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About UnCapped UnCapped magazine is published quarterly by The Frederick News-Post, 351 Ballenger Center Drive, Frederick, MD 21703. It is distributed free in Frederick County and other locations throughout Maryland. Send comments to UnCapped@newspost.com. To advertise, contact 301-662-1163 or advertising@newspost.com.

CORPORATE PUBLISHER, GEORDIE WILSON ADVERTISING DIRECTOR, CONNIE HASTINGS CREATIVE DIRECTOR, ANNA JOYCE DIGITAL DIRECTOR, SARA HARDISON

EDITORIAL EDITOR, GRAPHIC DESIGN, ANNA JOYCE | EDITOR, CHRIS SANDS

Contributing Writers

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KATE MASTERS | KATE MCDERMOTT | COLIN MCGUIRE | LIZ MURPHY

Contributing Photographers GRAHAM CULLEN | DAN GROSS | CHRIS SANDS

ON THE COVER

(L-R) Lynn Pronobis of Union Craft Brewing, Judy Neff of Checkerspot Brewing Co. and Julie Verratti of Denizens Brewing Co. illustrated by Frederick artist Goodloe Byron All rights reserved by copyright. Prices, specials and descriptions are deemed accurate at the time of publication. UnCapped may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written consent of the publisher. Advertising information has been provided by the advertisers. Opinions expressed in UnCapped do not necessarily reflect those of The Frederick News-Post or its parent company, Ogden Newspapers of Maryland, LLC. All terms and conditions are subject to change. The cover, design, format and layout of this publication are trademarks of Ogden Newspapers of Maryland, LLC, and published by The Frederick News-Post.

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UnCapped

Podcast CHRIS SANDS

When Hugh Sisson showed up to start what he assumed would be a short-term position, his father tossed him the keys to the pub, said, “OK, don’t f*** up!” and walked out the door. - hsbeer.com

A Tale of Heavy Seas The ‘Right Call’ is Not Always the Right Call

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Founder Hugh Sisson at Heavy Seas, loaded with Loose Cannon

want to say in about 2001, I decided it was time now to do some more robust and adventurous styles and I kind of determined that Clipper City had come to mean one thing, so I needed to do something different. So, we created Heavy Seas as the brand where we could place our bigger beers, and that was sort of an interesting segue away from the more staid reputation of the Clipper City into the Heavy Seas. CS: OK. I think that that transition was right

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around when I was starting to get into craft beers and was always confused of why, but it makes absolute sense. HS: That’s why that occurred. By the time we got to 2010, we decided that we were just going to focus only on Heavy Seas, and during that period of time we had also acquired the Oxford Brewing Co., so we had three brands at one point. We had Clipper City, Heavy Seas and Oxford. And we needed to focus, so we did that.

Now the funny story about that was the guy who was our sales manager named Joe Gold who I’ve known for 30-plus years. I ran into him at Max’s on Broadway in Fells Point when I had made the decision that we were going to take away everything and just focus on Heavy Seas. And he happened to walk in - he wasn’t working for me at the time - and I said, “Joe, I’ve decided that Clipper City as a brand is going away. We’re just focusing on Heavy Seas.” And he looked me right in the

eyeballs and said, “That’s a really bad idea.” (Laughs.) And that year we grew 34 percent. CS: Good thing you didn’t take his advice.   HS: And he works with us now. You know, it was the right call, but you never know until after the fact. There’s a lot of ‘right calls’ that turned out to be not the right call.

To listen to the entire podcast, go to fnppodcasts.com/uncapped.

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SISSON: CHRIS SANDS

Hugh Sisson wanted to be an actor and director. He was planning to head to New York when his father convinced him to stay in Baltimore to help at the family’s newlyopened pub, Sisson’s. Thirty-eight years later, the founder of what is now Heavy Seas brewery visited the UnCapped Podcast. Chris Sands: When you first opened, it was Clipper City.   Hugh Sisson: Clipper City was and still is the corporate name, because Baltimore is where the clipper ship was first designed and built. If you look at the history or the growth patterns of craft beer over the last 30 years, in the ‘80s and all the way through the mid ‘90s every year, the growth was robust. So, the year that we opened in ‘96 was the year it went flat for six years. Now we got a brand-new facility with more capacity than we needed in a market that was collapsing. And I had to turn the Clipper City brand into a much more mainstream style because that was the only way I was going to survive.  So, when the market began to harden again, I


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“ Yo u m u s t l o v e t h i s c o u n t r y m o r e t h a n I l o v e a c o l d b e e r o n a h o t C h r i s t m a s m o r n i n g .” - H o m e r S i m p s o n

Sips & Shots Ke i t h

Do Spirits Go Bad? Base spirits will keep virtually forever. Liqueurs may fade a bit over time (look for sugar crystallization and others signs of a turn, like a change in color), but generally, if you're storing them right, liqueurs should keep a few years. Baileys and other things that have cream in them, not so much. Unopened will probably be OK, but smell it to test it out. -The Washington Post

Nick

Meet the Brewer(s) IN UNCAPPED’S INAUGURAL MEET THE BREWER FEATURE,

Where do you get your inspiration for your beers and their names?

