So, in this is edition of The Beer Guy, I’ve decided to take on something truly controversial…me.

Okay, so I admit, I am given to a bit of hyperbole.

1920634_10202644477329227_474526253_nThat said, the myth of the Beer Guy holds that I arrived in town years ago from points unknown on a rainy night, hops gripped in one fist, a bottle of craft beer in the other. I could be heard to mutter, “hops…need…hops…”

The story is, the Beer Guy garnered his knowledge of craft beer from a sketchy deal, forged over a bar table while sharing a beer with a mysteriously beautiful woman who smelled vaguely of sulfur.

Yeah….that’s the story.

The reality is much more simple, and maybe a touch disturbing.

I didn’t like beer.

That’s not completely true…I didn’t like the beer I could get: the cheap, mass-produced American lagers that were the beers I had access to when I first started drinking. And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why everyone was drinking them. Then one day my father brought home a case of Catamount Ale from the Catamount Brewery in Vermont (now the Vermont brewing facility for Harpoon). And that was it. I was hooked.

Now, I’m just a beer geek and occasional homebrewer with a love for the industry. So much so that some of my favorite people that I have met are brewers, and I thought that Frederick having its own beer week was a good idea. Why do I love the industry so? What is it that I like so much about the people in it?

Well, to keep it simple, let’s just say; there’s a reason it’s called, “going postal,” and not, “going brewer.”

Over the years I have been fortunate enough to hang out and/or chat on a semi-regular basis with not just the marketing people at these many breweries, but also the brewers themselves. And while I can’t say that the industry doesn’t attract assholes (hell, I’m one), the ones that it does are the assholes I can deal with.

That said, I have had a blast hanging out with the folks from our Frederick breweries – Flying Dog, Brewer’s Alley/Monocacy, Barley and Hops, Frey’s, Milkhouse, and (coming soon: Mad Science), but also some of the slightly more far-flung brewers/breweries (DuClaw, Heavy Seas, Brewer’s Art, Ellicott Mills, Franklin’s, Old Dominion, Pub Dog, Vintage 50, and Lost Rhino, just to name a few). It’s been a good living.

As for hanging out with beer folk, I can be found this weekend down at the Tysons Corner Whole Foods manning a table for Real Women Drink Craft Beer and Frederick Beer Week. We’ll be handing out samples, discussing homebrewing, and chatting about Frederick Beer Week. If you know anyone in the area, let them know, and I’ll be happy to talk to them.

An Open Plea to Stone and Deschutes, and New Beer in the Maryland Market

So, for those of you who don’t know, Deschutes, a rather good brewery out west, is looking to expand to the East Coast – like expand in the same way that New Belgium, Sierra Nevada (new facilities in Asheville), and Green Flash (new facility in Virginia Beach) are expanding to the East Coast. Stone, the producers of Arrogant Bastard is also looking at expanding production by building a facility in the Midwest or East Coast.

Like Green Flash, Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium, those two breweries are searching for a new production facility to supplement their existing facilities our west. I say, let’s push for Frederick. Let’s start a letter writing campaign.

A couple of points of order;

  • In recent years, Maryland legislators, realizing that craft brewing is a job creation engine in the state, have been more receptive to working with local breweries in creating friendlier legislation to the brewing industry.
  • Frederick is a city of nearly 70,000 people. Yes, fewer than Asheville, but it has closer proximity to two major cities (DC and Baltimore), it has easy highway access for points east/west, and north south. It is centrally located along the East Coast, allowing easy access to the markets in the Northeast and the Deep South, not to mention the Midwest.
  • We have a rabid, rabid group of craft beer drinkers in the area. So much so that when I started working for the Brewing News back in 2007, Frederick hosted three labels (Barley and Hops, Brewer’s Alley, and Flying Dog). By the end of this year, we are going to be looking at a county that will have added four (Frey’s, Milkhouse, Monocacy, and the newly minted Mad Science) new breweries, and possibly five (Brew’d Pub).
  • That rabid group of craft beer nuts has also supported a growing Beer Week that is designed to support and promote local.
  • Due to the large military/ex-military population in the area, we have a very high number of transplants from the West Coast and states like Montana. There is also a population here that has been willing to travel to places where (Deschutes) distributes, so there is already an existing customer base just waiting for your beers.
  • We have a derelict mall on the west side of town that would make for a great brewing facility.

Okay, maybe that last one isn’t exactly a huge selling point, but I still would like to see that building repurposed in some way related to craft beer.

Now get out there and get writing.

Tapped and Uncapped

This week’s recommendation is out of our neighboring city to the east; Baltimore. Yes, this week I’m telling all you fans of malty and/or barrel aged beers to go and get yourself a bottle of this year’s edition of Siren Noire from Heavy Seas. This year’s edition of the Baltimore-based brewery’s chocolate stout is bourbon barrel aged, and it was done well.

I tend to approach barrel-aging with a touch of trepidation. Quite often the process overwhelms the beer, and let’s face it, if I wanted bourbon, I would be drinking bourbon. No, when I have a barrel aged beer, I want the barrel to be a complementary flavor, not THE flavor. This beer fits what I look for.

The bourbon doesn’t overwhelm. It works as a complement to the chocolate and inherent coffee notes in the stout. Paired with a little bit of quality chocolate, the bourbon pops, but again, doesn’t overwhelm.

Certainly a worthy beer to sample, and even pair with dessert.

Until next week, be well and drink good beer.