Strange Brew

With the craft beer boom of recent years, many brewers have begun pushing the boundary of beer styles, creativity, and taste. Brewers have started experimenting with ingredients that you would not normally consider when brewing beer.

We all know the different kinds of beer, or at least the majority.  First there are only two types of beer: Ales and lagers. Ales are fermented with top fermenting yeasts which work best at what most would consider room temperature, and lagers are fermented with bottom fermenting yeasts at cooler temperatures.

Within those 2 types are many different styles of beer. Within ales there are blonds, pale ales, IPAs, ambers, browns, porters, and stouts, and more.  Within lagers there are of course lagers and pilsners, bocks, dunkels, marzens, and others. And within these styles there are even more styles. For instance stouts can be Imperial, milk, chocolate, Irish, and coffee. You can also bend elements of different styles to make even more styles of beers.

And then there are the really creative beers. Ones that can make you scratch your head and say, “Hmmm.” Here is a short list of some experimental beers from across the country. Most are not currently in production, but some are still available.

Catawaba Brewing in Asheville North Carolina brewed a beer they call Peanut Butter Jelly Time, which is apparently brewed with raspberries and aged with peanuts.

The Veil Brewing in Richmond Virginia released an Oreo cookie chocolate milk stout, which is conditioned with real Oreo cookies. Many described it as tasting like Oreos dipped in melted chocolate- and no one is saying that’s a bad thing.

Herbert B Friendly Brewing in Renton Washington brewed a Nutella Stout. It had a complex, slightly sweet taste with the flavor of chocolate, a bit of coffee, peanut butter, and hazelnuts.

Coney Island Brewing in New York brewed a Cotton Candy Kölsch. It’s a light golden beer with a pink tinge, a fruit-forward strawberry and floral aroma, and a caramel malt and strawberry flavor.  The taste is remarkably similar to cotton candy.

Hardywood Park Brewing in Richmond Virginia has a Peach Cobbler Ale that smells like you have your nose in a desert dish. The aroma takes me back to Sunday dinner at my grandparents’ house and the fresh hot cobbler we would sometimes have after dinner in the summer. The taste is only slightly sweet, with a nice roasted caramel flavor with a light taste peach and a medium hoppiness.

Wynkoop Brewing in Denver Colorado brewed Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. Now I know what some of you are thinking. What’s strange about that? Oyster stouts are great. Right? Well rocky mountain oysters are not the type of oysters you get in a seafood restaurant. This beer is brewed with roasted barley, seven specialty grains, “steerian” golding hops, and roasted bull testicles. And how does it taste? I don’t know. I will never know.

Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn New York brewed bacon beer. It’s a brown ale infused with bacon fat and aged in bourbon barrels. That’s right. Bourbon, bacon, and beer. Sounds like the makings of a perfect Saturday night.

Shorts Brewing in Bellaire Michigan brewed Key Lime Pie beer. It’s made with fresh limes, milk sugar, graham crackers, and marshmallow fluff. Sounds good? Well, it is. This beer’s sweet-meets-tart flavor won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010.

3 Sheeps Brewing in Sheboygan Wisconsin has brewed Squid Ink beer. It’s an IPA made with squid ink imported from Italy. It had an almost black color with a purplish grey head and a mild citrusy aroma.

Clipper City Brewing and Heavy Seas

The Clipper City Brewing Company was founded by pioneer Hugh Sisson, with the intention of restoring a rich brewing tradition to the entire Baltimore area.  While focusing on classic beer styles made with fresh ingredients and high standards, Clipper City became the largest brewing company in Baltimore, giving the entire Bay area residents reason to celebrate.

According to their web site, Hugh’s family owned a tavern called Sisson’s, and in 1980 Hugh went to work there with the intention of help out for a short while. However, on very his first day his father tossed him the keys to the pub and said “OK, don’t f*** up!” and promptly walked out the door.

In 1987, Hugh and many others lobbied the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation to make brew pubs legal in the state. When they succeeded, Hugh promptly converted the family tavern into a brewpub, making Sisson’s Maryland’s first pub brewery to operate since Prohibition. He finally left in 1994 to found Clipper City Brewing.

For a time, Clipper City Brewing marketed and distributed their beer under the name Heavy Seas. However in 2010 Clipper City was absorbed into the Heavy Seas brand and became no more.

The Heavy Seas Brewing Company produces a number of regular year-round offerings such as: Loose Cannon Hop³ IPA, Double Cannon Double IPA, TropiCannon Citrus IPA, Peg Leg Imperial Stout, Cutlass Vienna-style Lager, and Powder Monkey Pale Ale.

They also have an extensive line of limited release beers such as The Alpha Effect Hazy IPA, Smooth Sail Summer Ale, Treasure Fest Oktoberfest Lager, Winter Storm Imperial ESB, Siren Noire Imperial Chocolate Stout aged in bourbon barrels, and Blackbeard’s Breakfast Imperial Coffee Porter aged in bourbon barrels (just to name a few).