Naming beers is pretty tough, especially when you brew as many as we have, but we try and name beers based on stories and experiences we like to share. What is your favorite Netflix/TV show?

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If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Nick: Van Halen, “Everybody Wants Some” Keith: Kid Rock, “American Bad Ass” What is the strangest ingredient you’ve used in a beer?

Castoreum, of course. The excretion from a North American beaver’s castor sac is a widely used ingredient in many foods to accentuate raspberry and vanilla flavor! Our award-winning Expres-

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sions of Love showcases this fine ingredient, along with raspberries and vanilla beans in a dessert-style stout. What is the best part about your job?

Honestly, it's building relationships with friends that have become part of our Olde Mother family. We have been so blessed to have met so many supportive friends as we grow our brand into a Maryland staple. What were your childhood dreams?

Nick: I don’t dream, he does. Keith: Aeronautical engineer, but flying a boil kettle is just as satisfying. - Chris Sands

The maximum ABV allowed for a hard cider produced by a Maryland brewery. Anything higher requires a winery license.

STEINBIER:

Local brewers throw back Before there were metal kettles to use for brewing beer, there were large wooden tubs. Obviously a wooden tub could not be heated over a flame, so brewers would heat up rocks over a fire and drop the rocks into the wooden tubs to achieve the necessary temperature for mashing. Brewers from Barley and Hops, Mad Science, and Olde Mother joined the team at Rockwell Brewery to collaborate on a traditional Irish red brewed as

a steinbier. They planned to release the collaboration, named Blarney Rubble, on Saint Patrick’s Day. Want a taste? Stop by these locations ASAP to see if there’s any left.

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BREWERS, FLAMING BRICKS: CHRIS SANDS; LIQUOR, CIDER: THINK STOCK

Nick Wilson and Keith Marcoux of Olde Mother Brewing on East Patrick Street in Frederick talk about beer. And TV and music, which are also important. Because they operate as a symbiotic organism, they answered the questions together.

Nick: Currently the Unabomber Series on Netflix Keith: The Office. Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica.

8.5%


“ W h a t c a r e I h o w t i m e a d v a n c e s ? I a m d r i n k i n g a l e t o d a y.” - E d g a r A l l a n P o e

Stuff To Do TRY OUR

MANGO

IPA Mic’d Up Mango, brewed using Chinook hops in the kettle, Huell Melon, Azacca, and Citra for dry hopping, is a collaboration between Monocacy Brewing Company and UnCapped. This IPA’s strong mango aroma and flavor come

Big Beer Bash FESTIVALS: THE FREDERICK NEWS-POST; BREWING: CHRIS SANDS; MANGO: THINKSTOCK

Craft beer lovers, clear your schedule!

The Brewers Association of Maryland will hold its annual spring beer festival along Carroll Creek Linear Park in downtown Frederick the second Saturday in May. Sample beers from more than 40 Maryland breweries, including some not yet open to the public, and meet the folks who brew your favorites. If the beer selection isn’t enough to pique your interest, check out the live music, numerous food options, and various other vendors. Go to mdcraftbeerfestival.com for tickets and more information.

from the 353 pounds of mango puree with which the beer was fermented. Mic’d Up Mango will be released Friday, March 23, at Monocacy on North Market Street in Frederick and at quality craft beer retailers throughout Maryland.

Monocacy brewmaster Tom Flores prepares a yeast sample to count the number of viable cells.

Maryland Craft Beer Festival Saturday, May 12 Carroll Creek Linear Park 44 S. Market St., Frederick 12-1:30 PM • VIP 1:30-5 PM • General admission

Frederick Craft Spirits Festival Brought to you by the Maryland Distillers Guild and UnCapped, this festival will feature more than 10 of Maryland’s finest distilleries. General admission tickets include samples from all of them, as well as a free rocks glass. Upgrade to VIP to also enjoy exclusive spirits and seminars from the distillers and to get in half an hour early before the crowd. Food and music to boot!

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Saturday, April 21 The Frederick Fairgrounds Building 14A 797 E. Patrick St., Frederick 1:30-6 PM • VIP 2-6 PM • General admission frederickspiritsfestival.com

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drink these. you’ll feel better.

