Bottle #2: This Stillwater Runs Deep

This week at Scribbleskiff represents a variation on the theme of a cherished childhood bus-ride boredom-killing song. There aren’t actually 99 bottles of beer lined up on the wall — it’s more like seven. But we are taking down what we have, one bottle at a time, and sharing the contents, virtually, of course, with everyone within reach, as it were.

A Saison for the fall season.

In other (less prosaic) words, and as mentioned previously, over the next few days we will be celebrating the second “Baltimore Beer Week” by offering one brief review of a new brew each day. Selections will be based on the long list of breweries supporting the 11-day Bawlmer benefit (see who the sponsors are here), or will at least be something you might find at a bar or store near you. As always, we’ll be be choosing something unique or unusual, and we’ll provide some suggestions for pairing our picks with food for your enhanced pleasure.

Today’s selection has a personal connection for me. I met Brian Strumke, the man behind the curtain at Stillwater Artisanal Ales, when he was just a humble homebrewer. I was an interloper at a private tasting and had the pleasure of sampling one of Strumke’s pre-startup concoctions (I wrote about my experience here). In the year since then, he’s become a local hero of sorts and inspiration for a lot of Baltimore-based beer enthusiasts who, like me, have watched his meteoric rise to fame with a mix of envy and admiration.

Here’s a little info about one of his latest releases, and how to enjoy it. Cheers!

  • Cellar Door, Stillwater Artisanal Ales. Similar to its first release, Stateside, this latest creation is a Saison, or farmhouse ale. That’s a fancy term for a wheat beer brewed with herbs and spices, which in this case includes a unique type of sage. According to the brewer’s Web site, the goal was to create a bigger, more complex “colder season counterpart” to the standard Saison, traditionally a summer beer. In other words, “to craft an ale of extreme balance with a delicate complexity that allows for contemplation while also providing quaffable refreshment.” In other other words? The perfect companion for a fall picnic or tailgate party. With a base of several types of malt for sweetness, and a mix of hops to provide a savory blend of grassy herbal and citrus flavors and aroma, Cellar Door paired well with a spread of flavorful foods, from crispy fried chicken and spicy wings to Italian cold cut sandwiches (with olive oil, of course) and creamy hot crab dip on garlic toast. The key is what the label calls the beer’s “cleansing aspect” — the addition of white sage, which imparts a pleasant earthy-spiciness that, combined with the ale’s naturally racy carbonation, offers a dry and zesty finish.

I’ve also poured and swooned over Stillwater’s “Of Love & Regret,” a limited-release Belgian-style Saison, and I am excited to sample something new at a free tasting of Stillwater ales held at The Wine Source on October 13, just one of the many, many events scheduled in honor of Baltimore Beer Week. Hope to see you there, hon!

As always, tell us what you think. Have you attended any Baltimore Beer Week events? Are there other new beers, or beer and food pairings, that you think everyone should try? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

And be sure to visit (and join) the Scribbleskiff page on Facebook (find it here), where you can partake in wall-to-wall conversations, find additional information and suggestions from readers, and more.


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