Sunday, September 30, 2007

Only 17.5 hours left!

There are only 17.5 hours left to vote on the next beer style that I brew! It looks like Pumpkin Spice Ale is going to win, with 50% of the vote. Get out there and vote! It's not even 10 seconds of your time. The poll is on the right of the page, under the picture.

On a somber note, remember that tonight is the global toast to Michael Jackson at 9 PM. The Brewer's Art is having a special charity dinner and toast tonight from 7 to 9 PM, where 20% of the entire restaurant's take will go to the National Parkinson Foundation. So, everybody who is able, please make this event. It will go toward some wonderful, life-saving research!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Oh, the Sea of Humanity...

Well, we just got back from the 2nd Maryland Microbrewery Festival held at the Union Mills Homestead, and let me tell you that today's weather could not have been scripted - it was absolutely perfect!

However, HOWEVER, compared to last year's event, there was probably about twice as many folks. (I heard from one organizer perhaps 5,000 people.) Which is great for growth of the event, but the nine breweries that were there were caught a tad off-guard. First, the setups were struggling with the lines. There was a desperate need for more taps and more folks manning them. Second, and more important, they were running out of beer. They were running OUT of beer! It all began with The Raven, and starting drying up from there...

That aside, it was pretty damn fun. They had some crafts, vendors, plenty of food, live (albeit bad) music and a bunch of happy people.

I started with my local favorite, Clay Pipe's Hop-ocalypse. I have to say, I actually prefer this from the bottle. It left a wonderful resin coating on the tongue, very citrus-y.

We moved on to Clipper City and I had Loose Cannon Hop3 (hop-cubed, 3 pounds per barrel). This beer, on tap, was much better than Clay Pipe's Hop-ocalypse. It was very spicy, tangy and smooth.

My next venture was to The Raven. Where, after waiting 30 minutes for a new keg to stop foaming, they ran out. They ran out of beer. They ran out of both of the beers they were serving. What a pain in the ass!

So, we switched lines to Johansson's with a German Alt on tap. It was brown, foamy and completely devoid of flavor. I take that back, it had flavor, of sour and cardboard. I doubt they would have used any acidulated malt, but maybe.

I will note that DuClaw had Euphoria, Misfit Red, Sawtooth, and Funk on tap. Jim, head brewer, generally has something special up his sleeve at events like this (like the 21% ABV Colossus at last year's Maryland State Oktoberfest) but we didn't bother sticking around.

I finished our venture back at Clay Pipe for some Backfin Pale Ale. What can I say, I'm a sucker for what I know. It's not that I didn't like the other breweries (I have been to them all), but when things are dry and it's getting late in the day, go with something easy.

All in all, very well done. There are improvements to be made, for sure, but we're just there to have fun.

2nd Annual Maryland Microbrewery Festival

Hey Everybody!

We are going to be at the Maryland Microbrewery Festival tomorrow afternoon. The party starts at 11 AM and ends at 7 AM. The festival is located at the historic Union Mills Homestead, right off of MD route 97.

If you plan on coming up for it and staying the entire day, might I suggest you bring a sweatshirt or a light jacket - it got mighty cold up there last year!

We hope to see you there. If you want to find us, Nick will be wearing a black hoodie with a keg embroidered on the front and the words "brew crew" around the top of the keg.


Thursday, September 27, 2007


Budweiser Budvar versus Pilsner Urquell

This is the the paramount battle of who is the king of Pilsners!

Tale of the Tape

Budweiser Budvar
Pilsner Urquell
a bit
than PU
tasteclean, crispclean, crisp
adjunctcornnone noticed
hopsmidly bittermidly bitter
aromaslight sulphurorange, spice
mouthfeelsolid, easysolid, easy

There is something special about pilsners and Mexican food around our house. Pilsner Urquell is always excellent; however, but the combination of elements within Budweiser Budvar really made for one of the finest beers that I have had in a while. There was something special in that bottle, which is why it took the prize!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Legends Limited 2nd Annual Fall Trade Show

While at the Ft. Meade Oktoberfest, we were lucky enough to meet Dan Bosserman, a sales manager for Legends Limited. After chatting for a few minutes about some beers he was representing, he asked if we weren't busy Monday night we were welcome to attend Legends Fall trade show. Of course, we accepted his offer and made our way down there around 6:30 Monday night.