Brew Your Own Olde Mother Brewing’s Byway Extra Pale is crisp, dry and hop-forward.

Original Gravity: 14.0 Plato (1.058) Final Gravity: 2.6 Plato Percent ABV: 6.0% IBU: 75 Grist Bill: Amounts are based on a 7-gallon boil with 77% efficiency: 2 Row - 10 lb (89%) Flaked Oats - 12 oz (6.6%) Dextrin Malt - 8 oz (4.4%) 150F mash temperature for one hour 60 minute boil, with the following hop additions for a 7-gallon boil: 60 minutes - Centennial (10.6 AA) - 24 IBU 60 minutes - Citra (13.6 AA) - 20 IBU 15 minutes - Whirlfloc - 1 tablet 10 minutes - Centennial (10.6 AA) - 8.7 IBU 10 minutes - Citra (13.6 AA) - 11.1 IBU 5 minutes - Amarillo (8.6 AA) - 3.9 IBU 5 minutes - Citra (13.6 AA) - 6.1 IBU Wyeast 1056 Day 10 Dry Hop - Amarillo 2.5 oz Day 12 Dry Hop - Citra 2.5 oz

CHRIS SANDS

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Lime Cocorita Summer will come. While you wait, sip on this coconutty concoction and dream of warm beaches. We tried one at Taco Daddy in Frederick.

1 ½ oz 1800 coconut tequila For a craft option, go with Baltimore Whiskey Company’s Asimina Pumila. Splash of sweet lime juice 1 oz triple sec 4 oz margarita mix 2 oz piña colada mix Sugar the rim and sprinkle with sweet coconut.

GRAHAM CULLEN

Garnish with lime and serve frozen or on the rocks.

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Sp o i le r : I t w a s n’t w i t h a b u n c h of b e a rde d du de s .

How Brewing Began in Maryland tions before commercial breweries were really active.

• BY KATE MASTERS •

Beer lover and historian Maureen O’Prey was inspired to delve into Maryland’s brewing history after a visit to Dublin’s Guinness factory. Her research soon became an obsession. O’Prey has written two books on the subject: “Brewing in Baltimore” and “Beer in Maryland.” She appeared in the film “Brewmore Baltimore,” an Emmy-award winning documentary on local brewing history. Given her expertise in all things beer, UnCapped asked O’Prey to tell us more about the history of the drink in Maryland.

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are not going to be successful because everyone was brewing. When did commercial breweries really take off in Maryland? We get the commercial breweries because of the Revolutionary War. One of the most fascinating things to me is that’s how they got men to sign up for war. It was like, “Enlist! We promise a daily ration of beer.” The first really successful brewery we’re going to see in Maryland is the Barnitz brewery in Baltimore. John Leonard Barnitz, he was an immigrant from Falkenstein, Germany. Many of our brewers are going to be immigrants. And the majority in Maryland are going to come from Germany. What was that early beer like? Well, when you think of Colonial Maryland, it’s really expensive to import malts and hops from England. Eventually, the colonists figure out that the grains in the

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region are really good for malting, and they make substitutes. Spruce beer is the perfect example. They would use spruce instead of hops, and what that would do is it would still give them that acidic kind of

bitter flavor that you’d expect from hops, but it would also kind of smooth it out. I can point you to cookbooks from colonial women in Maryland with five separate recipes with substitutions for hops. Some

would write up recipes for malting Indian corn because they couldn’t get ahold of the malting grains they would standardly use. And that came from women who were figuring out how to use the substitu-

Women are entering the industry again. I am darn glad .... Most people tend to think that started in the ’80s. But I would actually argue it started before that. When you look at Maryland, and the Gunther Brewing Company in Baltimore post-Prohibition, they did a multimillion dollar renovation on their brewery in the 1950s. And one of the things they made sure they did in the brewery was have quarters for women, because there were so many working in the brewery.

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COURTESY OF MAUREEN O’PREY

How did brewing begin in Maryland? So, initially, brewing wasn’t a commercial thing in the Colonies. It was something women did as far as taking care of the family and the home. So, we would literally brew just like we would make dinner, keep the hearth, take care of the garden, take care of the children. It was women’s work. When we start to see commercial breweries, the first one is going to be in Annapolis, and that’s Benjamin Fordham in 1703. But until the Revolutionary War, most of them

How were those women pushed out of commercial brewing? The moment that we need to gear up and start supplying our troops for the Revolutionary War, that’s when we see the rise of commercial breweries. And that is something that’s going to be left in the hands of men. Women brewers are going to be smaller and smaller in number post-Revolutionary War because of the fact that it’s managing a business. And that [was] something that fell to men.


