Monday, February 27, 2006

72 Hours of Belgium 2006

Max's continues to impress with their events. It's a taphouse located in the Fells Point district of Baltimore, Maryland.

This past weekend, GM Casey Hard, owners Gail and Ron Furman (and Jaimie, Jason, and the entire cast of ridiculously good bartenders) hosted their second annual 72 Hours of Belgium.

Accompanying the over 100 different bottled Belgian beers, there were more than 40 Belgian draughts scheduled Friday afternoon. By Sunday afternoon, there were significantly fewer still flowing - forlorn plastic hats noting the voracity of past madding crowds. But even so, Sunday's smaller array of Belgian tap handles would be a phenomenal draught display at many bars. I was told that on Friday and Saturday the bar had been breathing room only.

We didn't make it to the cask ale handles, where the crew was pulling from firkins of Brewers Art's Petroleuse and Ozzie but my companions and I did try these:

Our bottle of Fantome seemed a bit off, with a somewhat harsh and meaty yeast bite.

The draught Brouwerij de Regenboog's Wostyntje was delightful: just a hint of mustard bitterness that I might be hard pressed to identify as such if i didn't know it were there. Like a spritzy Belgian golden with good malt and spice presence in a surprisingly low alcohol package - 5% or so. Showed better than any bottle of this I've tried.

Urthel Vlamese Bock
Philadlephia's Monk's Cafe website states that it is the only bar outside of Belgium to have this Urthel on "draft". Well, no ... Vlamese Bock is here in Bawlmer!

The Valmese is alarmingly smooth for a beer of 9% abv. At this point, I couldn't quite tell if this were a bock or a Dutch bok or a Belgian derivation thereof ... but complex nonetheless with a bittersweet chocolate-like finish.

Troubadour Obscura
Muskatiers began as a contract brewery; I'm not certain of its current status. The Obscura is listed as a Mild Stout. Nothing mild about and not a British or American stout .. but nothing wrong with that. Dark, with a strong alcohol bite (I believe 9% or so), and flavors of burnt malt, low-toned fruit, and sweet cooking spices.

Next, I showed the flag and passed about a bottle of Heavy Seas Below Decks Barleywine from Clipper City. It was downright lovely and smooth after the Troubadour, especially considering Below Decks' 11% abv!

Two of us being rabid fans of the lambic, we had to try the Cantillon Gueuze on draught. That's an interesting conundrum: how does a beer which derives some of its blended complexity aging in a bottle do so in a keg? The answer was: not as well. Tasty and thirst-quenching, draught Cantillon might serve as gateway for those afraid of the intense sourness of lambics and gueuze-lambics. But I would have been hard-pressed to identify this as Cantillon without seeing Casey pour it for us.

We finished with a charming draught tripel: Genste. This was new one to me. Deep golden, refreshing, crisp, aromatic, and well-attenuated for a tripel. I might compare it to an Unibroue Fin du Monde.

Last year, when Max's closed its ballpark location, they brought their chef, Christine, over to Fells Point. And it showed.

We were served a cheese plate with an array of Belgian cheeses. We tried the salmon over leeks and carrots, and even that vegetable bed was tasty, not an afterthought. The frites were double-fried and finished with spicy aioli; the asparagus grilled and accompanied with smoked salmon. Considering the choices, the prices were reasonable.


On our escape out, we stopped in to pay a quick visit to Wayne at his eponymous bar/restaurant - Mahaffeys. It's good news for good beer lovers. After 3 years, he's doubling his space to include an upstairs with its own bar. Mahaffey's has had cask ale on a daily basis for over 2 years now. Go to for more information.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Brave the Storm Upon the Heavy Seas

Clipper City's Hugh Sisson (l), Larry Robinson (c),
beer manager of Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits of Washington, D.C.,
and I (r), enjoying pints from the firkin.
It was a cask ale dinner, last Tuesday evening, with Clipper City Brewing Company at the Royal Mile Pub in Wheaton, Maryland! All the beers were Heavy Seas beers from Clipper City, paired with food by Ian Morrison, the restaurant's chef/owner. This was indeed the first ever dinner/tasting of the entire Heavy Seas line!

Co-hosts were brewery owner Hugh Sisson and Kristin Orr, the Pub's General Manager, who had outfitted her staff in marine clothes and added lots of clever nautical touches.

I was there to provide commentary about the firkin of Loose Cannon ... and to tap it (and to drink some pints from it)! Also in attendance were some local members of the Washington DC area's largest homebrew club - B.U.R.P. - as well 2 members of the beer press - Martin Morse Wooster and Steve Frank (half of the Brews Brothers) from the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News.

Royal Mile Pub &
Clipper City Brewing

'Brave The Storm on the Heavy Seas'


Light Air

Shrimp Salad Crostini, Grilled Fruit Shots, Herb Foccacia with Beer Butter
Small Craft Warning Uber Pils

Light Breeze

Boar Sausage
House made boar sausage over wild rice with cherry Gastric
Winter Storm Category 5 Ale

Gentle Breeze

Mole Chicken Salad
Chicken breast simmered in red mole over
mesclun greens, cactus petals and toasted pepita seeds
Peg Leg Stout

Fresh Breeze

Lobster Poached in Butter
over lobster mashed potatoes with vanilla bean butter sauce
Red Sky at Night Saison Ale

Near Gale

Mango topped with marscapone cheese and wrapped in prosciutto
Below Decks Barley Wine

Violent Storm

Thai Basil Lemon Sorbet
Loose Cannon Hop3 Cask Conditioned IPA


Caramel Popcorn
Coffee, Water and Aspirin

More photos here.