Maryland Beer

9

Last night was the release party for Calvert Brewing Company at 1747 Pub. (I wrote about them in The Capital not too long ago.)

They brought some of their core lineup – the Wye Rye and the Good Company Pale Ale – but unsurprisingly, the rockstars of the evening were their specialty releases, the Chardonnay Tripel and the Double Amber.

For those of you who were too lazy to click that little link in the first paragraph, the tripel was one of the beers I was lucky enough to sample when I interviewed Calvert head brewer Matt Ducey earlier this summer. It not only gave me the clarity I was seeking – prior to sitting down with Matt that night, I was a little unclear on the point of view Calvert Brewing Company was trying to express – it was absolutely delicious.

But the Double Amber. Oh, the Double Amber. Where have you been all my life? You’re a bastard for being 10 percent ABV, but I know that’s what makes you so chewy and delicious and wonderful and amazing. 

Anyway, congratulations to the Calvert Brewing Company crew! I am very excited to see what else you release down the road, and I hope to start seeing you pop up around town – get on it, Annapolis bars. (And please, please, PLEASE release more Double Amber? I mean, it is my birthday next week, so…)

Also, a big thank you to Marilyn and the rest of the 1747 Pub family for putting on yet another wonderful event!

3

Too Many IPAs

India Pale Ales account for more than 25% of the Oregon beer market. All beer, not just craft. But it seems that everything is an IPA these days. Black IPA, brown IPA, rye IPA, red IPA, white IPA, and now farmhouse IPA. I don’t know about you, but it seems that the term IPA is losing its meaning. Of these new styles, half of them don’t even pretend to be pale. And what does India have to do with it?

I understand what makes Flying Dog’s Wildeman a farmhouse beer – saison spice, full, tingly, creamy body. I get what makes it an IPA – citrus, grapefruit and lemons, bitterness, etc. Is it a combination of styles or a new style? I understand that the term IPA has cache. It’s a marketing tool. It tells the customer what to expect. But as a marketing tool the term IPA is losing its usefulness. If every craft beer is some sort of IPA why bother putting it on the label?

Over on The New School, Brian Yaeger makes the case for a name change.

10

Two weekends ago, I had the opportunity to check out Jailbreak Brewing Company in Laurel, Md. Originally this was going to be covered in my column last week, but a nice little 48-hour plague rendered me unable to put English words in an order that would clearly convey thoughts and feelings. 

Well, good news: I’m back on my feet this week – so you can now read my column for The Capital on Jailbreak Brewing Company. Huzzah! 

But as Nathan pointed out on Facebook this morning: “No lie, Liz’s description of Jailbreak Brewing Company is both completely accurate and also inadequate. She wrote a great piece, but even her writing talents can’t quite capture the awesome, inviting, cool, and spacious look and feel of this place.”

He’s absolutely right. Sometimes there are never enough column inches to adequately do justice to a truly special experience. All I can do to supplement my writing is to share a few more photos from my Jailbreak trip – unfortunately I can only include one photo with my articles. And in case my article doesn’t convince you, let me state once again, for the record: These guys are the real deal. Jailbreak isn’t a gimmick. They just get it.

Anyway, I want to extend a big, heartfelt thank you to Kasey, Justin, Ryan, Erica and Heather. When I say, “The pleasure was all mine,” I mean it 100 percent.

P.S. And for those of you wondering, “Are those Buffalo Trace barrels?” Yes. Yes, they are. Get hyped.

10

Last week was a long one at work – a good one, but long nonetheless. Because sometimes adulthood requires annoying things like responsibility and working later than usual. Thankfully I work out of National Harbor, so I’m not only rewarded at work with awesome coworkers, but also a stupidly gorgeous, panoramic view of the Potomac.

But once I called it quits at 7:13 p.m. on Friday, I was ready to enjoy the weekend.

We kicked off Friday night by heading straight to the Maryland Tap Takeover at 1747 Pub. I tried the DuClaw Dirty Little Freak, the Stillwater Stateside Saison and the Union Brewing Rye Baby. The Rye Baby and Stateside Saison were my personal favorites, though there were plenty I didn’t get to try.

After 1747, we headed down Main Street with a friend from Bethesda to DRY 85. I had the La Pétroleuse by The Brewer’s Art, Patrick had the Old Crab barley wine by White Marsh Brewing and Wilfredo rocked the Devils Backbone Vienna Lager. As I promised someone on Friday, I ignored my bias against lagers and tried the Vienna Lager; I have to say, I was surprised by how much I liked it. 

The evening ended with a quick jaunt to Red Red Wine Bar, a place I have walked by a million times and never gone in. I’m really glad I did. I reaffirmed my love for DC Brau’s The Citizen, danced to Pressing Strings – who are really good, by the way – and hung out with some very cool, honest people. I’m not going to go too much into it, because it’s only relevant to me, but I love being continually reminded by how it’s often the most spontaneous decisions that lead to some of the most incredible evenings. 

Then I woke up yesterday feeling maxed out. Not physically. Just emotionally drained. It’s not that anything bad happened; the past few weeks (months) have been fun, but also exceptionally busy. So I decided to take most of the day to disconnect. I shared two things on Facebook and then called it a day– no Twitter, no personal Facebook and very little email.

Instead, we embraced the important people in our life by celebrating my best friend’s son’s first birthday. And then we capped off the day by running rather boring errands like going to Target to buy housewares and a $6 ceramic snail (really) and unsuccessfully getting a haircut.