For many years, Clipper City was the dominant brewing company in the entire Baltimore area.  Now as Heavy Seas they are continuing to set standards for what a craft beer should be.

Beer Festivals Around the World in 2018

If you like to travel there are great places to visit all over the world with unique cultures and customs. There are often things to be seen and experienced in these places that can be found nowhere else. Experiencing local culture can broaden your horizons, open your mind to new possibilities and give you deeper understanding of yourself and your place in the world. And what better way is there than to experience a culture than during a craft beer festival.

If you’re planning to travel this year but haven’t decided where to go, I have some suggestions.

The Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular, Sydney, Australia (June 2, 2018)

Created in 2011, the Great Australian Beers SpecTAPular (GABS) is held in cities across Australia, but the festival in Sydney stands out. It features hundreds of beers and ciders from the best Australian and New Zealand craft breweries and cider producers, including nearly 180 beers and ciders made just for this event. There will be a wide variety of exceptional local foods, interactive exhibitions, food and drink educational seminars, along with exciting entertainment and activities.

With so many of Australia’s finest craft breweries releasing a brand-new beer on the same day and in the same place, this should definitely be on your must-do list.

North Sea Beer Festival, Oostende, Belgium (August 24-26, 2018)

Belgium is known for good beer. And while you may normally think of Brussels when you think of Belgian beer, the North Sea Beer Festival in Oostende Belgium is the place to sample the finest beers in Belgium. This festival takes place the last weekend in August from the 24th to the 26th and features the best of Belgian beer.

There will be over 200 different beers from more than 30 breweries, as well as a wide variety of local foods to sample. The event will take place in Leopold Park, in the heart of Oostende. If you enjoy a good Belgian style beer, this is a festival you won’t want to miss.

Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland (May 25-27, 2018)

The Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival is no ordinary beer festival, it is an international event featuring both world class Scottish and international beers poured by a crew of brewers who take great pride in their work. In addition to these finely crafted brews there will be an array of Edinburgh’s finest street food vendors and an incredible set of headline DJ acts.

This year’s Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival will be held at The Biscuit Factory in Edinburgh, so if you are t planning to visit Edinburgh, and you love craft beer, good food, and live music, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got tickets for this event well in advance, because it will sell out.

Vancouver Craft Beer Week, Vancouver, Canada (May 25, thru June 3, 2018)

Established in 2010, Vancouver Craft Beer Week has grown to a week-long beer extravaganza of events that pair beers with delicious food and great music, competitions and awards celebrations, as well as showcasing rare brews and interesting imports.

The festival culminates at the fairgrounds in the Pacific National Exhibition where beer enthusiasts can sample 400 beers from over 100 breweries and enjoy timbersports (a modern version of a lumberjack challenge and with power tools and logs). The festival also includes art installations, food trucks, market stalls, brewing demonstrations, and a games area with pinball and foosball.

Irish Craft Beer Festival, Dublin, Ireland (September 6-7, 2018)

Ireland’s largest and best craft beer festival takes place Sep 6-7 this year and you won’t want to miss it. The Irish Craft Beer Festival will be held just outside of Dublin and is expected to include over 40 brewers with over 200 different Irish beers, and  a wide variety of local food venders.

You think Disney World is the happiest place on earth? This beer festival in Dublin will change your mind!

Great Japan Beer Festival, Yokohama 15th – 17th September 2018 in  Osanbashi Hall at Yokohama Port

Japan may be known for sake, but things are changing. Started in 2006, the Great Japan Beer Festival in Yokohama Japan is expecting over 9,500 participants this year. Craft beer has taken Japan by storm as craft breweries spread across the country, and this event will highlight some of the best craft beers in japan, as well as some of the finest beers from around the world.

This indoor festival consists of three sessions of three and a half hours each over a two day period, and is an all-you-care-to-drink event. Whether you are new to craft beer, or a veteran, this event is a great way to be introduced to some of the best beers of Japan.

The Great American Beer Festival, Denver, CO, USA (20-22 September, 2018)

The Great American Beer Festival is a three-day event started in 1982 and has grown bigger with each passing year. The event takes place at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver CO, and with over 800 breweries in attendance and 3,800 beers to sample, this event boasts the largest amount of beer served in a public tasting event.

The Great American Beer Festival is the largest beer festivals in America, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records there is no place on earth that has more beer on tap. Brewers from all over the country come together here to compete against each other, and to show off their finest brews. The beer is arranged geographically in the festival hall by region.

Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany (September 22, thru October 7, 2018)

Octoberfest is known world wide as the finical of beer festivals, and there is no better place than Munich to celebrate.  Six Munich breweries anticipate that over 6 million liters of beer will be consumed during this festival.

Beer and food will be sold in the tents around Munich from 10 am to 10:30 pm on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Most companies hand out beer tokens to their guests, which can then be exchanged for beer in the respective tents, but tokens can also be purchased.

Every beer lover owes it to themselves to make the pilgrimage least once in their life to experience October Fest in Germany. And there is no better place in Germany to do that than Munich.