Fest @ Pratt Street Ale House
3/31 Frisco Grille "Pint Night" (although our glassware is not a pint)
4/1 Stateside event with glassware giveaway @ The Brewers Art
4/24 City Paper Annual Beer Fest

-- A picture of Frisco Grille's delicious burrito on Flickr. And the beer board. Why not?

The featured pint night this week, St. Patrick's Day appropriate, is Guinness/Harp/Smithwicks. Be sure to stop by sometime in the evening and try to catch owner Adam's small batch of corned beef, that stuff was delicious last year.

Thursday night's firkin will be Weyerbacher's Hops Infusion.

-- Victoria Gastro Pub has been nominated for a 'Stars of the Industry' award for its wine and beverage program by the Restaurant Association of Maryland. They are asking for votes in seeking the Wine & Beverage Program of the Year award, which you can help by voting at this link. Voting runs through March 23rd.

-- Firkin Friday is returning to DuClaw. On March 26th at 5 PM the following firkins will be available:

Arundel Mills: Cinnamon vanilla Sawtooth; Peppermint infused imperial Chocolate Rye Porter
Bowie: Cinnamon vanilla Sawtooth
Bel Air: Cinnamon vanilla Sawtooth

St. Patrick's Day specials include all day Happy Hour pricing on pints of Celtic Fury Irish Stout, $1 off Celtic Fury growler refills and $2 off new growlers of Celtic Fury.

-- Alonso's received a surprise visit from new raven receiver Anquan Boldin and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron!

-- This Friday Gilly's will have four Belgian beers on tap as part of a Belgian beer tasting. The following Thursday will be a Sam Adams 25th Anniversary event with $2.50 Sam Adams drafts. And on Saturday March 27th they'll have a Troegs beer tasting from 3-6 PM.

-- The 14th Annual City Paper Brew Fest is fast approaching. Tickets are now on sale for $30 from MissionTix. It will be held on Saturday April 24th at Broadway Square in Fells Point.

-- Baltimore's own esteemed Belgian beer writer Chuck Cook has taken to the pages of Beer Connoisseur Magazine to pen a 1,200 word article about Maryland's own superstar beer bar, Max's.

The Great Resurrection Hunt

The Baltimore Sun's Sam Sessa recently asked what establishments have the cheapest Brewer's Art Resurrection on tap. I'm more curious, given its scarcity and huge waiting list, if we can't cobble together the full list of establishments with permanent (or damn close) accounts with Brewers Art to supply the stuff.

Based on my own findings and other establishments mentioned in Sessa's post, here's an incomplete list. Please comment below to help fill in the blanks.

Brewers Art
Frisco Grille
Greene Turtle (Columbia)
Hon Bar/Cafe Hon
Bill Batemans
One Eyed Mikes
Captain Larry's
Baltimore Taphouse
Hamilton Tavern
Rocket to Venus (maybe)
The Parkside (maybe)
The Pickled Parrot
Annabel Lee Tavern
Hull Street Blues Cafe
Red Star
Emerald Tavern

Stoudts At Victoria Gastro Pub

Stoudts Brewing will be making an appearance at Columbia's Victoria Gastro Pub Monday. Stoudts family member Eddie Stoudt will be on hand, and he'll have five taps and a firkin with him. The last time he was at Victoria they featured an unusual firkin of Fat Dog oatmeal stout aged with cherries and chocolate.

According to my notes the firkin this time will be their America Pale Ale. The new Karnival Kolsch will be on tap (a sure sign Summer is on its way) and again, according to notes, the Old Abominable barleywine should be on tap.

Festivities begin at 5 PM.

March 11, 2010

Beer Notes

-- This Thursday at Frisco Grille: Stillwater Artisan Ale's Stateside Saison on firkin.

-- On cask this Thursday at Max's: Flying Dog Doggie Style pale ale, Olivers 3 Spires, Lagunitas IPA, Arcadia Nut Brown, Wintercoat Mols. Things get official around 6 PM.

