Millstone Cellars, the Freshmaker.

I'm starting to find that my most favorite Hipster Brewfus moments in recent history are all starting with this e-mail:

"Hi, my name is Jake, and I run Hipster Brewfus, a local Baltimore beer blog..."

Last week I sent this e-mail to Kyle from Millstone Cellars (yes the same one I have been flooding my Instagram, Untappd, and Twitter accounts with) and was invited to stop by when I had the time. Well, what do you know, that Sunday I had time. Me and the Brewfus Family piled into a car and headed off to Monkton, MD to imbibe some special ciders.

We both love this place, and have have actually been here one time before when we were notified that next time we can bring our dog.

Smells! Smells everywhere!

You pull up to see this sign and this building,...

...with a hodge-podge of barrels, mushy hops, and old things scattered around.

Oh, and fire trucks.

First off, being a rural CT transplant, in the heart of Baltimore-holy culture shock. Millstone Cellar speaks to all parts of me. The building smells of old wood and magic. And apple. And more magic. This place is the epitome of what I expect from cider makers. Its the rustic atmosphere I expect for this rustic beverage.

I met Kyle (the owner) at the tasting room bar, introduced myself, and we got our own little VIP tour. It was a surreal experience, hearing the relatively new history (they've only been in production for a bit over a year) From both Kyle and his Father. Hearing the back and forth between the two of them and how they toe the line between a winery and a craft brewer was a lot of fun. It's cool to think about too, because there isn't anyone in the area doing what Millstone does. So in my humble opinion they are free to do whatever the fuck they want. And that kind of freedom is working for them. I haven't had a bad batch of anything.

Their ciders (and meads) have made me realize that I know a veritable shit ton of nothing about cider (and meads). He educated me about the blending process they use with about 6 different ciders ("Oh like Lambic blends?" "yeah, same idea."), how different fermentables drive the "legality" of what they do, among other things. In the hour and a half we talked, I learned a LOT, and look forward to learning even more.

The tour is brief, but pretty great. It kicks off in the tasting room, where even here there are some barrels of experimental batches going on. And even some pilot batches. When we got there they were adding some lemon grass to a carboy, and that's pretty awesome.

We were able to sample a personal favorite of Kyles, a spanish style cider, laden with a funk and tang that really surprised me. I'm just not used to those kind of flavor profiles in a cider.

As you ascend to each new floor (4 in total), you are greeted to a veritable plethora of barrels. Each one full to the brim with some kind of cider, mead, "fruit wine," or "cyser." Using a thief, Kyle pulled a handful of samples from a handful of barrels for us to try. Among those were a really delicate peach "fruit wine," A ginger cider, their fish pepper cyser (a cider/mead blend) "Bonfire" (a personal favorite), blueberry mead, plum mead, and a mix of others. There was even some banana juice type drink that had not been decided what to do with.

Pilot batches in the tasting room. Second in from the right has Lemongrass in it.
Some were better than others, but nothing was bad. Some things just weren't ready when we tried it, so if I were to say "Oh I didn't like this part about this drink..." It wouldn't be fair, because the drink is still in its infancy stages (seriously, some of those drinks take nearly a year before they're ready).

I know, I know, I haven't really shut up about these guys for the last couple months, but I think I have every reason to be so excited. They are local, which is a huge bonus, and they have a product I will stand behind without a moments hesitation. They aren't confined to just playing it safe and releasing just any kind of plain old cider. These guys have DOZENS of different batches of things going on at any given time. That kind of bravery and boldness goes a long way.

It's been wonderful to see how the Baltimore craft scene has embraced these guys.

On top of everything, all the people there are nice, helpful, and knowledgeable. Their tours have a very intimate feel to them, and its all around, just a very pleasant way to spend a few hours on a weekend afternoon. I urge you, if you are local, to take the drive and head on over and test what you think you know about ciders.

It helps also that this place is just beautiful.

And they friggin let dogs come. They like dags.

You can check them out online:


Mid-Atlantic Holiday Beer Tasting

Being part of the Baltimore beer scene in this last last year has shown me that this is one tight knit community. The following "press release" is for one event that displays the selflessness of not just our local community, but the craft beer community as a whole.

This is a joint event hosted at Pratt Street Alehouse by Oliver Breweries, and The Brewers Art. To explain better, I'll use the words of my friend Justin from Pratt St/Columbia Ale House:
"On Dec 7th we are partnering up with the brewers are for the third year in a row to host, The Mid Atlantic  Holiday Beer Tasting. We a ton of great local breweries coming to the event, mostly holiday style beers, every ones ticket price includes a great food buffet, and a portion of the proceeds go to benefit the Maryland Food Bank. All of the brewery info and ticket purchase info can be found at this link"

A portion of the event proceeds will go the Maryland Food Bank!

