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Featured Microbreweries:

Fredrick Brewing Company

This month, we’re breaking tradition a bit by featuring beer selections from two different breweries that are owned by the same entity. It’s the first time we’ve done it in over 5 years and the driving factor behind our decision to highlight this stellar brewing organization is that they make damn good beer. The Frederick Brewing Company, founded in 1993 in Frederick, MD, currently owns and operates both the Wild Goose Brewery of Cambridge, MA and the Brimstone Brewing Co. located in Baltimore, MD. The three breweries combined have taken no less than 41 awards and accolades over the last decade, including 12 World Beer Championship honors and 4 medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

Last year Frederick Brewing Company was named one of America’s Top 20 Breweries by Food & Wine magazine. In selecting the winners, the editors of the magazine said they relied upon the "informed opinions of bartenders, beer writers and editors and industry analysts." The editors also researched the results of ten years' worth of beer festival contests to see which breweries performed the most consistently.

Founded just 6 years ago with it’s flagship Blue Ridge collection of micros, the brewery is recognized as one of the fastest growing craft breweries in the country. By 1995 the demand for their products exceeded capacity which prompted a expansion the following year when an entirely new 57,000 square foot brewery was constructed. Housed in one of only two purpose-built craft breweries on the East Coast, Frederick Brewing Co. now has an annual capacity of 80,000 barrels. The expansion was financed with an initial public offering. The company’s stock trades on the NASDAQ stock market under the symbol "BLUE."

Our panel enjoyed the Blue Ridge line across the board and that’s why you’ll have the opportunity to sample three of its beers. The line also includes a Golden Ale, an Amber Lager, a Porter, Doppelbock, and Spiced Winter Ale. Additionally, the panel gave Wild Goose’s Amber Ale high marks so you’ll have the chance to try that one as well. Wild Goose also brews an IPA, Oatmeal Stout, Spring Wheat Ale, Nut Brown Ale, and Winter Ale. Unfortunately, there’s only so much room in the box so you’ll just have to wait to try the Brimstone beers! Enjoy!

For more information about the brewery and tours either check out their web site at: http://www.fredbrew.com/, email them at kym@fred.net or call them directly at 301-694-7899.

Featured Beers:

Blue Ridge Hop Fest

Hopfest comes with a number of prestigious accolades including BarleyCorn’s 1995 and 1997 Editor's Choice National New Craft Beer of the Year. Every Fall, in celebration of the hop harvest, Frederick brews the Hopfest. As the name implies, the beer has an uncommonly high hop content. It is brewed with three times as much hops per barrel as an average beer. Each year, a different hop is used exclusively throughout the brewing of the Hopfest and this year German Spalt hops dominate this tasty brew.

"We try to capture every essence of that hop in liquid form," boasts vice president Steve Nordahl. "We accentuate the hop aroma so that you can actually taste the hop. That's what makes the Hopfest Ale so unique. Whenever people ask me what [food] the Hopfest goes with, I say, 'Another Hopfest, followed by another and another and another.' We love it."

Hopfest is brewed with a combination of two-row pale, Munich, Caramel, Carapils, and Chocolate malts. This unfiltered, naturally conditioned, deep brown ale is hopped aggressively 5 times during the boil, once again in the whirlpool and then dry-hopped as well! Look a spicy European hop character dominating the nose with traces of caramel malt evident. We found this medium-bodied brown ale to be smooth and creamy, starting with pleasant malty tones and moving over nicely to a spicy hop finish. It’s surprisingly well balanced for as many hops that are used to brew it. Brewmaster Tim Keck stated that, "It’s even better when you burp it up!" Overall, a very non-traditional brown ale, but thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. We really liked it. Great concept.

Recommended serving temperature: 40 – 45 degrees Fahrenheit

Original Gravity: 13 Degrees Plato

International Bittering Units (IBUs): 40

Alcohol by Volume: 5.0%

Blue Ridge ESB

The word bitter is sometimes believed to be interchangeable with the word "ale." Since World War II, American soldiers returned Stateside knowing Bitters to be the most popularly called for drink in the realm of British beer drinkers. Most bitters fans believe the special flavor is so successful it overcame the name. The word itself is only a reference to the hoppy dryness of bitters versus that of milder brews. Bitters always have this signature hoppy dryness, but also can contain a suggestion of soft-fruit. Bitters aren’t necessarily bitter at all. They can even be sweetish, although they will most certainly possess a hop emphasis. The color of bitters isn’t standard but they do share one trait: Bitters are almost always translucent in color. But there the standard ends. The color varies from one brewer to another, and can run the gamut from rich copper red to old gold to pale bronze. When bitters are vibrantly red colored, they are sometimes compared to the red wines from Bordeaux. Blue Ridge ESB is just such a coppery red color, distinguishing it from the pack.

