Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weekend Beerventures from Baltimore Part 2: Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm

Part 1 of our Fourth of July Beerventure can be viewed here.

Our Fourth of July continued as I surprised Deana with a beercentric trip to Frederick.  I grabbed my camera and car keys and we set off for Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm on one of the most beautiful days of the summer. The sun lit up the surroundings in all its glory and the sky was painted as blue as the 1980's Kansas City Royals uniforms Bo Jackson made me love as a kid.

You won’t find me excited about car rides that last longer than 3 minutes but the ride to Milkhouse Brewery, located on the way to Frederick in Mt Airy, was really something to take in and appreciate. A drive with wide open space, blue skies, lush rolling green hills, and a perfectly photogenic brewery waiting at the top of a hill will tend to help with my aversion to cars.

Considering this was our first experience with Milkhouse’s beers, we decided to familiarize ourselves with their offerings by ordering a sampler. On this particular day the sampler included Dollyhyde Summer Farmhouse Ale, Goldie’s Best Bitter, East Coast Pale Ale, 4th Step IPA, and Coppermine Creek Dry Stout. Occasionally they have a cask on hand that’s included in the sampler but we weren’t so lucky. I guess that means we’ll just have to make another drive to Frederick to get the full experience.  All of the beers were well balanced and tasty, but the standouts were the Bitter and Farmhouse Ale for me and the East Coast Pale Ale for Deana. The fact that Deana picked a Pale Ale as the standout beer in a lineup speaks volumes to the balance that Milkhouse displayed with all of their recipes. The East Coast Pale was a 5% Ale bittered to 38 IBU’s with Cascade hops grown on site at Stillpoint Farm and evoked similarities to a British Style Pale Ale.

Mid-way through the sampler Deana wisely suggested we get something to eat. We had a few more stops planned and with no breakfast in either of our stomachs food was going to be essential. As fate would have it, Milkhouse had us covered with a wide variety of cheeses and crackers available for purchase in the taproom.  Because I'm not the best at pairing beer with food I decided to trust their handy suggested pairing list. Deana ordered a full pint of Pale Ale and I was looking for more Bitter so we went with fantastic garlic cheddar trusting it would pair well with both.

As we lounged on the patio enjoying the beer and our snack something dawned on me. Most people consider beer to be a combination of 4 simple ingredients consisting of water, malt, hops, and yeast. But that overlooks what might be the most important ingredient of all when it comes to enjoying a beer. Place. Place is a special ingredient that not every beer is lucky enough to have and Milkhouse provides it like no other Maryland brewery I've visited can.  With gorgeous hills of green as far as they can see, hops growing nearby, and the big blue sky above I could have spent all day sitting with a beer reminding myself how lucky I was to sip that beer with Deana by my side.  Our trip to Milkhouse Brewery ended far too quickly, but it definitely won’t be our last. I can’t wait to head back in the fall to enjoy the crisp air and changing leaves.

Be sure to check back for Part 3!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Weekend Beerventures from Baltimore Part 1: Union Craft Brewing and Blue Pit BBQ

It’s been awhile since I've had a Weekend Beerventure. I've been looking for a good time to hit the road again and with a 3-Day Independence Day weekend in front of us Deana and I decided to hop in the car and seek out the local suds.

The weekend started off with a trip to Union Craft Brewing. Not really a Beerventure from Baltimore, but it's how the weekend began so that's where we'll start. Depending on your disposition you might see the glass as half full or half empty, but one thing we can all agree on is that your Union growler should always be completely full. That’s especially true when Old Pro Gose is flowing through the tap system. Old Pro is tart, slightly salty, and the most satisfying local beer around during the summer months. If you've yet to get your hands on a pint of Old Pro it sounds like you need to schedule a beerventure of your own and rectify the situation.

