Location: Max’s Taphouse
For the first time in our short five-year history, we decided to take the Tasting Room on the road. Our first destination: Baltimore, Maryland. When it comes to craft beer in Baltimore, there is no place more fitting than the renowned Max’s Taphouse. One of the premier beer bars on the East Coast, Max’s boasts 140 draft lines, 5 hand-pumps, and over 1,200 bottles of beers! Outside of the GABF, there might not be another event that draws more Philadelphians than their annual Belgian Festival.
Dave Benfield started DuClaw Brewing Company in Bel Air, Maryland in 1996 as a brewpub. He then expanded and opened a second brewpub location in Abingdon. Today, Dave has outgrown both brewpubs and moved all brewing operations to a production brewery just outside Baltimore.
Will Pumphrey has been in the restaurant business for over 20 years, most notably as the GM of Frankford Hall. He recently joined DuClaw Brewing as the Philadelphia / South Jersey area sales rep.
Chris Leonard joins us as the brewmaster of Baltimore’s Heavy Seas Brewery, but many of you will recognize him as the owner and brew master of the now defunct (and often missed) General Lafayette Inn in Lafayette Hill, PA. After running the General Lafayette, Leonard took a detour to start up breweries in Costa Rica and Texas, before returning to the East Coast and taking the reins at Heavy Seas.
After getting to know the beer industry through working at the Beer Store in Southampton, Mike Beamer is now the Eastern PA/NJ/DE territory sales manager for Heavy Seas.
Ecusson Cidre Rosé
Description: Made from apples with red flesh, this delicate, pale pink cidre is just off-dry, with the touch of sweetness really bringing out the generosity of the fruit.
Chris: 2.5- Super fruity nose. Tart balance. A bit of a syrupy finish.
Mike: 3.5- Big, juicy nose. Sweet. Very carbonated. For those who like sweeter ciders.
Dave: 3.3- Decently sweet. Slightly crisp. Moderate carbonation.
Will: 3- Very sweet, but goes down easy.
Mat: 2.8- A sweeter cider. Could use a higher carbonation level.
Description: Percheron Cidre Fermier is dedicated to the big, beautiful horse of Normandy. Like its French cousin, it bares the unmistakable scent of the farm, a strong body, and a gentle finish.
Chris: 3.5- Sulfur nose. Dry. Clean finish.
Mike: 4- Nice, tart nose, similar to a wild ale. Clean taste. Not overly sweet.
Dave: 3.9- Decently dry and crisp. Very drinkable. Balanced.
Will: 4- Grassy, well-balanced, with a dry, clean finish.
Mat: 4.5- The sweetest cider I’ve had from Virtue, but still a drier domestic cider. Another fantastic cider.
Dominion Beach House
Description: A Bohemian Pilsner, brewed with all natural ingredients; is crisp and refreshing, making it a perfect beach companion.
Chris: 3.7- Grassy. Sulfur nose. Stiff bitterness.
Mike: 4- Sharp, earthy flavor with a nice, light finish. Easy, warm-weather drinker with good flavors.
Dave: 3.9- Good summer pils. Could drink by the pool all day.
Will: 3- Crisp and light. Aggressive on the finish.
Mat: 3.8- High carbonation & being really hoppy make this an intense pils, but that’s not a bad thing.
Tröegs Sunshine Pils
Description: Sunshine Pils combines the refreshing snap of a Euro-style Pilsner with an assertive hop character. Crisp. Hoppy. Pilsner.
Chris: 4- Clean nose. Balanced bitterness.
Mike: 4.5- Mild nose. Not a big hop presence. Easy drinker. Perfect beach beer.
Dave: 4- Extremely well-balanced. Clean, clean finish.
Will: 4.2- What I love in a pils. Smooth, light, with a peppery finish.
Mat: 4- A classic and one of Tröegs finest. My only complaint is that it wasn’t the canned version.
