The second Friday of December means one thing to the fine people who work day in and day out within our brewery walls: Our annual holiday party. There have been mariachi bands. There have been fire dancers. There have been freak shows. There’s even been a guy who let us staple money to his bare body. (The larger the denomination, the larger the area of choice…if you catch our drift.)
The entertainment always changes, but one thing remains the same. Our brewmaster and genius team of brewers unleash beers that have flown under the radar until that fateful Friday. Experimental ingredients, never-before-used yeast strains, extreme aging — nothing is off limits.
We keep these beers to ourselves, putting them on tap for one night and one night only. But this year, we’re sharing the wealth. This Saturday, we’re releasing a Flander’s Red, a Foeder-Aged Orchard Ale (a collaboration with Distillery Lane Ciderworks), an experimental Chestnut Ale and a Smoked Sour Wheat during what aptly dubbed Brewmaster’s Christmas.
Allow the man himself, our Brewmaster Ben Clark, to explain:
Flander’s Red 5.8% ABV
What is the history of Flander’s Red? It’s a Belgian red/brown ale that is aged in barrels or foeders for extended periods, 6 months to 2 years or so, and often blended with younger versions of itself to make up for a lack of body, as the bacteria and yeast consume almost all sugars in the wort, leaving a thin, dry beer. The specific blend of yeast and bacteria is important, and the profile can be influenced by the balance of these organisms.
How long has ours been in the Foeder? Around 2 years
What happens to the flavor as it ages? Acetic acid notes increase (vinegar flavor) and beer dries out. The acids produced create a complexity that help add character where the lack of body (from long aging/sugar reduction) leaves a gap. The best Flander’s are dry and complex.
What should be expect from our release? Subtle notes of acetic acid with hints of dark fruit and cherry and a dry finish.
Foeder-Aged Orchard Ale 8.5%
What is a foeder and what does it do to beer? A foeder is a wooden vessel utilized to age beer long-term. It allows a slow uptake of O2, which acts as an inoculation source as the wood holds the yeast and/or bacteria in the vessel. When it’s refilled or topped off, the resulting beer is very similar to the previous version.
How are we incorporating the cider into our beer? It is added at start of fermentation and comprises 50 percent of the actual beer.
Ciders are also becoming very popular – why Distillery Lane? We have had a long-time working relationship with DLC, and we love their focus on traditional English cider varieties grown locally.
Flavor profile? Apples, phenolics, barnyard notes. The younger it is consumed, the more apple character and sweetness/roundness should be expected.
Does this beer age well? Absolutely. A pronounced barnyard character will develop, and beer will dry out over time.
Chestnut Ale, 6.6% ABV
How did this concept come about? It’s a local partnership with a teacher in West Virginia who has a chestnut grove on his property and happened to reach out.
Why did we decide to give chestnuts a try? It was our first time really diving into using a product like this in a beer. It seemed interesting on the surface, and after some research we found it was a common malt substitute for individuals with gluten allergies. They have a surprisingly similar flavor to base malt.
Compared to other ingredients, what percentage of chestnuts are we using? 5%
This is our second year brewing this beer. What are we finding chestnuts do most – flavor, aroma, texture? They add a subtle flavor, mild buttery sweetness added to palette.
What should we expect flavor wise from this year’s release? This beer will be more dominated by the fruits added, plums and black currants. You will get dark fruit notes alongside sweeter and fuller body in part from the chestnuts.
Smoked Sour Wheat, 5.6%
How was this brewed? We used a kettle souring process.
Special ingredients? We used a beechwood smoked malt from Copper Fox, a distillery and maltster in southwest Virginia.
Flavor profile? Slight smoke both in the nose and finish. A distinct tartness combined with prominent hop character (all coming from Simcoe). Believe me when I say it is surprisingly refreshing, despite so many things going on. It all works really well together.
All four will be on tap in our tasting room starting at noon this Saturday. You can thank us then for sharing.
In the summer of 2016, flooding devastated our neighbors in Ellicott City – a haven for artisans and independent businesses. Alongside the good people at Jailbreak Brewing Company, we released Watershed Moment Belgian IPA with 100% of profits benefitting flood relief in Ellitcott City. One year later, the work continues and to show our support for these efforts, we have decided to re-release Watershed Moment with the crew at Jailbreak once more.
