• Ellicott Mills Brewing Company Crab Soup Contest

    The annual crab soup contest at Ellicott Mills Brewing Company was a great success in good fun and raising money for a local charity.  There were 6 contestants, with 2 types of soup being tasted (traditional Maryland crab soup and cream of crab soup).

  • Crab Soup Contest at Ellicott Mills Brewing Company

    The winners and judges pose for a picture.

    The crab soup contest at EMBC was once again a huge success this year. This year’s event was in an effort to raise money for 27forOldEC, a  relief efforts from the derailment of trains in Ellicott City, MD. Overall there were 7 entrants that were mostly either a standard Maryland crab soup or a cream of crab soup.  The Judges were given samples to taste in a predetermined order and then graded the soups on such items as appearance and taste.

    When the contest was done, everyone at the bar was allowed to sample as much as they wanted of the remaining soup.  I made sure to get a sample of all that was available while enjoying some of the great beers the brew on premises.  Jonathan Postma (third from the right in group shot) won the overall contest with the prize being a wine rack with 4 bottles of wine.

     

    The contest is underway, and Timmy is serving up the first soup.

    The contest is underway, and Timmy is serving up the first soup.

     

    This soup left in whole crab claws!!!!

    This soup left in whole crab claws!!!!

     

    The judges score their results of the various soups.

    The judges score their results of the various soups.

     

    All contestants received a shirt from a locally made vodka.

    All contestants received a shirt from a locally made vodka.

     

    Which they were happy to model.

    Which they were happy to model.

     

    The winners and judges pose for a picture.

    The winners and judges pose for a picture.

     

  • Review Hop Heads Alehouse – Middle River, MD

    Kelli and I recently went out for food and drinks at a new bar in the Baltimore area called Hop Heads Alehouse.  We had a great time as the bar is quintessential Baltimore at its roots.  There was very much a home town feel and a general comradery among patrons.  There are nightly specials listed on their website, so check it out before you go and see which night is the night for you.

    If you go:
    http://hopheadsalehouse.com
    9611 Pulaski Highway
    Baltimore, MD.
    443-969-2477
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hop-Heads-Alehouse/185854428124932

    Arriving at Hop Heads in Middle River, MD.

     

    Kelli had a Bear Republic Racer 5, I had a Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale.

    The menu was mainly comprised of your standard bar items of easy to make and easy to consume food.  Nothing really stood out to me on the menu, but keep in mind I don’t eat meat.

    For food I ordered the blackened tuna bites.

     

    Good, but highly seasoned.

    Their beer selection was really good if you are into craft beers.  I was blown away by the amount of beers they have available, over 200!!  While they are a lot of the standard craft beers you will find in the craft beer scene, that fact that the vast majority of the beers are from independent breweries is a welcome change in any bar.

    Plenty of great craft beers from which to choose.

     

    Craft beers were on tap, too.

    Make no mistake, this is not some stuck up, hoity-toity bar full of beer snobs.  This is a place where people come to have fun, meet new friends, and drink!!!

    Being a bar, and energy drinks on special at $4 each, we did a round of shots with the bartender.

     

    Not being full yet I went for a pizza.

     

    My pizza with half olives.

    There was a lot of room in the bar, and I could see the empty floor quickly becoming a dance floor when the music and crowd were just right.  Our early arrival found us in a mostly empty bar, but in the hour or two we were there the bar quickly began to fill.  I could easily see this bar being shoulder to shoulder by the end of the night.

    It was early on Friday, but you can see the potential.

    The event calendar on the website always lists any entertainment, and the DJ’s that were there the night we went were fantastic.  These guys had a nice grove going that made me want to stay longer.

    DJ’s Tony Stylez and Supreme were setting the mood.

     

    Some old school Baltimore action.

    The owner Mike Roser was a really down to earth guy that was enjoyable to talk with during my time in the bar.  He had some big ideas on what he wanted to do in the future, and I’m glad to see that his vision is off to a great start.  More bars like his would be a welcome addition to any city.

    Owner, Mike Roser.

     

    Beer selection 4/5
    Food: 3.5/5
    Atmosphere: 3.5/5
    Overall: 3.5/5

    http://hopheadsalehouse.com/

  • Beer Tasting with Heavy Seas Owner Hugh Sissons

    Hugh was on hand to do the pouring for the tasting. He was also happy to pose for pictures.

    From an email I received from The Perfect Pour:

    Heavy Seas is a local craft beer staple. Founded by Mr. Sisson in 1994 as Clipper City, the brewery has been putting out award-winning and downright tasty beers for almost twenty years. Their broad range of beers is brewed “to be the best combination of modern beer thinking blended with traditional brewing methods in the beer world today.” We think they succeed.

     

    Hugh will be pouring two special beers and one customer favorite. Try the brand new Sea Nymph summer seasonal and the newly-released Plank II, a Doppelbock aged with eucalyptus and poplar, and remind yourself of the greatness that is Loose Cannon.

     

    Come support your local brewer and enjoy some of the best craft beer on the market.

    So I decided to head over to The Perfect Pour after work and check out the scene.

     

    Hugh was on hand to do the pouring for the tasting. He was also happy to pose for pictures.

     

    With pen in hand he was also signing six packs and bottles!!

     

    Overall it was a good time.  Hugh was happy to answer any questions people had about his beer or his brewery.  I’m happy to see local business owners coming out to do meet and greets with fans of their products.  Hugh really is a pleasure to be around.