They had a very nice setup with a big pavilion over the entrance that led into their warehouse. I tell you what, I have never seen more beer in my life! There were kegs, pallets, and cases stacked to the ceiling! It was so cool. There were several beers and wines on display from various breweries and vineyards. It looked like Belgian's stole the show.

I began with a pale ale (that I unfortunately don't recall what it was) that was poured by a guy who looked like he'd rather be anywhere but there - I thanked him and we moved on.

We moved on to Lakefront Brewery and there were two pretty nice guys representing the brewery who were there on short notice. I got to try their Fuel Cafe, which is a coffee stout, a bit roasty and strong. Rachel got to try the Golden Maple Root Beer, which is flavored with (duh) maple syrup. That was really tasty. We both enjoyed it. They also had something called New Grist, which is a gluten-free beer, so those afflicted by Celiac disease can enjoy a brew. NG is definitely an acquired taste, completely unlike barley malt-based beer; however, it was very drinkable.

Our next stop was to Oskar Blues. The fella working the table was kind enough to pour my first sample of Dale's Pale Ale. Man, I tell you what, that is how beer in a can should taste: full of hops and flavor! This would be an awesome trick to play on your pals that drink Bud Light. :) That's their secret, OB was the first microbrewery to brew and can their own beer. Contrary to what the mega-breweries have forced down our throat (cans = bad), modern canning technology (sounds weird, huh?) has experienced several innovations, where what is inside may essentially last forever. Delicious! I did not try the two other beers they had there, as I feel that I would have been on my ass, early.

We mozied along and saw a table with Great Divide's brews. Stupid me should have stopped by for some Hades and Samurai.

I stopped by a small setup, by the Merchant Du Vin table, where I had Belzebuth by Brasserie Grain D'Orge. The neck label had a big "13" printed on it, as the gentleman poured it for me, I asked what the number meant. He was quick to point out that this was a modest 13% ABV beer. Dumbfounded by this beer (I had only ever heard of it by name), I took a big whiff. The nose was incredibly full of malt (and the bottle is labeled "pur malt") and some spicy esters. I'll say it was sweet, but not cloying, and had an immediate warming effect. Belzebuth would be wonderful next to a fire on a cold winter night, with one bottle split among many friends.

The tour took us to the Bitburger/Augustiner stand, (Bitburger is one of my perennial favorites). There I sampled Maximator and Lagerbier Hell from Augustiner.

Next door were several Belgian offerings, with some that I especially wanted to try, including the Bosteels Brewery Kwak. Kwak was a super beer - tastes of mango and coriander. Dominick, the fella who was pouring it, was very pleasant but kind of cocky. I think I would have been too if I were a homebrewer (which I am, of course, and he was) getting a chance to strut my stuff by working a trade show. He explained that his club (I forgot their name) gets to work with the brewers at DuClaw and collect their second runnings for some special club brews. (I have to admit, I am not part of a club - yet - but I am more interested in Jim at DuClaw getting that Colossus [21% ABV] on tap!) Dom knew his stuff though, which was very cool. Next, he poured Belgium's answer to West Coast hopped beer. I have no idea what it was (although he poured it from a champagne bottle) but it was definitely a Belgian and definitely a hop MONSTER! Very good, very smooth, with lots of fun fruity esters. The Kwak was extraordinarily nice too! Easy on the palette with malt and fruit highlights.

Lagunitas Brewing Company was our next to last stop. They had three beers there: their IPA, Chronic... err, I mean Censored, and Imperial Red. The IPA was bitey and gently teetered on the edge of a traditional IPA and American IPA. The Red was, whew, like a big red IPA - it was a remarkable beer. Censored was caramely, but I can't recall more... We really liked the guy who was pouring for us. He explained that he was from the Tahoe region, 2 hours from the brewery, and told us about the history of the brewery - from their humble beginning up to now; their regular and seasonal line up; and his relation to the company. Very awesome!

Our adventure ended with Cape Ann Brewing Company. We actually were headed on our way to thank Dan, but the young woman who was 'manning' the station (next to a seemingly popular wine station) asked if I'd like to try a sample of their Pumpkin Stout. It was a very roasty beer that actually burned on the sides of my tongue. I was not able to detect any spice or pumpkin, just intense roast. I think they may need to go back and rethink
  1. putting pumpkin in a stout
  2. putting pumpkin in a stout
  3. putting pumpkin in a stout
  4. putting pumpkin in a stout
  5. their general stout recipe
However, I would like to try their other beers.

Weyerbacher was also there. Unfortunately it was time to go, so next time I will have to try Blithering Idiot and Simcoe IPA.

