Aside from the possibility of inclement weather (which is highly likely in Central PA around this time of year), we like to embark on quick little overnight or weekend jaunts to nearby beer destinations during wintertime. We've actually experienced some unseasonably warm temperatures the last few years during January and February trips. While it was pretty chilly this last weekend, the cabin fever was starting to get to us. Plus we like to get off to a good start at the beginning of a new year. While Frederick, MD, is well-traversed ground for us, we were actually able to hit two new breweries and a brand new sister location of one of our favorites in the process. We made a last-minute decision to reserve a hotel room, which was dirt cheap, so we pulled the trigger and were off to Frederick for a little overnighter.
I always like to factor in a quick stop somewhere along the way to our main destination, and Gettysburg's Fourscore Beer Co. seemed like the obvious choice. We'd just been there on the "silver medal" Drinksgiving trip this past November. We'd planned to go to Knoxville, TN, with D&C and cross another state off our brewery list, but, well... COVID. 'Nuff said.
We got a later-than-usual start, as Brewslut was visiting the salon for her requisite bi-monthly appointment. Still, we managed to arrive at Fourscore shortly after 1 p.m. The inside tasting room was full, save for a lone table, but was snatched up by two old ladies who cockblocked us by grabbing the table before ordering beer. (Enter your favorite C-word here.) Oh well, the chilly weather would have likely brought on some uncomfortable pangs of osteoporosis from which one of them I'd wager surely suffers. So it was outside and into the tent for us. It was rather windy during our visit, but the side flaps of the tent provided some adequate cover, and a small heater at the far end helped to warm the area as best as it could.
We weren't very hungry, as it's customary for us to eat a filling breakfast prior to a day of drinking. However, PA law is still such that we must order food when drinking alcoholic beverages. So, we decided to split an order of wings. Turns out I was hungrier that I thought. The wings were tasty, although I don't know why many places insist on serving a quantity of 10 wings instead of a dozen. Call me traditional.
Anyway, on to the beer. Despite this being our third visit to Fourscore, I hadn't written about the brewery yet. Third time's a charm, I suppose. I've been digging Schwarzbiers lately. There's something about the crispness of a lager paired with a rich, dark chocolate-like malt character. After asking about a pair of foeder-aged beers on the menu, I noticed Lager Life: Black Lager on the board, so I switched gears. Brewed with a a hefty portion of British Maris Otter and dark Munich malts, the malt base for this beer also includes flaked and malted oats as well as a variety of specialty malts. Inky black with a tinge of mahogany around the edges, the aroma smacks of freshly brewed coffee, toast and a hint of chocolate. The flavor layers in some caramel and vanilla, lending a sweet but crisp finish.
Meanwhile, Brewslut worked on a pour of Brekkie Bowl: Mega Berry. An updated version of the original release, this intense fruited sour features flaked oats, wheat and a touch of lactose. It's tartness comes from house Lactobacillus, and it's fruitiness is amplified from dry-hopping with lots of Mosaic and Citra Cryo pellets. Oh yeah... it's also conditioned on coconut, banana puree, toasted almonds, Madagascar bourbon and Tahitian vanilla beans, and PA maple syrup. Then, it's conditioned on strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and twice the amount of açaí fruit of the original. This drank more like a smoothie than a beer... not that that's a bad thing. It was pretty freakin' delicious. Last time we visited, I was pretty bowled over by another of its fruited sours, called Jahmba (Mango/Lime/Coconut). So it seems Fourscore has developed a niche for intense fruit beers. Hey, you don't hear me complaining!
