Friday, March 30, 2012

Heavy Seas Fire Works: beer dinner(s)

It's a date; well, actually, it's two.

Cask of Raging Bitch (02)

Fire Works —pizzeria, restaurant, and good-beer bar, in the Court House district of Arlington, Virginia— has invited Heavy Seas Brewing —of Baltimore, Maryland— to dinner on the 3rd and 4th of April. Chef Frank Mayo will do the cooking. Beer manager Mike Berry will do the hosting.
Fire Works & Heavy Seas Beer Dinner Menu: April 2012.

The first beer —a 'welcome' beer, not on the menu above— is Heavy Seas' Classic Lager. The brewery has modeled the beer on recipes for premium all-malt American lagers of years prior to 1950, when there yet was maltiness and hoppiness in those beers. Liquid history, if you will.

The first beer with dinner —Holy Sheet Uber Abbey Ale— Heavy Seas has retired from its fleet. This keg —one of the last available— has aged (well) over 15 months, softening the bite of its 9% alcohol-by-volume, while retaining the fruity fusel alcohols produced by its Belgian yeast strain.

Tapping the cask (01)

The next two beers with dinner —Heavy Seas Pale Ale and Loose Cannon American Hop3 IPA— will be served from firkins: 10.8 gallon casks, within which the beers have been naturally carbonated.

Berry personally filled these two casks at the brewery with his choices of spices and hops. To the Pale Ale, he added sour cherries, chips of toasted poplar wood, vanilla beans, pomelo peel, and so-called 'wet'* Cascade hops. In the cask of Loose Cannon, it's Spanish lemon peel, dried white peaches, grated fresh ginger, and 'wet' Amarillo hops.

Not pictured, an additional course: Jerk chicken thighs, stuffed with Linguiça sausage, served over red beans and rice, with pineapple puree. Beer selection: a surprise!

With dessert —Chef Mayo's Peanut Double Chocolate Fudge— Berry has chosen to serve Siren Noire.
Approx. 8% ABV. An English style imperial stout, fermented and flavored with imported Belgian chocolate nibs. Smooth and easy drinking. Named for the Sirens who lured seafarers off course and ultimately to their demise.

As it might have be impractical to host all 30 employees of the brewery at dinner, two will be making the 45 mile trek from Baltimore to Fire Works. Tuesday evening, Stephen Marsh will guest host. He is the cellarmaster for the brewery: the manager of the brewery's burgeoning cask program. Wednesday evening, it's Hugh Sisson: the founder and managing partner of Heavy Seas Brewing.
Hugh Sisson



The dinner may also feature the official Virginia release of Plank II.
the second in a series of beers showcasing unique wood ageing treatment to add flavor and nuance. Plank II features an 8.5% ABV Dopplebock style lager matured with specially treated Eucalyptus and Yellow Poplar wood planks.

Six-foot planks of Eucalyptus and Poplar were placed in the fermenter and allowed to age with the beer for six weeks. The Eucalyptus wood lends notes of chocolate
[and mint], balanced with a hint of toffee and smoky dryness from the Yellow Poplar.

As of this post (Friday morning, 30 March), the state of Virginia has not yet granted approval for the beer to be sold in the state. Failing timely approval, Mike Berry has plans to offer a different, sixth, Heavy Seas beer as a bonus.


The cost of admission is $75 (including tax and gratuity). Wednesday's session has sold out, but there are still a few seats remaining for Tuesday's dinner. For reservations, call Fire Works on 703. 527.8700 or email:
  • Photos from the beer dinner: here.
  • The term 'wet' is used to describe hops that have been freshly picked and shortly thereafter, without storage or curing, used to brew beer. Most hops are gently heat-cured to remove moisture content and stabilize the flavor and aroma. Just-picked, they have more of grassy character: similar as to how fresh mint has a 'green' character in addition to its minty flavor.

    Think of 'wet' hops as beer's answer to 'farm to table.' Most hopyards in the U.S. are found in the Pacific Northwest. Breweries not nearby arrange for freshly-picked hops to be air-shipped overnight after fall harvest. 'Wet' hops in April will have been vacuumed-packed. As well, many areas in the U.S., such as here in Virginia and Maryland, are seeing a resurgence of local hop-farms.

  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virgina— I sell the beers of Heavy Seas Brewing.

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