Did you think man could exist on wine alone? Well, the answer is: Yes! Still, variety is the spice of life, or so they say, and my beverage glass is no exception. I like to add beer to the mix every now and then. The notorious hot ‘n’ sticky Charm City summer months beg for a cold glass of something refreshing. On those Triple H (hazy, hot, humid) days, I get to thinking of a frosty mug of suds to pair with a good ol’ kosher American hot dog.
Where better to seek an icy pint than in our own backyard? Baltimore is a beacon of breweries. Always has been. I beg you, don’t fall prey to the no-longer-produced in Baltimore (and not in many years) Natty Boh. Tempting though it may be, Boh is no more Bawlmer than Budweiser (and no better flavor-wise, either).
Baltimore is blessed with many world-class breweries, but for today’s exercise we will focus on one of my favorites: Hugh Sisson’s Clipper City Brewing.
Legend has it that in 1980, Hugh Sisson, planning to pursue his love of theater in N.Y.C., got a call from his local businessman dad asking him to help out in a new venture, a pub named Sisson’s in Baltimore. Sisson returned, thinking it would be a short-term gig, upon which his dad tossed him the keys to the joint with the sage advice, “OK, Don’t f it up!” and left him with a new career path.
By 1984, Sisson had realized the need to brew beer in-house. Small snag, though; brewpubs were at that time illegal in Maryland. By 1987, with Sisson’s urging, Maryland legalized brewpubs, and by 1989, Sisson’s became the state’s first brewpub, and Hugh Sisson the first brewpub brewer. In ‘94, Sisson left to found Clipper City Brewing Co., and the now-well-known brand, Heavy Seas.
Tasting Notes & Pairings
Being a “wine-guy,” I seek flavor and depth in any of my libations. As hipster-pretentious as it may be, I’ve always leaned toward India Pale Ales, as they blend citrusy, clean fruit with robust and bitter hoppiness, while allowing more of a heavy, malty body and long finish.
I know you’re wondering why it’s called “India” Pale Ale, and that is because it gained its popularity among British troops stationed in India in the mid-19th century, while India was still a British colony. A “double” pale ale, a.k.a. an “Imperial” IPA, is IPA with its hop-volume turned way up. If you love hoppy bitterness, this is XL-hoppiness, leading to XL-happiness in your favorite glass.
I had just finished a long run, and decided to meet my lovely wife for a drink at The Mt. Washington Tavern, and could think of nothing more rewarding than the Heavy Seas Double Cannon IPA ($12/6-pack, available in most local stores).
On the nose, there is plenty of citrus and tropical fruit, a caramel maltiness and bright (you guessed it) hops. The body is rich and satisfying. The carbonation is low-to-medium; more tame than in the regular Heavy Seas IPA, with far more malt/barley recognizable in the Double IPA. There’s a fair amount of sweetness in this beer to ride along with the bitter hops, and that works brilliantly with a salty, fatty steak fresh off your summer grill.
Dr. Kenneth Friedman is a Baltimore-born kosher wine (and sometimes beer) aficionado/connoisseur. He is known for his unsolicited wine advice and runs many local kosher wine tastings. You can follow him on Instagram @KennethFriedmanEvents.