-- On cask at Metropolitan Coffeehouse, Pratt Street Ale House's Three Spires and White Marsh Brewing's Charlotte's West Coast Amber Ale. Both will be available upstairs for $3 a pint. SPBW will also be meeting there tonight.

-- Stoudt's will be the featured brewery this Monday at Victoria Gastro Pub. Eddie Stoudt will be on hand with Stoudt's Kolsch, Gold, Scarlet Lady ESB and Winter Ale on tap.

The following Monday, Flying Dog and super rep Matt Crow check in. Matt will present seven Flying Dog beers on draft and there will be a special appearance from brewer (Sr. VP of Brewing) Matt Brophy!

On tap: the amazing firkin of the Doggie Style pale ale (I hear the last few bars to get these firkins have been thrilled with the product), Gonzo Imperial Porter (on nitro), Garde Dog Biere de Garde (enjoy it now, it's just about out of season), In Heat Wheat just in time for the warm weather, Double Dog double pale ale, Victoria Gastro Pub staple Raging Bitch Belgian IPA aaaaaaanddddd the recently retired Kerberos Tripel which is absolutely delicious in its own right.

Also: a VGP review from Brewnotes.

-- In other Flying Dog news, the state of New Hampshire has foolishly rejected the distribution and sale of their 20th Anniversary Raging Bitch Belgian IPA. For the anti-censorship activists reading this out there, have at it!

And if it isn't already abundantly clear, Raging Bitch is one of *the* big beers in America this year, soaring through production so as to be made available for enjoyment by its adoring public.

More good news: Flying Dog's In-Heat Wheat will be available on draft at Nationals' Park to help drown the Capitol's sorrow in having one of the sorriest organizations in all of baseball.

-- Thursday is 'brew day' for Pratt Street Ale House's upcoming Cherry Blossom Ale. Not sure when the official launch date is, but super brewer Stephen Jones is teasing something called a "Chocolate Covered Cherry" with the Cherry Blossom Ale blended with the Bishop's Breakfast. He's set aside a sixtel of the Bishop's Indulgence to be put on nitro for the Chocolate Covered Cherry at the launch.

Be on the lookout for PSAH casks of Best Bitter and Bishop's Breakfast (oatmeal stout w/vanilla) at ChurchKey and Frisco Grille.

On tap: PSAH's Mocha Java Porter. Yum.

Meanwhile, PSAH's DC successes continue with an upcoming beer dinner with CommonWealth Gastropub on Tuesday, March 23rd. The menu.

If you're searching for an excuse to head down to PSAH, Tuesday nights are Cask Appreciation Night with $3 cask pints from 5 PM until close. Parking is a hassle but I've located a reasonably affordable garage a few blocks away at Pratt and Light Streets for $5 I believe after 5 PM.

-- Mahaffey's will feature Irish food specials on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday. They'll open at 9 AM on Wednesday with $1.50 Guinness pints with a price increase as the day goes on. Oddly, they'll have a doorman checking ID's on those days (don't give him a hard time, says Wayne).

April activities: Heavy Seas Letter of Marque release, Pints & Pancakes breakfast (something like this), Opening Day, Allagash Night (April 21st, we assume?), the 8th Anniversary party and Mahaffey's 'National IPA Month' celebration all month.

-- Its Thursday, which means discounted Belgian beers at Kooper's Tavern in Fells Point.

-- Brewers Art's latest entry in their Zodiac Pale Ale series is out, called Pisces 2 made with Slovenian Celeia hops. Sounds very, very interesting! I've also seen the Sublimation in at least one spot around town (Hamilton Tavern).

-- Now on tap at the elegant and esteemed Woodberry Kitchen: Flying Dog Imperial Gonzo Porter, Smuttynose Robust Porter, Evolution ESB, Victory All Malt Limited Lager, Brooklyn Pilsner, Allagash Belgium White always, Anchor Steam. Be sure to check out their revamped website, pretty cool. Man I need to get back over there soon (and check out Alonso's nearby).