With our growler filled to the brim and a couple pints of Union Anthem patriotically chugged Deana decided we needed to kick our Fourth of July celebration into high gear and find some BBQ. While discussing our dinner options the rain was starting to come down hard and since I've been hearing about Blue Pit BBQ located just seconds up the street from Union we decided to race through the rain and head for the BBQ. Only one problem existed with the plan. Blue Pit BBQ isn't scheduled to start serving BBQ until later in the summer. Safe from the rain and surrounded by a myriad of whiskey we decided to stick around anyway. And besides, we weren't completely left without any food options. There was a limited but enticing menu of Binkerts sausages and a cheese plate on offer.  Deana chose a Weisswurst in hopes of reliving our travels in Germany, but we both agreed that I won the Sausage Selection Extravaganza when I decided to try the Debreziner. The word debreziner was new for me, but it’s essentially a delicious mix of pork and beef meat. In other words, it’s a damn fine hot dog. Though, topped with deli mustard and a stunningly intense green atomic relish there is a reason you won’t ever confuse the debreziner at Blue Pit with an everyday hot dog. The atomic relish really lightened up an otherwise salty and savory bite and while freshness isn't a word that always comes to mind when thinking of sausages it makes for one of the more interesting condiments you’ll come across.

Surprisingly (as far as my own preferences are concerned), an expertly crafted Old Fashioned served as the highlight of the night. Blue Pit has a fair amount of craft beer on hand, but since I already visited Union and I was in a whiskey bar it only made sense to order the libation they’re known for. Knowing next to nothing about whiskey I relied on the advice of the bartender as to which variety I should select to create the quintessential Old Fashioned flavor. I went with his recommendation of Elijah Craig and waited anxiously as he went about mixing the classic cocktail. What I received was a sublime amalgamation of smooth vanilla, citrus, and smoke flavors equally doing their part to take some but not all of the whiskey burn away. In no way do I consider myself a whiskey aficionado, but I would definitely order this drink again.

Blue Pit BBQ might not have a fully functioning kitchen just yet but our visit showed enough promise to convince me that there is a lot to look forward to from them in the near future. Be on the lookout for the smoke and the meantime there are worse things you can do besides grabbing a sausage and sipping on premium whiskey.

Be sure to Check Back for Part 2!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Huge Thanks to The Ale House Columbia

There are few times in life when all of the most important people in your life are gathered together to celebrate the marriage of you and the most important person in your world. When those times do come about all we can hope for is that those moments go off without a hitch and that everyone has a good time. 

That’s exactly what happened a little over a month ago when Deana and I started our Wedding Weekend off with a rehearsal dinner at The Ale House Columbia. Grandma’s, Grandpa’s, Sisters, Brothers, Parents, and friends all came together to have a good time, share a great meal, and celebrate the awesome that is Deana and myself. It didn't hurt that Oliver’s Ales are always on tap at Pratt Street’s sister restaurant either. 

The night was fantastic and one I won’t soon forget no matter how much the 10% ABV of Williams Sour Winter tried to convince me otherwise.  Laughs were shared between my brother and me as we traded beer tasting notes. Kisses were shared in between bites of delicious Prime Rib and Crab cakes The Ale House prepared for us. And maybe most enjoyable of all, I got to share my love for craft beer with my Grandpap as I had him try just about every beer that was put in front of me. 

The night was perfect, but it couldn't have been without the superior professionalism the staff displayed all night long. When our party showed up 30 minutes earlier than planned they didn't bat an eye lash. If a glass of wine wasn't enough they were quick to find a bottle. If your Coventry Cream was looking a little low they were right behind you with a Draft Punk. All night long they were on their game and Deana and I can’t thank them enough. 

It was a great meal shared with the most important people in our lives and it went off perfectly thanks to the staff. If you ever find yourself planning a big meal don't hesitate to consider The Ale House. They won’t let you down.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Chaps Pit Beef Revisited

It's been almost two years since my original review of Chaps Pit Beef went up. The post wasn't a bad review, per se, but it definitely wasn't as glowing as it might have been given all of the accolades Chaps has received over the years.

To sum up the original review, I stated that the sandwiches I tried up to that point weren't bad, but that I simply didn't understand why they roused up so much fanfare. And for the longest time my attitude didn't change in regards to Chaps. I never outright stopped visiting them, but it was one of those situations where visits only took place if it was absolutely convenient for me.

But then one day a light bulb switched on for me. I can't say what it was for sure that changed other than to say the meats seemed extra juicy and perfectly smoked. It was almost like visiting a new restaurant despite having been to Chaps numerous times through the years. My change in opinion was so profound that I went from visiting Chaps once or twice year to finding myself fantasizing about trips to Chaps on an almost weekly basis. One week I'd be counting down the minutes until I could sink myself into the overflowing mound of meat appropriately known as The Habbit and the following week I'd be excited to try something new such as a Reuben. Deana and I are now to the point where suggesting Chaps for dinner is met with a "didn't we just eat there".