|Pleeps enjoys a Brekkie Bowl. Banana, you say?|
Par for the course, we'll typically share a pour of a high gravity beer before shoving off to the next place. Enter Black Friday Joy, a variation of another stout from Fourscore called Noon As Dark As Midnight. This bold stout features a malt base of oat malt, Maris Otter, flaked oats, British chocolate malt and a variety of crystal and roasted malts. But here's where the fun stuff takes place: the beer rests for 15 months inside bourbon barrels from Widow Jane Distillery of Brooklyn, NY, which previously held 10- and 13-year-old versions of its bourbon. As if that wasn't enough, after the aging process the beer is conditioned on a heaping amount of toasted coconut, Tahitian vanilla beans and Antidote beans from Baltimore's Vagrant Coffee. I liked Fourscore's description of this beer: "The aroma is distinctly wet and weathered oak with swirls of roasted peanut, sweet vanilla and rich whiskey. The flavors are the same with a nice medium-full body and all flavors linger on the finish. It's a complete candy bar experience!" This was pretty damn delicious, and its only shortcoming was perhaps its lack of a thick, robust head and slightly more dense mouthfeel. Otherwise, a winner for sure!
|Pleeps poses with Black Friday Joy.|
Ever since we started frequenting Frederick and the surrounding area, Attaboy has always been a favorite stop. Come to think of it, I'm not sure if we've ever come through Frederick without swinging by for at least one beer. Well, Brewslut and I were excited to discover that this favorite brewery had recently opened Attaboy Barrel House, which is conveniently situated right around the corner from its original taproom.
|Barrel racks at Attaboy Barrel House|
This addendum to Attaboy's original brewery is a dedicated space specifically used for barrel-aging and blending with a focus on tart, fruity and funky beers aged in a variety of wine barrels procured from around the world. (Upon casually strolling around the brewery, I noticed that the majority of them were from France and California... two obvious meccas for wine!)
|Wood, Jerry... wood!|
Inside, it's quite spacious with enough room to maintain plenty of COVID-inspired distance from other patrons. Besides, one requires lots of space to house all those large, wooden vessels! The decor is clean, bright, open and modern, with a minamilist's approach to interior design: stark white walls, gray and black accents, tables with geometric designs, and a hint of lush, green foliage from some tropical-looking plants for a splash of color. Oh yeah, and barrels... lots and lots of barrels! In addition to a few standard Attaboy beers, the small but well-curated selection offered a plethora of unique styles and flavors to be had.
|Pleeps says, "A small time can still be a good time!"|
I started out small - literally - with a beer named Small Time, a barrel-aged petite saison weighing in at 4.8% ABV. Simple yet elegant, this flavorful saison was slightly dry with a lint of lemon zest and lots of cereal grains in the finish. Think dry Cheerios or Rice Krispies. Meanwhile, Brewslut was working on a pour of an elegant-looking, lavender-colored beer called Raspberry & Blackberry Farmboy. Described as "jammy and tart, bright and zippy," this beer exemplifies all of those adjectives and more. Blended from five different red wine barrels of multiple ages, this complex beer straddles the line between tart acidity and sweet-and-sour pucker.
|Farmboy... fetch Pleeps a beer!|
For our final beer, we decided to share a beer called Fredericka (Pom-Tea). This 9% ABV strong golden ale spent a year in a barrel (of an undetermined variety), emerging with a bright tartness and spunky funk. A light dosing of pomegranate and Pu-erh tea lends subtle hints of black tea leaves and tropical fruit. This was undoubtedly the most unique beer of the bunch, and the contrast between the tea leaves and faint tartness of the pomegranate was pleasing to the palate. All in all, this is a great addition to Attaboy's already stellar line-up of finely crafted beers... because everyone needs a fancy beer every once in a while, right?
Around the corner at Attaboy proper, things were hoppin' with a healthy crowd and a local Food Truck. Being a party of two, we felt bad grabbing a table for six but nothing else was available. After we settled in at the table, a group of people came in but must have left. Two of them remained, so we asked if they wanted to join us. The table was long enough to maintain a safe distance, so it was OK by us. We had a great conversation with them (a couple: the guy, from nearby West Virginia, and the woman, from Puerto Rico). If there's one thing that COVID-19 has taught me over the last year, it's not to take for granted conversations to be had at a brewery. It's the thing we miss most about not being able to sit at the bar. So this was a welcome diversion from how things have been since last March.
