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Flights of fancy

My new favorite thing is the brewpub. I feel as if it's the best way to sustain quality beer and innovation in the long run. Recently, I spoke with I guy I know about bottling. For small breweries, it is getting tougher and tougher to get shelf space. Retailers are only willing to cede so much Natural Light space to boutique beers. It'll be like that for a long, long time. The market isn't saturated yet, but in small towns such as the one in which I live, there aren't many more inches to expand, and tough choices have to be made.
There are about three retailers with any selection at all within half-an-hour of my house. In the largest, craft (and craft-y beers, like Blue Moon and Shock Top) already take up 75 percent of the allotted beer space. The selection is excellent, and I have no doubt they will continue to accept local beers over those from outside the region, at least for the short term. As new breweries come on line, or, maybe even better, as would-be brewers …

What is in a name?

In this week's Beer with Strangers podcast, Doug Griffith of Xtreme Brewing in Laurel and I discussed the recurring news story that craft beer is running out of names. Among the concerns is that it makes it harder for new brewers to break in and it prevents smaller brewers from having big breakout beers. Craft beers allegedly have kooky names because they are the product of one brewery making many, many beers.
It makes sense, at some level, to have weird names for beers. Brewers like to be distinctive, to set themselves apart. And people who like craft beer get a kick out of kooky names.  Raging Bitch made national news when there was a fight over whether it was an obscene name. Beyond that, as shelves get more crowded with bottles and cans, and as breweries continue to try and push the envelope with tastes and flavors, brewers want a name that is as distinctive as their beers. Plus, in absence of any other knowledge or review, lots of beer drinkers simply judge the beer book by …

Searching Philadelphia for Maryland Beer

The Van Pelt library at the University of Pennsylvania truly is the type you can get lost in. I know 'cause I did. Early in my research I discovered that there was a person named John Beale Bordley, who was a colonial hotshot and one of the first production-scale brewers in Maryland. Bordley was friendly with Thomas Jefferson and as concerned as he was about what we now call sustainable living. Part of that, for Bordley, was not having to rely upon the British for ale.
After reading his book online and fumbling across some of his papers, it became clear to me that it might just be possible to find his recipe. Finding the first Eastern Shore beer recipe and including it in my book, would be a massive coup. I had to head to Philly to have my computer repaired. The best way to have your Mac die, it turns out, is to get behind on your writing schedule and then engage on a wild goose chase. The Apple people took it from me and sent it off to have the hard drive replaced. I thanked God…

The Heady History of Chesapeake Brewing

Maryland's Eastern Shore had a complicated relationship with beer for much of its history. Brewers fell into (roughly) two categories: people who needed the work and people who needed great beer. In this book, I trace that history and show how the two different kinds of brewers overlap.
If you're interested in coming to a talk or signing, here's a list of events. If you would like me to come and speak with your group or at your business, just message on Facebook, Twitter or G+ and I'll arrange it.

Good Beer Festival candids and snapshots

We had a blast covering the Good Beer Festival this year and can't wait to see you all again next year. Feel free to download and share the photos, if you'd like to give us a shoutout when you do, that would be cool and fair. GBF blogs to follow.

Into the past

I went to college as a 30-year-old and, as I made for the graduation finish line, my first marriage came apart. If I ever write that story it will read like the lamest version of the poor man's Fear and Loathing. Come to think of it, Fear and Loathing in Delmar would be an awesome title. Doing primary source, original research was a graduation requirement, so I combined my appreciation for a good tavern with the fact that I had to write about something. While researching taverns in colonial Maryland I discovered that there was such a place a Castle Haven. More than a decade later, that paper became the first chapter in my first book, and the second installment in my blog about writing the book. This is the story of our attempt to breach Castle Haven in search of photos.