So, what's the moral of this story? Why did I feel compelled to come full circle and make an amendment to my original review? It's as simple as this. There aren't many people out there who don't already love Chaps, but if you happen to be on the fence like I originally was let this post serve as a reminder to give them another try. They really do put out a product that is high quality and it's only a matter of finding the right menu item for your taste buds before you realize what the rest of us have already learned. Chaps Pit Beef is awesome. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Session Beers and Blogger Meetups

Geez! More than a month has gone by since I last posted. Getting married is time consuming business! I'm still not there yet, but I'm drawing near the finish line and you can expect regular postings in the very near future. While it's true that I've taken a short sabbatical from writing, that hasn't stopped me from taking little trips and discovering the best that Maryland Beer has to offer.

One such trip involved a meetup a few weekends ago with a blogger I've been following since way back before I really knew what proper beer even was. That blogger is pictured above on my right and he is Tom Cizauskas of Yours for Good Fermentables. But Tom isn't just any old blogger. Tom is a guy that has played a substantial role in Maryland's beer scene over the last 20+ years and it was a privilege to pick his brain for a few hours. He's an encyclopedia of local beer knowledge. Oh, and any time you come across Cask Ale locally it's in no small part to the efforts of Tom and the people he's worked with in the past to help pave the way.

While talking with Tom I learned an abundance about local beer history, but something beer related struck me on the ride home after our meeting that had nothing to do with our actual conversation. Our discussion lasted a solid two hours and spanned three or four beers. Not only was driving not an issue, but I realized I was able to give our conversation my full attention and that's something that's not always possible when the ABV of beers are running a little higher than I'd like.

As fate would have it, we met at Pratt Street Alehouse where there were multiple beers weighing in at less than 3.5% ABV on tap. The first beer was the DuClaw collaboration Back to Basix which is fantastic Ale made with Pale Malt and Amarillo hops. At 2.8% it maintains a surprisingly full body but played the part of the perfect session beer as Tom and I discussed Maryland Beer. Also on offer was the 3.2% Spring Session Ale. This beer is made with English Lager Malt, flaked oats and corn,and hopped with Mt Hood and Citra hops. It was the perfect beer to bring along to a conversation as Spring Session Ale was delicious but unobtrusive, just as any quality session beer should be.

One of my biggest hopes for Maryland beer is for low alcohol beers to become more and more prominent across our region. Beer is a social drink no matter the level of alcohol, but the coherency of conversations has an inverse relationship as the ABV creeps higher. High alcohol beers have their place, certainly, but so to do the little but delicious beers like Back to Basix. So, here's to another...and another...and another. Cheers to Session beer! And Cheers to Tom!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Session IPA: When Craft Beer Gets Crafty

Up until a few weeks ago I had never tried a Session IPA. The way I saw it, if I wanted to drink something hoppy I could drink an actual IPA. On days I wanted something lower ABV I could grab a wheat beer and be perfectly content. But then Stone's Go to IPA came out and I couldn't fight it any longer. I bought one and excitedly popped the bottle open the following night. It was the worst craft beer I've ever had in my life.

Originally, that's where this post was headed. I was going to tell you that Go to IPA had zero malt presence and that their hop bursting technique produced nothing but a weird sour citrus flavor. They say it produces "glorious hop qualities"; I say it creates a flavor profile that has been achieved by less than mediocre homebrewers for years. I was going to shake my digital head in disagreement like an irate Natty Boh bobblehead doll , but then I realized it might be too harsh to make an assumption about a particular beer when I've never actually had another within the "style" to make a fair comparison. To alleviate that shortcoming, I tried Lagunitas Daytime IPA (the best I've had at this point) and a few others over the past month. Most were okay given the style, but all are beers that have no reason to exist other than to capitalize on a segment of the craft beer community that will drink absolutely anything IPA related.

