Like a high school reunion where all the alumni try to look their best, brewers show off their rarest, most distinct product during Baltimore Beer Week. Count on all the major Maryland brewers pulling out beers that have been especially brewed for the events or haven't been sold in years. And stock up, because some of them may not come back to the market until next beer week. Here are three you should try:
Cask-conditioned beers are much sought-after this year, and several brewers are tapping special casks for beer week. Joe Gold, one of the founders of beer week, suggests trying out the ceremonial first firkin at the opening tap celebration. "It should be something unique." Casey Hard, the cellarmaster at Max's, suggests people try the cask four members of the Max's gang made at the Heavy Seas brewery: a Loose Cannon prepared with wet hop simcoe and wet hot cascade, two different types of hops, and tips from a blue spruce tree, which give the beer a spicy, pine-like flavor.
Stillwater Ales, Danish-style
Brian Strumke suggests attendees try his newest collaboration with Denmark brewer Mikkeller, Rauchstar, which has been brewed on a very limited quantity. "We used a portion of applewood hand-smoked malt from our friend Anders Kissmeyer – brewmaster at Danish microbrewery Norrebro Bryghu – and aggressively hopped it," Strumke said. "The outcome is like a caramel-drenched BBQ in the middle of a pine forest." OK! An earlier collaboration, Our Side, premiered at Max's in January.
Hugh Sisson says Heavy Seas' Greater Pumpkin seasonal isn't made often. But this year, Max's will carry a special bourbon barrel-aged version of this imperial ale. This is another brew that was made in small amounts. Sisson said it might also be available at Timonium Fairgrounds' Oktoberfest. Casey Hard from Max's suggests the Hopfenstark Boson de Higgs, a smoked Berliner Weisse, a style of German beer that is slightly sour. Don Russell, one of the founders of Philadelphia Beer Week, says he's a big fan of Stillwater Ales. He'd be thrilled to hear our own gypsy brewer has for the first time made Old Bay Saison for its event at Max's. Beware, though: only 101 bottles have been made.