  • Heavy Seas Real Ale and BBQ Fest

    Kelli and I recently went to the Heavy Seas Real Ale and BBQ Fest.  It was a lot of fun hanging out at the Heavy Seas Brewery and getting to meet Hugh Sissons again.  Below are the pictures from the event.  I refrained from doing beer reviews, as there were too many beers to drink, and I really just wanted to relax and have a good time.  After clicking on a picture below to enlarge it you can use the arrow keys or your mouse wheel to go to the next picture.

    Kelli and I arrived late to avoid any long waiting lines to get in to the event.

    Kelli and I arrived late to avoid any long waiting lines to get in to the event.

     

    This event wasn't as crowded as the oyster fest...

    This event wasn't as crowded as the oyster fest...

     

    But there were still a good amount of people around.

    But there were still a good amount of people around.

     

    I started the day with the Imperial Stout.

    I started the day with the Imperial Stout.

     

    The band was rocking out some great classic rock.

    The band was rocking out some great classic rock.

     

    Kelli asked, "Isn't an American IPA an American Indian Pale Ale?"

    Kelli asked, "Isn't an American IPA an American Indian Pale Ale?"

     

    The brewery was open for everyone to walk around.

    The brewery was open for everyone to walk around.

     

    And with the weather being nice, the outside area was open, too.

    And with the weather being nice, the outside area was open, too.

     

    While we were outside I stopped into the tent and grabbed an Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

    While we were outside I stopped into the tent and grabbed an Imperial Pumpkin Ale.

     

    There was plenty of food if you were hungry.

    There was plenty of food if you were hungry.

     

    It was Hugh Sisson's birthday, so I had another of his beers in his honor.

    It was Hugh Sisson's birthday, so I had another of his beers in his honor.

     

    I'm a huge sucker for these kinds of things.

    I'm a huge sucker for these kinds of things.

     

    Find them on twitter @HeavySeasBeer.

    Find them on twitter @HeavySeasBeer.

     

    This was the gift table for Hugh...

    This was the gift table for Hugh...

     

    And this was his very cool cake.

    And this was his very cool cake.

     

     

    It seems that over the course of an hour, more people had arrived at the event.

    It seems that over the course of an hour, more people had arrived at the event.

     

     

    I ran into Hugh, and he made a birthday wish for everyone to have a great time at his birthday event.

    I ran into Hugh, and he made a birthday wish for everyone to have a great time at his birthday event.

     

    By the time I made it back around to where the band was playing, Kelly was singing with them, again.

    By the time I made it back around to where the band was playing, Kelly was singing with them, again.

     

    Right next to the band was the Imperial Chocolate Stout, so I had some.

    Right next to the band was the Imperial Chocolate Stout, so I had some.

     

    I love taking pictures of bands...

    I love taking pictures of bands...

     

    And find myself unable to resist the urge...

    And find myself unable to resist the urge...

     

    To fire off a few shots.

    To fire off a few shots.

     

     

    An easy way to handle the amount of bathroom breaks required.

    An easy way to handle the amount of bathroom breaks required.

     

    While wandering around I found a nice little medal collection.

    While wandering around I found a nice little medal collection.

     

    It seems the Marzen is really popular.

    It seems the Marzen is really popular.

     

    Hugh took some time to open his presents.

    Hugh took some time to open his presents.

     

    And I had another beer, the Siren Noire.

    And I had another beer, the Siren Noire.

     

    Shortly thereafter I had the Peg Leg Imperial Stout.

    Shortly thereafter I had the Peg Leg Imperial Stout.

     

    These cardboard cutouts where everywhere, and it was funny to see Hugh posing with one.

    These cardboard cutouts where everywhere, and it was funny to see Hugh posing with one.

     

    The ladies took their turn, too.

    The ladies took their turn, too.

     

    Last beer of the day (and for those counting my eighth) the gold ale.

    Last beer of the day (and for those counting my eighth) the gold ale.

     

    Website: http://www.hsbeer.com/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/heavyseasbeer
    Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/HeavySeasBeer

  • Heavy Seas Beer and Oyster Fest – February 2012

    Kelli and I recently went to the Heavy Seas Beer and Oyster Fest.  It was a lot of fun hanging out at the Heavy Seas Brewery and getting to meet Hugh Sissons again.  Below are the pictures from the event.  I refrained from doing beer reviews, as there were too many beers to drink, and I really just wanted to relax and have a good time.  After clicking on a picture below to enlarge it you can use the arrow keys or your mouse wheel to go to the next picture.

    We arrived at the Heavy Seas Beer and Oyster Fest about 45 minutes after it started.

    We arrived at the Heavy Seas Beer and Oyster Fest about 45 minutes after it started.

    There was plenty of action, but I headed straight for the closest taps for a Märzen.

    There was plenty of action, but I headed straight for the closest taps for a Märzen.

    Right after that beer I ran into owner, Hugh Sissons.

    Right after that beer I ran into owner, Hugh Sissons.

    He recommend I try the Black Cannon Black IPA before it ran out, so I did.

    He recommend I try the Black Cannon Black IPA before it ran out, so I did.

    There was a good crowd on hand for the fest.

    There was a good crowd on hand for the fest.

    And it was really cool to see where they brew the beer.

    And it was really cool to see where they brew the beer.

    Food was included, and the shrimp sandwiches were perfect!!

    Food was included, and the shrimp sandwiches were perfect!!

    1:07 p.m., and just in time.

    1:07 p.m., and just in time.

    Fried Oyster sliders.  I had to take this picture quickly because they were going fast.

    Fried Oyster sliders. I had to take this picture quickly because they were going fast.

    In the back of the brewery there was a two tap setup, so I grabbed another Märzen.

