Annabel Lee White

The Brewery
RavenBeer

The Location
Baltimore, MD

The Beer
Annabel Lee White

I am still re-reading Edgar Allan Poe and thus still in RavenBeer mode. This weekend I tried their Annabel Lee White, which is a Belgian-style white beer (think Hoegaarden). Annabel Lee is a pale, cloudy yellow color and has a fruity banana aroma. It had lots of bubbles when I poured it into my glass, yet the body was a bit flat. The flavor is right, with a nice yeasty taste, but it feels like it’s lacking something. I may give this another shot, though. I feel like I have unfinished business with Annabel Lee.

The Raven Special Lager

The Brewery
RavenBeer

The Location
Baltimore, MD

The Beer
The Raven Special Lager

One of the things I like about Baltimore is that it sparked the careers of two artists that dealt with the macabre and the bizarre. I haven’t had any John Waters-related beer yet, but thanks to RavenBeer, I’ve now had some Edgar Allan Poe-related beer. (He didn’t die from alcoholism, contrary to popular belief, so there’s nothing tacky about this. But even if there was something tacky about it, John Waters would tell you that this would not be a problem.)

The Raven has a rich, brown color and sweet, malty aroma. So many bubbles dance around the glass after I poured that I wanted to have a Poe-themed disco party. I thought The Raven was a bit thin in body, but the subtle malt and wheat flavor gave it the kind of moreishness that comes with the style of German lagers it emulates. It’s definitely something I’ll look for next time I’m eating a pile of crabs up in Baltimore County.

Nuckin’ Futs

The Brewery
Ocean City Brewing Company

The Location
Ocean City, MD

The Beer
Nuckin’ Futs

I wouldn’t say I am a beer purist, but my tolerance for what I perceive as gimmicky beer is low. Even if that is not a fair perception. So I was a bit on edge when I picked up Nuckin’ Futs. This was going to be ridiculous, I said to myself. But I bought it anyway because, hey, I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before.

Is Nuckin’ Futs a gimmicky beer? I guess so, based primarily on the edgy wordplay. Ocean City Brewing says they brew this beer with walnuts and honey and to be sure, the initial aroma is less like beer and more like a walnut syrup. Its body is rich and creamy, but a little bit syrupy. The flavor is rich and deep, but a little bit syrupy. Basically, it’s a bit syrupy. It accomplished what it set out to do, which is taste sweet and nutty, so there’s that. But I can’t say I was wrong about it.

Citra Splendor

The Brewery
Manor Hill Brewing

The Location
Ellicott City, MD

The Beer
Citra Splendor

When I buy a beer named Citra Splendor, I have certain expectations that it is going to be citrusy. Like, it’s right in the name. So I can happily report that Citra Splendor delivers on my expectations. Though, to be honest, this is a very odd beer. The aroma of clementines and the taste of tangy orange juice is tasty, to be sure, but it’s almost like Manor Hill has made a parody of over-hopped American pale ales. But I have to admit I liked its audaciousness. And its bitter, pithy aftertaste. It’s different, but different is pretty good.

Double Duckpin Double IPA

The Brewery
Union Craft Brewing

The Location
Baltimore, MD

The Beer
Double Duckpin Double IPA

A friend of mine once said, “Son, bowling has its own tavern, snack shop, and arcade. That’s how awesome bowling is.” I believe in these troubled times, that is a message that can unite us.

Ah, but what kind of bowling? Duckpin bowling is a thing in Baltimore. Apparently, duckpin bowling was also a thing up in New England when I was growing up there, but to be honest, it was never on my radar screen because my family was a candlepin bowling family. I lived walking distance to a candlepin alley (R.I.P. Thunderbird Bowl) and my grandmother even appeared on Candlepins for Cash, the Boston equivalent of Bowling for Dollars.

But since I’ve lived in Maryland, my family and I have found ourselves in White Oak Duckpin Lanes on a reasonably frequent basis. And since beer and bowling make natural bedfellows, there was no way I wasn’t going to snag some Double Duckpin Double IPA when I had the chance.

It has a sour aroma, which I mean as a compliment. The flavor was surprisingly mild for something that promised IPA in all its IPA glory. It is hoppy without citrus gimmickry. It is creamy, and fills my mouth with toasty, herbaceous flavors. It has a sharp bitter finish, but it also mellows out and gets smoother the more you drink it. I had high hopes for this and those hopes were met. It is a really tasty beer.

Cutlass Vienna-Style Lager

The Brewery
Heavy Seas

The Location
Baltimore, MD

The Beer
Cutlass Vienna-Style Lager

I love Vienna. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot time there, and it is a wonderful city. It has a rich history, wonderful art, gorgeous architecture, cozy neighborhoods, and delicious food. And of course, there’s all the effervescent, flavorful beer.

So while I am excited to see Heavy Seas has a Vienna-style lager, I am a little bit wary, because it has a lot to live up to. (Unless they mean it’s a Vienna, Virginia-style lager, which I am reasonably certain is not a significant thing.)  I am not saying I am an expert, unless expertise is measured by liters consumed, but I feel like I know a good example of Austrian beer when I taste it.