-- DuClaw has released its Celtic Fury Irish Stout this week, in events for both yesterday and today. Look through DuClaw's release calendar I see some beers I haven't heard of set for release, looks to be an exciting year. I wonder what Valkyr and Pax Nemesis are?

-- Heavy Seas Real Ale & BBQ Fest, focusing heavily on cask beer, will be held Saturday April 2nd from noon to 4 PM. Tickets are $49. For the first time ever they'll offer their Loose Cannon in wood casks. Something called 'Little DIPA' and eight other real ales will be available.

Also, the Heavy Seas Letter of Marque release party (via Beer In Baltimore/Alexander Mitchell) will be 5-7 PM on Thursday April 1st outside of Mahaffey's as part of a block party. The LoM winner this year is a Hop Rye Porter. That is going to be a busy day going up against the next Flying Dog Bitch Session (with debut of special one-off secret beer and two firkins at Frisco Grille).

-- Ruddy Duck's first 'Irish Stout' is now on tap.

-- Now on tap at Gilly's: Flying Dog Garde Dog, Sierra Nevada Glissade, Dogfish Head Chicory Stout and Newcastle.

-- For those seeking out bottles of Stillwater's debut release, Stateside Saison, Honeygo Wines reports the arrival of two cases of the good stuff. It won't last long.

-- Oh my: Privateer Day 2010 is almost here, surely a signal we're nearing perfect Fells Point on a warm day weather. The pirate madness will be on Friday April 9th and Saturday April 10th.

-- One of my favorite warm, sunny day places in Baltimore is Blue Hill Tavern with its big windows and neat patio over at Brewer's Hill/Canton. They've just added a new happy hour from Monday-Friday (4-7 PM) and Sunday all day with $3 bottles and $4 drafts. They occasionally have something interesting from Magic Hat and a few other good beers.

-- Birch & Barley's Greg Engert has been named one of the Sommeliers of the Year by Food and Wine Magazine. Its nice to see beer sommeliers, as tacky as the title is, getting recognition alongside wine.

-- Whodat?

March 10, 2010

Frisco Grille 2.0

Several pics of Frisco Grille's tentative floor plan shown to customers by owner Adam Carton. There will be a longer, more spacious bar with an interesting presentation area bisecting it.

The dining area will be about the same size but set a little bit further from the bar. Overall more spacious and open with plenty of parking at the side and an easier to find location along Dobbin road.

One more cool feature: an in-house brewing facility adjacent to the entrance. That has potential, no?

March 8, 2010

Beer Notes

Happy Monday

-- Frisco Grille has its March events schedule up -- pint nights with Harpoon, Guinness/Smithwicks, Evolution and Stillwater Brewing. The next two Firkin Thursdays are also lined up with two exciting options: Stillwater Stateside Saison w/American hops on the 11th and Weyerbacher's Hops Infusion on the 18th.

Additionally, the background for the calendar this month is a Google Map showing the path of their eventual move down Dobbin Road. Just follow the red arrow.

-- Wayne Mahaffey, the eccentric owner of Mahaffey's in Canton, has released a video showing off his neat bar in an effort to win a Bahamas vacation from WBAL.

-- Victoria Gastro Pub is having a big St. Patrick's Day with music, door prizes, food and beer specials. They'll open at 9 AM (normally 11 AM open) and offer $2 guinness 12oz pours from the first keg at open. On the menu there will be their interpretations of Irish Breakfast, Smithwick's braised corned beef & cabbage and Guinness pie.

The cool beer hook is that most of their 24 taps will feature Irish or Irish themed beers -- Murphy's Stout, Murphy's Red, Guinness, Harp, Smithwick's, O'Hara's Stout, O'Hara's Irish Red are the ones we know but also mixed in are craft offerings like Oliver's Black Friar Stout, Harpoon Celtic Ale, North Coast Old #38 Irish Stout, Rogue Kell's Irish Lager, Victory Donnybrook Irish Stout, Wexford Irish Cream Ale and more.