    In the back of the brewery there was a two tap setup, so I grabbed another Märzen.

    It was an Oyster fest, after all. There were a lot of varieties from which to choose.

    Jonathan (a serious oyster expert) was on his 3-4 plate.

    Jonathan (a serious oyster expert) was on his 3-4 plate.

    He and Kelli love going to oyster fests together.

    He and Kelli love going to oyster fests together.

    There also was live music playing all day.

    There also was live music playing all day.

    Huge was signing his new book Brewing in Baltimore, with Author Maureen O'Prey.  He wrote the forward.

    Huge was signing his new book Brewing in Baltimore, with Author Maureen O'Prey. He wrote the forward.

    His book can be bought from Arcadia Publishing If you’re interested in buying it.

    Nice 'stache.

    Nice 'stache.

    Last picture before I hung up the camera for the day was Kelli getting oyster ice cream...it wasn't good.  It tasted like an oyster/seafood soup.

    Last picture before I hung up the camera for the day was Kelli getting oyster ice cream...it wasn't good. It tasted like an oyster/seafood soup.

    Website: http://www.hsbeer.com/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/heavyseasbeer
    Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/HeavySeasBeer

  • Interview – Chick Brewing Company

    After we finished our review of Chick Beer I was able to catch up with the owners of Chick Beer and ask them a few questions as part of our ongoing interview series.  I included some of the responses from the community in the series of questions.  Thanks to all who posted their comments which helped contribute to this article.

    On reddit.com “hopster” says, “This retarded gimmick is an insult to the millions of women who enjoy craft beer.”  Has your product overly simplified and stereotyped women?  Do you feel this negativity is based on the fact that the beer is marketed to women, or would response have been the same if you painted the male beer drinker with a similar broad brush stroke?

    Wow, is someone really using the word “retarded” to tell us how insensitive we are?  Really?

    Beer has been around for thousands of years.  Women have been around for even longer.  So how is a beer for women a gimmick?  Is beer a gimmick?  Are women?  Can we agree that the major light beers are marketed directly to men, what with all of the women in their commercials being bimbos and the charges that the drinkers are “unmanly”?  Market segmentation is clearly not concept invented by us.

    Chick Beer is a choice.  We’re not telling anyone that they have to drink our beer.  If someone wants to drink Chick Beer because they like the sexy packaging, or its positive statement about women, because they love the taste, or because we donate 5% of our profits to women’s charities, then they have that choice.  If they don’t value those things, then they should drink something else.

    In the comments below our Chick Beer review, Jon says, “There are plenty of women who drink craft beer, write about craft beer, and brew craft beer. It’s clear this beer was created by someone more concerned with business and appearances…”  Do you feel that is the case?  Were you more concerned with business and appearances than creating a beer just for the love of brewing?

    Chick Beer has never been about making a brewing statement.  Chick Beer is making a cultural statement.  The fact is that – whether you like it or not – light American lager is by far the most popular style of beer in America. Chick Beer is merely acknowledging that women aren’t a niche market.  At 25% of the market, they are more like a Grand Canyon.  Women choose to drink Chick Beer because it is a brand that is for them.

    That being said, we’ll blind-taste Chick Beer against any light lager.  At 97 calories and 3.5 carbs, you simply cannot beat us.

    I invite anyone out there who wants to make an Imperial IPA for women to give that business model a try.  About 5% of beer sold is craft beer.  That means that the female craft beer market is perhaps 1% of the total beer market.  You simply cannot build a business on a base that small.

    Jon goes on to state, “It’s what is inside the bottle that matters, not the labeling, appeal, or advertising. Hence, this beer totally misses the mark.”  Do you see a lot of this reaction to the name?  How do you market a beer to the craft beer community when the beer may be perceived as a gimmick?

    If Jon is right, then the best-selling beers in the U.S.- Bud Light, Budweiser, Coors Light and Miller Lite – are also the best-tasting, best-made, highest-quality beers out there, right?  The success of ANY product is based upon a combination of marketing and production.  If “totally missing the mark” means being commercially successful, then we’ll take that.

    We are not marketing Chick Beer to the craft community.  We are marketing it to the beer drinking community, 95% of whom are NOT craft beer drinkers.

    Where have you seen the greatest positive response for your beer so far?

    From virtually any woman that we talk to.  Women love this brand.  No, not every single woman, but certainly the vast majority of them.  We’ve also seen broad support from beer distributors around the country, which is why you will see impressive expansion from Chick in the coming months.

    Are the responses consistent among men and women, or does one group like the beer, or the idea of the beer, more than the other?

    Women are more receptive to the brand, but that was pretty much the idea to start with.  Men are typically neutral about the brand, but some men seem to be threatened by it.  We’re not psychologists, so we aren’t sure why.

    It was mentioned in the comments of the review, and from the people I’ve talked to about the beer, price seems to be a sticking point.  We paid $9.80 ($8.99 before tax) for our six pack used in the review, which is similar to many other craft beers, but yours is unique in that it is a light beer.  Do you feel that $8.99 is an optimal price point for Chick Beer?

    We don’t control, or even have much influence, over retail prices. $8.99 is certainly at the higher end of where we’d like to see Chick Beer priced at retail.  We are a craft-brewed light lager, which means that we should be priced between the majors and craft brews, which is typically where we are priced. As competition does its job, we think that you’re generally going to see us priced under $8.00 at retail.

    While you’re based out of Maryland, it’s brewed and bottled in Monroe,WI.  How did you find Minhas Craft Brewery to brew the beer for you?  Why them over someone who may have been able to brew it closer to home?