Beer-wise, I went with something hoppy this time... my first of the day! Creek Life (Citra) sounded new to me and tasty to boot. Hopped with Simcoe, Horizon, and obviously Citra, this super-drinkable IPA offers bright notes of citrus and tropical fruits, especially orange and mango. I seldom come across Horizon hops, and a quick Google search revealed that it's actually an older hop variety created in Oregon in 1970 with a lineage similar to Nugget. This one went down effortlessly, and despite finishing it quickly, we hung out for a bit and enjoyed our conversation. After a short while, we'd all finished up, and it was time to cross Carroll Creek at a small footbridge and head to our next stop.
Idiom Brewing was largely the impetus for this particular little getaway. Brewslut and I were both blown away as a result of our initial visit, and we were eager to return. It had been almost a year to the day since our first visit, and by then Idiom had just celebrated its first anniversary over Black Friday weekend. My favorite beer of that particular trip was Just Desserts, an imperial stout brewed to mimic Rocky Road ice cream. Cue the salivary glands. I knew we'd be here for a little while. Then, when we were standing in line to order our beer, we noticed this can label:
|Drinking on a lighted stage...|
As if I didn't already like this place enough! While Brewslut was quick to order this beer, I went with Coffee & Cake for my initial beer. Brewed with a mix of 2-row, flaked barley, caramel and chocolate malts, this blonde stout gets the cold-steep treatment courtesy of 7 lb. of fresh roasted Ecuadorian Sarchimore coffee from Frederick's own Dublin Roasters. As if that wasn't enough, the fine folks at Idiom chuck in all the flavor components of the decadent Italian dessert known as Tiramisu: cocoa powder, cake batter and marscapone. This sucker was delicious and complex!
Meanwhile, Brewslut worked her way through a pour of the aforementioned Limelight (with its label inspired by, if you couldn't tell, my favorite band Rush). Brewed with Motueka and Ariana Hops, this Double NEIPA is rife with tropical fruit and red berry with hints of lemon, lime and a touch of coconut. This one definitely approaches the unreal, and we were sure to grab a 4-pack of cans before heading out. She also enjoyed her pour of What's the Scoop, a blonde ale featuring more than 200 lbs of black cherry puree, a touch of lactose and Madagascar vanilla. Cherry and vanilla is always a winning combination when well-executed, and this one was eloquently so. Delicious!
|Pleeps knows what the scoop is!|
More beers ensued, including my favorite of the bunch: Feast Your Eyes. Inspired by the quintessential holiday salad, Ambrosia - or what my mom calls "Heaven" - this fruit-forward sour ale is indeed a heavenly amalgamation of juicy Mandarin orange, dank pineapple, coconut, Marachino cherries and heaps of marshmallow fluff. I was immediately transported back to our last trip to Madison, WI, for Great Taste of the Midwest, where one of our favorite collective beers was Church Salad from Iowa's Pulpit Rock Brewing. (Yes, it was so good that I remembered the name of the beer, the brewery, and the state from which they hail.) This beer was the spitting image of Church Salad. There was no way a crowler of this wasn't going home with us. Sadly, no cans were available.
|Pleeps enjoys living in the Limelight at Idiom.|
For our final selection, we opted for Moment in the Sun, another fruited sour, this one with papaya, pineapple and coconut cream. While it was delicious in its own right, it paled in comparison to its predecessor. I'd say you're doing a good job with your brewery if a beer this good pales in comparison to another beer you brew. With that said, both beers were indeed stellar... the Feast Your Eyes just happened to be stellar to the "n"th power. At Idiom, there was none more stellar. You get the picture.
As if the convenience of Attaboy and Idiom being within walking distance from one another wasn't enough, Steinhardt had to go and open up right next door to Idiom. In Frederick, who needs Uber? Like Idiom, Steinhardt is located in the Union Knitting Mills Building along Carroll Creek. With that said, aesthetically it has a very similar vibe to Idiom in that the space ensconces you in exposed brick. The small, family-owned brewery opened its doors in Frederick back in August 2020, but owner Jim Steinhardt has been brewing and selling beer from home for five years before opening a taproom (even being named "Best Local Beer" in 2018 by Frederick Magazine). Steinhardt's taproom boasts over 20 beers on tap, covering a wide array of styles with a penchant for Belgians and Flemish-stye sours. While I was scoping this place out prior to our visit, I was intrigued by the fact that they had four sours and five Belgian styles on tap. We settled on four 9oz. pours of the following beers:
- Kriek - Flemish-style ale brewed with Belgian malts and fermented with traditional Flemish souring agents. Aged in French Oak barrels with sour cherries for a tart, refreshing finish.
