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Fruits, seaweed help create warm-weather beers for local breweries

The Peabody Heights Brewery recently released two new beers, one inspired by Mr. Trash Wheel and an American wheat ale called Escape. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Pineapple, papaya, guava, Meyer lemon, even dry seaweed — all of these ingredients are being used by local craft breweries to create new spring and summer beers.

But no need to be intimidated, these companies have attempted to strike a balance that appeals to beer enthusiasts and novices alike. We caught up with four brands with new brews aiming to quench your thirst in the hot months.

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Diamondback Brewing Co. (1215 Fort Ave., Locust Point; 443-388-9626; diamondbackbeer.com)

Since Diamondback's taproom opened at McHenry Row in November, co-founder Colin Marshall has periodically heard a request: "Hey, I'm not a huge craft-beer drinker. I just like something that's lighter and refreshing," Marshall recalled recently.

Those uninterested in hop-crazy brews have a clear option in Sister Disco, a blonde ale notable for its crisp, refreshing citrus finish. Diamondback creates the flavor by adding Meyer lemon (think a lemon crossed with a mandarin) puree to the production process.

In search of something bolder? The 7 percent ABV Missed Connections red IPA is made with lupulin powder, a concentrated punch of hop flavor that's becoming increasingly popular among craft breweries nationwide. Missed Connections doesn't just taste different from Diamondback's portfolio, but with its deep red-amber hue, it looks different, too.

"The reason we brewed it was normally all of our beers are a little bit on the golden end of IPAs," Marshall said. "This one has that deep, malty red."

Curious imbibers can pay a visit to Diamondback's taproom to try the new beers, as they're only available there on draft.

Jailbreak Brewing Co. (9445 Washington Blvd. N., Suite F, Laurel; 443-345-9699; jailbreakbrewing.com)

After debuting Czech the Technique — a year-round Czech pilsner that nods to a 1991 rap song by Gang Starr — a couple of months ago, Jailbreak Brewing has some limited-run brews on the way next month.

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They're getting into the sour fun, too, with Miami Weisse, a kettle-soured Berliner Weisse-style beer made with key lime puree.

"What we were looking for was something crisp and with a nice acidity to it," said co-founder Justin Bonner of the 4 percent ABV beer. "People are getting into their sour beers more these days, so this is a slightly sour beer."

If tartness doesn't excite you, Bonner recommends Righteous Guava, a 6.5 percent ABV variant of Jailbreak's Poor Righteous IPA. Jailbreak wanted a sweeter IPA that would "appeal to hopheads and the general consumer." After trying pineapple and passionfruit, they discovered guava worked best.

"It was a really nice balance of crisp fruit, but also providing the right amount of sweetness to keep it in balance," Bonner said.

Bonner didn't have exact locations for where the beers could be found, but said regular carriers of Jailbreak products throughout the state should have the canned versions by the end of June. Visitors to the taproom will be able to taste them on draft as well.

Key Brewing Co. (2500 Grays Road, Dundalk; 410-477-2337; keybrewing.com)

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When Spike Owen created Key Brewing with his friend and brewer, Mike McDonald, a couple of years ago, they were determined to show their skills through traditionally minded beers. With a core base of five beers established, now "we can show a whole different side to us," Owen said recently.

That's no understatement. Last week, Key debuted Grays Papaya IPA — which in craft-beer terms is known as a milkshake IPA because it's made with lactose sugar and finishes with a tangible smoothness. The complex beer provides three layers of enjoyment, Owen said.

"You start with that fruit aroma, then you get the hop bitterness and then finally this creamy mouthfeel," Owen said of the 6.5 percent ABV beer.

Looking ahead, Key will debut in early June its first sour, a 4.5 percent ABV gose collaboration with Evolution Craft Brewing in Salisbury known as Undertow. The beer's ingredients are uncommon: blackberries and kombu, dry seaweed from Asia that added a key component to the gose — salt.

"Instead of using true sodium, like kosher salt, we actually did use the seaweed," Owen said.

Grays Papaya is available at Key's taproom and bars like Barflys (620 E. Fort Ave.) and Max's Taphouse (737 S. Broadway), and Undertow will soon follow at the same locations.

Peabody Heights Brewery (401 E. 30th St., Abell; 410-467-8737; peabodyheightsbrewery.com)

If one non-human Baltimore celebrity deserves its own beer, it's the googly-eyed water wheel that scoops up Inner Harbor garbage. Enter Mr. Trash Wheel's Lost Python Ale, a session India Pale Ale in collaboration with the Waterfront Partnership that Peabody debuted on Earth Day last month.

Peabody has pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from the year-round beer (4.5 percent ABV) of at least $4,000 to Waterfront Partnership's Healthy Harbor initiative and Mr. Trash Wheel, said Peabody's director of marketing, Edward O'Keefe.

Another new release that is available is a 5 percent ABV American Wheat Ale called Escape, the latest entry to Peabody's Oriole Park line. The beer is pineapple and coconut flavored — thanks to 400 pounds of pineapple puree, along with natural coconut extract, in the fermentation vessel — but O'Keefe said the fruitiness is not overwhelming.

"The pineapple comes more on the aroma, and very subtle on the flavor," O'Keefe said.

Both beers are available in cans and on draft throughout the city, and in counties like Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Montgomery. Peabody's taproom has them both on draft, too.

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