Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pic(k) of the Week: Taking one on the chin for beer

Legends, Ltd. Trade Show 007

That's Lanny Hoff of Artisinal Imports on the left. Appearance to the contrary, Lanny's one of the more genial and knowledgeable folk in the small-brewery import business. Here, he's deep in conversation with Casey Hard, the beer manager and cellarman for Maxs Taphouse of Baltimore, Maryland.

The location was the Baltimore warehouse of Legends, Ltd., a beer importer and a beer wholesaler in Maryland and Washington, D.C. The occasion was the company's 4th annual Fall Trade Show, and its first since being acquired by the L. Knife & Sons Companies. The idea of such trade shows is to bring as many suppliers with as many of their products into one location at one time. That gives the managers of restaurants, bars, and shops a comprehensive opportunity to sample or see many of the beers and to learn more directly from the suppliers themselves.

It's not generally open to the public. I was there courtesy of Legends' original owners and founders Patrick and Sherri Casey (who is in the above photo).

A few of the standouts for me were:
  • Williams Brothers Anniversary Fraoch
    11% abv heather ale, aged in cherry-wood scotch whisky barrels. (They're not allowed to say which whisky, but onecan guess fairly easily.) It takes the delicate Fraoch into an entirely new dimension.
    [imported by Legends, Ltd.]

  • The Bruery Black Orchard
    almost like a stout with a Belgian-yeast character (aniseed)

  • St. Feullien Saison
    Yeasty (I got the bottom of the bottle) but still refreshing with a nice cloviness.
    [imported by Artisinal Imports]

  • Viking Blod Mead
    19% alcohol by volume, from Danish Dansk Mjod
    Fermented with hops and hibiscus. Very alcoholic, with a strong hint of honey and herbs. But because it wasn't sweet, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Only took one sample though.
    [imported by B United]

  • De Dochter Van de Korenaa Embrasse
    9% alcohol by volume. Full dark rum flavor with requisite Belgian yeast spice, apple, anise)
    [imported by 12% Imports]
As importer Brian Ewing was telling me about this fine beer, I sensed the onset of a bit of carbonated indigestion. I covered my mouth, politely turned ... and let loose an unfortunate belch toward two young ladies I hadn't noticed standing behind me.

Abashed would be putting it mildly. I apologized, several times.

Looking at their name-tags, I saw that the two were Amy and Holly of The Black Squirrel, a good beer pub in Washington, D.C. It's a pub I haven't visited yet, but which I follow on Twitter (@ThBlackSquirrel).

Laughing, the gracious duo invited me to visit the pub ... and to get burpy with it.

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