Lowell, MD (Dec. 8, 2017)
We headed to Southern Maryland for a 6 brewery tour. Our first stop was Ruddy Duck Brewery and Grill in Solomons. While in SoMD, we met some new friends, sampled some great beer and explored a forgotten portion of Maryland.
John & I drove to Washington, DC then headed south on MD-4. An hour and a half later we were in the Ruddy Duck parking lot. It’s weird that I have lived my whole life in Maryland and yet I’ve only visited Southern Maryland a few times. This peninsula between the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay is all within a 2-hour drive of my home in Columbia, but somehow it rarely gets on my radar.
We arrived just after Ruddy Duck’s opening on Friday, noon. The parking lot and dining room were nearly empty, probably due to the predicted snow. Christine, our attentive server, originally from Catonsville, brought us a couple flights and the beer adventure began.
My beer flight notes:
- Knuckle Dragger – Sweet, chocolaty oatmeal stout. Very quaffable!
- Schwarzbier – Nice black lager with roasted/coffee flavors. Mildly sweet, solid beer.
- Dunkelweizen – Fruity, wheaty beer.
- I.P.A Hoppy Pale Ale – Nice, well-balanced IPA. Enjoying the subtle sweetness with yummy piney hops.
- Krampus – Belgian sweet with pronounced bitter hop flavor. Some nice Belgian esters with a grassy taste. Nice beer.
- Festbier – Interesting Marzen, almost peppery with nice malty backbone.
- Kickin And Screamin – NE-style IPA with a sweet hop flavor. An unexpected hop flavor.
- Helles – A crisp Helles with fruity undertones.
- Apricot Nouveau – Very sweet, almost soda-like. Effervescent and refreshing. A fun beer and gluten-free! Brewer Matt says “The gluten free beers are made with: Sorghum and Brown Rice extract, and domestic honey. Even the yeast strain we use is cultured in a gluten free medium at the lab. Previous versions contained quinoa but the rising popularity quickly drove the price up too high to justify using it.”
We each had a salad and shared some spicy onion rings (highly recommended). We were both quite impressed with the beer in this brewpub. I couldn’t pick a favorite but the gluten-free Apricot Nouveau, a very refreshing and unusual treat, was a pleasant surprise.
We were lucky to have come when brewer Matt Glass was in. We learned that he had previously brewed at the Weeping Radish Brewery in the Outer Banks. John and I have both visited North Carolina’s oldest microbrewery and reminisced about our visits there. Matt honed his brewing skills at the Weeping Radish, perfecting the making of German-style beers with guidance from the Radish’s Bavarian owner and staff.
The Ruddy Duck brewery is running at capacity, brewing for both Ruddy Duck locations in Solomons and St. George, as well as some neighboring restaurants and bars. Matt and the Ruddy Duck team took a trip to China investigating expanding their 8.5-barrel brewing system to meet the potential demand of a third restaurant.
All brewers run into a problem from time-to-time. (I’m an expert in that department.) Matt let us sample his latest mistake in progress – his apprentice mistakenly added an entire bag of black patent malt instead of a lighter malt. This beer in progress was black as night with overpowering tastes of roasted malt and chocolate. Matt is trying to salvage this potential disaster by hopping the hell out of it. I’m curious to learn how this one turns out.
We spent a great afternoon with Matt. On our way out he asked us to say hello to Jason and Cindy Mullikin of Mully’s Brewery at our next stop.