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As I shared previously on this blog and in my weekly column, the “Federal House family” did something very special and selfless on their recent trip to Heavy Seas. If you’re too lazy to click-through and refresh your memory — it’s okay, I understand — let me help…

“We’d like to do a second cask today,” Jeremy [Black, owner of Federal House] said. He went on to explain to Chris and Dan of Heavy Seas about a group of friends who have been going to  Federal House every weekend for years, eventually striking up a friendship with Claire, one of their bartenders. Recently one of their friends passed away. Claire then approached Jeremy about doing a special cask for this group. There was no hesitation; they were going to help this group honor and remember their friend.

At the time, I didn’t find it appropriate to share who was being honored. It was their story to share and tell in their own time. 

Well, last Friday night, the cask — which I can now reveal was brewed in honor of Midshipman Max Allen, who died tragically in a car accident last February — was publicly tapped by his best friend and his sister and served to friends, family and patrons for $1 a pour. 

The cask made with Small Craft, Simcoe, Cascade and Yellow Birch — as selected by Max’s friends — was delicious, but that’s not the point.

I was honored to be invited to attend the tapping, though I had originally planned on not going. I kept my distance from the festivities, however. Rather I just found it to be a humbling and heartwarming experience to see a local business do something meaningful to help a close-knit set of friends and family. 

I’m not going to bother trying to find new words, so I’ll just repeat what I wrote about this before, now that I can share the context:

I witnessed extraordinary, moving gestures of humility, humanity and kindness — the kind of gestures that take your breath away, because for a moment you had forgotten there are truly good people in this world.

I love this town. I wish the reminder wasn’t cloaked by such sad circumstances, but still. I love this town.

Most Annapolitans spent this past Saturday at the Annapolis Cup. I… did work instead. Sad trombone

We did finally escape into the great outdoors around 2:30 p.m., however. And since Annapolis turns into the city equivalent of a show pony in the spring time, it was absolutely gorgeous outside. But still, warm weather makes my body seize. And I pretty much looked like this after riding around in a top-down Jeep for most of the afternoon. 

Warm weather woes aside, I did get to go to 1747 Pub twice in one day. That’s right. Twice. I’m living on the edge. I’m out of control. I’m a rebel without a cause. (Mostly because causes require having convictions. And convictions take effort.)

The first time was just a relaxed lunch date on the patio with the Mister, featuring the Green Peppercorn Tripel by The Brewer’s Art, which definitely lived up to the hype — spicy, sweet, crisp and surprisingly complex. Great recommendation by the Annapolis Homebrew Club. The second was for my best friend's (second) 30th birthday, under a gorgeous canopy of Cherry Blossoms I somehow hadn't noticed at lunch.

In spite of having to play the part of a responsible adult earlier in the day, it wasn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday. 

All photos courtesy of Rob Korb Photography. I’m nowhere near this talented.

On March 28, I took part in the Junior League Casino Night gala event at the Loews Annapolis Hotel, thanks to my best friend who is on the communications council for Junior League Annapolis.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Me + Junior League = LOLOLOLOL forever.  I can totally understand that. I have tattoos. I’m not a terribly classy individual. I consider dressing up wearing “fancy jeans,” which just means I wear jeans that are clean. I usually say the last time I wore a dress was our wedding almost four years ago, but I was reminded yesterday that I wore another dress once last summer.

So that’s two dresses in the past four years. And I still didn’t wear a dress to this event.

Anyway, what was supposed to be a brief 30-minute beer tasting at the event’s VIP reception to promote my silent auction donation of an in-home beer tasting party hosted by me, turned into a super-duper fun tasting that lasted the entire gala.

Here’s are the four core beers I featured:

Goose Island’s 2012 Pepe Nero
A Belgian-style farmhouse brewed with black peppercorns from Chiacgo.

Unibroue’s Terrible
A Belgian-style strong dark ale from Canada, eh.

Tröegs’ Cultivator
A Maibock/Helles Bock — like a malty, strong lager — from Hershey, Pa.

Left Hand’s Black Jack Porter
Well, it’s a porter. Obviously. And it’s from Colorado.

These were furnished by Fishpaws Marketplace in Ahhhnold. (If you haven’t made it up Route 2 to these guys, you should be ashamed. One of my favorite places to shop — great selection, killer growler station.)

I also pulled a few beers from my personal collection — because Patrick is under the misguided notion that he needs space in the refrigerator for things like food, instead of beer. (Yeah, I don’t get it either.) Those included Victory’s Hop Devil, Flying Dog’s Double Dog and a large format of Boulevard’s 2013 Imperial Stout, part of their Smokestack Series.

The night of the event, Tammy said she hoped I would document how I chose what beers to select. Well, a couple of weeks later, that’s exactly what I’m doing!

For the four main beers, I tried to curate a small snapshot of favorites that people might not typically try, either due to availability, price point or lack of knowledge about the style. As an example, Unibroue’s Terrible is anything but terrible (har!), but the bottle is large and nondescript, giving nothing away about the contents. If you didn’t know what it was, you wouldn’t reach for it, unless you were an adventurous beer drinker.

Given the crowd, I also tried to select brews I’ve seen wine and cocktail drinkers like. The Pepe Nero farmhouse is one of my favorites for wine drinkers. Not only does it play well with those who like both peppery reds and crisp whites, it’s a great beer to pair with food because of its complexity.

