The good beer people of Meridian Pint have been keeping busy. Very, very, busy. And this is very, very, good news for all of you lovers of local beer. As you know, the Craft Brewers Conference comes to DC at the end of March and Meridian Pint will get even busier. Tim Prendergast, Cellarman, as well as Sam Fitz, Beer Director, have been brewing up a storm, cooking wort throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Prendergast has collaborated a total of nine times with nine different local breweries.
It is not uncommon for Meridian Pint to pair with some of their favorite purveyors of local suds to craft brews that are a bit extra-ordinary. Throughout January, February, and March, Pint personnel have been busy helping, hopping, and shoveling, saving the District from boring beer. The majority of these beers will only be available in two places: the place they were brewed and Meridian Pint. All will be on draft for the Drink Local event, happening Friday of the Craft Brewers Conference. The majority of these beers will be released during Drink Local but should still be pouring after.
All of these nine beers, save 3 Stars’ Russian Imperial Stout and possibly Franklin’s Belgian-style Blonde Ale, are all under 5% Alcohol by Volume. Some of the beers are yet unnamed. Some names are subject to change, pending legal suits, sensitivities, and all the other bureaucratic bologna that comes along with the incredible beer crafted in the District, Maryland, and Virginia.
Below are the nine collaborative beers Meridian Pint has made, is making, are fermenting or conditioning. In chronological order:
Mad Fox Brewing Company– Post Meridian Schwarzbier
Prendergast has summed up the flavor profile by saying, “there is a definite pretzel-like malt character.” You’ve probably heard of European monks consuming “liquid bread” while fasting during Lent. DCBeer has had the chance to drink this delicious black lager and we’d suggest you consume the “liquid pretzel” whenever, wherever, and as much as you can, throughout and after the Lenten season. The lager was brewed with Pilsner, Munich, Biscuit and Carafa Special malts and was hopped with the Perle varietal. 50 gallons of Schwarzbier are currently sitting in the basement of the Pint in a Heaven Hill bourbon barrel, which previously held three Mad Fox beers: Crazy Ivan Imperial Stout, Batch 100, and 80 Shilling. Prendergast and Fitz plan to rack the barrel-aged lager to kegs onsite at the pint and serve both versions at the Drink Local event.
Devils Backbone Brewing Company – Meridian Pilsner
Based on the beers from the legendary Czech town of Plzen, this golden beer provides all the drinkability of the stuff from the Burger’s Brewery with a distinctively American twist. Hopped with American Mt. Hood and Chinook, the eminently sessionable pilsner was finished with the Tettnang varietal. The beer underwent a decoction mash and will be roughly 4.7% ABV.
3 Stars Brewing Company – From Russia With Love
Big, opaque Russian Imperial Stout. As co-founder Dave Coleman put it, “roasty and malty with lots of specialty malts. Brewed with English ale yeast, this one is as dark as James Bond's past." If I were a marketer I might write, “the drinkability of session ale with alcohol contents fit for a Czarina,” but I’m not.
Lost Rhino Brewing Company – Meridian Kölsch
A Kölsch-style ale brewed with pilsner and wheat malts, 4.5 % ABV. Hopped with Hersbrucker, Perle, Hallertau, Tettnang, and Saaz varietals. The golden elixir brewed out of respect for the fine beers of Cologne is distinctively American. In an email Prendergast wrote, "this was the first beer designed to be fermented in the 50bbl open fermenters at Rhino. Open fermentation would be the traditional Cologne way of fermenting Kölsch." It is unfiltered and appears hazy. Look for notes of fresh-baked bread and smells reminiscent of your favorite European bakery. The hops will take your taste buds to another place making your palate feel like it’s on a European hop farm.
Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery & General Store – Belgian-style Blonde Ale
This beer was brewed as a tribute to, and with inspiration from Westvleteren Blonde. Orval, style-bending ale she is, also played muse for this hoppy blonde fermented with Belgian yeast. The ale was generously hit with a healthy dose of Styrian Goldings hops and while potentially over 5% ABV, this will be a hard one not to session.
Port City Brewing Company – Extra Special Breakfast and Breakfast Bitter (two beers)
Jonathan Reeves, head brewer, cooked a full English breakfast for Pint personnel: bangers, rashers, black pudding, eggs, grilled tomato, and toast. This is the inspiration for the tentative titles. The Pint and Port brewers made two worts out of a common mash to bring you two beers for the Drink Local event on 3/29. Two batches were boiled with two different hop schedules. Both were bittered with challenger, the first ESB wort receiving British Goldings and Fuggles. The second ESB wort was hopped, after bittering, solely with Fuggles. Once the beers were done boiling they blended the two worts, 18° plato and 4° plato, back together though in two different ratios. One fermentor got a mix of two-thirds 18° plato wort (strong beer), and one third 4° plato (weak beer). In the second tank, two-thirds of 4° plato (weak beer) was blended with one-third 18° plato (strong beer). Both beers will be available, only on cask for the Brew Local event. Both were made on Port City’s pilot so only an extremely limited quantity is available, 10 gallons of each, 20 gallons in total. Fit for the Queen, quenching for the porters.
Oliver Breweries – Nitro Coffee Stout
Brewed with a base of Pale Halcyon English malt, hopped with Fuggles and Bramling Cross. This stout is packed full of proper British style but brewed with a distinctively DC twist. Day-old roasted beans from Qualia Coffee (single origin low acidity Java Taman Dada beans), provide a depth of flavor that stands unparalleled in other stouts with such low gravity. The DCBeer staff plans on sessioning all of the other session ale then further extending our session with this stout. This beer is not for the decaf drinkers.
Union Craft Brewing – F. Sandkuhler's 1895 Baltimore Weiss
No wheat, weiss beer? Who ever heard of such a thing? This all-barley weiss is a 21st century recreation of a 19th century beer brewed in Baltimore. The recipe’s inspiration came from Baltimore brewer brothers, Frank and Henry Sandkuhler, who produced weiss beer in the late 19th century until Prohibition. As is stated in William J. Kelley’s Brewing in Maryland, “barley malt and hops were used by Sandkuhler, in spite of the traditional published formulae which stated that the malt was often of wheat, rather than barley. The brewery on one occasion, when barley malt was scarce, borrowed some wheat malt from the Globe Brewery, but had to discard it, as the product failed properly to clear after being bottled.” The Union version, more closely tied to the style of Berlinerweiss, is comprised of 95% Pilsner malt and 5% acidulated malt. After mashing, the wort was left in the kettle to sour. Lacto was pitched the next day and a small amount of Perle hops were added during a brief boil. The brilliantly blonde straw-colored ale was fermented with Union’s Altbier yeast strain.
The Brewers Art – Belgian-style tafelbier
The concept of this beer, a “small beer,” has been in Maryland since colonial times. However, 18th, 19th, and 20th century beer drinkers are not nearly as lucky as you, dear reader. That poor lot will never session this beautiful “small” beer. This Belgian-style ale was brewed with malt, rye, and Styrian Celeia hops. Like so many on this list it will be incredibly drinkable at 3.9% ABV. It should pair well with the satisfaction, consternation, and general madness attached to your CBC experience.