On the Road Again – Smoketown Brewing Station

It was time to get out on the road again and see what treats are offered on our nation’s countryside. So I looked up and down the Virginia/Maryland border and ventured to find the town of Brunswick, MD. The town of Brunswick is pretty small and is pock-marked with homes and railroads from around the turn of the century. After making a number of plunges down to the bottom of ravines cleverly shaped as streets, I came out on a street that was barely wide enough to hold two vehicles. This street, Potomac Street, (is divided into an east and west) is where I found Smoketown Brewing Station.

Smoketown Brewing Station (223 West Potomac Street, Brunswick, MD, 21716 V: 301-834-4828; http://smoketownbrewing.com) is a recently remodeled fire house. The architecture and the design really bring it to bear, but you have to step back across the street to be hit with fact. As it was constructed, the fire house is in sections and there are some rather odd decorations, such as the men’s room being on the outside of the building, and the depth of the building which is impressive. I went to the second level of doors to order my beer and to take up a seat. (The front and the outdoor seating were completely taken with patrons.) I got my beer (more on that in a moment) and then got up to stroll around a take pictures.

Because of the time of day, I went to the front of the building first to capture it, and the people in the outdoor seating area starting calling to me about the fact that I had a camera. When I responded to them, it turned out that they were there to celebrate someone’s passing – it was a wake! These people were giving up there Saturday night to dedicate it to a 72 year old woman, who as it turned out, had been involved in several charities and boards in the town and had never told anyone. Not a soul. So, this celebration was a part to recognize all of this woman’s contributions as well as her warm smile. I took photos of the group and have posted them here and hope that the group will recognize this small point of recognition.

Now, onto the beer. First though, recognize, that in a small

Smoketown Brewing Station Raspberry Mother Puckers

town such as Brunswick, MD, craft made beer is a treat because it is going to be put up against the macro brew beer. So, by a matter of cause, this is going to be better than the macro brew beer in some quarters. So, I asked for a Raspberry Mother Pucker. This beer came with a 6.2% ABV, color was a dark copper, the aroma was light raspberries and a mild hop. The taste however, was light and a bit on the flavorless side. It couldn’t quite pull it off, either as a raspberry fruit beer or as a witbier. It was a good attempt, and pretty good for craft beer, but on the grand scale, it just couldn’t quite cut it. I gave it 3 stars on Untappd.

After a plate of chicken taquitos and basic wings, I ventured again into the world of American Hefeweizen. Even though this one was titled “German Crossing Hefeweizen,” I have gone on before about the difference between American and German Hefeweizen, and this is American Hefeweizen. It is a 5.2% ABV and 17 IBU with a color of murky gold. It has an aroma that is lightly hopped and a really weak flavor of bananas. The taste is unfortunately weak and the bananas (or banana flavoring)  doesn’t really come to its help in any form. For American Hefeweizen, it is OK, but not much beyond that. The whole mess needs to be re-thought if it is going to be German Hefeweizen. I gave it 2 1/2 stars on Untappd.

The whole experience at Smoketown Brewing Station was an eye opener – people take their craft beer seriously and will defend their outlets. But more importantly, they take each other comically, laughingly, tenderly and seriously all in one and there in lies the beauty of small towns.

On the Road Again – The Church Brew Works

Submitted by Karen Johnson Baker

The Church Brew Works
3525 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
(412) 688-8200


Just a brief review of a place that most Pittburghers really cherish – and this from a Baltimore Ravens fan! When asked what she thought of the beer, Karen replied that “it is almost spiritual” and “the pierogies are heavenly too…”

So get on your iron horses and head for Steeltown, a little slice of heaven has been discovered.


North Korea Mysteriously Shuts Down Its Beer Festival

(Originally carried on NPR International)

North Korea Mysteriously Shuts Down Its Beer Festival

North Koreans enjoy beer and snacks last August during the Taedonggang Beer Festival in Pyongyang. The festival, the first of its kind in the country, was held as a promotional event for the locally brewed beer. Korean signs in the background read “Our country is the best.”

Dita Alangkara/AP

If an event is branded as annual but it happens only once, can it still be called annual? This is the case for Pyongyang’s “annual” Taedonggang Beer Festival, the second of which was slated to take place during August.

China-based tour company Koryo Tours, which is among the go-to tour groups organizing trips into North Korea, writes on its blog that it was “informed” North Korean organizers have canceled the event.

“The reason for the cancellation is unclear and we don’t expect full information to be forthcoming but it is possibly down to the ongoing drought in the country that has caused a great deal of trouble,” Koryo writes.

According to Koryo, last year’s event was a good opportunity to try some local brews and mingle with locals. A menu from the 2016 fest shows several types of draft beers, fried chicken and mutton on a stick available for purchase. North Korean alcohol is a curiosity for many connoisseurs around the globe, especially given its announcement last year that its scientists have invented “hangover-free booze.”

While it may suffer the label of “Hermit Kingdom,” North Korea does want tourism, offering surfing, rice planting and history tours. As Hawaii Public Radio found, “You can join the ‘Liberation from the Japanese Empire’ package tour — 8 days and 7 nights next month over the dates marking Japan’s surrender in World War Two.”

But forget about it if you’re an American passport holder. The U.S. State Department will announce a travel ban to North Korea for all Americans later this week. It follows the detainment of 22-year-old college student Otto Warmbier, who returned home last month in a coma and died days later.

Over the past 10 years, at least 16 Americans have been detained in North Korea.

