May 26, 2010

T-Bonz Pints and Pancakes II

The first round of Pints and Pancakes at T-Bonz was so successful, they're hosting another one soon.

It will be called the Christmas In July Edition on Sunday July 18th. Its a free pancake breakfast starting at 10am featuring Christmas and breakfast style beers including:

Troegs Mad Elf, Anchor Steam Christmas, Affligem Noel, Weyerbacher Merry Monks, Clay Pipe Pursuit of Happiness (perhaps the last time we'll ever see this on draft?), Flying Fish Winter Reserve, Flying Dog Coffee Stout, Lancaster Strawberry Wheat and Smuttynose Short Batch (raspberry sour).

The Grilled Lincolns will also be on hand to add some tunes to the atmosphere.

May 17, 2010

American Craft Beer Week Events in Maryland

So, in summary:

Howard County Pub Crawl on Saturday 5/22 hosted by T-Bonz and hitting up four great Howard County bar stops. Let someone else do the driving.

Big, blowout multi-tap masterpieces at Max's and Victoria Gastro Pub.

Flying Dog and Troegs making their way around town.

And a brand new collaborative beer debut between local brewers Pratt Street Ale House and Stillwater.

Feel free to shoot me an email/link with summary of your unique event if you have anything planned for American Craft Beer Week and I'll add it to the list here.

Channel Crossing Release Party

Pratt Street Ale House's Stephen Jones and Stillwater's Brian Strumke have collaborated to produce something called The Channel Crossing, which will debut at a release party at PSAH on Thursday evening.

Festivities go off at 6 PM and for $5 you will get a commemorative glass plus $3 refills thereafter.

The beer will be on draft and cask in a firkin with French Oak. The three pins will be separately dry hopped with Czech Saaz, Kent Goldings and Bramling Cross hops!

Max's American Craft Beer Week Events

Brad's got it all covered at but the gist ...

Monday: Troegs/Ommegang
Tuesday: Heavy Seas/Brewers Art
Wednesday: Harpoon/Victory
Thursday: Flying Dog
Friday: The Bruery/Lagunitas/Oskar Blues/Boulder/Great Divide/Weyerbacher
Saturday: Stillwater/Pratt Street Ale House/Evolution
Sunday: Smuttynose/Allagash

Victoria Gastro Pub American Craft Beer Week Events

Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia is having a huge selection of beers for American Craft Beer Week, broken up nicely into fun themes. You can find the full taplist (.pdf) available at their website with some very interesting offerings.

Here are the themed days:

Monday: "The Dog Fight On Draft" featuring Dogfish Head and Flying Dog taking up all 24 taps plus two firkins

Tuesday: "To Live and Die in P.A." featuring Troegs, Victory, Lancaster, Stoudts and Weyerbacher

Wednesday: "California Dreamin" featuring Sierra Nevada, Stone, Lagunitas, Anchor, 21st Ammendment, Anderson Valley, The Bruery and North Coast

Thursday: "Sleep is Useless, Welcome to New York!" featuring Ommegang, Southern Tier, Brooklyn, Saranac and Southampton

Friday: "Root for the Home Team!" with Pratt Street Ale House/Olivers, Heavy Seas, Brewers Alley, Flying Dog, Evolution and Stillwater's Stateside Saison on cask

Saturday: "Ahhhh fuh Pete's Sake This Bah Has Some Wicked Good Beaaa!" with Harpoon, Smuttynose, Allagash, Otter Creek and Wolaver's

Sunday: "Welcome to the Mile High Club" with Oskar Blues, Great Divide, Avery and Boulder.

Flying Dog American Craft Beer Week Events

Monday May 17th -- Victoria Gastro Pub with nine Flying Dog styles on draft and Raging Bitch and Snake Dog on cask, 6-9 PM

Tuesday May 18th -- Camden Yards suite (retailers) with Meet The Brewer Night

Wednesday May 19th -- Pint Night at Frisco Grille, five styles on draft including the rare Old Ale and barrel aged Gonzo Imperial Porter 7-10 PM

Thursday May 20th -- Max's Taphouse with Horn Dog Barleywine on nitro plus four other styles on tap 5-8 PM

Friday May 21st -- Sean Bolan's (Bel Air) three styles on tap including Coffee Stout 5-7 PM and Metropolitan Coffeehouse with Old Ale and Woody Creek Wit on tap

Also, be sure to check out their other events in Virginia and Washington D.C.

Troegs' American Craft Beer Week Events

Monday May 17th 5-8 PM at Max's Taphouse with a firkin of Javahead Stout, Scratch 27 Chocolate Stout, Scratch 29 Belgian IPA and limited Flying Mouflan on draft

Tuesday May 18th 5-8 PM Victoria Gastro Pub To Live and Die in P.A. Night

Pennsylvania Brewery Night with Troegs: Firkin of Hopback Amber plus Scratch 29 Belgian IPA and limited edition Flying Mouflan on draft

Wednesday May 19th 6-9 PM Troegs Pint Night at Firestone's Restaurant in Frederick, Maryland. Will include a firkin of Javahead Stout, Troegenator on draft, all year-round bottles and 22oz bombers of Flying Mouflan

Thursday May 20th 7-10 PM pint night at Racer's Cafe with all Troegs year-round beers on draft, Flying Mouflan on draft and the last pin of Nugget Nectar available in Maryland!