Klosterbrauerei Andechs Weissbier Dunkel
Description: Teases the tongue with a delicate tanginess carried by a round, soft body. A light caramel sweetness harmonizes well with the fine hoppy bitterness. It concludes on a soft and refreshing note.
Chris: 2.8- Caramel nose. Thin body. Bit of spice in the middle. Smoky finish. Slightly metallic.
Mike: 3.5- Nose has hints of toffee and clove. Flavors mix between smoky, roasty and bitter with no lingering flavor. Not bad, but not great.
Dave: 3.4- A bit thin on the finish.
Will: 3.2- Thinner than I was expecting. Drops off quickly. Drinkable.
Mat: 3.5- Simple for a dunkel, lacking much flavor. Very drinkable, nice beer though.
Evolution Craft Summer Session Ale
Style: Wheat Ale
Description: A light, refreshing unfiltered ale brewed with barley, oats, rye, and wheat for a subtle complexity. A reserved hop bitterness and aroma balance the lightly sweet grain character.
Chris: 3- Spicy nose. Firm bitterness. Dry finish.
Mike: 4- Lots of flavor, yet very drinkable. Awesome session beer.
Dave: 4.4- Holy poolside beer. At 4.6%, this is a perfect ‘stay in the game’ beer.
Will: 3.4- Subtle sweetness. Drinks more like a pils.
Mat: 3.8- Hoppy for a wheat, with a pleasant, slight sweetness up front. Good sessionable summer ale option.
Goose Island Endless IPA
Style: Session IPA
Description: Easy drinking and endlessly refreshing, so you can enjoy every encore. Bright note of fresh oranges and other citrus fruit with a mild body that is crisp on the palate.
Chris: 3.8- Wonderful floral/citrus aroma. Lingering perfume/rose flavor.
Mike: 2.5- Earthy hop aroma mixed with malt sweetness. I prefer less malt. Not bad, just not my favorite.
Dave: 4.6- Very well-made and balanced. It’s 5%, so at the high end of session. I like it.
Will: 4.3- My only issue with this is that at 5%, it’s a little higher for a session. Overall though, well-balanced.
Mat: 4.5- Perfectly balanced. Incredibly clean finish. If only the ABV was a bit less.
Victory Hop Ticket Session IPA
Dry and drinkable, featuring a full and juicy hop aroma hinting of citrus and fruit rind, as well as the balance you would expect from something you could sip all day.
Chris: 3.6- Fresh hop aroma. Crisp. Clean.
Mike: 4.9- Piney aromas. Bright flavor. Clean finish. My idea of a session IPA.
Dave: 4.6- Very floral. Very nice.
Will: 4.5- That’s a ton of hops in a session beer. Nailed it!
Mat: 4.5- In your face, very green hoppiness, with a minimal malt content.
Port Brewing Summer Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
Description: Their version of a West Coast-style Pale Ale. Port’s brewers decided this beer should be all about the hops and is brewed without any crystal malt.
Chris: 4.1- Tropical fruit aroma. Very dry. Super drinkable.
Mike: 4- Bright, tropical aroma with flavors of pineapple, grapefruit, and oranges. Solid West Coast pale.
Dave: 4.3- At 6%, very drinkable. I can dig it.
Will: 3.1- Would have preferred something more “seasonal” from this brew.
Mat: 4- Intense, fruity hops up front, but then the beer sorta disappears after.
Terrapin Hi-5 IPA
Style: India Pale Ale
Description: Capturing the majestic flavor of citrusy hops that roll off your tongue like a white cap on an ocean wave, this scenic wonder will keep you in awe, sip after sip.
Chris: 3.8- Vegetative, citrus, and herbal hop aroma. Hazy. Bitterness fades quickly.
Mike: 3.5- Sharp hop bite and super carbonated finish.
Dave: 3.8- Decent effervescence. Interesting hop blend.
Will: 3.5- Hop forward for sure.
