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Since it’s Throwback Thursday, I figured I’d share something from last week. 

Between living in Annapolis, working in National Harbor, Patrick working in Washington, D.C., and the Internet, it can be a bit tough to carve out some us time during the week. So, because I’m compulsively Type-A about certain things, I try to have a date night at our dining room table once a week… ish. 

The whole eating-at-the-table ritual makes me feel very adult and in control, as if it somehow negates how much I act like a child during the rest of the day. 

Well, last week, Patrick convinced me to stop being such a control freak and relax in the kitchen instead — we didn’t need the table. So we perched ourselves on the kitchen counter for over three hours, listening to one of my favorite playlists on the stereo, drinking a lot of great beer (including the yummy Left Hand St. Vrain tripel), eating good food and just talking. 

I didn’t go near a computer, a TV or a phone all night. And I didn’t even bother trying to act like a responsible adult. It was not only really romantic, it also was therapeutic.

I highly recommend kitchen counter dates to everyone.

I’m not going to even bother trying to recap every detail of the Naptown Pint April Happy Hour on Saturday at Rams Head Tavern, because there is no way to capture how amazing and fun it was. I will say, however, I think it was the most shenanigan-filled one to date, and I can’t say “Thank you!” enough to those who came out.

So what did we do? Our motley group of 12 — along with two dinosaurs — got in touch with our inner horrible person during an epic game of Cards of Humanity, while enjoying these carefully curated beer and “junk food” pairings… 

First course
Crabbie tots and Route 1 Session IPA by Fordham

Second course
Copperhead Ale-battered onion rings and Copperhead Ale by Fordham

Third course
Paula’s peanut butter pie and Oak Barrel Stout by Dominion

Of course I’m using the terms “carefully curated” and “junk food” rather loosely. The former because I “carefully curated” our selection for the day that morning, on the couch, with no pants on. The latter because the food wasn’t the best for you, but it’s not crappy “junk food” either.

Seriously, those crabbie tots — tater tots covered in crab dip and cheese — sing to me in my dreams. And Cheetos don’t have that kind of power. 

Overall, my favorite pairing was the Oak Barrel Stout and peanut butter pie, and I don’t think I was alone either. In fact, I watched Lauren Bigelow — director of creative thinking at Fordham & Dominion — lick her plate clean right in front of me, with no shame. 

Since we were all having so much fun, we opted not to end the festivities at 4 p.m., as planned. Instead, more than few of us headed over to Galway Bay, where I continued my tradition of taking awkward photos, and then later to a booth at DRY 85, where I had shrimp steamed in Resurrection by The Brewer’s Art.

It was quite the adventure, and I’m not sure how I’m going to top myself in May. But somehow, I’ll find a way. Just like life did. And maybe — just maybe — I’ll learn to take better pictures of everyone at the event by next month, too. 

I’m dreaming big.

Last weekend was a Jailbreak-filled weekend. And I’m not complaining. (A miracle unto itself, given that, as I’m an only child, whining and complaining are two of my favorite things. After beer, cheese and sleeping.)

Friday night, co-founder Justin Bonner was on hand at Staples Corner for a tap takeover. And on Sunday, Patrick and I hit up the Friends and Family Opening at the brewery, with the T&J Waffles food truck on-site to make my tummy oh so happy. Real talk: You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten one of their waffle sandwiches. Deelish.

Waffles notwithstanding, however, the most important thing about these two events is the beer.

As you may recall, when I wrote my column on this brewery not too long ago, I declared it was going to “rock Maryland’s craft beer scene,” even though I hadn’t had anything from them yet.

Was that crazy, irresponsible journalism on my part? Probably. But most things having to do with beer are crazy and irresponsible, so who cares?

Lucky for me, my gamble paid off — which is great, because I hate looking like an a-hole. Admittedly, their Made Wit Basil a few weeks back was a complete tease, but that was expected; it’s hard to get a grasp on a brewery with one single beer. But after this weekend, I have to say I’m damned impressed.