    We have always envisioned Chick Beer as a national brand, and not as a regional craft brew.  So the key for us was finding the place that could brew the best beer, regardless of its proximity to Maryland.  We began our distribution in Maryland because that’s where we live.  We wanted to learn our early lessons in our own backyard.  Minhas is the second-oldest brewery in the country.  The folks there are terrific brewers.  We couldn’t be happier.

    Do you own the recipe to the beer, and if so, are you allowed to have it brewed elsewhere if you needed?

    We don’t release details about the recipe, and Minhas will be able to handle our needs for the foreseeable future.

    Did you use Minhas’ existing Maryland distribution channels to get into the market, or did you develop your own?

    Minhas brews primarily for the mid-West and Canadian markets.  We love their beers, but sadly, they aren’t available in Maryland.   So we’ve developed our own distribution networks, utilizing Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and independent distributors.  If we go into Canada, we’ll probably ask Minhas to show us the way.

    What are the current hurdles involved in widening the distribution to other states?

    The main hurdle is cutting through the fog of the hundreds of brands out there.  Every distributor is bombarded with requests to carry new craft beers.  But Chick is unique in that it is the only brand that is targeted to the 25% of the drinking public that is female.  We are extremely pleased with the reception that we’ve received from distributors.

    As a new beer company, how much beer are you brewing per week?

    As a privately-held beer company, that is not information that we release.

    What local women’s charities do 5% of your profits go to?

    We’ve been on the market for less than three months, so it’s safe to assume that we haven’t generated a ton of profits yet.  We are investing heavily in building the brand.  However, we’re already involved in raising funds locally for a number of women’s charities, including Susan G. Komen For the Cure, Women in Film & Video, and the Soroptimists.  We have seated an independent board of directors to oversee our Chick Cares program.  This board will direct our charitable giving, and will issue reports on our website.

    Are there plans for other beers, or is Chick Brewing Company only going to produce its flagship product?

    As a company that has been selling beer for three months, our focus at this point is getting Chick Beer to all of the women out there who are asking for it.  We certainly have some ideas for additional products, but at this point we’re not ready to discuss them.

    If you are planning on producing any additional beers, can you offer any thoughts on what they might be?

    We could, but we won’t.

    Currently what is the primary means of marketing the product?  Word of mouth?  Advertising?  Or perhaps customers just seeing it in the store?

    We are primarily marketing Chick Beer through Facebook ads, which are by far the most efficient way to reach our core customers, who are women aged 21-34.  Those ads are generally targeted in the areas where we sell Chick Beer.

    Is your beer available on draft anywhere, or is it bottle only?

    No, we have no current plans for draft.

    Are there any upcoming events where your beer can be found?

    You will find Chick Beer at charity events, beer festivals and all kinds of venues.  As with any new product, it’s going to take awhile before we get to every event.

    On the website you state it took ” two years of effort” to get the beer made, how big do you see the Chick Beer brand in another two years?

    We generally don’t play the projection game.  It’s a hollow exercise.  However, we can say that we plan to expand aggressively into new markets. Chicks are everywhere!

    When you’re not drinking your beer, what beer do you prefer to drink?

    We have been on the retail side of the business, where we’ve sold (and tasted) hundreds of beers.  We believe that every beer has a corresponding occasion, whether that is cutting the grass, watching a football game, or a tasting session.  We generally take a mixed six-pack so that we can keep up with all of the great beers out there.

    What was the first beer you remember truly enjoying to drink?

    We were drinking very warm Guinness Stout back in the early 1980s, before people realized that serving it warm meant European cellar temperature, not 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  But it was so different than the mass-produced American beers that dominated in those days, we drank it anyway.

  • Interview with Bryan Brushmiller – Owner of Burley Oak Brewery – Part 2 of 2

    I met up with Bryan and his brew master, Brian Carl, from Burley Oak Brewery at the Oktoberfest in Berlin, MD for a couple of interviews. This is the second half of the interview done at the brewery later in the day.  The first part of the interview I did while we were standing in the beer garden earlier in the day.  This is the interview with Brian the brew master.

    Scott: Where did you get the inspiration for the design of the tree?
    Bryan: I just drew it one night
    Scott: You drew it yourself?
    Bryan: Yeah, we just drew it up. My buddy’s got a killer Mac. We were on his Mac messing around, and like, found some stuff, and then like, kind of sketched it. And then our boy is like a super good artist. He was just made the gnarlyness of it he made it twist around he just added some stuff to it.
    Scott: So on your website it says that the Burley brewery name was derived from what you feel is a historically accurate representation of the town Berlin, Maryland.
    Bryan: Yeah that’s what Wikipedia said.
    Scott: So were you looking for a name for the brewery and decided to query Wikipedia on what Berlin was or did you have that in your head ahead of time?
    Bryan: No I was just had it like, Burley, Burley Oak. That’s a wicked name you know what I mean? I was like, alright. ‘Cause we wanted to do Burley, kinda keep it local cause we didn’t want to be like Ocean City you know? Burley is kinda abstract so its not really…then the whole oak part comes from the building…the building is like this 120 year old building. So.
    Scott: This building is 120 years old?
    Bryan: Yeah. It actually used to be a cooperage at the turn of the century so they made barrels, wooden barrels, and then they make them in the back and then they pack them with oysters or seafood and then take them down to the railroad tracks you guys walked down and sent them to Baltimore. So its was cool it was like a package house. You know we’re all into like, oak aged beers, and diggin’ like, sours, and chardonnay barrels or whatever. So it’s kinda cool.

