Beer Blog: American Craft Beer Week – Heavy Seas Beer

| May 20, 2012 | 0 Comments

On Thursday, May 17, I headed to Max’s Taphouse to continue my American Craft Beer Week.  On this evening, the spotlight was on Heavy Seas Beer out of Halethorpe, Maryland.

The brewery was showcasing the use of wooden barrels in conditioning beers.  Available to imbibe was Loose Cannon, their American “hop cubed” ale, conditioned in two different barrels, and Peg Leg, an imperial stout, conditioned in a wooden barrel.  The Loose Cannon was a particularly interesting experiment, as the same beer was put in two different barrels.  One barrel was a medium toast Barrel Mill converted barrel and the other was an English Barrel.  Both barrels were dry hopped with palisade, simcoe and centennial whole leaf hops.  The Peg Leg was also conditioned in a medium toast Barrel Mill converted barrel and dry hopped with fuggle and simcoe hops.  Each beer was served from the barrel in which it was conditioned.

Here were my impressions:

Loose Cannon Medium Toast Barrel Mill Converted Barrel: The liquid burst with flavor as soon as it hit my tongue.  The taste was smooth orange with other mild citrus flavors, very oaky mid-palate with a little bite, then citrus and vanilla rounding out the finish.

Loose Cannon English Barrel: In comparison to the medium toast barrel, this version offered a milder oak presence at first, allowing the hops to come through with more intensity.  The finish was much more oaky, leaving the sensation of oak splinters on the tongue.

Peg Leg Medium Toast Barrel Mill Converted Barrel: The wooden barrel conditioning extended extra flavors of chocolate and vanilla to this stout, which is a roasty brew with notes of coffee.  A sharp oak taste presented itself in the finish.

I also took this opportunity to try the newest Letter of Marque beer from Heavy Seas.  This year, the homebrew competition winner is a triple wit style beer.  I tried the cask conditioned version first.  The aroma was of bananas and bitter citrus and the initial taste was banana followed by a little clove and mildly bitter citrus.  The finish was smooth and sweet, reminiscent of simple syrup.

I tried the draft version next. The same flavors were present, but the additional carbonation dulled the flavors a bit.  The draft version was also noticeably sweeter with a tangy finish.  It seemed to me that the extra fermentation in the cask helped reduce some of the sugar content.  Since this beer is bottle conditioned, I think it would be very interesting to buy a few bottles and put them away in your cellar for a year or two.  I predict that the beer will age nicely with the sweetness dulling.  It will be interesting to see what, if any, additional flavors develop.  

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About the Author:

I'm a South Baltimore resident that commutes and travels everywhere I can via bicycle. Craft beer used to be a hobby that grew into what might be considered an obsession. When I'm not sampling new beers, you can usually find me either running through the streets of Baltimore training for my next race, in the weight room, or playing with my dogs. Geotechnical engineering pays the bills.
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