Again, a big thanks to Dan Bosserman and the crew at Legends! We had a blast!


Friday, September 21, 2007

Fort Meade Oktoberfest tomorrow!

It's a little late notice, but -

Hey everyone, tomorrow from noon to 11:30PM (man, that's a party) is the Ft. Meade Oktoberfest, which is completely open to the public! They're going to have food, crafts, and a small fair for the kids.

You can find out more by heading to their site, Ft. Meade Oktoberfest and giving it a once-over.

I am also aiming to brew my Lichtenhainer this Sunday. It might be a little darker than what's to style, but then again I might be redefining the style, since it's been extinct for several, several decades. If it turns out well, then it might be a fall seasonal when I get the brewery up and started, for real! :)

We're also kinda messing around with doing some birch beer or root beer (thanks to Johnny Max and Captain Ron at for some hints) and putting that on tap (for family-friendliness).

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Tribute to Michael Jackson

There will be a global tribute to Michael Jackson on September 30, 2007, at 9:00PM. Please join all in honoring the legacy of a truly great man.

The picture is courtesy of

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Best Brewpubs in the Baltimore-Metropolitan Area

Last night, at dinner, Rachel harped upon a great idea: make a list of Maryland brewpubs we have visited, in order of those we really enjoyed to those that left a little to be desired. At the bottom, we included a link to a Google Map of the brewpubs.

A formality: brewpub - must brew and serve their own beer, along with casual fare.

<drum roll, please> Here is our list! At the same time, did we leave some one off? What are your preferences? We'd really like to see them, so leave a comment!
  1. Dogfish Head Alehouse, Gaithersburg
  2. The Brewer's Art, Baltimore
  3. DuClaw Brewing Company, Arundel Mills
  4. Red Brick Station, White Marsh (T-4)
  5. Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, Ellicott City (T-4)
  6. Capitol City Brewing Company
  7. Barley & Hops, Frederick
  8. Johanssons, Westminster
  9. Brewer's Alley, Frederick
A few places that we have to revisit or go to for the first time:
  • The Wharf Rat
  • Growlers
  • Franklin's
  • Ram's Head Tavern
  • Rocky Run
  • Ryleigh's (if they are still open...)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The race to 1000 hits is on!

Hey everybody,

As the title suggests, the race is on to 1000 hits. What does this mean to you, in cyberspace? Well, in the short-term it means you get to vote for the next style to be brewed! Go ahead and participate in the poll I have set up on the right ---->

Votes will be tallied at midnight, September 30th. Barring any extra-worldly event, the beer will be brewed on the first weekend of October. I tried to pick out some decent fall styles. Since I don't have a lager setup (but Christmas is just around the corner. Hint, hint, honey!), we'll have to stick with ales. I think ales complement the changing, colder weather just a little bit better than lagers, anyway.

Also, I will be keeping track of the visitor log. Lucky number 1000 might get something special. (You'll probably never turn down free beer, right?)


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Washington Post - Beer Laid Bare: Labels That Tell All

Hey everyone, the old man cut this out of the Washington Post for me earlier this week. It was in their every other week beer column from Wednesday, August 29.

The author, Greg Kitsock, was saying that a proposal has been brought up by the Tax and Trade Bureau (div. of the Treasury) to require a serving facts label on all alcoholic beverage containers. You know the kind: number of servings, calories, fat content, etc.

He spoke to Paul Gatza, the director of the Brewers Association, about this and Gatza mentioned that many of our micro brewery and craft brewery friends might be caught in a pinch, as they will have to make room for these new labels on the back of the bottles, which could cost the industry "tens of millions of dollars". Gatza says that the trouble is not with showing the information, but how it actually shows on the packaging.

"The Tax and Trade Bureau has given the public until Oct. 29 to submit comments." Depending on what comes back to the government, they might amend the proposal. If it passes successfully, brewers will have a 3 year window to get their stuff on the back of the bottle.

Here is a link to the original article, registration required.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Reading List

Hey everyone, I just wanted to give a quick run-down of books that I am currently reading and will give some mini-reviews of:

  • rereading John Palmer's How to Brew (the old testament) in conjunction with,
  • Radical Brewing, Randy Mosher (the new testament) and Designing Great Beers, Ray Daniels (the lost gospels) ;)
  • Eve Adamson's Beer: Domestic, Imported and Home Brewed
  • Michael Jackson's Great Beer Guide and
  • The Brewmaster's Table, Garrett Oliver