My night started off with an incredibly cute Uber driver.
Though I would not have minded riding around longer than the 15 minutes it took to get to my stop, I said my goodbyes at The Charles Center Station, where my City Brew Tours van and tour guide, Barry Hansen, were patiently waiting.
Equipped with City Brew Tour branded name tags and exclusive press tour lanyards, the 11-person group set off to our first stop: Heavy Seas. While en route, Barry led us through a quick ice breaker, where I quickly learned I was the most under-qualified person on this tour. Attendees ranged from 21 year olds (that was me) to reporters from The Baltimore Sun to renowned beer expert and author of Baltimore Beer: A Satisfying History of Charm City Brewing, Rob Kasper.
At Heavy Seas, Hansen balanced teaching the history of beer, outlining the production process, and pouring our four samples of beer with ease (**denotes favorite).
- Gold Ale**: presents sweet malt scents with bold aromatic hops revealing notes of pine and citrus.
- Pounder Pils: exhibits a crisp malt backbone and an herbaceous hop profile, this Pilsner is quaffable and refreshing.
- Treasure Fest: brewed with imported German malt and lavishly hopped with a blend of German hops in the kettle and dry hopped with American hops, this is a fresh look at the old Oktober stand-by.
- Peg Leg: this full-bodied imperial stout pours an opaque mahogany color with a tan head. Its smell is dominated by notes of roasted coffee beans, with a slight hint of chocolate.
In true college fashion, I had to chug the last of my beer before loading back onto the bus to jet off to stop number 2: Brew House No 16. Just as a frame of reference, Brew House No 16 is the firehouse-converted-to-restaurant that you see when you look out the window at Iggie’s Pizza on North Calvert.
Here I was treated to a sampling plate of the house salad, white bean soup, BBQ wings, pulled chicken sliders, and the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had to accompany another flight of beers.
- Allagash Saison: brewed with a 2-row barley blend, malted rye, oats, and dark Belgian candi sugar.
- Oats M’Goats**: light, clean, slightly bitter ale with nice hops and a whole load of oats.
- Pumpkin Pie Ale: 50lbs of pumpkins with pumpkin pie spices, Munich malt and American hops, smooth and delicious.
- Coffee Porter: flavors and aromas of coffee, roasted chocolate malt.
After licking the ramekin of macaroni and cheese clean, I boarded the van to head to the final brewery of the evening: Waverly Brewing Company. Just a minute walk from Hopkins’ favorite, Artifact Coffee, Waverly Brewing Company welcomes college students to biker gangs alike (this is not an exaggeration – the night of our tour there was a group of about 25 motorcyclists dressed in leather from head to toe). After touring Waverly’s production facility, which operates at a much smaller scale than Heavy Seas, Barry poured our last four beers.
- Summer Freckles: Ginger Pale – just like the season.- Captain C: American IPA - named for beloved Baltimore television icon and champion of our waterways, Captain Chesapeake, this American IPA features Centennial hops front and center. - Local Oyster – Oyster Stout: started with a roasty, dark stout and dosed with the shells and meat of real Maryland oysters.
- Dubbel Clutch**: Belgian Dubbel – made with molasses, brown sugar and aromatic malt, this ale masks its alcohol level well with a bit of caramel and dark fruit overtone.
Being just 10 minutes from the heart of Homewood Campus, I hopped into an Uber, buzzing with excitement from how phenomenal the tour was, and probably also a little buzzed from the 12 beers I just had.
City Brew Tours officially launched on Saturday, October 8, 2016, and tours are filling up quickly! For more information, check out their website. They are officially SpoonU at JHU approved!