Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stillwater Artisanal Ales rollout event a big success

Photo: Brian Strumke, aka Brian Stillwater

Baltimore’s newest brewer has met the beer drinking public, and they have met his beers.

Everyone’s happy.

Max’s Taphouse, located in the Fell’s Point neighborhood of Baltimore, hosted a Press/VIP rollout event for Stillwater Artisanal Ales last Saturday the 13th. Local and regional beer bloggers, beer writers and other VIP’s attended the party, beginning at 10 am-an early hour for many, who had been at Max’s much of the previous day, the first of the Sixth annual Belgian beer fest.

“We felt it was great timing, as well as very appropriate, to hold Stillwater Ales first official event right here in Baltimore, during Max’s Belgian fest” brewer and founder Brian Strumke, aka Brian Stillwater, said during the gathering.

Photo: Brian at the Press/VIP rollout event inside the Mobtown Lounge at Max's Taphouse

Stillwater’s first beer debuted to the public on Friday the 12th: a dry-hopped version of Stateside Saison, served from a firkin on Max’s main bar. Even though samples were limited to wine-glass size, the firkin was gone by around 3 pm, some four hours after the fest opened to an enthusiastic crowd.

“I was very happy by the way the beer turned out” Stillwater remarked.

A firkin of French-oak aged, dry-hopped Stateside Saison was the main libation during the Press event. It was drained within an hour by thirsty attendees. Count me among them!

Stillwater also broke out some other goodies (all in bottles) such as a Magnum of Cabernet Sauvignon Lambic, which rivaled many of the great brews produced in Belgium’s Payottenland. This dry, tart, sour, complex brew had nuances of both Kriek and Framboise.

Also featured was Stillwater Kriek, another fine sour brew made with Maryland cherries.

Stillwater showed off more Saison-ish prowess with two different versions of “Of Love and Regret” a brew spiced with spring botanicals. The base beer was eminently pleasing, and the second, with the addition of Chardonnay grapes and brett, was also a serious crowd-pleaser.

Last, but not even close to least, was "A Saison Darkly" a delicious dark Saison with 8% abv, brewed with rose hips and hibiscus.

Look for Stateside Saison in 750 ml bottles in bars and retail stores by mid-March, as well as on draft in select bars in the mid-Atlantic region.

Belgian fest Director Casey Hard and the rest of the crew at Max’s, including Bob Simko, Jamie Ritter, Jason Mislan, Jessica and many others, did a great job running the event over the long three day weekend.

“It was our best Belgian fest so far” Casey told me after the weekend.

See you there next year!

Photo: Brian Stillwater and Brian Ewing of 12 percent imports.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Max's Belgian Beer Festival is this weekend

Top Photo: Much of the Max's Taphouse crew, including, from left: Jamie Ritter, owner Ron Furman, Casey Hard, Jason Mislan and Jessica.

One of the best Belgian beer events in the country is this weekend, right here in Baltimore, Maryland. The Sixth Annual Max's Belgian beer fest runs Friday to Sunday at Max's Taphouse in Fell's point.

I have been to every edition of this fest and plan to be there all day Saturday and much of Sunday.

Max's General Manager and Festival Director Casey Hard told me this recently: "We will have 120 authentic Belgian beers on draft, and over 175 in bottles over the course of the weekend. It's going to be our biggest and best Belgian fest ever!"

Here's Friday's Tap List, below.

The taps lists for Saturday and Sunday will be announced on those days. Who knows what special brews Casey and the Max's crew have stocked away!