    Scott: I’m seeing a good brewery set up behind you. You’ve got a stainless steel tank, I see a copper tank back there. When you’re talking about the oak barrels…and more importantly, on your site you talk about taking old age technologies and blending them together with new technologies to make beers. So between the 2 of old technologies and new technologies where do you find yourself making the beers more?
    Bryan: Right now it’s all straight up off the system you know what I mean? Like off the system Franken-system we put together. You know I mean, I definitely like, we’re working on like designs for like a cool ship and just stuff like that but fucking we can’t make beer enough to supply our festivals for 6 hours. So you know, like, our main goal is to just try and make beer.

    Scott: OK so I am going to put you on the spot on this one because you do say it on your website. You do say something to the effect of “I’m blending the old with the new”. So give me the old and give me the new.
    Bryan: So the new would be all this technology and you know, using heat exchangers and glycol systems, but I guess the old would be like we don’t filter any of our beers, we don’t use any finings no filk no isinglass, no irish malt, no preservatives so its…I mean the thing you’ve got has 4 ingredients: hops, water, barley and yeast that’s it.
    Scott: So you’re standing to the German beer laws?
    Bryan: Yeah, we try to, you know what i mean? We think that’s where the beer is going to be the best instead of adding a bunch of shit to it, you know? Like, I know ales are supposed to be fermented for 2 weeks but, you know what? If they’re in the cold tank for an extra week think it friggin’ tastes a lot better you know what I mean? We don’t filter so it just grows up, you know what I mean? We don’t taking the yeast out of it….
    Scott: So as a processor your saying your starting with the German beer laws, but does that exclude any beers that you would include in your suite of products available because they wouldn’t be that type of beer?

    Bryan: Yeah like rye…the local rye would be, you know what I mean?

    Scott: What’s the beer that you haven’t made that you’re most excited to try making?
    Bryan: Saissons.
    Scott: And why haven’t you made that beer yet?
    Bryan: I think because of the yeast. You know yeast is super expensive and its even more expensive because we can’t harvest it, so we only have like, one tank that we can really harvest yeast from, everything else is done in bottoms. So it like you go into this whole romantic idea that yeah, but then there’s some actual logistic problems…I can’t spend $200 on saissons yeast and not harvest it 9 times, right? We harvest our Kolsch yeast so we don’t have a lot tanks we can harvest yeast from. We’ve always said like bean counters don’t make brewers? It doesn’t make sense that we use like crazy grain, like 9 different grains in our Rude Boy. We use a lot of grain We spend a lot of money on beers ’cause we want it to be good beer. Its all about the beer, you know?

    Scott: Considering the fact that there is not an empty stool at this bar currently, would you consider the town of Berlin to have a positive response for your beer?
    Bryan: For sure, yeah man, they’re awesome.
    Scott: How long did it take after opening this establishment to find that positive response?
    Bryan: We ran out of beer in about 2 weeks [Laughter]. Literally we had 1 keg left until we were kegging off our Belgian and that was going to be like, a special beer. We made it, we let it sit and we were like, fuck, we gotta keg this shit off, dude. So it was a Friday night at 8 o’clock we had 1 keg left out of 3, me made 3 batches, and 1 keg in the walk-in, a half keg up front here and we finally kegged off the Belgian and it was BOOM alright we got 2 beers on for tonight, you know?

    Scott: What’s the turn around time for you to produce a beer? If you say right now, today, I need a beer, how quickly is that beer on tap?
    Bryan: Probably like 16 days.
    Scott: 16 days.
    Bryan: Yeah, definitely, but I mean, then we’re like, ahhh we can keep it in the cold for 1 more week and then it will just be dank as fuck, you know what I mean? So we’re like, that’s what gets us in trouble, you know? That’s why we’re always like, its all about the beer.

    Scott: What’s beer have you found so far out of the beers that you’ve produced has responded most favorably to being left alone longer?
    Bryan: The bigger beers. Like our Rudeboy it’s 9 different malts, this big red ale. It just loves the cold, getting funky, you know what I mean?

    Scott: What’s the beer that you feel has most quintessentially defined your brewing company so far out of those that you’ve presented to the public?
    Bryan: Either Rude boy with that big malt bill 9 different grains and just all those notes and complexity. Or, I’d like to say Pale Rider because we got local grains, you know what I mean? Like that’s fucking awesome. Like we’re using a farmer whose growing grains and we put in our beer and then we take all that grain and we give it to a cattle farmer and he feeds his cows with it and he brings us back beef, you know what I mean and we eat it for lunch. So, that’s what’s cool.
    Scott: Along those lines, outside of the water that you put into your beer, what percentage of the product that you’re putting into the beer is local?
    Bryan: It’s still a small percentage. I mean like, next year you tell me, I’d have to say like, a large percentage. I mean like, we’re working with farmers right now. I have some brilliant farmer his name is Brooks Claybell with Penn State, he’s like an older farmer, he teaches other farmers how to farm. He’s fucking money. He’s actually growing a seed, a 2 row barley seed, for other farmers to take that seed and use as a cover crop. So, instead of using like, winter wheat and tilling it under, not getting any money at all, dude, if we can make a 2 row barley, its called Charles, and we can have these farmers use that as their cover crop for the winter, they’re making like $1400 an acre…you know this is what we’re guessing….this is a guestimate.

