Top Ten Baltimore-Area Brews in 2015

Old Pro Gose from Union Craft Brewing is No. 1 of City Paper's top 10 local brews.

1. Old Pro Gose (Union Craft Brewing) Thanks to the lactobacillus yeast and the use of sour malt, you get a big tart taste with a little salt and a touch of coriander tossed in to the finish of this 4.2 percent ABV German-style wheat beer. Though it drinks well all by itself, Jim Harvison, former president of the Society for the Preservation of Beer from the Wood (SPBW), told City Paper, "it's the perfect base for a lambic. Just add blackberry or another fruit syrup in and bam! It's a great experimental beer worthy of a cocktail waiting to happen." If you're going to experiment, best to do it with beer. (Steve Fogleman)

2. Bohemian (Old Oriole Park Beer) Many craft beers deal in extremes, pushing the limits on hoppyness, flavor profiles, and ABV. What makes this lager so enjoyable is its simplicity. With a light body and slight cream flavor, Old Oriole Park Bohemian is a great beer because it's highly drinkable, meaning you won't lose sensation in your taste buds or feel like you've eaten a full meal after knocking back a few. And it's a step or two up from your standard macro-brewery lager (Bud, Miller, Coors, etc.) because it actually, you know, tastes like something—and that aforementioned hint of cream makes for a smooth and refreshing flavor. It's our go-to six-pack. (Brandon Weigel)

3. 51 Rye (Monument City Brewing Company) Although it's only been around for a little more than a year, 51 Rye has earned a sweet spot in our hearts (and our beer fridge). Made with 51 percent rye (natch), this IPA doesn't taste overly hopped. Yeah, there's an aroma and flavor of grapefruit rind, but the ale has roundness and balance. A treat for IPA lovers, and a good intro for those who normally shy away from this style. (Mary Zajac)

4. Birdhouse Pale Ale (The Brewer's Art) The Brewer's Art had us at the can: an orange and black avian homage offered "in honor of icterus galbula," better known as the Baltimore Oriole. But what's inside the pretty can lives up to its packaging. Brewer's Art compares Birdhouse to a Belgian session ale, and while it boasts a fruity nose, the palate is all malty sweetness. Whether you're a dark beer drinker or a hop head, a beer geek or just want something cold, it's easy to love this beer. It also drinks easy at 5 percent ABV. Bring on a double header. (MZ)

5. Red Cent Amber (Public Works Ale) It's no secret that we are fans of Peabody Heights Brewery, the co-op that helps produce several other beers on this list, including Old Oriole Park's Bohemian and Monument City's 51 Rye. One of the brewery's own two labels, Public Works Ale, produces four brews: Red Cent Amber, Meal Ticket Wheat, Fair Shake APA, and Knuckle Buster IPA. With its reddish-brown hue, balanced caramel undertones, and a crisp finish, the nearly sessionable (just over 5 percent ABV) Red Cent Amber is one of our favorite newcomers to Baltimore's beer scene this year, but the fact that PWA donates a percentage of its proceeds to job training in the community is further inspiration for us to raise another glass. (Jennifer Waldera)

6. Double Cannon (Heavy Seas Beer) How do you make a beer that tops the already-heady punch that is Loose Cannon? According to Heavy Seas head brewer Chris Leonard, you bring in "the big guns." And that is exactly what Heavy Seas did to Double Cannon, a 9.5 percent ABV double IPA with, naturally, double the bittering units of Loose Cannon IPA. Dry-hopped with Chinook, Cascade, and Simcoe hops but with a big malt backbone to hold it up, it's a flavor lover's local dream beer. In 2015, it was a seasonal offering, available only from April through June, which left nine months of the year to get some work done here at City Paper. Earlier this month, the brewery announced that it will be available year-round in 2016, so cheers to an unproductive new year. (SF)

7. Expect No Mercy Scottish Ale (Oliver Brewing Company) This 8.4 percent ABV monster is our favorite beer for cold weather. Unlike many barrel-aged beers we've tried that have left us with a case of the liquor hiccups, the heavily caramelized wort imparts a strong malt profile (Golden Promise and Crystal malts) with a touch of smoke that cuts down on the bourbon bite, affording us the super-human ability to drink more than one. Oliver Brewing has limited bottles on sale at the brewery (4216 Shannon Drive, open Saturdays noon-4 p.m.) and they've just tapped the last keg at the tasting room, so this would be a good time to visit. (SF)

8. Lucky 7 Porter (Evolution Craft Brewing Company) No trip "Downy Ocean" is complete without a stop to Evolution's brewery and taproom in Salisbury, and because those trips are often in the warmer months, throwing back a seasonal brew like hibiscus-infused Sprung or a lighter year-round offering like Lot No. 3 IPA makes sense. However, the Eastern Shore brewery proves that dark beers needn't be reserved for winter with its Lucky 7, a slightly smoky, rich porter with flavors of coffee and chocolate that is as satisfying on its own as it is paired with a plate full of oysters. (JW)

9. Patterson Pumpkin (Full Tilt Brewing) Pumpkin beers are a polarizing style—you either love them or you hate them. But if you are a fan of pumpkin beer, you'll really love Full Tilt's take on the spiced beer. Imperial in style (aka much boozier) and ringing in at a hefty 9 percent ABV, Patterson Pumpkin is perfectly balanced between its strong malt backbone and its autumnal blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, while still sporting enough residual sugars to remind you of your mom's pumpkin pie. But be warned: Despite its level of boozy-ness, this beer is extremely drinkable and can easily put you down for the count if you're not careful. (Ryan Detter)

10. Pearl Necklace Chesapeake Stout (Flying Dog Brewery) We know we love oysters with stout, so why not oysters in stout? In a blind tasting, we might not able to identify Flying Dog's not-so-secret ingredient—Rappahannock River oysters—but the shellfish contribute to the beer's wonderfully creamy texture. Pearl Necklace is available all year, but we think it tastes even better in "R" months with a dozen on the half shell or a batch of fritters. (MZ)

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