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Brews & Booze of Baltimore

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Everyone loves to kick back with their favorite cold one on a hot day or sip a glass of wine at dinner. But you wouldn’t drink hot coffee at the beach or eat an ice cream sandwich when it’s snowing. If you want to get the most out of your drink, just like your food, timing is key. This fall, Baltimoreans should pass on the national brand names and check out some of these local brewers and winemakers because they are stirring up local drinks right here at home.

If you’re looking for a brew to drink with a full flavor, then Heavy Seas has you covered. “There’s no mystery that cooler weather calls for more full-flavored beers. You’re not looking to quench your thirst as much as you’re looking for full, robust flavor,” said Fred Crudder, director of marketing at Heavy Seas Beer. That is exactly what Heavy Seas offers with Winter’s Storm, a deep mahogany beer that comes out around October. “It’s very malty, very rich and very hoppy,” Crudder explained. He recommends trying it with food that has a strong serving of black pepper.

For those excited about the holidays and who want a drink to match, then check out Greater Pumpkin. You’ll see a lot of pumpkin beers on the market during the holiday season, but Greater Pumpkin by Heavy Seas is 9 percent alcohol while its competitors are in the 5 to 6 range. The kicker to this beer, though, is how it’s aged in bourbon barrels. When you’re thinking about when to enjoy one, be sure to keep the pumpkin spice of the beer in mind and plan your meal accordingly with similar spices.

When you’re done with dinner, Bulk Head Brewing has a unique brew that will go well with some fresh fruit. Joshua Matthews, owner and founder of Bulk Head, has created a “fwit” beer called Peachy Paul. “This is one of our favorite beers and we sell out of it at every festival,” said Matthews. The name comes from the beer being half fruit and half wheat. The combination creates a beer with a balance between bitter and sweet. While Peachy Paul is made all year round, this fall Peachy Paul with cinnamon will hit the shelves to help you get in the holiday spirit.

Prefer to chat up friends with a glass of wine? Linganore Winecellars has a semisweet fruit blend wine called Mountain Berry. This was originally a local favorite that Linganore had been explaining to its customers how to make through a combination of products, but the demand for it became so high they decided to start producing it themselves. Anthony Aellen, president and winemaker for Linganore, suggests it for “general entertaining, served with cheese, fresh fruit and freshly baked bread.” When you are ready for dinner, Linganore has an off-dry rosé named after Aellen’s sister called Pinky’s Rosé, made from chambourcin, a French-American hybrid grape. “It’s very floral and very fruity—nice as a dinner wine or for entertaining,” said Aellen.

If you’re not sure what wine suits your palate, then Bin 604 can help you find out. “As a retailer, our goal is to develop a catalogue of wine. What we are here to do is to guide people through that catalogue,” said Samuel Massa, general manager. “And to find whatever is appropriate for the moment. In the fall, we want wines with more integrity and ones that are more structured. They will often be richer and more comforting.”
For those who want something to sip that isn’t wine or beer, check out the ciders at Millstone American Farmhouse. Their Bonfire cyser is made with Baltimore fish peppers, creating a balance between fruity, spicy and earthy. They’ll also be serving up Hopvine, a dry hop cider; Farmgate, an American traditional cider; Gingeroot, an organic ginger cider and a host of other ciders and meads this fall. If you’re unfamiliar with ciders and meads, then Kyle Sherrer, an owner at Millstone, offers a simple explanation. “Ciders are apple- based, mead is a blend of honey and water, and the yeast is fermented.” Cysers, however, are a combination of honey and apple ciders.

When you’re looking for something to eat when sipping a cider, Sherrer recommends cheese, charcuterie and high-fat meats like pork, duck or salted fish. While meads go best with desserts, dark chocolate and white meat.

Regardless of what you’re drinking this fall, Crudder and Aellen offer similar advice even though they are making different drinks. The strength and flavor of the drink should match the strength and flavor of the food.

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