    Scott: Where do you want to go as a brewery? I mean obviously you’ve already got a nice suite of products but is there a particular part of the market that you’re trying to be accompanied with or is there something that you’re saying I want to be a bigger producer and whatever beer comes to mind, whatever beer we brew….
    Bryan: I dunno. I want to be a community brewery you know what I mean, where we can…so we can use the farmers and grow grain for us and give it back to the other farmers that grow cattle and just like the whole local system, you know what I mean.
    Scott: Like a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture.
    Bryan: Yeah. How cool is that. Yeah. So we’re helping out the community. You know what I mean. That’s what its about, you know. That’s responsible business. But as for beers. I love Belgians you know. We made a wicked one, we just kicked it last night. I just like drinkable good beers. We have 3 beers coming out that are like 8-9%. I dunno, like its cliche to say like pushing the limits of beer but I dunno. (pointing at the beer I have in my hand) What style would that be? Think about it.
    Scott: I’ve got the Pale Ryeder. I personally don’t think that’s a pale. Its not even close to a pale. But that’s not to say its not a good beer, its a very good beer.
    Chris: A Pale what? A pale ale or a pale rye?
    Scott: No this is…you can take a look at the color. Oh okay, so Chris…go ahead Chris.
    Chris: Its a Pale Rye. Its a different type of beer, man.
    Bryan: That’s what I mean, to define us as…
    Chris: And that’s where the “independent” comes in.
    Bryan: …To be like, fuck styles, you know what I mean, that’s what we want to make.
    Chris: Totally twisting it up a little bit.

    Scott: So what is your favorite beer to drink that is not something you brew?
    Bryan: Hmmmm, {long pause] Rodenbach or Leffe from New Belgium.
    Scott: And what types of beers are those?
    Bryan: They’re both sours.
    Scott: Sours
    Bryan: Yeah, Rodenbach, I can fuckin’ drink Rodenbach every night.

    Scott: Do you find those in town?
    Bryan: No. Like, Max’s on Broadway.
    Scott: Where in town do you find a beer store that sells good craft beers?
    Bryan: Cheers. Cheers is fucking money.
    Scott: They looked like they were good. Now lets talk closer to Ocean City. Where in Ocean City do you find good craft beers sold by the 6 pack?
    Bryan: Dude its crazy. If you asked me that a year ago I’d be like, I don’t know. Now its like the Green Room, The Citgo right next to Crabs to Go.
    Scott: Oh out there 589.
    Bryan: Yeah, yeah right on 589 and 15.
    Scott: Well Bob.
    Bryan: Yeah Bob! [laughter] He’s got the dank shit, dude! Oh man.
    Scott: But specifically within the town limits of Ocean City? Where would you find a good place? I was told–
    Outside voice: Anthony’s is money.
    Scott: Anthony’s, I’m not going to argue Anthony’s is money. So the funny thing about this question I keep trying to ask, is that every time I ask it I find that I’m having to refine it. So here we go, in Ocean City, during the off-season, where can I find a place to buy good craft beers?
    Bryan: 65th street liquor and kegs right next to the Galaxy.
    Scott: Right next to Galaxy? But do they have good craft? They have a large selection.
    Bryan: Yeah they got like a lot of 750s now.
    Scott: Okay.
    Bryan: Lets see, where else. See that’s all I really would know. Like, if I was in town I would be like, alright, like right now I would go there.
    Scott: We really had a difficult time finding good craft beers and it kinda put us back a little bit.
    Bryan: But you know they weren’t cold.
    Scott: It doesn’t matter to me.
    Bryan: But they have a shelf of 750s.
    Scott: You know what, I assure you I’m looking and I’m not seeing so, yeah finding a good craft beer…there was a place out here on…you know where Steer Inn…
    Bryan: Hops of Barley?
    Scott: Yeah Steer Inn, across the street from them.
    Bryan: Was that good? I’ve never been there.
    Scott: They had a very good collection. Now I will describe their collection as this: it was a great craft beer selection. However, its very clear that they’re using the same distributor as some of the other craft beer distributors that find themselves promoting business in Maryland because you see your Evolution, you see your Flying Dog, you see your Sierra Nevadas out there, you see your Magic Hat. Honestly it was the ones that were at the Good Beer Festival last week. So its difficult to say what you’re seeing but you’re absolutely seeing the independent breweries brewing the independent beer.
    Bryan: Yeah. For sure.
    Scott: I’m sorry that was totally a plug. [Laughter]


    Bryan: I would say Cheers has a lot of them, too. Definitely. (pointing at the other people around me) So what kind of style would you say that was?
    Bryan: Ask these guys, they’re all drinking. Here’s the thing…I wanna know. I mean that’s my question I ask everybody.
    Peter W: Sure. I’m really enjoying this.
    Scott: What are you guys drinking over here? Peter?
    Peter E: Uh, the September Fest.
    Scott: Joe?
    Joe: September.
    Scott: September? and Chris? September.
    Chris: September
    Scott: And what is your initial impression of the September?
    Joe: It doesn’t suck.
    Peter: Rich.
    Scott: I would almost say nutty.
    Bryan: Yeah Pale Rider and that nuttiness.
    Scott: Yeah, I’m getting nutty in the Pale rider. And its not like a nutty like a peanutty its more like a pine-nutty.
    Bryan: Yeah yeah yeah definitely. Definitely. That’s that rye. Rye does crazy stuff man we’re like whoa, what’s this going to do? next time. Now we’re going to add, like, double. We’re going to add 100 next time.
    Scott: Yeah this is absolutely pine-nutty. That’s what I’ve come up with. [Laughter}

  • Interview with Bryan Brushmiller – Owner of Burley Oak Brewery – Part 1 of 2

    I met up with Bryan and his brew master, Brian Carl, from Burley Oak Brewery at the Oktoberfest in Berlin, MD for a couple of interviews.  This is the interview I did while we were standing in the beer garden.  The second half of this interview was done at the brewery later in the day.  This is the interview with Brian the brew master.