Mat: 3.5- Green, fresh hop aroma. Balanced, but the finish is harsh comparatively.
Rogue Dead Guy
Description: Made with Rogue’s proprietary “PacMan” ale yeast. It is deep honey in color with a malty aroma, rich, hearty flavor and a well-balanced finish.
Chris: 3.1- Grainy aroma. Biscuit. Hop in finish.
Mike: 4.5- Don’t care for the beer, but have lots of respect for it being one of the first.
Dave: 3.9- Haven’t had one in years. Caramel malt front, with the banana fruit finish.
Will: 4- How can you not like Dead Guy? Reminds me of my early days.
Mat: 4 – Maybe such a high score for nostalgic reasons, but this is one of the reasons I got into craft beer.
Firestone Walker Opal
Description: Lemon grass and gooseberry meet peppery spice and fresh grain aromas. Spicy Belgian yeast creates a complex, yet dry and refreshing canvas with splashes of citrus and stone fruit with a bright, tropical white wine finish. Hop bitterness is assertive yet rounds out slightly tart and refreshing.
Chris: 4.6- Intoxicating aroma. I said ‘wow’ aloud.
Mike: 5- Amazing!
Dave: 4.3- I am not a saison guy, but I really like this.
Will: 4.5- Really impressive. The bouquet matches the flavor.
Mat: 5- Wow…this is a really great beer. Just go try it.
North Coast Le Merle
Description: A rustic ale, pale in color, inspired by the rich brewing traditions of the Flanders region. Abundant hops and a Belgian yeast strain contribute exotic aromas of tropical fruit.
Chris: 3.6- Fruity, spicy aroma. Straightforward interpretation of the style.
Mike: 3.5- Faint sweetness in the aroma. Taste is almost cider-like. Alcohol is well-hidden. Decent saison.
Dave: 4.1- Again, not big into saisons, but good. Fruitier than the Opal.
Will: 3.7- Some good funk on the nose. Flavor is classic saison.
Mat: 3.8- Simple, very well-done saison. Just lacks that wow factor.
North Country Buck Snort Stout
Style: Sweet Stout
Description: A sweet, hoppy, West Coast stout brewed with Warrior, Cascade, and Amarillo hops.
Chris: 3.6- Vanilla aroma. Hoppy finish. Roast.
Mike: 2.8- Nose is slightly roasty and sweet. Thin body with a residual sweetness that lingers. Not horrible, but not for me.
Dave: 4.2- Good finish on a beer that has a decently strong start.
Will: 2.9- Good body and mouth-feel. Sweetness is counteracted by some hop bitterness.
Mat: 3.2- Enjoyable, full-bodied stout. Sweet. Lots of chocolate.
Style: Belgian IPA
Description: Belgian yeast delivers hints of apple and pear which blend with the citrus hop aroma for a clean, even finish.
Chris: 3.9- Fruit aroma. Hoppy finish. Well-balanced. Spicy.
Mike: 3.8- Good balance between sweet, hops, and Belgian flavors. Decent Belgian-style IPA.
Dave: 4- Pretty decent. Nice beer to settle down with at the end of your day.
Will: 3.9- Spicy and crisp. Not my favorite style but I enjoyed this one.
Mat: 4.7- One of the best Belgian-style IPAs I’ve had. Black pepper in the middle and clean finish. Really nice.
Dilewyns Philly Tripel
Style: Abbey Tripel
Description: Vicaris Tripel with American and Belgian honey. Collaboration with Dock Street; made especially for Philly Beer Week 2014.
Chris: 2.1- Subtle aroma. Dry. Honey in finish.
Mike: 4- Lots of sweetness and lingering honey flavor. Worth trying.
Dave: 3.2- Honey comes through strong.
Will: 3.5- Very floral. Honey absolutely comes through. 8.5% will sneak up.
Mat: 3.2- Honey really comes through, more so than in most beers. Very perfumey.
