Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Beer a Day, locally: #6 (Cask at Clipper City)

I'm celebrating American Craft Beer Week with one beer —one local beer— each day during the week of 11 - 17 May. Local for me is the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia area.

Day Six (16 May):

To Clipper City Brewing in Baltimore, Maryland, for the Real Ale & BBQ Fest.

The nine cask ales included the sneak preview of the first beer in the brewery's 22-ounce ('bomber') bottle line: Heavy Seas Big DIPA (as in Double I-P-A)

This was a very hoppy and strong India Pale Ale, clocking in at 10.6% abv alcohol by volume (abv), showing likewise strong flavors of cantaloupe melon and grapefruit. Owner Hugh Sisson told me that he expects the 'bomber' bottles and kegs to be available in late June/early July 2009.

Pulls a pint of Little DIPAWhat I found fascinating (and tasty) was the beer poured next to it at the same station: Little DIPA.

When barley is mashed to extract sugars, it is crushed and mixed with hot water. That sweet liquid, called wort, is transferred to a kettle and boiled. A lot of sugar remains entrained in the mash, so brewers continue to 'wash' the barley bed until most of the sugar is extracted. This is a process called 'sparging'.

It wasn't always so. Hundreds of years ago, brewers would make a strong beer from the first wash, a weaker beer from the second wash —or runnings— and a very weak table beer from the third runnings. The invention of the hydrometer and other technological advancements increased efficiency and ended that practice.

In a nod to that tradition, Clipper City brewed its Big DIPA with only the rich first runnings. The brewers produced a second beer from the second runnings. As strong as the Big DIPA was (25+ °P original gravity), the 2nd beer was also surprisingly strong (17 °P original gravity). Called Little DIPA (of course!), it fermented out to 6 % abv. The beer will only be available at the brewery.

The entire line-up of nine casks was:

  • Heavy Seas Big DIPA Double IPA
  • Heavy Seas Little DIPA India Pale Ale ('second runnings')
  • Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale
  • Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout
  • Heavy Seas Holy Sheet Uber Abbey Ale
  • Heavy Seas Red Sky at Night Saison
  • Clipper City Gold Ale
  • Clipper City Pale Ale
  • Oxford Organic Amber Ale
Each cask had hops added into the cask as well, a process called "dry-hopping'. In some of the casks, Cellarman Stephen Marsh used hops different than those used during the brewing process, creating unexpected flavors. To the casks of Red Sky at Night Saison and Holy Sheet Über Abbey Ale, he also added spices and botanicals.

Cellarman Stephen MarshFood was catered by Andy Nelson's Barbecue. I would guess about 200+ attendees.

I met up with fellow area beer blogger Brad Kipner, who hosts Read his summary here.

Congratulations to the entire staff, but especially to Stephen Marsh, Clipper City's cellarman, for his excellent work in preparing the casks and overseeing their service. More photos here.

The rest of the local beers for my observance of American Craft Beer Week were:

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