Last September, the Burley Oak Brewing Company opened up about 8 miles inland in Berlin. The new brewery rapidly gained local popularity, and you can now find their beers in more than 32 bars, including an ever-expanding list in Ocean City.
The care with which they make their beers is what has made it a real local favorite.
"I think people want a product they connect with more than just your average, mass produced beer," said head brewer Sean Sasscer. "All our beer is made with a lot of love and a lot of local ingredients. And we really care about it, and I think it shows."
So, why Burley Oak? Well, for starters their beer is really fresh. Sasscer said most of the batches they sell out of the brewery are gone within a month and a half.
The variety is also killer. Burley Oak typically has up to a dozen types of beer available at the brewery on any given day, and in the nine months the brewery has been open, it has made more than 20 kinds of beer.
The small brewery makes some really strong and hilariously named beers like the super-hoppy "Hugs and Nugs." But they also have some less threatening offerings, for example, Port d'Orange. This beer, made especially for sale at Harborside in West Ocean City, is a light, citrusy version of summer in a glass.
But no matter what you order, it won't be a dull beer-drinking experience - even their lighter beers are packed with flavor.
Sasscer said one of the biggest factors he considers when making a beer is the season, with summer calling for some lighter, but still wonderful choices.
Burley Oak is situated in an old cooperage (where they made barrels) less than a mile off Route 50. If you're headed into Ocean City, it is an easy and short detour.
The front section of the brewery sells the beer, and the massive back portion is where they brew as many as six beers at once. Right now, they only distribute kegs to local bars and sell 64-ounce growlers to the public. The growlers cost $18 the first time you fill up, then $12 for re-fills. Beers run at about $5 each, at the brewery and in the area, so the huge growler is a really great deal.
This summer you can find Burley Oak beer at Fager's Island, The Greene turtle, Buxy's Salty Dog Saloon, The Shark, Pickles Pub and other locations around Ocean City. For a more detailed list, visit www.burleyoak.com.