Now you’re going to have a chance to try an award winning ESB from Blue Ridge which took the Silver at the 1995 World Beer Championships. Blue Ridge’s ESB is brewed with a combination of two-row pale, Munich, Caramel, Carapils, Victory, and chocolate malts. It’s hopped with Nugget and Willamette hops 3 times during the boil and once during the whirlpool. Look for a predominantly sweet malty nose with some traces of hop spiciness evident. This medium-bodied, light amber, filtered ale starts slightly malty, and quickly moves into a spicy, floral hopiness. We found the finish a bit dry and bitter leaving you wanting more! Overall, a very full tasting, flavorful ESB.

Recommended serving temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit

Original Gravity: 12.0 Degrees Plato

International Bittering Units (IBUs): 39

Alcohol by Volume: 4.8 %

Wild Goose Amber

You’re about to try a true Champion Amber Ale. The Goose has took both the Gold and the Silver at the 1996 and 1997 World Beer Championships.

Wild Goose English Amber is made from all English malts: two-row English crisp pale malt, torrified malted wheat, crystal, and chocolate malts. It’s hopped twice during the boil and once in the whirlpool with no less than 5 hop varieties including Cascade, Willamette, Nugget, Tettnang, and Hallertau. We found the nose to offer a slight fruity, floral hop character with some spicy hop traces evident. This rich copper-colored, medium-bodied, filtered ale starts with a clean pale maltiness, moves into a hint of fruitiness and finishes slightly spicy. Overall, a very well-balanced, full flavored amber worthy of it Championship status. A great beer to accompany any red meat dish.

Recommended serving temperature: 38 – 43 degrees Fahrenheit

Original Gravity: 12.8 Degrees Plato

International Bittering Units (IBUs): 40

Alcohol by Volume: 5.0 %

Blue Ridge Wheat

Blue Ridge Wheat could be described as an Americanized Bavarian Hefeweizen. It possesses all the characteristics of a true classic Hefe, yet they are not as pronounced. We’d consider it an excellent introduction to the style as for many, it’s an acquired taste. Blue Ridge Wheat is brewed with a combination of two-row pale, wheat, and carapils malts and is hopped exclusively with Mt. Hood hops twice during the boil. Look for a hint of banana and clove in the nose, a resultant of using a Bavarian Hefeweizen yeast strain. You can also pick up the malted wheat in the nose. This straw-colored, non-filtered, medium-bodied wheat ale starts dry, yeasty and wheaty and moves into a floral fruitiness. Note a clean, non-lingering finish. Overall, a very refreshing, clean and tasty introduction to a classic style.

Recommended serving temperature: 38 – 43 degrees Fahrenheit

Original Gravity: 10 Degrees Plato

International Bittering Units (IBUs): 8

Alcohol by Volume: 4.2 %

Ask Murl

Dear Murl,

I recently traveled China and although I never made it to the dried insect market that Commander McBrew described in your last newsletter, I was able to try a few Chinese brews and was wondering what you think of Chinese beer.

Tim Hayes, Laguna Beach, CA

Yo Timbo,

Before I answer your question, I was wondering if you might be able to tell me, my fine human friend, exactly what the difference between Beer Nuts and Deer Nuts is? "Don’t know", you say. "Not a clue", you say. Well, Beer Nuts are $1.75 and Deer Nuts are under a Buck. Get it? Deer … Nuts …Buck … Sorry. I’ve been trying to tie that one in with a question for months and recently concluded, "Hey homedog, who’s damn column is this anyway?"

Beers produced in China are well-crafted, German-style lagers. Though not tremendously interesting and generally unpronounceable, they will complement a plate of Mu Shu Pork or Kung Pao Chicken nicely. If, however, you happen to be a canine and are trying to culturally blend, attempting the use of chop sticks with paws, I recommend something a little more potent, like a good Barely Wine or Imperial Stout. Chow-mein baby! Woof! Murl.