I really love boring stuff like that. Seriously, grocery shopping gives me an over-inflated sense of control in a world full of chaos. Don’t get me wrong: Events and group outings and craft beer festivals out the ears are all super fun – moments I wouldn’t trade for anything. But balance is crucial, and it’s unfortunately something I’m not terribly good at. Yesterday reminded me that I need to take time to do that more often. 

Anyway, tonight Patrick leaves for the landlocked hellscape that is Missouri, so today we’re going to visit DuClaw and see a movie. Then later, a quick jaunt to Metropolitan. 

Oh crap. I just realized I should have probably put pants on ages ago. Oops.

3

A friend and I were plotting and scheming yesterday regarding an upcoming growler release of Crown Valley’s nearly impossible to get Imperial Pumpkin Smash at Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold, Md. This is a big deal because I consider myself to be in a deeply emotional and fully-committed relationship with this beer. Like, if this were the 50s, I’d absolutely give this beer my letter jacket and ask it to go steady.

Anyway, while we were chatting, my friend asked: “Can I bring my own growler to get filled, or do I need to buy a growler at Fishpaws?”

This is a great question, especially since I have spent the majority of my beer-drinking career in Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Virginia, where many places will fill up any growler I bring, as long as it meets certain requirements – having a screw-top, as an example.

Well, this question prompted me to do some research on the topic, because I had absolutely no clue what the answer was. So I queued up the Unsolved Mysteries theme song, rolled up my sleeves and got ready for some serious investigative journalism… by opening up Google.

Here’s what I found out:

As some of you may or may not know, the answer in Anne Arundel County is pretty simple: No, you may not bring your own growlers in to be filled. The law says that retailers who have a “Refillable Container License” must provide containers that are not only sealable and between 32 and 182 ounces, but also “branded with the identifying mark of the license holder.” Meaning Fishpaws can only fill and refill Fishpaws growlers.

I heard some speculation that, because Annapolis has its own liquor board, it’d be different here… but still no. Maryland’s state capital also passed law basically saying the same thing.

So there you have it, folks! The more you know, etc.

Update: Apparently, there might be a widespread case of misinterpretation regarding this issue – brought to my attention by the fabulous Nathan of the Annapolis Homebrew Club. Look for an update soon, as I do a bit more research and chat with the bill sponsor in Annapolis. I may have some good news for you all!

Burley Oak Wild Wild East Wild Ale, Bunker-C Porter, Rude Boy Imperial Red, Secret Sauce DIPA, Sorry Chicky Berliner, Golden Sex Panther Lemongrass & Basil Farmhouse Ale, Local Pale, Pale Ryeder Rye IPA, P-Funk Sour Stout, Just The Tip “Guac is Extra” Kölsch Cask w/ Chipotle & Cascade Hops. #beer #beerporn #craftbeer #beerstagram #burleyoak #burleyoakbrewing #berlin #maryland #porter #stout #ipa #kolsch #rudeboy #secretsauce #local #pfunk #justthetip

9

Sunday was not only the continuation of my 31st birthday celebrations, it was also National American Craft Beer Day. As a note, I’m aware I haven’t even touched upon what I did on my actual birthday on Saturday. Just call me Christopher Nolan, because I’m Memento-ing this weekend and presenting what happened backwards. It’s a bold, artistic blogging concept I call “lazy incompetence.”

Anyway, Sunday. ‘Murica’s own craft beer day found Heidi and myself at a post-birthday brunch at Metropolitan Kitchen & Lounge on West Street. It seemed appropriate since this unique cross-section of open-air industrial space, French bistro and straight-up hipster eatery serves a good-sized curated bottle and draft list of American-only beers. Surprisingly, other than an offering from Union Craft Brewing, there’s no other Maryland beer representation. But I’m guessing that will change since they rotate their drafts with great frequency – this is just a report of how it was when I went there.

The list itself is pretty diverse in terms of available styles, with some definite gems that pop. They even have a “Not-So-Craft” section for those who cling those yellow fizzies like a life raft. My only gripe is that I would have liked to have seen a larger selection of porters and stouts – their current list only boasts four options out of 30. Heck, they’re even outnumbered by the not-so-craft beers, and that makes me sad. I know, I know: They don’t sell as quickly as other beers, and I’m basing my opinion purely on what I’d put on my own dream beer list, but there it is.

So, in addition to a sweet surf and turf burger – their “Foodie Burger” offering of the day – I enjoyed a Smuttynose Robust Porter and an Allagash Dubbel. I have to say, Smuttynose is slowly becoming a solid ol’ reliable in my book, but I do need to try more of their beers before I decide to bring them into the Circle of Trust. Also, I wish I had ordered the Allagash first, instead of the Smuttynose. Even though Dubbels are tasty, they tend to make me wish I was drinking a more spunky Tripel or Quadrupel instead. And after that porter – oh, dat porter – I was a bit bummed out.

Overall, I really liked it. I felt bad for the bro waiter sporting a sweatband who kept trying to give us food that wasn’t ours – it looked good. But still, I’m a now a big fan of Metropolitan – beer patriotism and all. Plus, I also need to go back and try those braised short rib tacos. I want it. I want it now.

One last note for those whose phones and cameras are basically an additional limb on your body: As you can see, Metropolitan is very friendly to the demographic of folks who love to photograph their food to death, thanks to the abundance of natural light. So set your filter phasers to X-Pro, y'all.