photoComing off of Memorial Day, I am always reminded that in Maryland, I cover several breweries – Frey’s Brewing (Air Force), and Ellicott Mills Brewing Company (Marines) – with direct military connections, and others like Barley and Hops that regularly work an annual event to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. And this year one of the beneficiaries of Frederick Beer Week was Team Rubicon, an organization built completely around the idea that our military veterans come home with training that can be usefully re-purposed to aid in disaster response.

We shouldn’t wait for Memorial and Veteran’s Day to do this; if you run into someone you know was in the military the next time you’re in a bar, buy them a beer to thank them for their service.

For a number of years craft has been moving towards hoppier and hoppier beers – breweries dove in headfirst to the APA’s, IPA’s IIPA’s, the Cascadian Darks and the Belgian IPA’s. For hopheads, recent years have been a hop-lover’s paradise. One would be hard-pressed to find a brewery that wasn’t making some form of beer in which the hops were the star ingredient.

But lately I feel like I have been seeing more and more Belgian styles appearing with American craft brewery labels. Ommegang, Jolly Pumpkin and Stillwater Artisinal now have company with what appears to be more and more breweries producing dubbels, trippels, saisons, gueuzes, farmhouse ales, Abbeys and sours.

Cigar City has a guava beer that drinks like a very nice sour. Last year, as part of their Brewhouse Rarities series, Flying Dog release a gose/gueuze and an abbey ale. Barley and Hops has been doing a really enjoyable saison the last couple of years. Green Flash has been producing an excellent trippel for some time. Burley Oak down in Berlin, MD, is producing a very nice Belgian-style blond. Even Sam Adams is producing a pretty good trippel right now.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the next big thing in craft is going to be the Belgian-Americans.

Tapped and Uncapped

In keeping with the whole Belgians theme, I want to take a moment to recognize GiGi’s Farmhouse Ale from Old Dominion. Recently, OD has been releasing a whole Photo1 (3)slew of new beers and newly branded beers – the Morning Glory Espresso Stout, Double D Imperial IPA, the Cherry Blossom Lager, and, the GiGi’s. With Anheuser-Busch having divested itself of the breweries about a year and a half ago, Old Dominion has started to produce some of the best beers to come from their tanks in a couple of years.

The GiGi’s is a really nice addition to what’s becoming a very good line-up of beers. From the unfiltered farmhouse tradition, the beer leans dry with a touch of sweetness. Some pleasant citrus and floral notes with some nice clove and bready flavors. I definitely recommend picking this one up.

Until next week, be well and drink good beer.