When Labor Day passes, it saddens many. It marks the end of summer fun, school is back is session, and the days get shorter. But there’s an upside too. The increasingly crisp air means we can toss aside those lifeless summer beers in favor of malty deliciousness and pumpkin beers.
In Maryland a great way to celebrate the blossoming beer season is the Maryland Brewer’s Harvest Festival. This one of two premier events hosted by the Brewers Association of Maryland. And is the unofficial kick off to the best time to drink beer each year.
So what can you expect? Expect a wide variety of Maryland brewers pouring a variety of great beer with some great food from great area chefs like Bryan Voltaggio, Spike Gjerde, Rodney Henry, Keith Long, and Chris Marquis.
What great beers will be served? Anything I should try to get my hands on? This really depends on whether you have a VIP ticket or not. The VIP ticket holders will have access to some real treats. Like a couple awesome Barrel Aged beers from Oliver Brewing. I have to admit I haven’t had their Barrel Aged Creeper #5 but it sounds amazing. And I have had their Barrel Aged Sea of Spears, which was indeed as good as I thought it would be.
I really want to give a run down of ever brewer, but my apologies in advance because I’m not doing that. But here are a few things that I am excited about and a few things you should be excited about.
Top 10 VIP Beers:
- Flying Dog Single Hop Galaxy – such a great hop, for what has been a solid series of Imperial IPAs.
- Full Tilt Hop Harbor – First taste of Full Tilt’s new Mosaic driven Double IPA.
- Heavy Seas Plank III – wood aged Tripel from a historically great series.
- Raven Beer Tell Tale Heart IPA (cask) – A solid IPA in a cask with Citra and Simcoe. What could go wrong?
- The Ruddy Duck Oreo Stout – I have never had this, but it excites me. Stout made with condensed milk and Oreo cookies. A lot could go wrong here, but a lot could go right too.
- The Brewer’s Art 18th Anniversary Beer – a Biere de Garde w/Japanese Persimmon. Haven’t not had this one either, but it sound perfect for an early autumn day.
- Union Old Pro – Gose with local peaches. Old Pro is one of the benchmark Gose beers. The tart sweetness of peaches sounds like the perfect compliment.
- Jailbreak Barrel Aged Dusk til Dawn – This beer is delicious. One of my favorite Maryland brewed beers, and surely going to be a sought after beer in just a few short years. Get it while you can.
- Evolution Nouveau Rouge – A ridiculously tart sour. I haven’t sampled this since Batch #1, so I am excited to see what Batch #3 tastes like.
- Oliver Brewing Barrel Aged Creeper #5 – Belgian Style Rye aged in bourbon barrels. As my friend Pam would say, “Umm yeah, that needs to be in my mouth.”
Top 10 General Admission Beers:
- Eastern Shore Orange Blossom Honey – Saison brewed with local honey. A harvest beer for a harvest festival. Perfect, right?
- Flying Dog Dogtoberfest – Multiple GABF medal winning Märzen. Don’t let the name fool you, Octoberfest beers should be had in September.
- Full Tilt Fully Tilted BPA – Double Pale Ale or IPA depending how you look at it. Very nice ale rested on oak. Rich yet crisp. Hoppy yet balanced.
- Heavy Seas Yule Tide – Imperial Red with Ginger aged in Rum Barrels. 2013 vintage too.
- Monocacy Brewtus – While their Riot Rye is a great beer, I’ve never tried Brewtus. And considering the quality beer they have been putting out this looks to be something to try.
- Union Craft Barrel Aged Chessie – Usually only a VIP beer, it is a sumptuous barleywine especially after spending some time in a barrel.
- Milkhouse Stairway – This is an IPA with locally grown hops. It’s always a lovely beer.
- Push American Sour Power – Usually I’d go with Reckless Ascension IPA, but the idea of a Berliner Weisse with blood orange juice gets my juices flowing.
- Jailbreak Carrot Cake – This is their alternative to Pumpkin beer season, and it’s well executed. Made with roasted carrots, vanilla, and all the spice you’d expect from Carrot Cake.
- Oliver Brewing Modern Life is Rubbish – One of my favorite porters. Although my Honorable Mention here is their Harvest Ale just because who doesn’t love a wet hop harvest ale.
While I have my geekery laser focused on the beer selections, the food should be outstanding as well. The resumes of the chefs alone have my hopes high. Plus in addition to the lovely pairings, there will be some yummy freshly shucked Oysters, and some of the premier food trucks from the area.
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