    Scott: So 10 kegs and you just tapped it today.
    Bryan: Yeah.
    Scott: That’s good stuff.  What other beers do you have on tap right now?
    Bryan: Here or at the brewery?
    Scott: Well do you have anything else on tap here?
    Bryan: Uh uh.
    Scott: No. So at the brewery?
    Bryan: Yeah we have like 4 or 5 beers at the brewery.
    Scott: 4 or 5 beers at the brewery?
    Bryan: Yeah, we kicked the keg last night. So we have….we kicked the Belgian last night. So we have a Lani-kai which is a single hopped galaxy beer. So we used galaxy hops all the way throughout the whole brew. And then we did a Pale Ryeder, which is our IPA that we do with rye from a local farmer. And September Fest, which is like a big red….imperial red ale.  And then we have Octoberfest.
    Scott: The Octoberfest.
    Bryan: Yeah.

    Scott: What other beers do you like personally to drink the most?
    Bryan: Whatever is in my hand at the time.
    Scott: Whatever is in my hand. (laughter).
    Bryan: Yeah.
    Scott: Good answer. Good answer.
    Bryan: I stole that from Sam. (laughter)

    Scott: So what was it that you….you just recently opened the brewery, correct?
    Bryan: Yeah like, 6 weeks….7 weeks ago.
    Scott: 7 weeks ago?

    Bryan: Yeah
    Scott: What was it that inspired you to open a brewery?

    Bryan: I got fired from my job construction (laughter). And then I was always home brewing, building…geeky with like, building equipment and stuff so I built a little brew house in my garage, you know, like everybody does, right?  Hook some kegs up, and i made it a little bigger and built a bigger one, and then just started like, trying to find used equipment. And built like what I got now going on. So.

    Scott: How long were you brewing beer prior to opening the brewery?
    Bryan: Kinda like, 3 years.
    Scott: 3 years.

    Bryan: Yeah.
    Scott: What kind of types of beers did you experiment with prior to opening the brewery?

    Bryan: Just like Belgians and Saissons.  Just stuff that people weren’t doing, you know what I mean?  Like if I can go somewhere and drink a beer I just go and drink a beer. But like, if I wanted like a Saisson that was like….I dunno or something crazy I would….that’s what I would try to make so.  That’s really what inspired me is just me trying to make beers, like push the limits.  And thats what we do at the brewery, you know?  Like, I dunno you guys should come check out the beers ’cause they’re real styles.
    Scott: Yeah we were hoping to come by the brewery at some point.
    Bryan:  We’re open until 2am Thursday Friday and Saturday.  There’s a full bar.

    Scott: Are you guys going to be doing anything after Octoberfest tonight?
    Bryan: Yeah, we’ll have a whole fucking party there, go down until like 2am. It’ll be nuts. (laughter). I’m serious. (laughter).

    Scott: So you brew all the beers on those premises.
    Bryan: Yes, and Brian..you’ll meet him later hes just walked by.
    Scott: I’m sorry, who?
    Bryan: Brian, the other Brian is the brew master.  Yeah.
    Scott: So you are B-R-Y-A-N
    Bryan: Right, he’s B-R-I. Yeah, I’m the brewing assistant.
    Scott: So is it the 2 of you in business together?  Who’s the owner of the company?

    Bryan:  I’m the owner, yeah.
    Scott: You’re the owner.
    Bryan:  I just hired him.  He’s a Siebel alum.  I went through the Siebel connections and hooked it up.  He’s, he’s the man.

    Scott: Are you local here in Berlin yourself?
    Bryan: Yeah. I’m just right down the road in Salisbury.
    Scott: So, obviously then, Berlin, you wanted to find a location close to where you already lived to open the brewery.

    Bryan: Yeah yeah. Well, i wanted to find a town that would embrace it.  And Berlin came to me and was like, “dude what can we do for you?” And every other town was like–
    Scott: The Chamber of Commerce?
    Bryan: Just like the economic development director and the mayor…like, I’m good friends with the mayor… (pointing) he’s over there.  They were like “what can we do for you to come here?” Where every other town was like “this is what you need to do.”  Like, fuck, I’m going to Berlin, you know?   I don’t need any more hard fight you know than dealing with all this other stuff, like dealing….you know dealing with everything else to have a town be like, “You know, whatever you need, you know, we’ll make it happen.  You need a grant, to fix up  the front of that old building you bought?”
    Scott: The funny thing is, for myself, I’ve been coming down to the ocean obviously my whole life, but recently, more actively over the past 10 years and this is my first time to main street Berlin.

    Bryan: Sure.  That’s awesome.
    Scott: Obviously it was your beer that brought me here.

    Bryan: Oh, awesome.
    Scott: So hopefully you can be that kind of draw to the township.

    Bryan: Definitely, definitely, that’s what we want to do.  We want to give back to the town.  That’s why we do like events, a lot of charities and stuff

    Scott: Who’s promoting this event?  Is this you?
    Bryan: Yeah, me and the chamber of commerce.  You know, Michael Day, the economic development coordinator, the mayor, Mayor G Williams, you know, we just all hang out and its like, alright what can we do?
    Scott: How long did it take to plan this event?  Or rather I should say how long has this event been in the planning?

    Bryan: A couple of months.
    Scott: A couple months?  Was it originally put forth by you or was it–

    Bryan: No!  By these other 2 home brew guys.  And then the town kinda just ran with it.
    Scott: Do you know their names?