Jihye Lee contributed to this post.



World of Beer Becomes CraftHouse in Northern Virginia

The World of Beer is undergoing a reinvention in Northern Virginia this week.  The three franchises – Reston, Arlington, and Fairfax – have transitioned from World of Beer and will be known as  CraftHouse.

The replacement for World of Beers, the CraftHouse.

The locations, owned by Eban Metz, have been laboring under the World of Beer logo since they opened, paying for the menus and supporting the computer systems. Metz believes that he could do so much more with an expanded beer selection and an updated menu without the World of Beer fees.  The Fairfax location has already made the transition, and it is safe to say that the Reston and Arlington locations have likewise done the same.

The Fairfax location, because of it abundant outdoor area, is one of the top 10 locations for World of Beer, headquartered in Florida. The Reston location was within the top 10 until Fairfax opened, so two of its top flight locations will be leaving the fold, a fact not to be missed by World of Beer.

The Brewery Everyone is Talking About in Your State

Where you have a number of states that com

Craft Beer Makes Its Entrance into the Mainstream

e together, inevitably you get into a discussion of what state has the best. And on top of that, you make it something as a simple of beer and you ratchet it up a notch. It is inevitable.

So, the good folks at yet another food and drink magazine have thrown down the gauntlet for yet another brewpub comparison, but it looks like this one is pretty well matched because it is brewpubs (food and beer) rather than breweries (just beer).

So without further adieu, here are the fifty-one best brewpubs in the United States.




On the Road – Frederick H. by The Bruery Terreux

OK, I know that is a little bit strange to have two brews from the same brewery in a one-two ordering, but I am feeling a little bit wiggy at the moment. Now the last beer, Rueuze from The Bruery, was a combination of sour and blond ale and it overcame all of my trepidations about blond ale. Now I have another beer from The Bruery Terreux again and it literal has blown my mind regarding sours and Berliner Weiss.

Frederick H. is a mix between sour and Berliner Weiss beer and it is excellent!

Now Berliner Weiss has a number of the same issues as blond ale, but it also has a couple that are special to it. One is that is supposed to be light with grapefruit and orange flavor and a light little bit of sour added to it. This can be tricky because unless it is a lot of sour, the sour actually become lost in the mix and it kind of comes out as a something of a fruit beer. The second one is that it is to be served with syrup, which I don’t take akin to because that is making it a sundae. It is beer, for heaven sake, not ice cream!

The Bruery (737 Dunn Way, Placentia, CA 92870
Email: info@thebruery.com Voice: 714-996-MALT(6258) Hours: 830am-5pm Mon-Fri; www.thebruery.com) is an established setting. It has a 4.4% ABV but don’t let it fool you for a minute. Frederick H. is set up as follows:

So, having all of this in mind, I order it. When it comes, it has a nice deep rich color to it, a rich hue, that says all kinds of good things about what will be in the glass. I lean over the glass, get my nose into it and I get a real sharp tart smell. This thing is loaded for bear! And now for the taste…

Tart! Really tart! But it is part of a carefully crafted flavor palette because they the tart entry is carefully matched with a Berliner Weiss that is without match. The tart entry is really what you taste, but the Berliner Weiss begins about 1/3 of the way through the taste and ends up with the flavor you have at the end.

This is the part where I say it is good but not a whole lot different from the Rueuze, but I can’t because it is a whole different calling. Yep, two beers, one brewer, and they are equally good. Just a bit wiggy.


On the Road – Rueuze by Bruery Terreux

Now sours, as you can guess, are one of my favorite groups within brewing.  I know some of you do not support my appreciation, but I really love sours and I like to see more of them across the board. They make beer really sing.

A really good, flavorful combination of sour and blond ale. Perfect match for each.

But the other side of the board is blond ales. If there is one area where I do not support blonds, its in blond ales. (Yes, you can guess my hair color.) Blond ales are a throw away place when you don’t know what to do with a mild tasting ale but you have to put it somewhere, so you decide to put it out there and hope that it sells. Something. Anything. Just as long as it turns a profit, you will be OK with it.

So, I wince when I see Rueuze by Bruery Terreux sour blond ale on the menu at Rustico.  Wonderful to see a sour beer, but not so great to see it mixed with a blond ale. But The Bruery (737 Dunn Way, Placentia, CA 92870 Email: info@thebruery.com Voice: 714-996-MALT(6258), www.thebruery.com) has regularly produced some pretty good brews in the past and their Terreux brand is a showcase for some of these respectable beers.  It describes its Rueuze as follow:

“Rueuze is our take on the traditional Belgian-style blend of lambics of different ages. We carefully select a number of oak barrels from our warehouse that have been aging our sour blonde ale for anywhere from several months to several years and blend the beers together to what we find to be the ideal flavor. This is one complex beer. Notes of hay, barnyard funk, apricots and olives play wonderfully with the balanced acidity.”

The beer comes in a non-descript light golden color, but I immediately recognize that the beer is a little more opaque than usual. The smell is a nice beautiful blend of sour flavor and the better side of blond ales, but it is also impenetrable. It is not giving up its secrets.  So, it is time for a taste.

I know it is going to be a good beer from the second I taste it. The sour elements immediately make their presence known and slowly the really good taste of blond ale comes to back them up. Sour apple-like taste is nicely presented and then extended by the blond ale. It is really nice to sit back and take swig after swig of their wonderful elixir. The Rueuze made me really glad that I had ordered it and I was sad when it was finished.