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WOMEN IN BEER • BY LIZ MURPHY •

In a male-dominated industry, these three Maryland women have found their calling — and success. And they’re encouraging others like them.

Julie Verratti, co-founder of Denizens Brewing Co. in Silver Spring, in the lower taproom DAN GROSS

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JULIE VERRATTI Favorite beer from Denizens: Born Bohemian Pils Fun Fact: 2018 Maryland Lt. Governor candidate

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W

hat’s it like to be a woman in the beer industry? Denizens Brewing Co. co-founder Julie Verratti pondered that question for a moment. “You know, during a podcast I recorded last year, that was the first time that I’d been interviewed by someone in the press that did not ask me, ‘What’s it like to be a female in beer?’

“It was a really positive experience, to be able to talk about what it’s like to be a business owner. That being said, women in beer are just as likely as men to be leaders in the industry.” For the Silver Spring native, that means she heads up the wholesale side of the business at Denizens. She’s also an active leader in the national Brewers Association, as well as the Brewers Association of Maryland. But all this wasn’t part of her original plan. Verratti, her wife Emily Bruno, and her brother-in-law (now Denizens’ head brewer) Jeff Ramirez discussed the idea of opening a brewery over Christmas dinner a few years ago. While Ramirez had experience in the brewing industry already, both Verratti and Bruno did not. “I worked in small business policy. Emily worked in women’s entrepreneurship policy,” Verratti said. “And while I was a homebrewer, I was not a very good one. I’m really good at drinking beer, and I’m really good at selling beer.” “Jeff was skeptical, but we said, ‘We can do the business side. You understand the brewing part of the equation. Let’s do this,’” she said. And they did. Denizens, located in Silver Spring, opened in 2014. JUDY NEFF, A CO-FOUNDER AND BREWER OF

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Favorite beer from Checkerspot: Checkerspot Juniper IPA Fun Fact: Has a doctorate in microbiology

homebrew kit and started brewing. I was hooked after the first beer.” It was a California Common, the same style as Anchor’s famous Steam beer. “At the time, I was so impressed by myself and my beer, but I don’t know if I would be so impressed now.” From there, she immersed herself in learning as much as she could about the brewing process and the science behind brewing. Now, she — along with her husband Rob, and Stephen Marsh — are preparing to open Checkerspot’s doors sometime later this year. WHILE MANY KNOW LYNN

Pronobis as the woman who manages operations, distribution and the cask program at Union Craft Brewing, she didn’t plan on a career in beer either. In college, she studied chemistry, played sports and wasn’t much of a beer drinker. In 2012, she came across Union Craft Brewing’s Duckpin pale ale at an event at Frisco Tap House in Columbia, which Union head brewer Kevin Blodger happened to be attending. Soon after, Pronobis asked to be Union’s intern. FACEBOOK.COM/UNCAPPD

COURTESY OF JUDY NEFF

Checkerspot Brewing Co. in Baltimore, also didn’t start out her career with aspirations of being a brewer. Her background is in science — mainly microbiology. “It started with a trip to Anchor Brewing in San Francisco,” Neff recalled. “They made brewing beer look so interesting and really fun. So, I went home, I bought myself a little

JUDY NEFF


“The physical demands weren’t going to stop me. I cleaned kegs. I filled barrels. Stuff like that.” “I didn’t even think I was going to go into brewing,” she said. “It just became something I realized I really liked, and the physical demands weren’t going to stop me. I cleaned kegs. I filled barrels. Stuff like that. Then I finally was like, ‘I want to learn how to brew!’” Six years after her journey began, Pronobis is now focused on developing Union’s cask program. “I’ve always said I don’t want the biggest cask program,” she said. “Just the best.”

GRAHAM CULLEN

STORIES LIKE THOSE OF VERRATTI, NEFF AND

Pronobis are becoming much more commonplace, but women working in beer is still more of an exception than the rule. For example, a 2014 Stanford University study found that, of 2,500 surveyed breweries, 21 percent had a female in a leadership role, such as head brewer or CEO. While the Brewers Association correctly noted in 2016 that this ratio was “relatively high” in comparison with similar industries, the reality is that 79 percent of those responding breweries did not have a woman in those positions at the time they were surveyed. This is somewhat ironic given that women may be the reason we even have beer at all. It began with the ancient Sumerians in the Middle East, where evidence of beer brewing dates to 3500 to 3100 B.C., according to Ancient History Encyclopedia. Woman were the brewers, and locals worshipped a goddess of beer named Ninkasi. Centuries later, it was Martha Jefferson – not Thomas – who brewed beer every two weeks years before Thomas took it up in 1813. Everything changed with the Industrial Revolution, when the domestic task of brewing was elevated beyond the reach of women to a commercialized product to be manufactured and sold. WOMEN REMAIN IN THE MINORITY TODAY, BUT

