Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Six-Pack Project: Maryland Beer

We're bringing together writers from all over the country to highlight a six-pack of our home’s native brews that best represent what our beer culture has to offer. If someone is coming to visit, what bottles or cans would we want to share? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a six-pack of beers that best represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
  • Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
  • Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
  • Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred. 

When Bryan from This Is Why I'm Drunk contacted me to ask if I was interested in participating in The Six-Pack Project as a Maryland representative I was happy to jump at the opportunity. I love Maryland Beer and the idea of giving out-of-towner's some beer advice is my kind of fun. Of course, I'm not the only person in Maryland with a blog and an interest in local beer. So, Bryan got creative and came up with the idea of a Maryland Craft Beer Fantasy Draft between myself and Oliver from Literature and Libation. A coin flip determined who made the first pick and then we snaked (the last pick of the previous round makes the first pick in the next round) our way through until we both had a full Six-Pack of Maryland Beer. Here is how the draft played out (my picks are underlined):

Round 1: 
Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber
Heavy Seas Loose Canon

Round 2:
Union Craft Brewing
DuClaw Bareass Blonde

Round 3: 
Evolution Lot #3
DuClaw Mysterium

Round 4:
Brewers Art Resurrection
Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Uber Pils

Round 5:
Pub Dog Hoppy Dog Ale
Red Brick Station Something Red

Round 6:
Heavy Seas Great'er Pumpkin Ale
Baying Hound Lord Wimsey Mild

Let's go to the Coaches Corner where I discuss what was going through my mind when I was making these picks and give you a little background on each of the players.

Heavy Seas Loose Canon - As I said when made this pick I don't necessarily think that this is the best beer in Maryland, nor is it my favorite,but when I'm making a first round pick I'm looking for someone who is consistently going to show up each and every week. And if Loose Canon does anything it shows up. I don't have any empirical data to back this up, but in my opinion Loose Canon is easily the most readily available Maryland beer in my neck of the woods. It's on almost everyone's tap list throughout Baltimore and if you walk into a distributor that isn't carrying Loose Canon you probably shouldn't be in that store to begin with.

Loose Canon is an IPA that is Orange/Amber in color. The head is average and diminishes quickly. On the nose you're hit with floral aroma, a little pine, citrus and lemon. Sweet and malty in the initial taste, the hops gain strength through the finish and you experience all the same floral, pine, citrus notes that were present in the aroma. Best of all, the bitterness doesn't linger which makes Loose Canon highly drinkable.

Union Craft Brewing Duckpin Pale Ale - I followed up my first round pick with another IPA. Normally, I  don't like to hit the same position in back to back picks, but I had to make an exception here. In addition to putting out an all around delicious beer, Union goes out of there way to insert themselves into the local community. They host food trucks at their brewery and are currently doing an outdoor movie event each weekend. If you're visiting Baltimore for a weekend, there's a good chance Union is up to something fun. They just started canning their beer a few months ago, but if you get the chance to visit them at the brewery don't pass it up.

Duckpin pours a medium amber color. If I had to describe the beer in one sentence I'd say it's a straight forward, well balanced pale ale. It's nothing fancy, but it's always one of the freshest tasting beers around. The nose is a little piney with hints of grape fruit and orange and it tastes of the same. Duckpin isn't astringent. It's not too dry. It's just very drinkable. This beer displays the perfect amount of hops. Plenty to let you know they are there, but they never wear you out and make it easy to go back for more than one.

DuClaw Mysterium - Before I even made one pick I knew I had to have DuClaw represented somewhere in my 6. The only problem with making a DuClaw pick is deciding which one to take. Somewhere in the past year DuClaw has grown on me and you could easily make the argument that they are the best Maryland has to offer in the way of beer. Everything they make is solid and balanced perfectly. In the end, I decided to go with their Belgian Spiced Ale, Mysterium. Not only is it a beer I enjoy, but it's my girlfriend's favorite.

