Originally we were planning a road trip to Virginia for our fourth wedding anniversary. But as soon as I sent this in an email to Patrick, all of our original plans were canceled, and I was given the directive to purchase tickets to the event immediately.
You see, he’s an Annapolis and Eastern Shore guy, born and bred, so he has his priorities. At last count, we had seven different Old Bay products in our pantry. No joke.
BACKGROUND: HOW DEAD RISE HELPS MARYLAND
Flying Dog's Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale isn't the first time the Frederick-based brewery has crafted a beer for a good cause. (Here's a memory refresher on their Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout, which benefits the Oyster Recovery Partnership.)
This time around, Flying Dog and Free State icon Old Bay partnered to create a beer benefiting True Blue, which is part of Maryland Department of Natural Resource’s Maryland Seafood program. The True Blue initiative focuses on another thing Marylanders are extremely prideful about, aside from Old Bay and putting the state flag on every conceivable piece of clothing.
Crabs, our “local luxury.”
Both Ben Savage, chief marketing officer of Flying Dog, and Steve Vilnit, director of fisheries marketing for DNR, were on-hand at the release party to talk about what True Blue does, and why it’s so important. Essentially a surprisingly small number of restaurants statewide use local crab meat in their crab cakes. Moreover, the state doesn’t mandate any disclosure by restaurants regarding where they source their crab meat.
This is not only a safety issue — because mystery meat in school lunches was gross enough — it also negatively impacts the local industry for commercial crabbers, putting thousands out of business.
Through the True Blue certification program, restaurants, retail stores and other food service businesses can proudly display to patrons they support our local crab industry. In addition, diners can rest easy, because they know exactly what they’re eating. For example, Factors Row is True Blue-certified, and you can see that on their menu. (Other local True Blue establishments include Davis’ Pub, Vin 909, Cantler’s Riverside and all of the DuClaw locations.)
In addition to the beer itself, proceeds from The Dead Rise Cookbook — put together by Flying Dog along with renowned regional chefs like Bryan Voltaggio and Mike Isabella — benefit True Blue. I can safely say that, during my drunken flip-through in our hotel room following the event, the recipes looked dope.
If that’s not an endorsement you can get behind, I don’t know what is.
THAT’S NICE, LIZ, BUT IS THE BEER ANY GOOD?
I’ll be straight-up with you: If you’re looking for an in-your-face Old Bay bomb, you’re going to be disappointed. It’s that simple.
It’s got a spicy, citrus-y, bread-y aroma that kind of reminds of the nose on Jailbreak’s Made Wit Basil, but with a little less heft and more of a kick. In terms of taste, this is a savory beer, though the citrus flavors of the hops provide a nice balance. The Old Bay is there, but you’re not going to drown in it, which is good — it’s subtle and doesn’t linger too long thanks to the somewhat tart finish.
Dead Rise is pretty darned good on its own, but it’s what I like to call a perfect “Companion Beer.” Meaning this beer shines when it’s around properly-paired food — and this is absolutely by design. For example, it was perfect with the crab cakes we ate at the event, and I can’t wait to drink it while pickin’ crabs this spring and summer. But I couldn’t imagine wanting to do so if the Old Bay was more pronounced in Dead Rise. There is such a thing as “too much,” guys. Even with Old Bay.
One last tidbit: I love how the ABV only clocks in at 5.6 percent. The last thing I (or those around me) need is for me to be hammered while also wielding a crab hammer. The world is a safer place this way.
OTHER THINGS OF NOTE!
It took us until our fourth wedding anniversary to finally break out our wedding flutes to enjoy a small toast. And, lulz, we didn’t even do it with champagne — we did it with Dead Rise, as you can see in the first photo. Yes, I was the insane girl that brought wedding flutes to a beer release party. Whatever. It was worth it.
Bryan Voltaggio was there on Friday — pictured above — as his restaurant VOLT was catering the event. I couldn’t bring myself to be a total creeper and tell him that (a) the tattoos on his arms were amazing, and (b) the crab cakes they were serving were some of the best we ever had. So if you happen across this blog post, Bryan, — I know you won’t — your tattoos are dope, as is your food.
Finally, I know this isn’t the first Old Bay beer Flying Dog has done. There was an Old Bay Gose previously. Just thought I’d point this out before someone else felt the need to do so.
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