Verratti, Neff and Pronobis are not only UNCAPPEDNEWS.COM

LYNN PRONOBIS Favorite non-Union beer: Parabola by Firestone Walker Fun Fact: Played softball at UMBC

leading the way through their work, but they are also making a point to forge friendships with and create opportunities for women in beer. For example, Neff is one of the co-founders of Baltimore Beer Babes, a group of women who come together to learn about beer, the brewing process, food pairings and more. “A long time ago, there were very few women in homebrew clubs, including mine. It’s exciting to see this increase in women knowing about and drinking craft beer.” Groups like Baltimore Beer Babes are important not only from an education and empowerment standpoint, but also because women face challenges within the industry in a way that their male counterparts do not. Pronobis has found allies and friendship with other local women in the industry, but she also calls on her sense of humor to get her through tough moments. “When I used to work the forklift, some guys who thought they were being funny would ask me if I could handle it,” she recalled. “I just laughed and told them that I don’t hit people by accident. Find humor in it. Use the bricks that are thrown at you and make that as your foundation.” The situation is not always the same for every woman, of course. “I am a very masculine-presenting female,” Verratti said. “So, I think that my experience as a female is very different. It totally sucks, because people should just be treated equally, no matter what.” Even though the conversation around how to create a more inclusive and diverse brewing community is still in its infancy, Neff said the existence of these challenges shouldn’t be a deterrent to other women. “Don’t be shy. Don’t feel any different being a woman. You’ve got to put yourself out there just like any other woman or guy. Join the homebrew club. Get to know local brewers. Get a job at a brewery.” U N C A P P E D | SPRING 2018

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Bringing Back Barley Wine [which is actually not wine at all] • BY LIZ MURPHY •

C

Ty Kries, director of sales at Hysteria Brewing, kicks back with a glass of their Life barley wine.

OTHER MARYLAND BARLEY WINES: Horn Dog by Flying Dog | Devil’s Milk by DuClaw Brewing | Chessie by Union Craft Brewing 16

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CHRIS SANDS

all me old-fashioned, but I have a soft spot for barley wines. And as fewer brewers in recent years are investing the time and energy it takes to produce this contrarily-named beverage, absence has only made my beer-soaked heart grow fonder. Though not as mainstream as its IPA brethren, the barley wine sparkles through the sheer diversity of modern interpretations. Some boast rich, chewy flavors of orange marmalade or a more traditional, balanced, malt-forward profile, while others treat the barley wine as a gateway to quadruple IPA glory. And, depending on the quality, most barley wines are ideal for aging due to their higher alcohol content. As the months (or years) pass — depending on your patience — sharper flavors will soften and mature, yielding a more polished and mellow drinking experience. Hysteria Brewing Company in Columbia, Maryland, demonstrated its appreciation for the barley wine with the early 2018 release of Life. Ty Kries, Hysteria’s director of sales, said they know barley wines are not a conventional choice for most breweries looking to stay on-trend. In fact, that was the point when they released it. “Beyond the haze craze, we know there’s also a need for all these beers like barley wines that are considered under-appreciated,” Kries said. “And for me, personally? It was a barley wine that was one of the first beers I had that made me stop and say, ‘Wow! This is amazing! So much flavor and so boozy!’ It’s a sexy style of beer that no one makes anymore, and that’s a shame.” Instead of going the more modern route, the Hysteria team wanted to take beer drinkers on a trip down memory lane with Life, which was designed as a tip of the hat to the old-school, malt-forward English barley wines of yesteryear and released with the slogan, “Wine is life.” “We hope that people see, after trying Life, that not everything has to be an IPA,” Kries said. “There is so much more out there. Craft beer is about pushing limits, right? Well, barley wine is a perfect example of exactly that.”


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(L-R) McClintock Distilling’s rye whiskeys aged for 16 months, six months, three months, nine days and one day.

Rye Not?