May 15, 2010

Flying Dog GonzoFest 2010

It's coming! Flying Dog's homage to good beer, good people, and Hunter S. Thompson will arrive on June 19th this year at the brewery grounds.

There will be a morning session and an afternoon session with beer, music, food, vendors and a Hunter S. Thompson lookalike contest. Purchase tickets and get more info at the GonzoFest website.

May 12, 2010

Howard County Pub Crawl

Looks AMAZING and since hitting Howard County's four elite beer bars as your own driver is not advisable try this option to check out some really cool beer bars in one swoop. The proprietors and bartenders at all four spots are great people.

Click on the image for more details but essentially, sign up at T-Bonz for the trip with other beer lovers ($50/head) and have them provide a ride to four of the great beer bars in Howard County -- T-Bonz, Frisco Grille, Victoria Gastro Pub and The Judges Bench.

You'll be able to hang out at the various establishments and sample (5 oz) four beers at each stop (more if you wish, on your dime) and then be escorted back to T-Bonz for some delicious grub.

That goes off Saturday May 22nd as part of the annual American Craft Beer Week.

Coincidentally, Saturday is also "New England" day at Victoria Gastro Pub with selections from Harpoon (MA), Smuttynose (NH), Allagash (ME), Otter Creek (VT) and Wolavers (VT). That's some good stuff to try while on the bus trip!

May 11, 2010

The Barrel Aged Gonzo Is Loose!

After sitting on barrels since early September, Flying Dog has released its Gonzo Imperial Porter!

Look for this much-anticipated release on taps around town starting ohhhh ... now.

May 3, 2010

On That Whole Beer Tax Increase Thing

Belated, but still worth a mention ...

There was a proposal several weeks ago in the Maryland legislature to dramatically increase the tax on beer, wine and liquor. Fortunately it was defeated but knowing politics the same proposal is likely to return and perhaps even get enacted at some point if folks aren't more informed.

For beer, the tax rate per gallon would have been hiked from $0.09 to an incredible $1.16. Maryland is already a heavily regulated, high-tax state. Mix in the still-sluggish economy and its easy to see where this could have a disastrous effect on the health of the craft beer industry in Maryland.

We're fortunate to be in one of the top craft beer areas in the country, despite all the regulation and barriers to profit. We're not California or Oregon or Colorado but we're not a wasteland like Florida or Alabama, either. However, it wouldn't be too difficult to steadily bleed the craft industry here and bring us closer to the wastelands rather than the promised lands if foolish legislative proposals were to be followed through.

I don't buy the Mom and Pop nostalgia of the craft beer industry, but there is a grain of truth to the image, as most producers, however big or small, are driven more by their passion than profit. This makes everyone not named Bud, Miller and Coors (and their shell brands) more vulnerable than a careless legislator realizes.

This doesn't mean a small tax increase is unreasonable. But it must be small. Maryland last increased its tax on beer in 1972, so its been a relatively stable tax environment for almost 40 years. Perhaps this rate is now outdated and not up with the times and that's a worthy discussion in the legislature.

However, its clear the proposed hike to $1.16/gallon would have given Maryland the dubious distinction of having the highest beer tax in the nation! Next highest is Alaska at $1.07/gallon. The median beer tax in America is just $0.19/gallon.

I've spoken briefly a few times with people from highly regarded craft breweries from outside Maryland that are not doing business here, and almost universally they cite a frustrating dance with the three tier system in place here and sometimes other barriers. The tone I get is that Maryland is just a tough place to bring your beer into. That hasn't stopped many quality craft breweries from doing business here, but it has affected some and that impacts variety and having a more competitive marketplace. For the state they lose potential tax revenues when breweries choose not to sell their product here (and often end up doing so to the frustration of many in neighboring states).

Now throw in a potentially unreasonable tax hike on beer and the business environment here for craft beer could be even more troubled.

Just for comparison's sake I'm listing a few states' per gallon tax rate on beer.

The most famous craft beer states are California, Oregon and Colorado.

California $0.20
Colorado $0.08
Oregon $0.08

And here are Maryland's neighbors. Look at these numbers and try not to think of the Sesame Street 'which one of these is not like the other' skit if Maryland ended up at $1.16. Imagine the outflow of business? Yikes.

Delaware $0.16
Pennsylvania $0.08
Washington D.C. $0.09
Virginia $0.26
West Virginia $0.18

My point?

Maryland should not do what some of its misguided legislators have proposed. The proposed tax increase is punitive and anti-business, so thoroughly steep and outside of how we've been doing business, how our neighbors have been doing business, how the nation as a whole does business and how great beer states do business when it comes to the per gallon tax rate on beer.

There's a worthy discussion to be had on if Maryland needs some kind of reasonable tax hike on beer, but what's proposed doesn't come close to hitting the mark. We need to vote out legislators who are crazy enough to even propose such hikes and potentially cripple a sensitive industry (at the craft end) and the many small businesses involved with it and work with the ones who understand the craft beer environment better and can forcefully speak to its interests.