Week 7, brings the Province of Maryland into the United States on April 28th, 1788, just 5 years after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, declaring the end of the Revolutionary War. It would be only another 24 years before Maryland found itself as a major player in yet another international war, this time the War of 1812. For most people, the War of 1812 is known by a famous song. No not this one, this one! That’s right, during the defense of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Francis Scott Key wrote the poem that would become our national anthem. Observing the battle, Key was inspired by the large American flag called the Star Spangled Banner, flying over the Fort. In anticipation of the forthcoming battle, military leaders asked Mary Young Pickersgill, a Baltimore flag maker to make a flag to fly over the Fort. The resulting flag 30 ft by 42 ft in size. It was so large that she didn’t have the space to make it in her house, so she used the malthouse floor of the nearby Brown’s Brewery to assemble the flag.
Brown’s Brewery, founded in 1783, was preceded by a few other production breweries in Maryland, such as the Fordham Brewing company, which opened its doors in 1703. However Brown’s had a good run, remaining in operation for 96 years and at its peak in 1850, it was the largest brewery in Baltimore producing 50k barrels of beer. However like in so many other states, prohibition decimated the brewery businesses. Some stayed alive with the production of near beer, while others closed up shop. In Maryland, fewer than half of the pre-prohibition breweries survived. One of those survivors was another Baltimore company, National Brewery Company. Started in 1872, the brewery modernized and reopened after the forced prohibition shutdown, and it wasn’t long before they were selling upwards of 230K barrels a year and in the late 1940s became the first brewery in the nation to sell beer in six-pack cans. While no longer in operation, shutdown due the the mergers that effected many American breweries of the 1960s and 70s, one of National Brewing’s products is still available due to mergers and acquisitions and is currently brewed by Pabst. In 1963, the Baltimore Colts had a running back named Jerry Hill, and he was number 45. It was his team number and affilation that led to the beer Colt 45.
No longer brewed in the state, Colt 45 is alive and well, and so is the Maryland brewing industry. Clawing its way back from the horrible bad beer years that American suffered through, Maryland is now home to quite a few unique and successful craft brewers. This week, there will be four different beers from three different breweries (and not one is a Colt 45!).
Stillwater Artisanal Ales, Baltimore Maryland
The first beer of the evening is a Belgian Pale Ale called Beer Table – Table Beer from Stillwater Artisanal Ales in Baltimore. Table beers are a style of beer that are low in alcohol. Real low, like 1-2.5%. However in this case, the ABV was a bit higher, ringing in at 4.7%, pushing the boundaries of table beer a bit. One of the more interesting components of this beer is the inclusion of Brettanomyces yeast, also referred to as Brett in the craft brewing world. Brett is a strain of yeast often called a wild yeast in that it has the ability to introduce off putting aromas, such as a barnyard or a wet blanket to the beer. And when not purposely used, the beer is often considered contaminated. However some beers, such as Belgian Ales rely on Brett for creating their unique flavors.
In the glass, this beer was nice and light, with a decent amount of carbonation. I could smell hints of a barnyard, or maybe a horse, but it wasn’t off putting. I enjoyed this beer, but the distinct taste of the Brett was very noticeable and took some work to get used to. Someone in the tasting party described it as Having a nice bite, woody and pleasant. Overall this was a fun beer and once all of the sampling was done, this was the first bottle grabbed for a second pour.
Heavy Seas Brewery, Halethorpe, Maryland
Based in Halethorpe, Heavy Seas Brewery mission is:
… an attitude of risk-taking, a touch of the playful rogue, a desire to stretch the boundaries, all wrapped in an appealing costume of possible impropriety with a twinkle in the eye. I believe this is an attitude that we can all embrace …
The first beer from Heavy Seas is their flagship beer, an IPA called Loose Cannon. Made with a blend of four different types of hops:
Warrior, Simcoe, Palisade and Centennial, added at three different times during the brewing process, thus earning its nickname Hop³. I felt that Loose Cannon has an interesting flavor and a distinct bitterness that hung around long after the drink. It wasn’t bad, but it was there. During the tasting, this beer was described as pleasing and good.
Flying Dog, Fredrick, Maryland
Now based in Fredrick, Flying Dog originally started as a Colorado brewery. From their stable, we will be trying an American IPA called Raging Bitch. One of the more interesting components of Flying Dog is the Ralph Steadman art for all of their labels.
This was the least liked beer of the evening. The taste was different, and I couldn’t place it. The hops gave off a noticeable citrus smell, but overall, this wasn’t that great of a beer and didn’t generate much commentary other than whats next?
The final Maryland beer of the night is another beer from Heavy Seas, a Imperial Chocolate Stout called Siren Noire. On their website, they list three categories for their beer: Year round, Seasonal, and Uncharted Waters — the Siren Noire is currently the only beer in the Uncharted category. Aged for three weeks in bourbon barrels, they claim it is chocolately, due to triple the amount of chocolate nibs (crushed raw or slightly roasted cocoa) without the sweetness and has notes of black currant. And to round it all off, a vanilla bean is added to the mix.
This beer was nice in the glass, dark with a nice white head and had an aroma and taste of dark chocolate. We quickly described this as a dessert beer, if there was such a category. It was looking for accompaniment, like a nice slice of pie, or maybe a cheesecake. I enjoyed this beer, but it should be reserved for special occasions. If I were planning a beer meal, with a different beer for each course, this is my go to for dessert.
Next week, we dive a bit deeper into the south to visit South Carolina. Be sure to grab a glass of your favorite beer and join.
(Note: I have been trying to use the State slogan for the blog title, and with this week, I am starting to realize, some slogan are pretty horrible. Seriously, what does that even mean?)