Maryland’s signature whiskey is making a comeback • BY KATE MCDERMOTT •

M

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Generally distilled from a mash bill of rye and corn, and perhaps another grain such as malted barley or wheat, the state’s signature whiskey generated centuries of enthusiasts. Revolutionary War soldiers imbibed on it, as did Union soldiers who brought the recipe home to places like Massachusetts and Colorado after the Civil War. Today, Frederick County’s distilleries are paying homage to this Free State classic with their own rye releases. Tenth Ward Distilling Company in Frederick has created a White Caraway Rye that is 80 percent malted rye and 20 percent malted barley. McClintock Distilling Company has also thrown its hat in the ring with its Maryland Heritage White Whiskey that is made from a mash bill of 75 percent organic rye and a mix of 25 percent corn and wheat. While Tenth Ward and McClintock obtain their grains from regional farms, Springfield Manor’s rye whiskey is crafted from nearly all home-grown ingredients. The corn that gives the rye a sweetness comes right from the Thurmont farm’s 130 acres. Filtered water from the property’s limestone aquifer rivals the limestone water that has long been considered the special ingredient in

Kentucky bourbon. And although in previous years Springfield Manor has imported its rye from Wisconsin, owner Amie St. Angelo said this year the rye will be grown on their own farm. In following with tradition, these distillers age their ryes in charred oak barrels for at least two years. And although each is crafted with subtle ingredient variations, these Maryland rye whiskeys all serve up a familiar flavor: think of a hint of rye bread in glass. The distillers refer to this as the “rye punch.” It creates an interesting flavor layer in cocktails such as Firestone Culinary Tavern’s Back to School, which features a blend of Tenth Ward’s White Caraway Rye, Campari, hazelnut liqueur, lime juice and simple syrup. Then there’s the Clark Gable, which is a modern twist on my parents’ traditional bourbon Manhattan. It features a blend of McClintock Distilling’s Maryland Heritage White Whiskey (rye) with white vermouth and orange bitters. The cocktail has a slightly complex flavor, with hints of both pepperiness and sweetness from the whiskey’s mash of rye and corn. I can’t say for sure it would have passed muster with the folks, but I liked it. So frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. FACEBOOK.COM/UNCAPPD

CHRIS SANDS

anhattans have a long and distinguished history in my family. For more than 60 years, my parents enjoyed their evening cocktail hour with an amber-hued blend of vermouth and bourbon whiskey. When the cosmopolitan and Long Island ice tea became all the rage, their drink always struck me as a bit old-fashioned. Pun intended. But like many of the cocktails that are trending in modern mixology, Manhattans are making a comeback. Drinks International, a magazine covering the global beer, wine and spirits industry, named the Manhattan one of the top five best-selling cocktails of 2017. But many bartenders are now putting a new twist on this old classic by making it with rye whiskey instead of bourbon. That may explain why Maryland rye is experiencing a rebirth following its near-death after Prohibition. Although it was among the nation’s most popular spirits before 1920, Maryland distilleries, many of which were in urban areas, were forced to sell their valuable properties to make up for the loss of revenue caused by Prohibition. When the taps started flowing again in 1933, the state’s rye whiskey production was never the same.


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U N C A P P E D | SPRING 2018

19


Mead Nostalgia

A Polish staple finds a home in Frederick County • BY KATE MASTERS •

B

ill Loew has never been able to recreate the mead from his childhood. But he can still remember the taste more than 50 years after he left his home city in Poland. “It’s not a wine I can describe, other than that it seemed like it was not blended with anything else other than pure honey,” he said, sitting in the tasting room of Loew Vineyards. “But it had to be aged for a long time in barrels so that it would develop a very sensuous taste. It was unusual. An unusual taste.” Mead plays a bittersweet role in Loew’s memory. In his home city of Lvov — then a part of Poland and now a city in Ukraine — his family owned a meadery that was established by his great-grandfather, Michael Löwa, in 1870. The Stary Mead Brewery delivered its distinctive honey wine by horse and wagon in 40-gallon barrels, distributing them throughout the city of Lvov and the surrounding countryside. But when Loew was still a young boy, the lucrative business suddenly ran dry. His father died of a sudden heart attack and his mother, in grief, shuttered the family meadery. More than a decade later, in 1941, German troops seized control of the city. His two brothers disappeared in those early days of occupation. His mother was put on a train by the Germans and whisked away. He never saw his family again. But Loew survived. For months, he stayed in a safe house in Lvov with seven other Jewish residents. From there, he escaped to Hungary and joined the underground resistance movement. 20

U N C A P P E D | SPRING 2 0 1 8

Loew said that when he was 18, he was selected to smuggle a coded message from Budapest to Bucharest, Romania, crossing heavily guarded national borders. On the perimeter of Hungary and Romania, he was caught by border forces. In 1944, he was transported to Auschwitz. Within a few months, as Allied Soviet troops closed in, German SS units evacuated prisoners toward other concentration camps. As they were marched south, Allied troops closed in. On April 23, 1945, Loew was liberated by U.S. soldiers before he reached Dachau. He was 19 years old. After the war, he studied engineering in Germany, and later emigrated to the U.S. to finish his education. In all that time, Loew never forgot his family’s mead. He was too young to have learned the recipe before the business closed, and the family secret was lost with his mother and eldest brother. But as he lived and worked in the U.S., he tried to reproduce that long-remembered taste. His wife Lois said the family tried to recreate the recipe with buckwheat honey after he remembered that the grain was a common crop near Lvov. They experimented with malt — a mash of grain that has been soaked in water — after Loew speculated that the mix might have been included in the family recipe. Whatever the secret was, Loew said that he never got it quite right. He eventually abandoned the efforts and focused on making a new mead at his vineyard in Mt. Airy, creating a legacy that he could pass on to his children. “I decided that instead of going

Bill Loew owns Loew Vineyards in Mt. Airy.