Achilles Serafijn Pale 6.20% Pale Ale
3 Achouffe Houblon Chouffe 9.00% IPA
4 Achouffe La Chouffe 8.00% Golden Ale
5 Achouffe Mc Chouffe 8.50% Brown Ale
6 Achouffe N' Ice Chouffe 10.00% Barleywine
7 Alvinne Bathazar 9.00% Spiced Ale
8 Alvinne Gaspar 8.00% Bitter Ale
9 Alvinne Melchior 11.00% Ale w/ Mustard Seeds
10 Alvinne Oak Aged Bathazar 9.00% Oak Aged Spiced Ale
11 Alvinne Oak Aged Podge 10.50% Oak Aged Imperial Stout
12 Alvinne Podge 10.50% Imperial Stout
13 Barbar Winterbok 8.00% Dark Ale
14 Blaugies La Moneuse Special Winter 8.00% Winter Saison
15 Blaugies Saison D Epeautre 6.00% Saison
16 Bockor Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge 5.50% Flemish Red
17 Brugse Zot Dubbel 7.50% Dubbel
18 Cantillon Gueuze 5.00% Gueuze/Lambic
19 Cantillon Iris 5.00% Fresh Hop Lambic
20 Cantillon Rose De Grambrinus 5.00% Raspberry Lambic
21 Cazeau Tournay 7.20% Blonde
22 Cazeau Tournay Black 7.60% Stout
23 Cazeau Tournay De Noel 8.20% Dark Saison
24 Chimay Cinq Cents 8.00% Trappist Triple
25 Contreras Valier Blonde 6.50% Blonde
26 Contreras Valier Divers 8.50% Triple
27 Contreras Valier Extra 6.50% IPA
28 De Dochter Van De Korenaar Emblasse 9.00% Strong Dark Ale
29 De Dochter Van De Korenaar Courage 8.00% Dark Wheat
30 De Dochter Van De Korenaar Noblesse 5.50% Pale Ale
31 De Glazen Toren Angelique 8.00% Historic Recipe
32 De Glazen Toren Jan De Lichte 7.00% Imperial Wit
33 De Glazen Toren Ondineke 8.50% Triple
34 De Glazen Toren Saison De Epre mere 7.50% Saison
35 De Proef Van Twee 7.50% Wild Dubbel w/ Cherries
36 De Ranke Noir De Dottignies 9.00% Special Dark Ale
37 De Regenboog Catherine the Great 10.00% Imperial Stout
38 De Regenboog Guido 8.00% Ale w/ Honey & Raisons
39 De Regenboog T' Smisje Triple 9.00% Triple
40 De Regenboog T' Smisje Dubbel 9.00% Dubbel
41 De Regenboog T' Smisje Kerst 11.00% Winter Ale
42 De Regenboog T' Smisje Speciale 10.50% Pumpkin Ale
43 De Regenboog T'Smisje Plus 10.00% IPA
44 Delirium Tremens 8.50% Strong Golden Ale
45 Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux 9.00% Saison
46 Duvel Green 6.80% Golden Ale
47 Ellezelloise Hercule Stout 9.00% Stout
48 Ellezelloise Quintine Blonde 8.00% Blonde
49 Geants Gouyasse 6.00% Blonde
50 Geants Urchon 7.50% Brown Ale
51 Gulden Draak Vintage 7.50% Dark Triple
52 Het Alternatief Piet Agoras 9.00% Special Ale
53 Kerkom Bink Blonde 5.50% Blonde
54 Kerkom Bink Bloesem 7.10% Ale w/ Pears & Honey
55 Kerkom Bink Bruin 5.50% Bruin
56 Kerkom Bink Triple 9.00% Triple
57 La Rulles Triple 8.40% Triple
58 La Trappe Isid 'or 7.50% Trappist Ale
59 Lefebvre Floreffe Dubbel 6.30% Dubbel
60 Lefebvre Floreffe Triple 7.50% Triple
61 Silly Enghien Noel 9.00% Winter Triple
62 Silly Saison De Silly 5.00% Saison
63 Sint Canarus Pere Canard 9.00% Winter Strong Ale
64 Sint Canarus Triple 7.50% Triple
65 St Bernardus X-Mas 10.00% Dark Ale
66 St Feuillien Blanche 6.30% Wit
67 St Feuillien Saison 6.50% Saison
68 Strubbe Ichtegems Grand Cru 5.00% Flemish Red
69 Struise Tsjeeses 10.00% Special Winter Ale
70 Timmermans Bourgogne Des Flanders 5.00% Flanders Red
71 Van Honsebrouck Bacchus 4.50% Flemish Red
72 Van Honsebrouck Gueuze Fond Tradition 5.00% Gueuze


