Saturday, February 21, 2015

Heavy Seas Brewery Tour

Heavy Seas Brewery is just outside of Baltimore. They offer free, child-friendly tours on the weekend, so we took advantage in the middle of a cold January. The brewery has a nice tap room that serves their ales. Tour participants can pay five dollars to get a souvenir pint glass and five samplings. We arrived just before the tour started so I did get a glass but not a sample before we headed onto the floor of the brewery.

First stop on the tour

The tour guide explained the bottling process in some detail. The equipment they use is fairly new, having replaced the old bottling equipment from the previous soda-producing plant. The brewery spent years finding replacement parts for the fifty year old equipment and finally upgraded in the past few years. The machinery is now much quicker and easier to maintain.

Modern technology!

Beer bottles on the line

The guide asked us to guess the two most common enemies of beer. They are light and oxygen. To prevent as much UV light from hitting the beer as possible, they use brown bottles. To prevent as much oxygen as possible, they use a special filling and capping machine that uses carbon dioxide to force out any air in the top of the bottle. That's why a bottle has that sound when opened.

Next, he showed us one of the key ingredients in beer--hops. Hops are flowers that are dried. They give bitter flavoring to beer. He handed some out to us to feel and crush in our hands. Then we smelled our hands and they smelled delicious.


Nearby I saw an interesting barrel but didn't get to ask about it. I assumed it was some sort of cleaning solution.

Suspicious barrel

Label that causes suspicion

We walked among the large vats and the guide told us about another key ingredient--malt. Malt comes from the barley plant and it gives beer a sweet flavor. The brewer's art is in balancing out the hops and malt to provide a pleasing taste for customers.


The vats were impressively huge and had their own fun warning signs.

Barrels and vats

Where do I get a permit?

Near the end of the tour, we saw the old equipment that was no longer used by the brewery.

Old equipment

More of the old equipment

We walked back through the storage area to the tap room where I had the chance to try some of the ales:
  • Gold--"This easy-drinking session beer pours a deep golden color. It smells slightly floral and herbal, thanks to a hopback full of Cascade and Centennial hops. Gold is tasty and refreshing, with a round mouthfeel. In 2010, it took awards at both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup." I enjoyed this beer though it wasn't my favorite.
  • Powder Monkey--"At Heavy Seas, we brew a traditional English-style pale ale with our own East Coast twist: UK Fuggles and Goldings dominate the flavor of Powder Monkey, but has subtle notes of citrus and flower from Cascade hops added in the boil and hopback. Brass in color, Powder Monkey, like all of our beers, is well balanced: distinct bitterness and a slight malt sweetness characterize the taste. In 2010, it won a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup; in 2008, it won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival." I liked this a lot, it reminded me of European beers.
  • Siren Noire--"Our Siren Noire isn’t your father’s chocolate stout. We’ve used almost 3 pounds of Belgian coco nibs per barrel. We’ve aged it for five weeks in bourbon barrels with vanilla beans added. A mix of dark malts gives Siren Noire a well-rounded body that is decidedly chocolatey—but without being extraordinarily sweet. Brewers Gold hops contribute an earthy spiciness, with notes of black current." This was very chocolaty and amazingly delicious. If we hadn't had to run out because J was bored, I probably would have bought some.
We definitely recommend visiting the Heavy Seas Brewery for their tour!

N in awe

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