--Other Victoria Gastro Pub notes:

This Monday they will have a firkin of Troeg's delicious Nugget Nectar on the bar starting at 5 PM.

The next two beer dinners will be on Tuesday March 9th (Unibroue) and Wednesday April 14th (Rogue)

On Wednesday April 21st Allagash's Rob Todd will on hand as part of the 'Meet the Maker' event from noon-3 PM.

I'll have to recheck with Alex on this one but there will be a Dogfish Head event at Victoria on or around April 26th that will feature 12-14 Dogfish Head offerings.

-- The next Beer Club event at Lures in Crownsville will feature Flying Dog on Tuesday March 9th at 6 PM.

-- Both Heavy Seas Beer and Clutch Sports Lounge have revamped their websites.

-- Check out Heavy Seas Beer's new YouTube channel. Up right now is their brewery tour, in four parts. It is pretty much word-for-word how my tour went a year ago. Owner Hugh Sisson obviously has done a few of those over the years to have it so well rehearsed. Its pretty darn cool that he is the host for most of those.

And enjoy this interview with Heavy Seas founder High Sisson that has interesting insight into the direction of the company over the years.

-- (Brad), clearly looking past this snowy and cold winter, asks if its possible for a year-round good beer bar in Ocean City, Maryland. Something like this but you know, at the beach.
We don’t know about you, but the whole appeal of Ocean City is being able to go out and night and not worry about driving afterwards. Lots of public transportation options (bus, cab, etc.) and even more fun – walking back to the hotel!
-- Beer In Baltimore (Alexander) reports that the historic Stegmaier brand may be making its way to Maryland via Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In an unusual twist they're producing something other than your father's yellow, pilsner-like brew -- think IPA and pale ale.

-- Sad news out of Flying Dog: the Kerberos tripel is officially gone. Flying Dog is blowing up and has been for a while now and is having to juggle huge production demands. The price of growth right now has meant the end of Kerberos but also the permanence of Raging Bitch and a new crop of one-offs like the Coffee Stout and something else coming soon on the horizon.

And, by horizon, we mean very early April. Flying Dog's next 'Bitch Session' in Maryland will be at Columbia's Frisco Grille on Thursday April 1st (no joke!). Early plans call for several Flying Dog beers, possibly multiple firkins, and the debut of a special one-off beer.

You can also check out Flying Dog at Lures in Crownsville's next Beer Club event Tuesday night at 6 PM. They'll have limited edition Flying Dog Dog Schwartz and limited run vintage Horn Dog Barleywine to go with Double Dog and Raging Bitch Belgian IPA.

Meanwhile, Flying Dog is ramping up production of the heavily in-demand Raging Bitch.

-- Pratt Street Ale House is gearing up to make its Cherry Blossom Ale once its delivery of 630 pounds of pureed dark sweet cherries arrives. Yum!

-- Also joining the Cherry Blossom Festival beer festivities is DC's District Chophouse, which recently brewed its Cherry Wheat, with 294 pounds of cherries in 8 barrels, at over a pound per gallon.

-- Join the World Beer Club for free on Tuesdays at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis. Sample 100 beers from around the world and come away with your name on a plaque, an engraved pewter mug, t-shirt, and draft beer specials thereafter.

-- An index of some intriguing St. Patrick's Day events

-- Laurel Park is hosting its own St. Patrick's Day event, but on Saturday the 13th instead. It will feature 'traditional Irish fare and roast pig'. More info here.

-- Calendar stuff:

Heavy Seas Real Ale & BBQ Festival
March 27th
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Fest in Timonium, April 9th-10th

-- The Baltimore Sun writes about popcorn going gourmet and mentions the truffle parmesan popcorn at Victoria Gastro Pub. That is my go-to late night snack there (available after 10 PM), absolutely addicting without overpowering the beer.