It's true I love to beat up Stone. This isn't the first time I've knocked on them and it probably won't be the last. But that's not what I care about in this instance. This isn't about one beer or one brewery. It's about the bigger picture. Session IPA is bad beer and it's a symptom of a larger problem I think a lot of the community ignores. Diversity in craft beer doesn't matter as much to brewers as they would have you believe. But so what, you say? People like IPA's so why is Session IPA bad beer? Well, it's not just because I've had a few and don't like the taste. I'm not a huge fan of Barleywine either, but I don't go around saying Barleywine is bad beer. I say Session IPA's are bad because the recipes don't even make sense. Regular IPA's work (American in this case) because the heavy bitterness they provide is usually, if brewed well, balanced by an ample sweet malt body. Yes, our IPA's lean heavy towards the bitter end of the spectrum, but they only work because the malt gives your palate a reprieve at the end. These Session IPA's don't work that way. We have brewers trying to give us the hop bombs we love, but are reducing the malt body in order to achieve a "session" level ABV and it doesn't jive. IPA's aren't just hoppy,something brewers all know but are happily ignoring, and yet that's all these Session IPA's achieve. Some come off as bitter hop water, and others have fantastic hop flavor but with nothing to support the finish. It's almost as if the liquid you have in your mouth evaporates on the finish at times. One second you brain is amped up for an IPA based on how hop forward the beer is and the next you're wondering if you actually were able to swallow anything the body is so thin.

The fact that we're so eager to latch on to poorly constructed beers like these speaks to the bigger issue of consumers drinking anything IPA related and brewers happily going along. Ray Daniels, Directer of the Cicerone Certification Program wondered aloud on twitter a few months ago if  "we’re creating a beer culture where IPA tyranny just replaces American Lager tyranny." After tasting Go to IPA, it's impossible not to wonder that very thing myself. What is craft beer coming to when Stone, a brewery known for criticizing big beer for putting out "fizzy yellow stuff", proudly releases a beer that on its best day is nothing more than "hoppy yellow stuff"? Taste is subjective, I get it, but bad beer is bad beer and we have to be smart enough to call brewers out when it's warranted. Now is the time to start screaming... so go ahead...I'm waiting.

Another couple of related quotes I came across recently were reported by Christopher Staten of Draft Magazine while attending the 2014 Craft Brewers Conference. The first quote scares me when I think about it in relation to Ray's quote above. Chris reported that IPA's currently account for 40% of the current craft market. It's fine if a lot of us like hoppy IPA's. It really is. I love them as well. But we don't have to love them all. We're allowed to be discerning. It's true that Stone makes great beer. It's also within the realm of possibility that they make bad beer from time to time. Knowing that they have the capability to produce top notch product, why are we so willing to accept mediocrity? I know we all want to be supportive and see the industry succeed, but all blind support does is produce a domino effect of foul beer. Brewery A puts out a Session IPA that overeager consumers love despite the obvious flaws. Brewery B sees the success and decides they want in on that niche market and puts their own Session IPA out that's even worse technically, but earns just as well all because they put the label "Session IPA" on the bottle. Before you know it, every brewery in the country is putting out their own version of a misguided style and that 40% keeps growing and we're left with an industry dominated by one umbrella style of beer and yet still claims that "craft beer is about standing up to and challenging monocultures".  If that's true why are we are so eager to accept and buy into a beer style that is so fundamentally flawed? And if we're for challenging monocultures, why aren't we more willing to challenging our own?

One the most often repeated reasons cited for enjoying craft beer is the fact that it provides variety. For a lot of us I think that's true. Many of us really do get the best craft beer has to offer. But some of us, let's call it 40%, pretty much dabble in one style of beer and one style of beer only. If you don't want to drink anything outside of IPA's I'm not going to ask you to stop. That's all you. But please, please don't just crown everything your favorite brewery releases as the next great thing. If Coors put out beers like some of the Session IPA's I've tasted we'd dog them to hell and back and ask why they're trying to dumb down the taste for the consumer. But let a craft brewer put out something as sloppy as a Session IPA and suddenly we're on to the next big thing in craft beer. Pretty crafty of the craft gang, no?