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back to the honey wine of my youth, I would make my own honey wine that would become the standard of our winery,” he said. “And the wine that I make now is honey wine blended with the juice from specific grapes that I select from the vineyard.” The product, called Honey & Grape, has become a unique offering at the vineyard. The family has made several iterations over the years, Lois said, including a mead made with black currants — a staple crop in the area of Poland where Loew spent his childhood.

DAN GROSS

AS UNUSUAL AS IT MAY SEEM FOR

Frederick County — an area more than 4,000 miles away from Loew’s home country — Loew’s vineyard is one of several that offer traditional Polish mead. Among them is Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery, a boutique vineyard nestled in Middletown Valley. Owners Marzanna and Andrzej Wilk grow a small handful of grape varietals, but their main product is the traditional honey wine they remember from their childhoods. “It’s a work of love,” Marzanna Wilk said. “When we first opened, mead wasn’t very well-known at all — especially the old, very traditional Eastern European recipes. So, it’s something that not only connects us with Poland, but also connects some people here with the Polish culture and a distinctly Polish product.” The couple moved from Łódź, Poland, to the U.S. in 1992, escaping a country that was still recovering from decades of Communist rule. Andrzej won a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health and worked for the agency for 10 years, but both he and Marzanna dreamed of opening a business that would stay with their family. A meadery was a natural choice. The tradition of honey wine is so important to Poland that the European Union has listed four varieties as “traditional specialities guaranteed,” a designation meant UNCAPPEDNEWS.COM

to protect historic and traditional food products in member nations. For the Wilks, mead was also a choice born of nostalgia. Marzanna remembers sampling the wine as a girl in Poland and being struck, even then, by the sweetness and complexity of the amber-colored drink. In America, they could find certain varieties, but none that mimicked the taste from their homeland. “Most meads we tried were either Scottish or Irish-style, which are much lighter in body and lighter in alcohol,” she said. “The Polish meads are much stronger and more complex — they’re a little bigger in some senses.” Even before they opened their vineyard, the Wilks traveled back to Poland several times to research traditional recipes. They looked at old manuscripts from noble families and monastic orders who recorded the process in such detail that the weather was often in the margins of the recipe. They searched for recipes from Łódź and sampled wines from the Pasieka Jaros plant — one of the most famous meaderies in Poland. Today, Orchid Cellar produces more than 15 types of mead, from the very traditional — including Monk, a honey wine developed by the Bernardine Cistercian order and flavored with rose petals — to experimental meads made with chili peppers.

Andrzej and Marzanna Wilk, owners of Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery in Middletown Valley

WHILE MEAD WAS A SENTIMENTAL

choice for the Wilks, it was a more logical decision for Voytek and Alicja Fizyta, Polish transplants who founded Catoctin Breeze Vineyard in Thurmont. The married couple moved to the U.S. in 1981 as political refugees who were active in the Solidarity movement of their home country. From the time they founded the winery, the Fizytas planned to focus on grape varietals. But because the vines can take years to bear fruit, they started out making and aging mead. “You can only make wine once

Alicja and Voytek Fizyta, owners of Catoctin Breeze Vineyard in Thurmont, in the tasting room

a year when you harvest grapes, but you can make mead anytime,” Voytek said. “So, we started making it so we had a product to sell.” The vineyard still produces three varieties of mead. Their Amber bottle has cinnamon, clove and allspice, while their Dolce Vita mead is made with blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. They make their Honeymoon variety

with orange zest, lemon zest and orange juice. “The meads were all inspired by the old recipes, but we just made some changes to taste,” Alicja said. “Cinnamon is popular in Poland, but with Amber, for example, we played with the proportions. So, now we have meads that are distinct to us but still reflect the basic rules that they use in Poland.” U N C A P P E D | SPRING 2018