-- More on that proposed beer tax increase. Any establishment owners, reps, vendors, distributors etc. reading this care to comment on how it will affect business?

But groups who oppose the alcohol tax increase said a dime a drink is deceiving, that when measured by the gallon it's a large increase and a financial burden they don't feel they should have to bear.

"On beer the tax is currently is 9 cents a gallon," said Peter Frank, who owns Talbert's Ice and Beverage Service in Bethesda. "It will go up to $1.16 a gallon. That's an increase of 1,189 percent."

-- Check out local beer blog Carpe Cervisia, who I met during the Bishop's Indulgence release event at Pratt Street Ale House.

March 7, 2010

Stillwater Artisinal Ales Launches In Maryland

Slightly belated, well-reported news already but I wanted to add my thoughts. Its a shame to see Clay Pipe Brewing potentially moving on, but in that weird balancing act of nature as one creature departs an environment another often moves in.

Such is the case with Stillwater Artisinal Ales, masterfully brewed by owner Brian Strumke. I've spoken with Brian a handful of times now and he's a humble, hopeful person. Given that, its no surprise the strength of his relationships in the Maryland beer community and elsewhere. It seems everyone in town knows him, and is happy to say a good word about his new venture and his ales.

Having finally gotten a taste at Max's (pictures part I and part II), I see now why everyone raves. Right now most everything I've seen is in the Belgian style -- thank you Brian for putting forth a fantastic effort in the underutilized Saison market -- but its called Artisinal Ales for a reason. These are well crafted offerings that over time should certainly span a great range of style.

The first such commercially available ale, Stateside Saison, makes clear the mission. It nods to classic construction with 'the finest European malts' but strikes out for a bolder, unique taste with 'fresh aromatic hops from the United States and New Zealand'.

It looks beautiful and drinks sublime, with a certain zest, something sorta peach-y -- Stillwater's website suggests passionfruit -- and still very much in the farmhouse ale genre.

If most of what comes next from Stillwater is as well crafted and plain old tasty as what I've tried so far, we've got yet another excellent brewer in our midst.

For more background there's the Baltimore Sun writeup, Maryland's own Belgian Beer specialist Chuck Cook's writeup, Bella Online and as well as Stillwater's blog and Twitter account.

Stillwater Artisinal Ales I

1) Stillwater Artisinal Ales brewer and owner Brian Strumke (aka Stillwater) at the Stillwater Artisinal Ales debut event at Max's during Belgian Beer Week. The firkin of his oh so delicious Stateside Saison in the background and a glass of it in the foreground

2) Brian pouring one of his other non-production offerings. He brought several wild ales to the event, I had a taste of one or two and they were spectacular. Brian is an extremely talented brewer.

3) Something funky, and good!

Stillwater Artisinal Ales II

1) The Stateside Saison, Stillwater's first commercial release, up close. Beautiful.

2) Some of Stillwater's other offerings

3) The man of the hour cracks open another of his wild offerings with everyone looking on

4) Picture time: Stillwater Artisinal Ales brewmaster Brian Strumke poses with the firkin of his fantastic first commercial release: Stateside Saison

March 6, 2010

Frisco Grille Miscellaneous

1) The menu is the same but the back cover has added a little glamor. Owner Adam Carton does all the graphics for the website, menu, etc.

2) Flying Dog's Doggie Style Pale Ale firkin, yummmmmmm

3 & 4) The previously hyped BBQ chicken tacos, er, what's left of them! That sauce is amazing and cools down nicely with the lettuce and sour cream.

Flying Dog 'Bitch Session' at Elliott's Pour House

Last Thursday was Flying Dog's monthly 'Bitch Session' and was held at Elliott's Pour House in Canton. Bitch Sessions are Flying Dog's way of hosting a rotating monthly (first Thursday of every month) local event. The BS's are usually held in Frederick, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and somewhere in Maryland.