- Framboise - Flemish-style red ale is brewed with Belgian malts and fermented with traditional Flemish souring agents. Like the Kriek, this is aged in barrels but with raspberries instead of cherries.
- BBA Tupelo Stout - Imperial Stout flavored with vanilla bean and Tupelo Honey, then aged for over three months in bourbon barrels.
- Coco Loco - An easy-drinking 4.2% ABV stout with notes of chocolate and coconut.
|Jug Bridge's logo mimics a popular Frederick landmark.|
Brewslut opted for a pour of Dublin Lager, described as "Norwegian Coffee Lager infused with Dublin Roasters Coffee house blend coffee beans." This beer was delicious, and I wished we would have had more time for me to enjoy a pint of this. I seldom miss a coffee beer when one is available, but I did manage to score a few sips of this tasty beer.
And speaking of tasty beers, the beer I ordered was off the charts! The beer in question, Companion3, was, simply put, amazing! In retrospect, it was my favorite beer of the day. So what, pray tell, is this beer of which I speak so highly? It's a West Coast IPA aged in gin barrels from McClintock Distilling that previously had been used to house port wine. The aged beer was then dry-hopped with spruce tips and Mandarina Bavaria hops. My God, I freakin' loved this beer. The amazing this about it, though, was the subtlety of the flavors and how well-balaced it was. Everything just came together magnificantly. Brewing with an adjunct such as spruce tips can be a tricky thing. Believe me, I've had beers that tasted like sucking sap out of tree bark. This beer was beautifully eloquent in its design.
|Pleeps found a new Companion3.|
All in all, it was an awesome (albeit short) visit to Jug Bridge. We sat at a table in close proximity to some younger locals (one of which apparently worked there but was off her shift) and enjoyed talking to them about the Frederick area, music, and, of course, beer! They all spoke highly of Jug Bridge, and after the exemplary beer I experienced there... well, I CAN CONFIRM. We were sure to grab a pair of crowlers of Companion3 to take home and enjoy. Can't wait to get back here and really dig into their beers.
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
When we returned to the hotel on Saturday night, we still hadn't made the decision of whether or not to take the same route home that we took to get to Frederick. When I mentioned to Brewslut that we could take a slight 20-minute detour and head home on I-81, we'd be able to swing by Cushwa and a new favorite of ours, Homaide Brewing. This great one-two punch of breweries right around the corner from each other is sure to entice us to visit Williamsport, MD, more often.
|Inside Cushwa's new tasting room.|
We landed at Cushwa about ten minutes prior to opening time, so we got right in and grabbed a small two-fer table near a window. Cushwa makes some great IPAs, and the beer menu was littered with 'em. However, I've had a few that are a little too "Trillium-y" for me; you know, just not in my hop combo wheelhouse. With that said, I tend to gravitate to their fruit beers and imperial stouts. The problem with the stouts is that most of them are in the 13-15% range. Ooofa! So Brewslut and I will usually share one for "dessert" aka our "after dinner" beer.
Still located in the Bowman Business Park, Cushwa has been open for business since 2017. However, its recently expanded taproom around the corner from its original location (where Homaide now calls home) has doubled its bar, taproom seating area, and production facility. Even more exciting is the fact that the new space now features some of the best brick oven pizza in the area, courtesy of Rad Pies. It's a match made in heaven!
|Pleeps: "I'll take all the dark beers!"|
I started by entering some familiar territory with Illusory Correlation, another Schwarzbier, or traditional dark German lager. Similar to the one I'd enjoyed at Fourscore the day before, this one boasts notes of light roast coffee, dark chocolate and crusty bread with a fairly dry but crisp, roasty-sweet finish. I'd had this once before and was fairly certain that I'd enjoyed it. I was right.
