Last night I walked to my kegerator to grab a beer, and I made a shocking choice. I poured myself a homebrew. This isn’t shocking that I would actually drink the beer that I had brewed, but given the choice between my beer, and the beer from one of the finest breweries in the world makes it a little more shocking. You see the other tap had Firestone Walker Double Jack. Truly a great beer, and one that I love. But instead, I chose my beer.
I am really happy with my “Angel Porter.” It’s a Bourbon Barrel Aged Porter. Lightweight at only 5.4% ABV but the bourbon gives it the feeling of something much bigger. Homebrewing is great for having a drink you can be proud of. One that you made, that can be great fuel for dreams.
Delusions of Grandeur
When I was a kid, I would put on my father’s army fatigues and pretend I was an “Army Guy.” Now I put on my Dickies workshirt, just like the pros, and go out and make some of my own beer. The biggest difference in these two forms of dress up, other than the obvious, is now I have a consumable product at the end of my little dress up game. The other difference is the lack of safety glasses, you don’t need to be OSHA compliant when you homebrew.
When that beer appears in my glass six weeks later it will make the dream of being a real brewer seem attainable if only for a second. I have wanted to be a more active professional in the beer world and I see open places in the beer marketplace that I feel I could fill. However, I do not have the courage to risk my family’s financial security on a risky dream. But I can tell you about my dream.
I live in Carroll County. Diversity is something conspicuously absent in many areas in Carroll County, but I am only going to focus on two: Restaurants and Beer. Most of the restuarants in Carroll County are Pizza places and most of the beer served are beers like Bud Light and Coors Light. As far as I know Carroll County only has one brewpub, Johannsons, in Westminter. Johannsons is a fine place, I like it a lot in fact. Their house beer is quite good, and despite this, it still isn’t known as a beer-centric pub.
So here’s my idea (dream). Purchase a plot of farmland or partner with a local farmer just west of Eldersburg in Winfield or Northern Mount Airy, MD. Close to the local vineyards. Then construct a brewpub on the property. Then cultivate the farmland to grow fields of barley and hops. The crop of brewing ingredients would serve two purposes. One as ingredients for a house made estate beer. And be a pleasant backdrop for outdoor dining, far better than the usual parking lot view.
The farm backdrop would also be able to serve as a venue for weddings or other large gatherings such as beer festivals. Don’t tell my wife, but I would have loved to get married under an arbor of hops, with fields of barley behind me. I imagine it would be something like this, but just a little more permanent:
The restaurant would specialize in pairings. Each food item would have a recommended pairing of both beer and wine, and most items could be purchased as either a tapas size or a full meal size. This would create an ad hoc tasting menu, to make for a fun, social atmosphere.
This menu would only be available in the evening. Before then, if you want food you would need to get a fresh sandwich or salad from the on-site deli. Grab a sandwich and sit in the bar and grab a beer. Deli style. No server. Just you and your meal. And of course your bartender if you choose to drink.
The deli would open for business at 6 a.m., serving house roasted coffee, pastries, and other light breakfast options. You would also be able to get any meats or cheeses you needed for the week. As well as locally made sausage and other assorted local meats.
I wouldn’t want this to be one of those brewpubs that only serves their own beer.
Because everyone has different tastes, and there might be someone that doesn’t like our beer. Beer is meant for sharing. I want to share all that is good, not just what I would make. I would want my beers to be served alongside of the best available. That’s part of the dream isn’t it?
The focus would be on Maryland made, but we would also include the best of around the country and other parts of the world. We wouldn’t specialize in any particular beer style. There would be some of everything, at least everything that uses ale yeast. There’d be everything from a light lawnmower beer to the occasional Gueze. And of course there would also be a healthy barrel program. Can’t have a dream about beer that doesn’t include barrel aged beer.
But you won’t find any macro beer here. Sorry Bud lovers.
The biggest overarching theme here is fresh, local, and artisan. I would like the place to have hours from 6AM – Midnight, always serving the most appropriate fresh items for that time of day. Whether it is fresh roasted coffee, braised beef from a local farm, or an ale made from estate grown ingredients. There might even be someone in my dream staff that has experience in cheese making.
And the best part about all of these things? My ideal location that I mentioned doesn’t have any good beer restaurants nearby. It’s miles away from a Starbucks. And it would be a unique venue for events.
And the worst part about all of these things? It’s a dream.
Before making the move to Information Technology, I spent years working in restaurants. From washing dishes, serving, and even cooking. I became very familiar with every part of the restaurant. And later, when moving to IT, I learned a lot more about the business side working on designing and maintaining point of sale systems. Now I have dreams about this world.
Where I’ll Be
Saturday May 11th – I will be at the Frederick Beer Week Beerfest @ Stillpoint Farm
Friday May 17th – You might be able to find me at the Orioles game. It’s a Firkin Friday, so that means a fresh firkin of Flying Dog will be available at the Flying Dog location on the lower lever at section 23 and the new Roof Deck behind the Centerfield wall. I will be heading to the Centerfield location.
May 11th – 18th – Frederick Beer Week
May 13th – 19th – American Craft Beer Week
May 11th – FBW BeerFest @ Stillpoint Farm
May 18th – Maryland Craft Beer Festival
June 1st – Annual Victoria Beer Fest @ Victoria Gastropub
John Thompson is a beer enthusiast who began evangelizing craft beer a few years ago on his blog thehoplocal.com. John has been homebrewing sporadically for almost 20 years, and also is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. When not enjoying a cold malty beverage you will find John spending time with his spouse and two young children or working his day job in Financial Services Technology. Make sure to find John on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @TheHopLocal and Untapped. at : http://untappd.com/user/thehoplocal