Elliott's was a fine choice and fine host, serving up three Flying Dog beers: Raging Bitch Belgian IPA, Garde Dog Biere De Garde and In-Heat Wheat. Flying Dog rep Matt Crow was on hand as well as seemingly all but a few of the area's beer writers. It was nice to sit back with some really good, fresh beers and enjoy a bar I wish I visited more while talking beer and whatever else with friends and peers.

For the curious, the next Bitch Session will be on Thursday April 1st (not a joke) at Columbia's Frisco Grille. The beers are still TBD but potentially there could be multiple firkins and there will definitely be the unveiling of Flying Dog's next super secret one-off beer. I'll speak with the Frisco Grille folks and see if anything else is planned as well.

And as for Elliott's I've been meaning to post a few pictures and say a few good words. As a beer geek I've really enjoyed the place both visits, they have a 20 tap tower, a long bar, a pool table, a couple TV's and that's about it. Its simple and they feature quality beers at some amazing prices (check out the happy hour). Its a cool, casual vibe in Canton near Brewer's Hill and definitely worth a visit when in the area. Parking nearby is also painless and plentiful so don't let that be a worry.

Ballast Point Sculpin

Someone needs to step up and make a beer like this in Maryland. A first-rate flavorful double IPA that just makes you cry when the bottle is empty.

March 4, 2010

Beer Notes

-- Couple big Flying Dog events this week. First up is the monthly "Bitch Session" held on the first Thursday of ... every month. They're held around various markets and feature Flying Dog reps, beer, and merriment. The big one this week will be at Elliott's Pour House in Canton. Super rep Matt Crow will be on hand, there will be a cool happy hour deal, plenty of nearby parking, and a screening of bowling comedy King Pin. Festivities kick off around 6 PM.

EPH is interesting because they have a cool tap tower that has room to expand, something they just might be doing soon as they have plans for five new lines. They mention a hope for Stillwater Ales, Dogfish Head, Evolution, 16 Mile and one more.

Also, in Frederick at Bushwaller's they'll gather from 5-7 PM with $3 Flying Dog beers and giveaways.

On Friday, Alonso's will have its monthly firkin, featuring Flying Dog's Doggie Style Pale Ale. I've had this firkin around town now several times (mostly at Frisco Grille) and have yet to be disappointed, very tasty stuff. Speaking of Alonso's, here's their St. Patrick's Day specials (.pdf). Oh, and Loco Hombre just unveiled their new dinner menu (.pdf) as well as Alonso's (.pdf).

Flying Dog will also have another firkin around town on Friday, at Koopers Tavern in Fells Point! What a night.

-- Also, a recipe for "Bitch and Chips" ... Raging Bitch beer battered fish and chips at the Flying Dog website. That picture is a great sell!

-- Pratt Street Ale House is rapidly gearing up for their March 20th Real Ale Festival. They'll have casks from Arcadia, Weyerbacher, the brand new Stillwater Brewing, Brewer's Art, Flying Dog and some house offerings. Tickets ($35) are now on sale and all but sold out. It promises to be an amazing event.

Also: the Three Spires Ale just went on tap (and cask). Its a 5% golden ale hopped with English First Gold, Kent Goldings and Fuggles. Brewmaster Stephen Jones is a 'very happy man, it's fantastic!'. Look for the appearance of a few firkins of this around town in the next few weeks. Next in the cask rotation: Biere De Garde and then Mocha Java Porter!

Or, check out this week's Friday Question for a chance to try Fuller's Vintage Ale 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Also, Midnight Sun covers steady rumblings that PSAH will expand into Federal Hill and perhaps even Pennsylvania.

Also, a nod on where to find PSAH beers in DC this week and the crazy labors of being a brewer at the blog.

-- Brewers Art's new monthy pale ale in the Zodiac series is Pisces with an 'interesting new malt and nice hop character'.

-- This week's firkin for Firkin Thursday (cask conditioned/gravity poured) at Columbia's Frisco Grille will be Brewers Art's Saison L'Ombre, tapping at either 4 or 6 PM. Pint Night on Wednesday will feature Warsteiner beer.