Craft beer got this far because we expected more out of beer. Now's not the time to get complacent. You have a voice and it's time to use it. We cheered our craft brethren into the mini-powerhouse that it is today. Now that we're here we have a question to ask ourselves. Do we want to be cheerleaders or do we want to be educated consumers who use their voice to move things in a positive direction. Three decades of blood sweat and tears seems like an awful lot to waste just to trade in All-Lager America for All-IPA. I thought we wanted more than that. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Celebrating International Pineapple Day with Bahama Breeze

Last week I was invited to celebrate International Pineapple Day with Bahama Breeze. Normally, I'm not a big fan of celebrating made up holidays, but complimentary pineapple cocktails were being offered and who am I to decline a friendly invitation!

Our brand new to Bahama Breeze server suggested we start off the night with a Goombay Smash. At first, I thought we were going to be taught a new move to smash Goomba's in the latest version of Mario, but in fact the Goombay Smash was a nice mix of pineapple juice, orange juice, and a healthy dose of dark rum. Next year, when you go to celebrate Pineapple Day, this is the drink to do it with.  The pineapple juice is the star of the show making the Goombay Smash totally refreshing. Initially, the rum felt a bit heavy, but after mixing my drink around a bit and allowing the ice to melt a tad the drink became dangerously easy to drink. So, be careful out there guys! It's a big drink. 

To go along with our drink we were served a variety of appetizers. The first app, and also our favorite, was the coconut shrimp. The shrimp were crunchy and breaded quite nicely. Yes, there was plenty of coconut but not so much that you couldn't taste the shrimp themselves. They were served with a citrus-mustard sauce that was a nice change-up from cocktail sauce or some of the weird sweeter sauces other restaurants have tried to pass off with coconut shrimp.

Another highlight of our appetizer session were the Beef Empanadas. They were filled with a mixture of beef, potatoes, and what looked like carrot or possibly sweet potatoes all stuffed inside delicious deep fried pastry. On their own, the empanadas were perfect savory little pockets of happiness, but the chutney served on the side played the perfect sweet counterpoint to the savory empanadas.  Deana, who came along with me to bask in the fruity celebration, was in empanada heaven when these came out.

About the time we were finishing those up the empanadas they brought another pineapple themed drink called Painkiller to the table. Painkiller was a delicious mix of coconut milk, orange and pineapple juice, a little ground nutmeg and rum. It was good but both of us definitely preferred the Goombay Smash simply because we weren't huge fans of the creamy coconut found in the Painkiller.

By that point, we could have called it a night and left full and happy, but the words Banana Nut Bread Supreme caught our eyes and we just couldn't leave well enough alone. And thank god gluttony got the best of us because this was a fantastic desert. Hot banana nut bread, fresh banana, vanilla ice cream, butterscotch brandy sauce, and a fat happy Doug. If Deana weren't making me the best birthday cake in the world a few days later, I would have been plenty happy trekking back to Bahama Breeze and enjoying this desert once again.

When all was said and done, I was very happy that I celebrated International Pineapple Day with Bahama Breeze. As a beer drinker it was nice to be reminded how refreshing a cocktail can be with the Goombay Smash and I'll never be mad at the dessert we shared. You might have to wait a year to celebrate the next Pineapple Day, but if you're in Towson and you're in the mood for a good drink and some tasty bites  keep Bahama Breeze in mind. It's good stuff.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guest Post by Hipster Brewfus: Craft Beer We're Breaking Up

Today, we have Jake from Hipster Brewfus guest blogging. Recently Jake and I have had a few discussions about the need for more open constructive criticism within the craft beer community. It seems that so many of us only want to speak up when have something glowing to say about a beer or a brewery. Yes, it's great and necessary to heap praise on the industry when it's deserved, but if all we ever do is focus on the positive how can our opinions as bloggers be trusted? At what point will readers begin wondering if the role of beer blogging is merely to kiss ass? If we see something we don't like, what's so wrong about being honesty and saying as much? With those questions in mind, I turned to Jake and asked if he'd kindly explain the merits of being critical and not blindly dishing out compliments like a giddy 16 year old boy on his first date. So, without any further adieu I'm handing it off to Jake.

Craft Beer, we’re breaking up:

It's you, not me. I promise.

It's not fair for the both of us to continue going the way we're going. I have no real respect for you anymore. But truth be told, I don't want to leave you. I've given you some of my best years, and have formed some of my happiest memories during the tenure of our relationship. But things need to change. Things need to change for the worse.

