Clipper City Brewing Company - Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Über Pils
Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs):48
Suggested Glassware:Pilsner Glass or Flute
Malts:Pale, Munich, Caramalt
Hops:Warrior, Strisselspalt, Saaz, Cascade, Palisade, Simcoe
This member of the Heavy Seas “Pyrate Fleet” is quite the inventive brew. Is it an amped up pilsner as the name suggests, or a bock, as described on the neck label? Let’s find out. On the pour, this brew presents an attractive coppery golden hue – it’s certainly a bit more color than your average pils. Herbal, grassy hop aromas greet the nose, underscored by fairly robust pale and light caramel malt notes. On the palate, look for the malts and hops to trade blows, with neither one necessarily winning out. The almost fruity Munich malts are a delight as they merge with hop flavors that offer a complex profile with some citric, floral, spicy, and herbal notes. We were impressed by what we consider a successful marriage between the malt forward bock style and the hoppier German pilsner, with some American hop flavors thrown in along with a very firm (and very un-pilsner and un-bock-like) 48 IBUs, which help to dry this brew from the mid-palate to the finish. A hopped up bock, an imperial (or “über”) pilsner – whatever it is, we like it. Pairing options are pretty vast with this one; spicy German sausage or a plate of earthy cheeses come immediately to mind. Cheers!
The history of the Clipper City Brewing Company goes back to the mid-1980s when Hugh Sisson, owner and founder of Sisson's, a local restaurant and bar, first recognized the potential for a small brewery in Baltimore. Upon attempting to get a license to brew beer at his restaurant, he quickly discovered that legislation prevented brewpubs in Maryland. So he began working with Senator George Della, Jr. to successfully lobby the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation permitting brewpubs in Maryland. In 1989, Hugh began brewing at Sisson's, Maryland's first brewpub.
The move helped usher in the wave of craft brewing in Baltimore, and Hugh engrossed himself in the development and market recognition of both Sisson's brewpub and its beers, while simultaneously serving as this pioneering facility's first Brewmaster. After five years of brewpub brewing, Hugh took his craft brewing to a larger platform by starting a full-scale microbrewery. Three guesses as to who stepped in to say he couldn't do it… that's right, the state. It seems that "they" (a.k.a. "the man") took issue with his owning both a brewpub and brewery. The logic behind this legal blockade? Your guess is as good as ours—this is the business model used throughout Europe for hundreds of years. Fortunately, Hugh was undaunted by the legal challenge, did battle with the powers that be, yet again, and pulled out the win less than two years later. In early 1996, Clipper City Brewing, borrowing a Baltimore sobriquet as its name, officially began brewing on the scale Hugh was going for.
In 2010 the brewery placed all of its beers under the Heavy Seas name, a brand they began in 2003. Within the Heavy Seas portfolio, there’s the Clipper Fleet, composed of classic beer styles, the Pyrate Fleet, sporting more creative and unusual beers, and the Mutiny Fleet of bold brews available only in 22 oz bomber bottles. Clipper City is also one of the largest, if not the largest, producer of British-style cask-conditioned beer in the U.S. For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call (410) 247-7822 or check out their web site at www.hsbeer.com.
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