Dear Murl,

Love the club babe. Love your column. Love you. I was in a bar the other night (don’t tell my wife... she thinks I was working on a proposal) and some dude was drinking a Black and Tan and it got me to wondering about what other kinds of "specialty drinks" made with beer? Further along my finely tuned train of thought, I concluded that who better than Murl to clue me in. So what do you know of the subject there fuzz butt?

Rob Fisher, Bayonet Point, FL

Yo Fish!

Or do you go by Bob, Bobbie, Robert, Fishman, or perhaps even Rob as your letter suggested? Or maybe I should just go with "Buttnut" as an appropriate response to fuzz butt. Hope that works for you. I must say, I have in fact tried more nasty combinations of beer and other drinks than those that I might try again or even recommend. I’d wager that I’ve tried even more combos than what I’ve listed below, only I can’t remember them due to the state of consciousness, or more appropriately, unconsciousness, that I was in when I agreed to drink them.

I’m sure you’ve had a depth charge. That’s when you take a beer and drop a shot glass of whiskey (glass and all) into the beer. Ever had a Black Velvet? That’s a glass of champagne topped off with a splash of Guinness. I renamed this one, "The Hefe-Slasher-Asswipe": Predominantly your favorite Hefeweizen with a splash of O.J. Your basic Red Eye is a half-and-half combo of tomato juice and a light lager or ale (most likely only consumed in a serious state of hangover-haze). Here’s a nasty one: Gator Beer is the unlikely combination of Gatorade topped off with a dark stout. Turkish Blood is a blend of English Ale and red burgundy wine in equal measures, while Dog’s nose is a beer laced with gin and spices. Calibogus was a Colonial mix of beer and rum, served hot or cold and Rumfustian was made from a quart of beer, a bottle of white wine or sherry, half a pint of gin, the yolks of 12 eggs, orange peel and nutmeg and sugar, which was sweetened further with a half pint of rum! Somebody stop me! There’s more, but I’m running out of space so perhaps I’ll continue in an article on the subject in a future newsletter. Are you inspired, Fish? On your way to 7-11 for some eggs? Take it easy, man. Woof! Murl.

Food For Thought...

As summer comes to a close, we’re in heavy denial here at Malt of the Earth and fully intend to gather around Barbecue well into November and December. Hell, we live in American Baby ... Where mass consumption of Beer, Burgers and Chili is the order of the day at any Red-blooded BBQ! On that note, here’s a list of food. When you mix it all up and cook it, it tastes real good. Be sure and save a beer or two from your shipment to cool your engine.

Wild Goose Chili

2 lbs kidney beans

2 1/2 lbs hamburger

1 onion

1 green pepper

1 TBS salt

1/3 cup sugar

6 cloves garlic

3 TBS chili powder

1 1/2 TBS dry mustard

24 oz. Wild Goose Amber Ale

12 oz. tomato paste

Soak beans in water 12 hours and then simmer over medium heat until tender. Lightly brown beef and caramelize onion in same pan. Discard fat (or donate it to your local McDonald French fry cooker). Combine sugar, garlic, chili powder and mustard with 12 ounces of brew and simmer for 15 min. Add tomato paste to beans and combine with all of that other stuff we just had you do. Simmer for 2 hours adding remaining 12 ounces of beer during the last 10 minutes. Roll up your sleeves, fill a big bowl with the stuff and maybe schlapp a sizable dollop-o-sour cream smack dab in the middle of it all.

Source: Great American Beer Cookbook, Candy Schermerhorn, Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO.

True Brew Facts

THE ALE STREET NEWS - Can a brewski a day help your kidney stones at bay? A study of nearly 30,000 male smokers says it’s true. A recent research project in Finland indicated that drinking a brew per day reduced the risk of the formation of kidney stones in men. How much? A whopping 40 percent! The researchers tested other beverages in the trial. But beer alone significantly reduced the incidence of kidney stones. The July 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology reports that the healthful effects could be the result of the water and alcoholic content of beer. (italics) I’m thinkin’ TWO beers a day and I never have to worry about kidney stones again!

Norm’s Corner ...

As spoken by Cheer’s Norm

Coach: How’s a beer sound, Normie?

Norm: I dunno. I usually finish them before they get a word in.

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