As the spin-off from Hanna came through Maryland, many had their outdoor plans ruined. But at DuClaw Brewing Co. in Bel Air, the good times rolled on regardless. Originally scheduled to be outdoors, the Real Ale Fest, put on by DuClaw and 11 other breweries, merely moved inside as not a single person seemed to mind the rain. Surely all the beer helped.
Each of the 11 visiting breweries brought two casks of beer, while DuClaw provided six casks of their own specially conditioned ales. All attendees flowed through the building from table to table enjoying the brews and were provided with an extensive spread of beer-friendly food, provided by DuClaw’s kitchen staff. As with most beer festivals there were some highlights and some lowlights.
At the lower end of the satisfaction spectrum, Pub Dog provided a pale ale I could only describe as disgusting. I immediately dumped it out. Not far behind that was Brewer’s Art’s pale ale, which tasted severely funky, although I could choke it down. But enough about the poorly crafted beers, because there were many outstanding brews on tap. DuClaw led the charge with a double dry hopped Hellrazer (American pale ale) that was to die for, an Alchemy (oatmeal stout) infused with molasses and a satisfyingly fruity Misfit Red (amber ale) with raspberry.
Flying Dog also brought some good flavor with its 2008 Beer World Cup gold medal winning Gonzo Porter. This beer was so rich and smooth that it was easy to see why it got the gold. Franklins raised some eyebrows with its imperial stout that was like a meal in a glass and Clipper City rounded out the impressive handful with its Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale which assaulted you, in a good way, with hops galore. The citrusy kick and floral aromas made an experience of the sample.
Even though the event only lasted four hours and cost $45 for admission, the all you can eat buffet and all you can drink beer made it worth it. Not to mention the fact that a portion of the proceeds went to the Fallston Animal Rescue Movement (FARM), which showed up to the event with some dogs in need of good homes.
DuClaw’s used to make an oatmeal porter that was pretty good. I’m pretty sure it was called Sawtooth back then, but now Sawtooth is a Belgian White Ale, almost the complete opposite.
From a nonalcoholic perspective, I recently ate at DuClaw’s for lunch and was impressed with their menu. It was my first visit since their reopening after the fire. The menu had many vegetarian options in addition sandwiches, salads and some dinner entrees.