Craft Brew of the Week - Week 12, Maryland

I will be profiling a quality craft brew each week prior to the game, one that fits with the theme for the week, because beer and game day are highly complementary. Please don't ‘rec' this post, as I would like them to roll off the front page each week.

My criteria for this list are:

A) use a combination of foreign and domestic beers that are generally available this time of year
2) only high quality beer
D) beers from a variety of U.S. regions for domestics
Φ) present a variety of styles, with attention to the season, and do both classic styles and offbeat beers
Sanskrit) in general, bigger beers for bigger games

Once again, let's do this thing...

November 17 - Maryland 12:00 p.m. -

The Brewery: Terrapin

Selected Beer: Samurai Krunkles

This week's brewery was a no brainer for me. Terrapin is a brewery out of Athens, Georgia with a decent sized distribution on the East Coast and two founding members that are very visible in the craft beer community as they often collaborate, together or separately, with other craft brewers both domestic and abroad. We're playing the Terps, might as well drink a Terrapin. The brew, however, was not so easy to decide on. I selected this particular beer because it features spice, something we haven't touched on in these profiles to date. The Samurai Krunkles is an IPA style with ginger and green tea. Just like last week, it is a beer I haven't tried yet. I've wanted to venture into new territory with this column, but next week I'll return with a standard. I won't do a profile until I crack it open, but will add something to this thread once I do.

If you think back to the write-up in week 3, you'll recall that I stated this about the typical craft brewer's goals:

"Beer is based on four ingredients: water, malt, hops, and yeast. These ingredients can be manipulated to produce very different end products by adjusting timing, volume of ingredients, and temperature. Brewers may add other ingredients including water salts, fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, sugars, bacteria cultures, non-traditional yeasts, spirits, and wood aging to further change or complement the flavor profile. All in all, the goal of craft brewing in my opinion is unique, well balanced beer."

Spices historically have played an important role in brewing (and still can/does) I will touch on that in a moment, but first I want to give a shout out to a few of the posters on the CBotW threads and their favorite East Coast breweries near Maryland. This week I was in Philadelphia and had the opportunity to try a few brews from the East Coast that I can't get in the Midwest. There are some spectacular regional offerings. Here are a few from our members if you are making it to the game:

User espanole weighs in on DC Breweries:

My favorite: Stillwater Artisanal. As a major saison fan, these guys make the best of the best, as they only make saisons, and they have mastered them... [I can vouch for this as well. The Stillwater Autumnal was awesome this year]

Also, if you can track down something on cask, Flying Dog and Heavy Sea's are normally pouring one somewhere in the city. Their proximity allows for some stupid fresh offerings...

DC Brau - by far the leading local DC brewery. Try everything from them if you can.

And MareNegroNole has another suggestion:

The Devil's Backbone, a brewery from Lexington, VA, that has only been recently represented in the Washington D.C area. As an IPA guy I have particular preference for the ‘8 Point IPA' but they have a range of [awesome, award winning] products for different palates.

Be sure to check these out if you are into craft brew and in the area for the game.

The game day brew:

Why intentionally select a beer that features spice and herbs?

A) People have been brewing beers, or something like them, for thousands of years. Remember the yeast discussion in the post about sour ales? Before the 1860s, beers were composed of a dominant yeast strain along with a host of other strains. There were a lot of ‘bugs' in beer, which could lend very funky flavors.

2) Hops as an ingredient and preservative in beer production really weren't introduced as a major component of beer production until about 500 years ago. There is some evidence that they were around in brewing before that, but they really didn't catch on and become a major/necessary ingredient until around the 16th century. In the history of brewing, hops are a relatively new addition.

D) Now, consider medieval times. There were no hops in beer. Agricultural production depended on weather. Grain wasn't always abundant. Brewers would add all sorts of things to beer in order to cover up funky flavors and make the brew more palatable or to preserve the beverage. Spices, herbs, fruits, tree leaves, and other adjuncts were added to the ‘beer' to make it taste better and last longer. Spiced beer has been around a long, long time. This history even serves as an inspiration for modern day craft brewers. Some brewers set out to recreate recipes from thousands of years ago, or use those recipes or ingredients as inspiration for more modern brews.

Bullet Point) Spices are also used today simply because they complement base beer ingredients. The citrus, pine, and floral notes from hops are complemented by a wide range of spices like ginger, cardamom, lemongrass, coriander, and flowers. The toast, caramel, and roast flavors of malts can be accented by spices like cinnamon, cloves, licorice, anise, and other beverage bases like cocoa, coffee, and tea. The combinations are almost limitless (I've only listed a few here). In some ways, especially as beer becomes more and more popular as a beverage to pair with high end food, modern craft brewing requires- and is highlighted by- master brewers with the mindset of both a brewer and a chef. Brewers continue to branch out into producing beers with spices, herbs, and other similar adjuncts. When you taste a beer with spices, try to consider what it adds to the brew and how the brewer intended it to work with other flavors.

Alternate Brews - This week I'm going to suggest that you seek out something from one of the breweries listed in this column. For the last ACC game, let's go a bit free form. If you want to pick up a Terrapin brew, I don't blame you. They have a huge lineup and constantly revolving new brews and series of beers. I really enjoyed their So Fresh and So Green Green, a wet hopped IPA. I have a friend that highly recommends The Terrapin/BFM Rye Barleywine called Spike and Jerome. I'm opening one of those for the first time on Saturday.

What I'll (probably) Be Drinking Saturday - Samurai Krunkles, Spike and Jerome, Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout, New Holland Charkoota Smoked Rye Dopplebock, and homebrews.

What about you? What are your thoughts on Spiced Beer and what is your favorite? What will you drink this week?

Previously reviewed brews:

September 01 - Murray State 6:00 p.m. (click to review this post)- Stone, Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale

September 08 - Savannah State 6:00 p.m. - Lagunitas, A Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale

September 15 - Wake Forest 12:00 p.m. - Green Flash, Saison Diego

September 22 - Clemson 8:00 p.m. - Southern Tier, Backburner Barleywine

September 29 - South Florida 6:00 p.m. - Cigar City Brewing, Oak-Aged Jai Alai India Pale Ale

October 6 - N.C. State 8:00 p.m. - Nøgne Ø, Imperial Brown Ale

October 13 - Boston College 6:30 p.m. - Samuel Adams, Octoberfest

October 20 - Miami 8:30 p.m. - Great Divide, Hercules

October 28 - Duke 3:30 p.m. - Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V. (for Monk's Café), Flemish Sour Ale

November 1 - Bye Week - Oskar Blues, Old Chub Scottish Style Ale

November 8 - Virginia Tech 8:30 p.m. - Rogue - VooDoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Ale

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