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lessons learned

colin mcguire

The Legend of the Pickleback

D

o you know what a pickleback is? If you don’t, you must have your Frederick Card revoked immediately. I mean, come on. If you’ve never had one of these things, you don’t deserve to live in this town. Pack your bags and head off to some faraway land like … Hagerstown. For those living in the dark, or Hagerstown, in my mind at least, the pickleback originated at Wag’s in downtown Frederick. It’s one shot glass filled with rail whiskey (like, I mean rail whiskey — the kind that wasn’t even cleared by the FDA and induces a hangover the second its aroma hits your nose) and one shot glass filled with pickle juice. You down the whiskey. You down the pickle juice. You instantly become a man. Or a woman. Whichever you prefer. Either way, congratulations: You are now cleared to use the word “adulting,” and Chuck E. Cheese’s won’t let you through the doors without a token child. The thing about picklebacks is that they suck. But the novelty of them — and the subsequent pride one can take in actually consuming such nonsense — definitely makes up for the fact that drinking one will ensure two things. One, you’ll wake up with a headache more intense than a Howard Dean presidential rally. And two, there’s an 82 percent chance you’ll walk onto Market Street and vomit all over yourself right as that pickle juice chokes its way down your gullet. Hey, I never said there was anything dignified about this process. I just said it was a rite of passage. And it is. What better way to become an official Fredericktonian than to drink some combination of liquids they probably gave to dudes in medieval times to help cure an upset stomach? “Take this, Ezekiel. You’ll spit up that plague in no time.” The legend of the Pickleback got me thinking: What if we used the same combo-approach with local spirits? Why not take unsuspecting, everyday, food-centric liquids/ condiments and pair them with some of Frederick’s finest libations for a result that is sure to rival a pickleback?

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U N C A P P E D | SPRING 2018

ILLUSTRATION/SERENA LODER

A Reserve Chicken No, you don’t judge this at the Great Frederick Fair along with something called the Reserve Grand Champion Market Steer. Instead, this is a shot of McClintock Reserve, perhaps my favorite spirit to ever come out of Frederick, and a shot of chicken broth. Sure, it may be a bit fowl on paper, but it’s hard to think anything could make that liquor taste bad. The Carried Away Let’s say you know you’re in for a ruckus-filled night — one during which you hope to get … dare I say … carried away. (See what I did there?) How can you best begin the process? Take a shot of Tenth Ward’s Caraway Rye and chase it with a shot of hot sauce. And if your small intestine doesn’t immediately catch fire, congratulations, you’re in for the most memorable night of your life! And finally … Medieval Mayo The older I grow, the more I realize I’m in the minority when it comes to mayonnaise. And by “in the minority,” I mean, “I hate it.” That said, this concoction offers a shot of the white stuff along with Dragon Distillery’s Medieval Mint Flavored Vodka, which, according to Dragon’s website, “Works

great in coffee.” Oh yeah? But could it go on a BLT? Well, now it can! You’re welcome. Now, this is the part of the column where I’m supposed to talk about all the lessons I’ve learned due to my discoveries. But the truth is … what, do you think I’m crazy?! I’m not risking life and limb to try any of these. Instead, I’ll share a few lessons I’ve learned through my years downing picklebacks at Wag’s. Because, yes, I am that masochistic, and no, I refuse to ever give up on the legend that is the pickleback. One, never offer to finish the rest of the table’s picklebacks when others fail. Market Street’s sanitation crew will find out where you live. Two, don’t ask the bartender for more pickle juice to help with the whiskey, because she’ll bring out a cup filled to the brim with the innards of the bottom of a pickle jar, seeds and all, and you’ll look like a spineless moron when you can’t drink all that damn juice. Three, definitely don’t indulge in these on a weeknight unless you’re prepared to burn a sick day. Four, who the hell came up with this, anyway? And five, the soul who gathers the courage to try A Reserve Chicken, The Carried Away and Medieval Mayo and can prove they did gets a pickleback on me.

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JUNE 2-3, 2018

Frederick Fairgrounds I Frederick, MD

Sat. 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. I Sun. 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

LEARN PRACTICAL SKILLS AND USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT ORGANIC GARDENING, FOOD PRESERVATION, MODERN HOMESTEADING, RENEWABLE ENERGY, NATURAL HEALTH, AND MORE! GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY AND MASTER NEW HOMESTEADING SKILLS!

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U N C A P P E D | SPRING 2018

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Enjoy samples and more from over 10 of Maryland’s finest distilleries. Saturday, April 21 Ĺ 2-6 p.m. The Frederick Fairgrounds 797 E Patrick Street | Frederick, Maryland

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Samples from each distillery Complimentary rocks glass Chat with distillers Exclusive spirits for sale

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UnCapped, Spring 2018  

All good things craft spirits

UnCapped, Spring 2018  

All good things craft spirits