Cutlass has a light, sweet flavor and pleasant carbonation. The more I gulped it and the more that subtle wheat flavor swirled around my mouth and throat, the more I wanted to drink. For me, moreishness is the real test of its Viennaness.

To be sure, I had a bottle while having a plate of Käsespätzle and it matched up really well. I’m not saying I was transported to an Alpine gasthaus or anything (because Vienna is not really in the Alps), but it’s nice to know I don’t have to overpay for Steigl the next time Austria wins the Eurovision Song Contest.

Heavy Seas should not be selling this in 12-ounce bottles. They need to sell it exclusively in half-liter cans to be properly Austrian.

Stray notes: If you ever plan to go to Vienna, and you totally should, you need to make your way to Fischerbräu. They may terrific beer and while they are a little off the beaten path, they are easily accessible via public transportation. You’re gonna need to use the public transportation when you leave.

If you are going for commercially available Austrian beer, I like Ottakringer and Zipfer, but it’s probably best to ask local folks what they prefer. They will have strong opinions and will also probably tell you not to drink Stiegl. Stiegl is the Budweiser of Austria (yet is still better than Budweiser).

Born Bohemian

The Brewery
Denizens Brewing Co.

The Location
Silver Spring, MD

The Beer
Born Bohemian

Look, I don’t want to come off as some sort of Denizens fanboy, but since I reviewed Denizens’ Lowest Lord back in February, it has become my favorite beer. I have consumed a goodly amount of it.

But just as one cannot live on kung pao tofu alone, one can also not live off of one beer. Moreover, as much as I love English-style bitters, I like the Middle European-style lagers and Pilsners even more. The Czech Republic (or Czechia, as the Czech government is aiming to be called from here on out) is probably Europe’s beer central, which, when you consider Germany and Austria are right next door, is saying something.

So Denizens doing a Czech-style Pilsner is sort of gutsy. It has a lot to live up to.

Born Bohemian has a yeasty nose and a refreshing, sweet wheat flavor that lingers. It is tastes like a classic Pilsner and it is super delicious. In fact, Czechs would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this and their native, local beer. And they would probably like this more and feel so guilty about it they would cry into their next three pints of it.

So maybe I do want to come off as some sort of Denizens fanboy.

Homestead Hefeweizen

The Brewery:
Milkhouse Brewery

The Location:
Mt. Airy, MD

The Beer:
Homestead Hefeweizen

Apparently, Mt. Airy is a beer wonderland. After kicking off this blog with the Farmer’s Daughter from Red Shedman Farm Brewery, I am moving onto Milkhouse Brewery’s Homestead Hefeweizen. What I really need to do is drive out to Mt. Airy, which is a scant 40 minutes from my house and has all the beers.

This one right here, this Homestead Hefeweizen, has a sweet, yeasty aroma. The first sip has a slightly orange, slightly cardamom flavor is apparently what I think yeast tastes like. That gives way to a strong wheat finish. The body is rich and creamy. It is basically everything you want from this classic German-style beer. It’s gorgeous.

Now I need to find something from Frey’s Brewing Company, and my tour of Mt. Airy will be complete.

Balls to the Wall American Pale Ale

The Brewery:
Oliver Brewing Company

The Location:
Baltimore, MD

The Beer:
Balls to the Wall American Pale Ale

I have some affection for Oliver Brewing Company, which proclaims its love of heavy metal on its website. As an old metalhead myself, I can appreciate any beer named after Accept’s Balls to the Wall. (I am assuming…)

Balls to the Wall has a hoppy, bitter aroma. It has that grapefruit flavor that comes from American-style pale ales, but it also has a surprisingly smooth finish. The bitter aftertaste on the back of the throat lingers. It’s not too shabby.

Of course, Oliver Brewing Company was founded to do English-style ales, so I probably should have started with that. But come on, everyone: UDO.

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Mysterium

mysterium-duclawThe Brewery:
DuClaw Brewing Co.

The Location:
Bel Air, MD

The Beer:
Mysterium Belgian Spiced Ale

I will admit that I was prompted to snag a bottle of Mysterium by the fact that I am a huge fan of the board game Mysterium. Yet I didn’t drink Mysterium while playing Mysterium. I make no sense sometimes.

Anyway, the spices in this spiced ale are cardamom and chamomile. I definitely smelled the chamomile when I poured Mysterium into my glass. However, the taste was all cardamom.

To be honest, as much as I like cardamom as a spice, I probably wouldn’t have guessed that it flavored the ale. I am not some sort of spice savant. My point is, the cardamom wasn’t just an aromatic: I definitely tasted it in the beer.

Although the body was fizzy and wispy, overall Mysterium is a flavorful beer, and it lingered in a pleasant way after each gulp. It wouldn’t be a beer I would buy on a regular basis, but it is something I enjoyed for a lark.