Normally, when I read "spiced" in a beer description I pass, but as I mentioned earlier DuClaw does a fantastic job of balancing things out.  The restraint they show with the spice, both aromatically and in the flavor is a thing of beauty. None of the spices jump out and say "Hey, you taste that? It's me, Scary Spice...your favorite Spice Girl". But just like the Spice Girls came together as five (?) different girls to perform as one solid unit of pop music perfection, so to do individual flavors in Mysterium. Most surprising, you can still taste an earthy malt backbone which is almost unheard with other spiced beers.

The Brewers Art Resurrection - This is one of those beers that you love but always find yourself over looking. Maybe it's the places I visit, but Resurrection isn't as available as some of the other beers in this list and that's a shame. It's a damn good beer and definitely deserves it's place in your Maryland Six-Pack.

Resurrection pours a sexy dark Amber color with ruby hues floating throughout.  Aromatically, there are hints of dark fruit, plums, bubblegum, and clove leaving no doubt that you're about to partake in a Belgian Abbey Brown Ale. It tastes of cherries, dark fruits, with a touch of clove and caramel on the finish.

Redbrick Station Something Red - After Oliver went with a local (to him) pick in Pub Dog, I decided to follow suit. Red Brick Station is within 10 minutes of my house and within walking distance of my place of employment. They specialize in English Style session beers and Something Red is definitely that.

Something Red pours a beautiful copper like an Irish Red should. The malt backbone here is perfectly earthy. The hops are there as necessary and it finishes a touch sweet.  Something Red is the ultimate session beer. Being that Redbrick is so close to where I work, it's a great place to meetup with my lady after work and blow of some steam. Something Red is the perfect beer to numb the day but never interrupt my train of thought when it's time to whine and moan.

Heavy Seas The Great'er Pumpkin - Now, I kind of broke the rules with this pick because it's seasonal, but I did so for good reason. This is the beer that got me all twitterpatted about craft beer a few years ago. Most likely, they'll be releasing this around the end of August so be on the lookout if you're here around that time of year.

The Great'er Pumpkin is an Imperial Pumpkin Ale aged on Bourbon Barrels. It's also the best and most complex pumpkin beer in the history of pumpkin beer. Even in a world full of pumpkin beer on top of pumpkin beer this one never disappoints. And it ages well to boot. You've got pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, oak, bourbon, great pumpkin flavor, and this awesome alcohol burn that warms you to your bones. The first time I ever tried this beer it floored me and sent me right back to the store to pick up even more. Needless to say, this is a beer you need to get your hands on if you can.

Overall, I really like the Six-Pack I put together. I've got a few IPA's, a few Belgian's, a Session Beer, and my favorite beer of all time. If I were leaving Maryland, not to return for a considerable amount of time, and this was the Six-Pack I left with to remember this great state by I'd be pretty happy. Does my fantasy Six-Pack have enough star power to take out Oliver and his squad? Maybe. Maybe not. What I do know is that any traveler looking for good beer in Maryland is in for one hell of a tasty trip.

Other State/Area Six-Packs:

Maryland - by Literature and Libation
Chicago - by Hop Brained
New York - by Once Upon a Stein
Ohio - by Queen City Drinks
Kentucky - by Hoperatives
California - by The Beginners Brew


  1. Well play my Maryland friend, well played. I definitely second the Loose Cannon and Great'er Pumpkin. Too good not to drink.

    1. Great'er Pumpkin is about the only beer I don't mind spending more than a little money on. As soon as I see it on shelves I feel my arms up with as much as I can carry.

  2. I think it's so interesting how more and more craft breweries are using cans now instead of the bottles. Sure makes for some interesting labels that's for sure.

    1. Well, it's cheaper,more environmentally friendly,easier to transport, and apparently taste isn't affected like it used to be. Times are a changing....but I still prefer a bottle.

  3. I pick your team to win solely on the pumpkin beer.

    You did an awesome job with images/descriptions. Thanks so much for being a part of this!

    1. Thank you so much. I loved being a part of everything.

  4. I love Heavy Seas! But sorry, you lost me at pumpkin beer ;)