Look, I get that everything is happy and sunshiny in our world. I get that craft beer has become a "thing" and that this "thing" should be celebrated and welcomed with open arms. I get that I should be happy for all of the goodness and warm fuzzy feelings we all have. I get that I shouldn't want to curb stomp you. But I do.

All of your overwhelming positivity is giving me an ulcer. I want to see some honesty. I want to see some passion. I want to see the shit you hate. I want to know what you can’t stand. What beers did you drink that suck? TELL US, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE JUST FUCKING TELL US! I'm sick of reading your long winded beer reviews that really don't say much. Knock it off.

The pandering needs to stop, because contrary to popular belief, negativity is capable of accomplishing things. There is value in a well thought out, constructive stream of hate. The slew of compliments paid to something that is pretty much mediocre at best, does nothing to push the brewery to do anything better. There will always be a need for criticism in any avenue of life.

Look, I’m no stranger to any of this stuff. I’m loud and drunk a lot of times. It’s mostly those times I take advantage of to tell you just what I think. I know you may not like it. I see how many of you stop following me on social media after I go on some kind of hop induced tirade about how so many of you are worshiping at the altar of wrongness (Go To IPA scores a 90 on BA?). In a world full of “amazing,” “incredible,” “quaffing,” or any other stupid words, I want to hear you say “I drank this beer from a brewery that I really like, and ITS FUCKING TERRIBLE! And here is why…”

You know what you have to gain from that? A lot.

And Bloggers, you especially. What’s with the constant stream of happiness? Is it borne out of the “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” diatribe? Do you think that if you fill your product review with enough praise that somehow they’ll see it and magically you’ll start receiving boxes and boxes of goodies from the brewery that you've sworn your allegiance to? I can promise you, it doesn't work that way. Do you not see any merit in saying critical things? Do you think the only way to do it is the Hipster Brewfus way (long illegible strings of curse words)? Because I promise you it’s not. I’m the Brodie Bruce of beer blogging.

“You're gonna listen to me? To something I said? Jesus, man, haven't I made it abundantly clear during the tenure of our friendship that I don't know shit? I mean, half the time I'm just talking out of my ass, or sticking my hand in it.”

Do not use me as an example. I am most assuredly doing everything wrong. I am the first one to tell you I’m an idiot, and have no idea what I’m doing. But the one thing I do know is I wield the power of the consumer, and used correctly, it can be a very powerful weapon. Taking tastes and preferences out of the equation, sometimes things hit the market that are just plain bad. And if you don’t speak up about it, those bad things will continue hitting the market. And that stuff happens, especially when you take into consideration the fact that our relationship is still in its infancy stages, and that new breweries are popping up at an alarming rate. And just like with people, there will be a few winners, and a whole lot of losers. It’s science.

Look, there is enough bad and mediocre stuff out there to weed through to find the good stuff. But I think it’s your responsibility, since you took a blood oath to this, that you vocally help weed out the bad stuff. You could potentially help stop a future offense. Remember kids, like the DHS has taught us, “If you drink something, say something. Unless it’s positive. Don’t say anything, there is enough of that.”
So I hope you can reach down inside, find some honest vitriol, and share it. You’re losing me day by day, and It’s breaking my heart.


Hipster Brewfus

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Brewer's Art

If you come to this blog it's because you're a fan of one of two things. You're either a fan of the Baltimore food scene or you like good beer. If both of those descriptors fit you, than Brewer's Art is an absolute must visit. If only one of those descriptors fit you, Brewer's Art is still a place you need to visit. It's just that good.

The first time Deana and I ever visited Brewer's Art was during a Restaurant Week. One of the appetizer options offered was something called Liptauer Cheese Spread. My initial thought was "Cheese Spread? Weird. You don't see that everywhere. Let's get that." We did and we were happy souls. On the day of our Restaurant Week visit they used some spicy red pepper in the spread and it was fantastic. Creamy cheese, pepper with a little bite, and some super crunchy crustini combined to make one of my favorite appetizers in all of Baltimore. More recently, we went back with my brother and sister-in-law and the spread was just as good. The main difference between our first and last visit was that the pepper used wasn't as spicy and the crustini had a sauerkraut flavor that was superb. My brother, the ultimate consumer of cheese, gave it a rousing review.