Brewslut went right to the opposite end of the spectrum as me and ordered a pour of Brinner. Remember that thing I just said about imperial stouts? Well, this is one of 'em! A collaboration with the yet-to-open Burnish Beer Co. based in Salisbury, MD, this rich, decadent Imperial Pastry Stout is loaded with waffles and maple syrup, and just a hint of blueberry to evoke a big ol' stack of sweaty flapjacks. Damn, was this tasty, although I might not have gotten through an entire pour by myself due to its intense sweetness and maple character. Actually, who am I kidding? Of course I would have.
|Pleeps knows how to chill 'til the next episode.|
Speaking of breakfast beers, it was time to chill... to the Next Episode. A coffee cream ale? Yes, please! As I said earlier, it's hard to get me to refrain from ordering a beer brewed with coffee when one is readily available. For this particular beer, Cushwa started with a cream ale base, added lactose, then dosed it with heavy amounts of Lock 44 coffee from River Bottom Roasters of Hagerstown, MD. This one was pretty damn remarkable, with sweet, roasty notes of French vanilla latte. This was probably my favorite of the three beers I sampled this time around. I also snagged a 4-pack of Electrofruit - Ambrosia, which should be similar to the amazing Feast Your Eyes we enjoyed at Idiom. We're obviously looking forward to cracking one of these open in the near future!
|Pleepin' around at Cushwa.|
Around the corner at Homaide, things were a bit quieter. I was really looking forward to getting back here to dig into Homaide's beers. This new brewery, which now occupies Cushwa's original location in the same industrial park, made our Top 10 list for 2020 based on the strength of pretty much one beer: Fight Milk. So when we arrived this time, I was giddy to see a coffee and coconut variant of said beer on nitro!
The owners of Homaide had originally sought a location in nearby Hagerstown, MD, for its brewery and taproom. They had participated in multiple craft beer festivals and most recently scored a "Best Beer" award at the 2019 Maryland Craft Beer Fest. Makes sense, because Homaide's beers are amazing!
|Homaide took over Cushwa's original brewery.|
Looking over the menu when we arrived, I realized there was a lot I wanted to try. First thing's first, though... I had to get some of that Fight Milk (Coffee & Coconut) in my gut! Described as a "session milk stout with cocao beans and coconut," this variant was every bit as good as the original. Serving on nitro really softens up the body and smooths out the foam on top. If I remember correctly, one of the owners had told me during our initial visit that they use a combination of nitro and CO2 for this one. Whatever the equation is, it's working.
|Pleeps enjoys some Fight Milk with coffee & coconut.|
There were also a pair of "cobbler" beers on tap that sounded intriguing. Although I was most excited about the peach version, Brewslut opted for the Blueberry Cobbler, a collaboration with Mullys Brewing. The base beer is a light, crisp Berliner Weisse with a sour punch. However, conditioned on blueberry compote sweetens the pot a bit and elicits a faint earthy note. It's finished off with a light accent of cinnamon and vanilla. Well done, indeed. However, I was definitely more into the Peach Cobbler. This beer is part of Homaide's "HE SAID-SHE SAID" Sour Series. It's a light, refreshing kettle sour brewed with tons of peaches and a hint of coconut and cinnamon. Man, this tasted like I was face down in a slice of peach cobbler from a tiny mom and pop diner in Anytown, USA. The combination of peach and cinnamon scored big points with me, and the coconut acccents offered a hint of complexity in the flavor. Man, was this delicious! I was hoping for cans, but no luck this time.
|Pleeps is jammin' on the one!|
We ended our session with JAMCARE, a smooth DIPA hopped with Mosaic, Galaxy and a new-to-me hop variety called Moutere. This one was brewed in collaboration with Cushwa, and it was pretty delicious. This hop combo lends a blend of tropical fruit and berries, while Moutere - a relatively new hop variety from New Zealand - adds grapefruit and passionfruit notes with hints of earthy baking spices and pine resins. Nicely done!
|Pleeps is always making new friends!|