75 Brewers Art Green Peppercorn w/ Peppercorns(Cask) 9.20% Peppercorn Triple
76 De Regenboog BBBourgondier (Gravity) 12.00% Barleywine
77 De Regenboog Catherine The Great (Wooden Cask) 10.00% Imperial Stout
78 De Regenboog T' Smisje Calva Reserve (Gravity) 12.00% Strong Ale Aged In Calvados
79 De Regenboog T' Smisje Kerst (Gravity) 11.00% Winter Ale
80 Stillwater Artisanal Ales Stateside Saison in French Oak & dry hopped (Cask) 6.80% Saison
81 The Bruery Two Turtle Doves (Cask) 12.00% Belgian Style Dark

Monday, February 8, 2010

De Proefbrouwerij article in Celebrator Beer News

Well, back after just a week this time.

It's been a crazy week, as over 2 feet of snow fell in Baltimore this past Friday and Saturday.

10 to 20 more is on the way tomorrow and Wednesday. I feel like a live in the frozen tundra now!

I am happy to say I have a 1,200 word article on De Proefbrouwerij in the February/March issue of Celebrator Beer News.

As far as I am aware, it's the first interview with brewmaster/owner
Dirk Naudts that has ever been published in the U.S.A.

In fact, it took several years to arrange a tour of this very difficult to
visit brewery, and interview with Dirk.

I delve into Dirk's background, philosophy, and the history of
De Proefbrouwerij, which is often referred to as "The Taste brewery."

I mentioned the visit in this earlier post:

De Proef Van Twee

I hope you enjoy the article!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Stillwater Artisanal Ales to debut at Max’s Belgian Beer Fest in Baltimore

There’s a little bit of Belgium coming to Baltimore.

Stillwater Artisanal Ales, a new brewing venture headed by Charm City native Brian “Stillwater” Strumke, will debut its first beer, Stateside Saison, at Max’s Belgian beer fest on Saturday, February 13.

I sat down with Brian for an informal interview a few days ago. He describes Stateside Saison as “An ‘American Farmhouse Ale.’ It’s a Belgian-inspired brew that uses a combination of European malts, hops from New Zealand and the United States, and a classic farmhouse yeast to achieve a fruity, yet spicy, melange of flavors and aroma.”

Brian took the big step from accomplished homebrewer to professional brewer on January 14, when he brewed 30 barrels of the Saison.

Formerly a renowned techno D.J. and producer, Brian spent years traveling the globe spreading his unique sounds. He remarked: “A lot of my touring was done in Europe, so I had fairly decent exposure to good beer over the years. After my last tour, in 2004, I returned home to delve into a new passion: homebrewing.”

Perhaps an unexpected shift, but one he states was actually inspired more by his time at home in Baltimore: "When I was not traveling, my friends and I spent a lot of time at the Brewer's Art drinking their Belgian-themed house-brewed ales."

He now credits the Brewers Art as not just an inspiration, but also an "invaluable resource" when it came to putting together the Stillwater Artisanal project.

Brian cut his teeth by ranking in some local homebrew competitions, which eventually led to wins in both the Sam Adams Longshot and Holiday Competitions, as well as the AHA (American Homebrewer’s Association) Nationals.

Above photo: Tim Webb, the Internationally renowned Belgian beer expert and author of the “Good Beer Guide to Belgium" shown sampling one of Brian’s wild ales at the 2008 “Weekend of Spontaneous Fermentation” in Buggenhout, Belgium.

About his brewing philosophy, he told me: “I have never been good at staying within guidelines. In fact, I only like to use them as reference points. My tendency has always been to stray off course and pick up bits of inspiration from here and there. This is just as much an artistic endeavor for me as it is a business.”

"Distribution throughout the mid-Atlantic region will begin by mid to late March. Stateside Saison will be available in kegs, casks, and 750ml bottles through Twelve Percent Imports" Brian mentioned.

“I hear you just bought a plane ticket to Belgium” I remarked, as we concluded our talk.

“Indeed” Brian said.

Things could get interesting.

Above photo: Brian Strumke, aka Brian Stillwater.