-- Mark your calendars: Friday April 2nd is the third anniversary party for The Judges' Bench in downtown Ellicott City. They'll have the Heavy Seas crew in attendance to tap a firkin of the Big DIPA!

-- We've heard the rumors but now they appear to have made their way to print: Beer In Baltimore's Alexander Mitchell is reporting that Clay Pipe Brewing may close down. Better stock up on whatever's left on store shelves if true. Its just weird to me that this state would add one brewery (Stillwater) and lose another (Clay Pipe) within weeks of each other after little growth or decline in the last few years.

-- Something called Gadling lists Baltimore as one of the top 24 greatest cities in the world for drinking beer. To which I say: duh! They amusingly mock 'Baltimore Beer Week's 10 day idea of a week, but get down with the 'Hon nature of Charm City.

-- has a recap and some pictures of Max's recent 6th annual Belgian Beer Fest. Flip through the pictures and there should be someone you know in them.

-- Mr. Mitchell takes a page from Baltimore Beer Guy and lets the picture do (most of) the talking: Sam Smith Beer Dinner at Metropolitan Coffeehouse in Federal Hill, March 2nd (menu info). He also reports on new beers at Don't Know Tavern (thanks to suggestions from commenters at the Midnight Sun blog). Flying Dog rep Matt Crow has confirmed with me they'll be on tap with the upcoming changes.

And there's this excellent writeup of Kloby's Smokehouse (plus more here) somewhere in that vague area of southern Howard County. I've seen a few recent Twitter updates noting good craft beer on tap there, which is a wonderful pair with BBQ. I need to haul it over there, soon! Of some intrigue:
In addition, the glassware used is Ball pint and half-pint jars--a rather transparent answer to the issue of just how much the glass holds
Oh, and some info on the next SPBW meeting scheduled for March 11th at Metropolitan. Again, something I need to partake in.

-- Draft Magazine lists four Maryland establishments among its 150 best (beer) bars: The Brewer's Art, Frisco Grille, Max's and Silver Spring's nearly hidden Quarry House Tavern. Congrats to all, for the honor.

-- Victoria Gastro Pub

Here's a little extra hype for Victoria -- I am fully convinced they are the best bar in all of America to get Flying Dog's awesome Raging Bitch 20th Anniversary Belgian IPA. Victoria brilliantly ordered a ton at the initial opportunity and ever since has had a seemingly endless supply with zero hint of ever taking it away. Its served right and tastes great and its sort of a cool treat to be able to go in there and enjoy a great beer people around the country talk about at perhaps its No. 1 location.

Also, next Monday will feature Troegs Brewing for the beer club (all are invited). There will be a pin of the Nugget Nectar on gravity firkin starting at 5 PM!

-- Some discussion of Looney's pub at HowChow. I need to sneak down there and check it out, they have 20-ish taps and a few beer geek friends enjoy the happy hours deals on the handful of craft offerings available.

-- Brewers Alley in Frederick also has a few openings remaining for their Bourbon Street Beer Dinner on Tuesday, March 7th.

-- Several Howard County folk keep asking me when a new British pub called Union Jack's will open. Until now I didn't have an answer but via Twitter it looks like they'll open sometime in the March 11,12,13 range with a VIP party March 11th. It is listed at 10400 Little Patuxent Parkway, which is at the Columbia mall.

-- If you are in D.C. and are looking for a charitable beer-related event, how about trying the Brewer's Ball to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Several local breweries including Heavy Seas will be there.

-- Elsewhere in DC, the much hyped Meridian Pint is steadily gearing itself up for an opening hopefully soon.

-- Gertrude's has surprised us and declared themselves craft beer friendly in a big way, stocking Brewer's Art La Petroleuse, Heavy Seas Winter Storm and Flying Dog Biere De Garde and claim to proudly serve Maryland craft beers. Cool!

