Baltimore shares some limelight with D.C. March 26, when the Craft Brewers Conference being held there sends a private bus tour up to Baltimore to circulate through the city's breweries. The group of brewers, distributor reps, and the like-who will receive the beer-industry equivalent of wining and dining-start at Heavy Seas, where founder Hugh Sisson and marketing director Kelly Zimmerman tour the Halethorpe brewery, which will serve a beer-infused brunch, a cask of the CBC's symposium beer (more on that later), as well as Heavy Seas' latest high-gravity beer, the Big DIPA, and a preview of its forthcoming white IPA, Riptide.
The party then hikes up to Pratt Street Ale House for a tour with Steve Jones, Oliver Breweries' head brewer. Oliver's debuts two collaboration brews for the CBC: EVOL, a black ale fermented with a blend of saison yeasts (brewed jointly with Salisbury's Evolution Craft Brewing) and Meridian No. 6, "a nitro coffee stout brewed with the good folks at Meridian Pint in D.C.," Jones reports.
Next stop, Brewer's Art, where brewer Steve Frazier and co-owner Tom Creegan guide the group through the inner workings of the Mount Vernon brewpub. Brewer's Art, Virginia's Devils Backbone, and DC Brau brewed the CBC's symposium beer this year-a low-gravity rye Pilsner called Beggars and Thieves, no doubt to be a collectible for beer geeks.
Continuing north, the likely-buzzed-at-this-point crowd finds relief at Union Craft Brewing, where they'll be fed Spike Gjerde's house-made hot dogs, served with Union/Woodberry Kitchen beer-cheese and spent-grain buns. The Hampden brewery premieres its brand-new canning line for the group. "We hope that CBC tour members will be able to have the first cans off the line," says Union co-founder Jon Zerivitz. (Cans of Duckpin Pale Ale will be popping up throughout the city soon.)
The tour reaches its final destination in Waverly, at Peabody Heights Brewery, where RavenBeer founder Stephen Demczuk and Peabody Heights brewmaster Ernesto Igot lead a tour of the city's latest production brewery. Beers from RavenBeer, Full Tilt Brewing, and Public Works Ale will be sampled before a surely sleepy bus trip back to D.C., in time for the CBC welcome reception at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
To hit up some CBC-type events this week without taking a MARC train, check out the Baltimore Cask Ale Showcase, running March 24-28 at Pratt Street Ale House, Max's Taphouse, and Alewife. Among other cask-conditioned beers, Scottish Williams Bros. brews will be served in traditional, naturally carbonated fashion.