The Black Jack Porter — which I wasn’t smart enough to choose because of its obvious tie-in to the gala’s casino theme — and the Cultivator were the perfect way to round out the lineup, because, well, they’re both damned good.

The Black Jack Porter is my hands-down favorite from Left Hand, even more than the Milk Stout Nitro; it’s robust, bursting with coffee and chocolate without being too heavy. Seriously, given the level of “kapow!” flavor this beer packs, it’s so refreshing. The Cultivator was introduced to me at the Fordham & Dominion dinner with Tröegs at Rams Head last month, and I immediately fell in love with it. It’s just a touch sweet, light and not too malty. And, as I suspected, it was a great gateway beer for those who were a bit gun-shy about the heftier stuff I brought along. (It’s perfect for spring and summer, too.)

I can also admit I chose beers that “give good table,” meaning they are striking looking. Just look at that Black Jack Porter label. It’s art. And the Pepe Nero bottle — or any beer in the vintage series from Goose Island, for that matter — looks so sophisticated and inviting. Something that was considered atypical to those in attendance who didn’t know much about beer.

The beers I brought from my own stash served as gap fillers. Some people weren’t interested in learning too much about anything new; they just wanted a good IPA, and some of the tuxedo-decked gents really enjoyed the boozy, bourbon qualities in the Imperial Stout.

Again, I expected the evening to go pretty well, but not as amazingly well as it did. I met really cool people who completely changed my preconceived notions about what kind of people join Junior League, converted a few wine drinkers and had a lot of fun conversations. Some people even read my column each week, which was flattering. Oh, and the night ended with me finding out that my beer party package went for $200, which is very cool.

Well, that’s it! Hooray for abrupt, awkward endings to posts.

Well, I survived Annapolis Beer Week. Just barely, but I survived. Let’s be real here: I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I’m sure my 22-year-old self of yesteryear could have slayed the entire week’s worth of events on maybe eight or nine hours of sleep total, but I’m going to be 32 years old this year, and I consider sleeping a competitive sport — the first place medal would be a super dope pillow, of course — so it would be an understatement to say this past week left me physically exhausted.

I will say, however, that the week ended on a great note with three really fun events over Saturday and Sunday. But since I’ve got a super busy week ahead of me, filled with adult stuff I need to get a head start on (see: I’m lazy), I’ll just start with Saturday…

Devils Backbone beer and doughnut pairing, Whitey’s Liquors
Boston Rob, the beer manager at Whitey’s, is my hero. Not only is he forever my plus-one to any and all Fordham & Dominion beer dinners, he also brings happiness into my life with things like Pumpkin Beerfest and now beer and doughnuts each week. This week’s pairing with Devils Backbone was awesome: Schwartz Bier and a Schwartz Bier chocolate reduction glazed doughnut with pecans, Reilly’s Red and a Reilly’s Red caramel reduction glazed doughnut, and Vienna Lager and a vanilla cinnamon glazed doughnut. That last one was my favorite, and I definitely went home with a six-pack of it.

Next Saturday’s beer and doughnut pairing? Yards, from noon to 2 p.m.!

Flying Dog & Barren Island Oysters Oyster/Wing Fest, Factors Row
I’m late to pretty much everything, so by the time we rolled up to Factors Row at 5:30 for the Oyster and Wing Fest, the small space looked like a train wreck, but it actually wasn’t. (Apparently it was when people first got there.) The oyster line looked long, but moved super quickly, and the oysters from Barren Island Oysters were really good. It was easy to snag a table. Waiters were constantly bringing an endless supply of yummy, meaty wings to the table — the spicy Thai were my personal favorite. And of course there was beer. Lots of beer.

I mostly stuck with the Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout — proceeds benefit the Oyster Recovery Partnership — because it’s awesome, but I did try the firkins. They were Snake Dog IPA with chipotle lime and Doggie Style with blood orange, pomegranate and citra. To be honest, the firkins were a little too warm to be enjoyed, so they lacked a certain crispness that would have benefited the chosen ingredients.

That one eensy-weensy grievance aside, though, this was a great event. I hope they do it (or something like it) again soon.

Last night, 1747 Pub at Reynold’s Tavern — my home away from home — was quite the little shenanigans-fest, as it was the scene for Annapolis Beer Week’s Women in Beer event.

In addition to delicious beer, there was also an interactive panel discussion of women who work in the industry, including:

Cassie Mabery, director of marketing at Katcef, acted as our amazing moderator for the evening, and she deserves an award — when you put a bunch of spunky female beer drinkers in one room, it gets rowdy. Fun, informative and super cool… but very rowdy. That gal can wrangle a room like nobody’s business.

Anyway, there’s no way I can recount everything discussed last night — everything from our favorite beer styles to gender-based challenges we’ve encountered in the beer industry — but I will say it was such an honor and a privilege to be a part of it. Especially since I felt like I spent half the time fangirling over the other women on the panel, heh.

Yes, I write about beer, but hearing the stories these women shared last night was a humbling experience. It was like I got to be on the panel, but also be an audience member, hearing from some of the coolest lady peers in the business I’ve met.

Also, I want to extend a special thank you to Marilyn Burge, the proprietor of Reynold’s Tavern and 1747, for hosting such a wonderful event and being generally fabulous and flawless, as always. And for letting me choose Goose Island’s Lolita as my featured beer for the evening.

Man, what a night. Women in beer know how to throw one heckuva party.