Participating Breweries:

Pratt Street Alehouse
The Brewers Art
Brewers Alley
Full Tilt Brewing
Flying Dog Ales
Monocacy Brewing
Franklin's Brewery
Union Craft Brewing
Dog Brewing
Barley and Hops
Stillwater Artisanal Ales
Baltimore Washington Beer Works
Troegs Brewing
Heavy Seas
DuClaw Brewing
District Chophouse and Brewery
Slyfox Beer
Red Brick Station Restaurant & Brew Pub
3 Stars Brewing Company
Devils Backbone Brewing Company

This is a great event held by some great people, and there will be some great beer (20 different breweries to be exact). All the info can be found on the above link, and if you have any questions, you reach me through e-mail!

Cheers, and Happy Holiday Season!
-Hipster Brewfus


Midnight Snack: Relic Brewing "Hiver"

My life is glamorous, to say the least.

I'm powering through the first seasons of Arrested Development again so I can (finally) watch the latest season. I grabbed the trusty coffee mug out of the cabinet in my hotel room (Extended Stay, motherfuckaz) and went to town on this beer. What beer? Relic Brewing "Hiver," their newest French Style Saison.

A murky kind of orange fills my mug. It's hard to be 100% accurate on this though, as I'm drinking it out of a goddamned coffee mug. But it looks murky enough. I must have looked quite the horses-ass as I sat there and turned on the flashlight on my phone and got all up in there trying to all scientificish on the color. 

The lemonyness called out in the label, is wicked prevalent in the nose, as the grains. It's like a rye, but its not a rye. It smells good. I would burn the Yankee Candle version of this. I would burn it so hard.

It would replace my current favorite.
My first sip of this beer is extremely overwhelming. Everything on the label is on point. Lemony and earthy, complex and interesting. The first thing I would have compared it to is Night Shifts Bee Tea, I swear to god I want to say there is honey in this. I know I'm wrong and that I should shut up, but still. The earthyness is really there. In talking to Mark about it he explained the "Spelt" malts to me, as it wasn't something I was familiar with. He was able to best liken the characteristics of this beer to a rye, and I now can totally understand why. There's a light spiciness there, which is prevalent from start to finish, and a noticeable dryness. It mingles well with the hops characteristics that aren't so much citrus as they are lemon. Does that even fucking make sense?

Think honey lemon cough drop. Less bad, more betterer. And less honeyer. Not the beer, just the specific hops tones. Am I making any sense?

Let me make me more dumb for you. Do you like Saisons?
Excellent, because this beer is an excellent representation of the style. Its clean, crisp, and now that I'm thinking about it, kind of weird to be drinking when I'm looking at my car and there is a light dusting of snow on it. The sexy dance of the malts and hops, makes a fantastic saison.

Do you like Rye beers? 
Good, because even though this isn't a rye it does have similar characteristics on a much more lesser intense scale of intense

Do you trust my judgement?

...Well, the jury is still out on that one.

Does Finn love the Flame Princess?
Yes, I think he does. Well, maybe not love, but I think he is in heavy like. But I also think he is torn between his initial (and unreciprocated) love of Bubblegum Princess.

And I bet you're wondering, what does this beer pair well with?

Actually, while discussing this with Mark from Relic, he encouraged saving this bottle for a holiday dinner, but I was so geeked, I just had to share it with all of you.

And I totally did eat a box of Mike & Ikes.

*This bottle was provided to me before it is available to the public. It will be available soon though*

**Can't even untap this shit, cause it ain't on there**

***Attention everyone! Why go to a banana stand when we can make your banana stand?***


The Great Pumpkin Post

Pumpkin beers seem to really divide a lot of you folks out there. Personally, the only thing I really give a shit about is them not coming out while summer is still in full swing. Goddamn that Seasonal Creep. Goddamn him all to hell (But it's still a pretty dope name for a fall seasonal, so DIBS!). Seriously though, it's just beer. People need to relax. And like any styles, there a few good ones, and a whole lot of shitty ones. I spent the last month drinking a bunch of them, and experiencing palate fatigue unlike I have ever had in my life and I'm about to show you which ones were shitty, and which ones were not.

Elysian/21st Amendment "He Said" Baltic Porter

First up is one half of this collaboration beer I was super excited about. This beer really dark, no light is getting through. The nose is really pleasant. It's sweet and roasted, and then the alcohol is all "oh hey I'm here too!" It's completely devoid of spices or anything to make you think its a pumpkin beer. Thank god.

While drinking, there's a wonderful chocolate taste right off the bat, then comes a (surprising) wave of spices that you come to expect from a pumpkin beer. All this greatness is all capped off with a very slight burn of alcohol. This really is a solid beer, "pumpkin" or not, I would not hesitate to buy this beer again. If you find it, get it. And then take the Belgian tripel, and throw it at the face of the person nearest you. This is the only beer you need.

The chocolate aspect of this beer, with the not-overwhelming amount of spices worked REALLY well. Bravo.

Oh snap! A cider! A cider that looks like...a cider should. Like carbonated apple juice. I gave it one hell of an aggressive pour and was barely able to muster any head. But man, it smells REALLY tart. Theres a nose full of Granny Smith, and maybe some McIntosh apples. But chances are I have no idea what I'm talking about. Oh and there's a subtle spice lingering around in there.