Here’s a quick rundown of their five current major releases, with descriptions provided by the brewery…

Made Wit Basil
A variation of the classical Belgian style wheat beer with traditional notes of bitter orange peel and coriander, and infused with copious amounts of fresh basil. Unfiltered and unapologetically abnormal. (4.0 percent ABV.)

Big Punisher
A well-balanced double IPA with a semisweet malt backbone and complimented with generous amounts of citrus and tropical fruit hops. Rich, delicious and rewardingly punishing. (8.0 percent ABV.)

The Kavorka
A lightly roasted porter fermented with sweet cherries and a late addition of tart, black cherries. The result is a semisweet and slightly tart perfectly dark porter with loads of complexity and depth of flavor. This brew is certain to bring out your animal attraction for the strange and unfamiliar. (5.5 percent ABV.)

Welcome to Scoville
An artisanal style IPA combining mildly bitter hops, garden fresh jalapeno peppers and cilantro. With a moderate malt profile, this culinary concoction offers both an easy drinking IPA and a bowl full of jalapenos without the burn or bittering one might expect. Never would Scoville have imagined such a fitting match for the world’s perfect pepper. (6.9 percent ABV.)

Decider
An escape from the every day cider, this honey apple ale is perfectly apple with a crisp, refreshing, dry ale finish. Orchard fresh apple combined with a hint of spice, this ale is decidedly not the sweet or syrupy cider you’ve grown accustomed to. DECIDE for yourself. (6.0 percent ABV.)

Welcome to Scoville is not only my hands-down favorite of the bunch — seriously, the lack of heat does not matter, because it’s perfect — it also typifies what makes their first lineup so good; it embodies the respect and obvious reverence they have for their ingredients.

It isn’t about making the baddest or biggest beer, with as many ingredients as possible. Each element of what they put in their beers is given room to breathe and shine, coming through bright and clear with each sip. Scoville actually helped me appreciate how flavorful jalapenos are, outside of their obvious heat.

Another example of this reverence is The Kavorka. Full disclosure, I hate cherries. They’re like little death bombs for your mouth, intent on leaving nothing but sadness (and sometimes shame) in their wake. But The Kavorka works. Instead of the roasted malt profile of the porter and the tartness of the cherries duking it out like Cher and Madonna trying to compete for the spotlight, it’s exceptionally well-balanced. Because of this, I ended up appreciating the components separately, as well as as a whole.

Oh, and then there’s the Decider. If you don’t like cider on the whole, this honey apple ale is for you. It’s perfect, crisp and refreshing, with a nice little flash of what tastes like mulling spices at the end — nothing overpowering, just a nice subtle touch at the tail end.

The Big Punisher is also great. It’s more tropical and earthy than your run-of-the-mill imperial IPA citrus explosions, which was a nice, refreshing change. And the Made Wit Basil? It’s tasty, but in retrospect, it was a preview of what was to come. Lots of flavor packed in a little package, but my personal preferences lead me to like the others a bit better.

Overall, I’m totally digging the cut of their beer jib. But I’m also a little sad. I know they’re not going to have a core lineup, so I know one day I’m going to have to say goodbye to some of my new beer “friends.” (Seriously, I’m going to cry big, ugly “I JUST GOT DUMPED” tears when I can’t get Welcome to Scoville anymore.) That said, I’m sure they’ll be presenting me with a lot of new beer “friends,” down the road to help me cope with the loss.

Holy crap, I just wrote legit beer reviews. What’s wrong with me? Who am I?

P.S. I got to meet Hipster Brewfus on Sunday. And it was awesome.

P.P.S. Also, I didn’t realize until Sunday that the Jailbreak key was in the shape of Maryland. I’m dumb.

Tonight I cheated on Annapolis with a Boulevard Chocolate Ale at Pizzeria Paradiso in Old Town Alexandria, Va.

Sorry, Maryland.

Tonight I cheated on Annapolis with a Boulevard Chocolate Ale at Pizzeria Paradiso in Old Town Alexandria, Va.

Sorry, Maryland.

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.