-- The brand new DuClaw at BWI airport gets a nice writeup from the Sun's Rob Kasper. Its a rare airport establishment that is placed before security rather than after it, just a heads up. Hours are from 7 AM to 9 PM.

-- A Beer In Hand raves about the weekly beer dinner at Jack's Bistro in Canton, and discusses a new tea beer he found.

-- Burger At Law has a wordy, positive, beautifully visual review of Alonso's famous one pound burger. What better way to wash it down than with some of their draft offerings including Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada creations Life & Limb and Limb & Life? Also, their new menu debuted this week.

-- Rumored new arrival to Baltimore on tap: Lagunitas' Wilco Tango Foxtrot 'jobless recovery' ale.

-- Interesting, from The Baltimore Snacker: a map of Europe's alcohol zones. I wonder what America's would look like?

-- Maryland's Belgian beer and brewery expert Chuck Cook reports back from Westvleteren!

-- The latest extensive beer (and wine) roundup from Tom Cizauskas' Yours For Good Fermentables.

-- Video: how to brew beer in three minutes

-- Online wine purchasing/shipping coming to Maryland? Make it happen.

-- A grim warning: someone on Twitter wrote 'passage of this bill will be the death knell of all the craft bars/breweries in Maryland'. Thoughts? It says the state will increase tax rates for beer from 9 cents to $1.16 per gallon of beer "for the distribution of the additional revenue to special funds to be used only for the purpose of providing additional funding for specified health services etc."

-- We need something centralized like this for the Maryland craft beer bar and brewing community.

-- Yet another (somewhat craft beer related) entrant into the Maryland beer writing scene: Bar-timore. Bookmark it.

-- Another offering from Beer In Baltimore's Alexander Mitchell -- a discussion on the growth of multi-tap bars (the 40, 50, 75+ type offerings) sprouting up.

My condensed thoughts: so far most of these are offering a heavy dose of Bud/Miller/Coors offshoots and cater to more noisy, casual visitors than the beer geeks. That may or may not be the case with the new 100+ tap place set to open near Harbor East but obviously is not the case with the legendary Max's.

The author also notes that the magic number of taps seems to be 24, which sounds just about right and is an astute observation. Places like Victoria Gastro Pub (24!), Frisco Grille (20), Mahaffey's (20-ish) seem to be right in that range. That said, there's a wave of expansion coming, with Frisco looking to go to 50 and maybe even 100 taps eventually, Max's soon expanding to 100, and perhaps a few more I'm not at liberty to discuss yet. Even a few smaller places are adding taps. Mahaffey's just added a few recently, Elliott's Pour House appears to have added a few, and T-Bonz recently went up to 14 taps (11 rotating/craft).

So long as these establishments continue to respect beer, keep their lines clean (!) and know their business and customers its difficult to fret about expansion. I've been to the Yard Houses of the world and although I like them the selection is actually a bit wanting and I find myself merrily heading back to the actual committed bars.

Aaaaaand we'll wrap this up for now, PLENTY more Beer Notes (huge backlog of emails to get to plus notes I've taken from talking to various beer folk to include) coming very soon.

March 3, 2010

Victoria Gastro Pub Miscellaneous Pics

1 & 2)Tonight's (Wed 3/4) complete beer menu ahead of the Allagash Beer Dinner

3)Barman Alex's (empty) bottle of the extremely rare The Bruery Black Tuesday

4)Alex showing how much he loves that beer

5)Oh and he also picked up a Russian River Brewing Co. Pliny The Elder for his own uses. Seriously Alex, drink that! Its only fresh for so long.

6)Looks like the Dunkin' Donuts across the way is finally open ...

The Drive Alexander Mitchell Nuts Special

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon with local hops and something about white oak on the beer engine at Frisco Grille

Update: just so we're clear I'm just teasing with this. Mr. Mitchell enjoys teasing me about posts like this, and I'm happy to return a friendly volley.