Whoa! The taste is totally opposite! Imagine a delicious apple juice (don't you dare say Motts), throw in some spice and a reaaaaally slight hint of alcohol. This is really goddamned tasty. I'm absolutely in love the mix of spices with this cider. I never thought I'd use the word "refreshing" when it comes to a fall seasonal, but with the light crispness of the cider, and the perfect mix of spices, this is friggin' delicious. As my dear friend, Craft Beer Coach would say, "it's Juicy in yo MOUF." I'm for seriously bummed I'm all out of this. Oh and the relatively high ABV (comparatively speaking), really sneaks up on you.

Oh look, it's the supposed holy grail of pumpkin beers.  Well guess what?  It looks just like any other beer when I pour it in my glass. TAKE THAT! Whatever. It smells really good. Big sweet malt, your usual fall spices. But one thing about this beer I do love, is the hint of a sweet cream, vanilla-y scent. I sat there , nose buried in my glass, making sure I wasn't just dumb. This scent really came through in the flavor as well. Pretty much all of the scents did. For the most part, this beer is ridiculously well rounded. BUT..This beer is SUPER sweet. This beer is liquid pumpkin pie with whip cream. It's easy to see why this is one of the go-to pumpkin beers. It really is good.

But after the first glass, I just cant. Of all the things I can, I just can't when it comes to Pumking. It becomes this cloying beast that wants my soul. The sweetness becomes overwhelming, and I want to die. Sell it in 4 packs. I'll drink one in October, and make the other 3 last a year. But I'll tell you what, of all of today's beers, this one has my favorite label.

You know everything you know about Belgian tripels? Yeah this beer is that. None of that fall spice nonsense. Nothing.

With all that said, this beer is good, it's a very solid tripel. But a "pumpkin" tripel this is not. This was the other half of the "He Said" collaboration between Elysian and 21st Amendment. This was the beer I was most looking forward to, and for the style, was most let down with. But for what it is, is probably one of the best beer of the bunch.

Due to my past experience with Smashed Blueberry, I was expecting this beer to be wicked dark. Whoops. Looking at it, and smelling it, it reminds my of a toned down version of Pumking...and most other pumpkin beers. I  think by this point I may have developed pumpkin fatigue. It smells like autumn and sweetness. It's definitely thicker than I was expecting, and not nearly as sweet as I thought it would be. But for the most part, it's boozy and boring. It's spicy, like every other damn pumpkin beer. This beer brings absolutely nothing different to the table other than being a bit heavier in the mouth. 

Malt profile comes out big time as it warms, which is a saving grace. But it's definitely not enough. To be fair, I just plain do not like Shipyard, and I would gladly take every bottle of Pumpkinhead and drain pour it in front of them while insulting their mothers. And I would gladly drink their Smashed Blueberry again now that I have a more...discerning palate, and see what I think about it.

I've taken to pronouncing them "Schblahbly" This beer looks unlike all the other pumpkin beers I've had yet (save for the Baltic). A dark, semi-transparent, muddled orange/amber. Nose is sweet. but not overbearing with the spice aspect. This is perfectly balanced. It doesn't have that "dessert nose" that Pumking had. I love it already.

The taste is incredible. Not chock full of spice. This beer drinks extremely smooth. A wonderful malt profile, and a carefully calculated amount of spice makes this beer one of the easy contenders for "best in show." Seriously, this is the pumpkin beer that others should aspire to be. at 8%, you would never even know, until your clothes are "off" and you arrested for "public drunkenness." I have one bottle left, and I am cherishing it. If you see this, get it. Don't even think about it, just buy every single case you can shove into your Prius. You will not regret it, because this beer is fucking great. I would drink this on a 300 degree day.

Last and least. Dogfish Head, where my daily "love and hate" struggle continues. This and Schlafly both look strikingly similar. It smells sweet. Definitely getting the brown sugar more than anything, but the spices are there. Thankfully, more in the background.

It tastes really...thin. Surprisingly there's not a whole lot going on. The spices I have come to expect are there, but on a really small scale. Definitely more carbonated than a lot of the others There's something weird going on I just cant put my finger on. The first two sips and there wasn't a whole lot of anything...Now I'm getting all that nutmeg and cinnamon. Smells and tastes like fall. This is a good beer, but when the flavors made themselves known, they REALLY made themselves known. I couldn't drink more than one. This one I struggle with the most. Its so much alike, and so much different than all the others. I like it, and I don't like it.

I guess that's what DFH does though, keeps me on my toes.

So, I guess that wraps it up. I drank all of these over the entire month of October.I think next year, I might pass on the whole "Pumpkin" beer thing. My poor tongue hates me, and If I never taste nutmeg, allspice,clove, and cinnamon again, I think I'll be a happy guy.

And while you're drinking these, I found the perfect fall music pairing to go along with it.

Enjoy your Pumpkin beers. Or dont. I don't care.