On our most recent visit, I decided to try Braised Duroc Pork Cheeks for dinner. As is often the case, I like to try things I've never had before and since I've never chewed on a cheek before I decided now (or then as it were) was the time. The Cheeks were also served with a baby Bratwurst, split peas in a cider gravy, and swiss chard. This was the perfect plate. The cheeks had the familiar taste of pork with a crunchy outer texture juxtaposed against the tender inside. The bratwurst didn't tread on any new territory, but who would want that anyway? Brats should be brats and this one was as good you could want. The spicy mustard they served on the side was a great compliment. Swiss chard was also something I had never tried and I really enjoyed the earthy flavor it gave off. However, my favorite part of the dish, and also something new to me, were the split peas. They kept a crunchy texture and the cider gravy they were served with gave them an almost baked bean like flavor that went perfect with the pork cheeks. 

On my initial visit to Brewer's Art I ordered the Steak Frites as did Deana and my sister-in-law Amy on our most  recent trip. The steak frites are delicious in their own right, but what I really want to talk about is the out of this world customer service Amy received when her steak came out cooked a little more done than she had asked for. She was feeling a little self conscious about complaining, but we convinced her that it wasn't worth fighting through a meal she didn't ask for. She let our waitress know about the issue and there was absolutely no argument. Our waitress apologized that it was over done and said she'd have a new steak up as soon as possible. A few minutes later the manager one duty stopped by the table to apologize to Amy and thank her for giving them a chance to make things right. Brewer's art displayed some of the best customer service I've seen and I'd like to personally thank them for going out of their way to make sure our table left satisfied. The meal ended up being great and left all of us happy when all was said and done. 

As far as Brewer's Art's beer is concerned, I've never had a beer from them that I didn't completely enjoy and that wasn't totally full of flavor. I've sampled gruits, their staples in Resurrection and (the now infamous) Ozzy, and on this particular night I was smitten with their Charm City Sour Cherry (flavor is self explantory) and Biere De Mars (tart red ale) . I give them major props on putting out beers that are big on flavor without ever taking your palate hostage. 

I'm sure I could sit here and come up with a fun to say "be sure you visit Brewer's Art", but I'm not even going to try. You should visit because the food is great and the beer is as good as anything else being put out locally. Visit now. Eat good. Drink great. Be happy.

Price: A little on the expensive side, but they do have great happy hour pricing
Recommendation: Must visit for the foodie and beer geeks among us.
What to Order: Whatever your heart desires. They won't let you down. 

Brewer's Art on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 24, 2014


Last Thursday, Nick Kovacic of Digital Cave Media premiered his movie Brewmore at the MICA Brown Center to hundreds of local beer fans. Heading to the event, I wasn't sure what to expect of the movie but after it was all said and done I left with a much better understanding of the incredible history Baltimore has within the world of brewing and a sense of excitement that we can get back there with the help of some very talented modern day brewers. 

Brewmore focused a great deal of its roughly one hour run time on Baltimore Breweries from days of yore. Having not grown up in Baltimore I really appreciated being filled in on all of the glorious details of our cities brewing history. It's absolutely astounding to learn that at one time there were roughly 40 breweries operating within the city borders. More impressive yet, National was producing 1 million barrels of beer per year at it's pinnacle. To put that in perspective, you could add up every barrel of beer produced by our  local craft breweries over a span of many years and still not be anywhere near 1 million barrels. 

And speaking of our local craft breweries, it was nice to see Heavy Seas, Brewer's Art, Stillwater, and Union Craft Brewing in the spotlight. I thought a little more time could have spent on the modern day stuff, but what we did get was plenty entertaining and a great way to learn about the history and personalities of the breweries you can't always get otherwise. Personally, I really enjoyed getting a feel for what Brian Strumke of Stillwater is all about in regards to brewing. I knew he brewed great beer, but prior to seeing the movie hadn't learned much about him other than the fact that he's a "gypsy" brewer. Brewmore filled a lot of gaps in for me. 

If you're a fan of our local beer scene but weren't lucky enough to be in attendance last Thursday make sure you find the time to attend their April 19th screening at Heavy Seas Brewery. Brewmore is a great celebration of Baltimore and Beer and it's not to be missed.