If it’s been too long since you had a taste, the beer is a hybrid of Jailbreak’s Poor Righteous IPA and our Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA. The malt bill is from Poor Righteous, the hops are a blend of those used in both beers and the yeast is the El Diablo Belgian strain used in Raging Bitch.
Watershed Moment will once again be available on draft and in cans exclusively in the Howard County and Baltimore area markets for a limited time. Beginning Friday, September 22 at noon, The Wine Bin will be selling 6-packs of cans and the draft release will kick off the following morning when the Main Street Music Festival returns to Old Ellicott City. Below you’ll find some of the accounts you’ll be able to track down Watershed Moment at. Keep in mind, this list is subject to change, we always recommend calling ahead and we never recommend complaining to us:
Kings Contrivance Liquors
Maple Lawn Liquors
This fall the Brewers Association of Maryland corralled a gang of Maryland Breweries together for four beer festivals that will elevate your palate and allow you to show off all your new sensory perception skills to your friends. We’ll be at each of these parties, so look for the batwings and stop by our booth to tell us about any typos you find in this post.
Here’s the rundown of our schedule:
Hyattsville Arts & Ales Festival
September 23, 12PM – 6PM
It’s the 10th Annual Hyattsville Arts & Ales Festival, longer than any of our best attempts at trying to not get kicked out of a fantasy league. Stop by and support local creativity with over 100 exhibiting artists and artisans, tons of local breweries & craft producers, food trucks and vendors, and live entertainment, block by block in Downtown Hyattsville. This event is free to the public. Beer will be available for purchase by the pint in the Beer Garden. Don’t forget to BYO GROWLER. We’ll be selling pints of our greatest hits including Snake Dog IPA, Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA, Bloodline Blood Orange Ale, and Dogtoberfest Märzen.
12th Maryland Microbrewery Festival 2017
September 30, 11AM – 6PM
The Union Mills Homestead, a national historic landmark, will host the twelfth annual Maryland Microbrewery Festival on September 30, 2017 from 11AM – 6PM. This jelly and jam-packed festival celebrates and promotes the best of Marylands handcrafted and distinctive microbrews and included food vendors, other craft vendors, live music, seminars, ample parking and a shuttle service. Proceeds of the Festival support the Union Mills Homestead Foundation’s ongoing interpretation and preservation of the historic Union Mills site.
Speaking of historic, we’ll be bringing some of the greatest beers of all time including Dead Rise OLD BAY Summer Ale, Dogtoberfest Märzen, Snake Dog IPA, Bloodline Blood Orange Ale, Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA, and The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale.
Hops & Harvest Festival
September 30, 12PM – 9PM
Choose from one of two time slots, or make a day of it. We’ll be out for the Midday 12-4pm crew as well as the Twilight 5-9pm group and you know we’re #TeamEdward. Your ticket includes event entry, unlimited tastings, a custom event cup, live entertainment, oxygen and unlimited trips to the bathroom. We’ll be set up with samples of the following beers: Snake Dog IPA, Bloodline Blood Orange Ale, Numero Uno Agave Cerveza, Doggie Style Pale Ale, The Truth Imperial Pale Ale, St. EADman Abbey Ale, Dogtoberfest Märzen, Dead Rise OLD BAY Summer Ale, Brewhouse Rarities Peach Cobbler Ale and our of our latest in-house releases, Negroni IPA.
Baltimore Craft Beer Festival
October 7, 12PM – 5PM
Presented by the Brewers Association of Maryland Held in the beautiful Canton Waterfront Park in downtown Baltimore, the festival will feature the widest selection of MD craft breweries in the state and a homebrew competition, where attendees have the opportunity to judge their favorites. Boasting all of the best parts of Baltimore, the event includes live bands, craft vendors, local food trucks, trivia, corn hole, and you. See for yourself: http://www.baltimorecraftbeerfestival.com We’ll be showing up fashionably early with old friends and new favorites including Thunderpeel, Single Hop Idaho 7, Negroni IPA, Drogtoberfest Marzen, Brewhouse Rarities Peach Cobbler Ale, Barrel-Aged Gonzo, Double Dog, St. EADman Abbey Ale, Barrel-Aged Fear, Snake Dog IPA, Bloodline Blood Orange Ale, and Numero Uno Agave Cerveza.