In the past week Stillwater Artisanal Ales, a gypsy brewing project headed by Baltimore brewer Brian Strumke and Brooklyn importer Brian Ewing, has hit D.C. in a big way with their flagship beer and first collaboration. Strumke, a former techno DJ from Baltimore and Ewing, owner of 12 Percent Imports in Brooklyn decided to enter the world of commercial brewing together after Ewing tasted some of Strumke’s homebrew and was more than impressed.
Neither party had a facility to make beer or the capital to build one. No brewery? No problem. Following suit from Mikkeller, a successful nomadic brewing project “in” Denmark, Strumke and Ewing borrow space and time from production breweries in the United States and Europe to make their unique, flavorful beers.
This January Strumke made his first batch of Stillwater, Stillwater Stateside Saison, at Dog Brewing in Westminster, Maryland. The beer was first available in casks and kegs in Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, and New York. Both ChurchKey and Pizzeria Paradiso had Stateside in mid-March, but the small supply didn’t last long. We have had our eye out for bottles and we ran into our first big displays earlier this week at D’Vines (pictured) and Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits. (We hear that bottles have also been available at Rodman’s and Whole Foods P Street. Have you seen them?)
Since starting brewing operations in January, Strumke has launched a series of collaboration beers with Oliver Alesin Baltimore. We got a taste of the first beer in that series this week at ChurchKey where Channel Crossing Belgian Bitter made its D.C. debut. Strumke and Oliver head brewer Steve Jones are creating “where Belgian meets English” style hybrids by combining methods and ingredients from both sides of the English Channel.
Based on our taste of the first batch last night, beer lovers have a lot to look forward to from these two talented brewers. The Belgian Bitter had sweet tropical fruit flavors with a little sour cherry and dark chocolate hidden underneath and finished dry with a subtle wood characteristic due to the French Oak in the cask. The #DCBrews Tweet Up crew hit Channel Crossing pretty hard last night (present party included), so we are not sure how long ChurchKey’s supply will last.
D.C. will be seeing plenty of Stillwater in the near future. The first Stillwater beer brewed in Belgium is scheduled to hit the area in mid-June. Of Love and Regret is a saison brewed in a small brewery in Beerzel, Belgium, with an array of spring botanicals and grassy hops to celebrate spring. Strumke also brewed a collaboration with Matt Allyn fromVoodoo Breweryin Meadville, Pennsylvania. His second collaboration beer is a dark wheat brewed with pureed raisins, hibiscus, juniper, rose hips, and schisandra berries. Finally, the latest in the Stateside series is a refreshing saison summer ale brewed with white sage called Cellar Door. Be on the look out for all three in the coming months.