Style: Abbey Tripel
Description: Refined and complex golden-to-bronze brew with a fantastic creamy head, not only from the grains used but also from restrained hopping with Styrians and the fruity nature (banana and vanilla) of the house yeast.
Chris: 2.9- Spicy aroma. Lavender. Cane sugar. Finishes boozy.
Mike: 3.9- Smells like jasmine tea. Flavor not as strong as the aroma.
Dave: 3.9- Solid tripel and it comes from Belgium!
Will: 4.2- Everything you’d expect from a tripel.
Mat: 4.5- A classic. Herbal nose. Big and boozy. Mild sweetness. Fantastic.
Ommegang Tripel Perfection
Style: Abbey Tripel
Description: Lush aromas, full body, elegant tastes – with a hint of spicing – and a perfect body paired with lively effervescence.
Chris: 3.9- Phenolic, spicy nose. Complex bitterness. Well-balanced.
Mike: 4.9- Fruity nose but not overpowering. Light flavor. Very clean and crisp. Highly recommend.
Dave: 3.9- Good American tripel.
Will: 4.4- Subtle sweetness. Nice carbonation. Beautiful beer.
Mat: 4.8- Perfect level of sweetness. Clean finish. Really well-rounded tripel.
Straffe Hendrik Wild
Style: Abbey Tripel
Description: This is the regular Straffe Hendrik Tripel, but this time fermented with wild Brettanomyces yeast strains.
Chris: 2.2- I’m not understanding the balance. A bit disoriented. I like the components, but it doesn’t come together for me.
Mike: 3.6- Slightly sweet/sour nose. Earthy/funky flavors from the Brett, with some candi sugar sweetness.
Dave: 4- Interesting play with Brett.
Will: 3.8- The Brett plays nicely with the sweetness of this brew.
Mat: 3.8- Brett balances out the sweetness nicely. Unique take. A little drier and this beer would be really great.
Victory Wild Devil
Style: Wild Ale
Description: A sharp, sour-ish edge has been added that plays into the caramel sweet malt deliciously and creates complex interplay with citrus accented hops.
Chris: 3.9- Hop aroma mixed with funk. Interesting, tart fruit. Super dry finish.
Mike: 3.5- Semi-dry flavor. Curious how this would develop over time. Solid brew.
Dave: 4.4- Really like the take on this. Think I will have another.
Will: 4.7- Hop Devil with Brett?!? Funky…love it.
Mat: 4.4- Brett is extremely evident, with a really dry funk that completely transforms Hop Devil into an even better beer.
Deschutes Not the Stoic
Description: Aged and sequestered in select oak casks. The result – a contemplatively brewed quad created in homage to all those who doubted the original.
Chris: 3.2- Boozy aroma. Warming alcohol. Whiskey. Tart finish. Malt got hung out to dry.
Mike: 4.5- Huge, cherry, dark fruit aroma. Nice blend of flavors. Nice sipper.
Dave: 4.6- Cool-like cherry-ish flavor. Not sweet, but not too tart. Just right.
Will: 4.6- Sweet. Goes down smooth…too smooth.
Mat: 5- Smells like 12%, but tastes nowhere near it. Tart cherry flavors in this beer really standout in an amazing way. Glad this isn’t the Stoic.
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
Style: American Strong Ale
Description: This beer is a 12% ABV, highly roasty, and malty brown ale aged on the wood of the Palo Santo tree from Paraguay.
Chris: 2.8- Brown sugar aroma. Stout-like finish. Bittersweet.
Mike: 4.2- Big smoky nose. Roasty, bitter, and mild fruit flavors. Finishes like a Russian imperial. Worth trying.
Dave: 3.8- Sweeter and smokier than I expected. Pretty intense.
Will: 3.6- A lot smoother than I remember. Intense and heavy.
Mat: 3.8- Intense. Smells smoky and has an interesting sour fruit flavor up front. This beer has changed over the years.