    Bryan: No I don’t but I knew that they were like the guys that wanted to get this all started.  So….that….you know you kinda gotta give credit to those guys too.  Then they kinda couldn’t do it ’cause of the laws, (interruption with “Cheers”) so the chamber of commerce was like, “alright, well we’re gonna do it coz its a good idea”.  And at first I was like, man you gotta have, you know, next year hopefully it”ll be like, every brewery in Maryland.  You know I kept pushing like, don’t just have me have every brewery and their Octoberfest or their pumpkin beer or whatever.  It’ll be crazy, you know what i mean?  But they were like oh, we just want to showcase you for now.  So I’m like, alright, that’s fine.  But I’m going to run out of beer, which, I’m getting ready to do.  We’re putting the last kegs on right now and its only 3 o’clock and it goes until 6, so.

    Scott: (laughter) Wow, that’s the last keg?
    Bryan: I think so.

  • Oktoberfest – Berlin, MD

    Berlin, Md hosted its first ever Oktoberfest, and IndyBeers was on hand for the event.  Overall it was a great time.   There was a good size crowd on hand for the event with the downtown Main Street area being well packed.  We headed from the north end of town down past the center towards the beer garden, as that was the only place one could procure a fine malted beverage.  Entrance to the beer garden was free, but tickets were $3 each, which is a great price for drinking a delicious craft beer.



    After getting our handful of tickets we stood in line for about 10 minutes to get our first sample of the newly released Burley Oak Oktoberfest.  As it was, however, we only managed to get 1 beer each of this earthy toned beverage, as the keg ran out while I was interviewing brew master Brian Carl.  From that point we switched to the Flying Dog Marzen.  That worked out well because we had been drinking the same beer earlier in the day before coming to the festival.  While we were standing around drinking we spotted Bryan Brushmiller, the owner of Burley Oak Brewery.  I quickly introduced myself and jumped right into asking about his beer.

    After talking with Bryan for a while, he introduced me to his brew master, Brian.  Brian and I discussed his passion for brewing and why he decided to come to Burley Oak Brewing.  It was during this time the the keg went dry, and he half jokingly said, “I gotta go to the brewery and fill kegs now.”  While he went back to business, Chris and I took some time to survey the scene.  There was a place serving big barbequed pieces of meat, so Chris purchased one to try out.  He said it was really good.



    After a few more beers we decided to head back to the brewery and see what was going on there, as well as sample some of the other beers that might be available.  As we walked back North through town we passed the live music which was offering up some traditional Oktoberfest style melodies.

    After about a 15 minute walk from the downtown area we found ourselves at the brewery.  The brewery was very modest and unassuming in looks from the outside.  Except for the small sign in the front, you wouldn’t know that there was a brewery inside.  They have only been open for about 2 months, since August of 2011.



    Inside the brewery was a sizable bar area.  There were plenty of places to stand and or sit and enjoy some of the beers they currently had on tap.  I went with a Pale Ryeder (which was full of a great rye flavor) and Chris went with the September Fest.  Both were high in alcohol content, and after a day at the Oktoberfest everyone was beginning to notice the effects.



    I continued talking about beer with Bryan and he explained why he had decided to brew beer, and why Berlin was the location for him.  I was hoping to get a tour of the brewery, which could be seen through a large window behind the bar, but something had spilled in the back, and it wasn’t a good time to bring people through the area.  Oh well, I guess I’ll have to come back again!!!


    The end of the day final came for us and it was time to head back home.  Bryan was happy to step outside with us for a couple more pictures.  It was pretty funny, actually,  as he was prone to goofing off while the pictures were being taken and there are more than a few that made me laugh looking at them later.


    Notable Quotes for the day:

    -Pete Arslanian
    Q: You had a beer called the 7 finger farmer?
    A: The farmer only had 7 fingers, lost in a machine accident, so [Bryan] named the beer after him for growing the hops.

    -Dennis Krembel
    Q: So what do you think you’re gonna get here.  You’ve got the Flying Dog, the Ocktoberfest…?
    A: I’ll take a Flying Dog. 2 of ’em.

    -Mark Jersey Cerbo
    Q: In terms of the beers that you’re distributing, how many of them were part of Anheuser Busch, Miller, or Coors…what percentage?
    A: Our portfolio when I was with Carry Distributors at the time Unibev was buying everybody up, they owned a large percent because at that point Miller and Coors had merged together.  We had a strong portfolio.  I mean we had Yuengling, we had Heinekin and Corona,  I mean we had pretty much all the big hitters but Anheuser Busch.
    Q: How difficult did you find it to distribute your beer not having Anheuser Busch in your portfolio?
    A: Not hard.  ‘Cause we had, you know, percentage-wise if you looked into say, a package store we were probably anywhere from 65 to 70% of the door space.
    Q: Outside of distributing the Anheuser Busch, Miller, Coors products how difficult was it to push craft beers into the market?
    A: In the beginning it was a little difficult, but once Dogfish opened up in Delaware in our back yard, you know, Dogfish was an easy swing into the craft beer industry for us down here, you know.  And they have quality products and they expanded, you know, in the right point of time.  They didn’t try to grow too fast, they came along at a good pace that, you know eventually they’re world wide now.
    Q: Do you feel that because of the fact that Dogfish Head made a presence in the Delmarva scene that it made it easier to push craft beers locally?
    A: Absolutely.  Good question.
    Q: So you feel that because of Dogfish Head, craft beers are better appreciated in this area.
    A: Well, in this area down here I think they really were the first stepping stone in the craft beer industry, so with their success grew craft beer in our area, so.  With Burley Oak opening up here in Berlin, I mean I think they’ll do well.


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