Breweries and brewpubs – like people, give off different vibes. (I like to kid Jean that his “Tired Hands” is actually Ambler’s “Forest and Main’s” evil twin…). The vibe you get when you visit the Heavy Seas Brewery and tap room in Halethorpe MD – just south of Baltimore – is that they are really happy to be there, and really like showing people how much they care about their beer.
Let me try to explain what I mean: To start with, how many brewery taprooms have you been to where the staff pouring tastes are actually the people who work in the brewery? Last weekend when a friend and I visited, handing out our tastes of Heavy Seas delicious beers were Diane and Dontai (who work on the brewery’s packaging line), and Chad, one of the brewers.
And they are happy to tell you how much they love working at Heavy Seas, and how their team is always focused on the positive. “We had some angry people here, but we weeded them out” mused Chad Twigg with his omnipresent grin. “I get up every day and think about how I love my job”. You can tell that he isn’t kidding.
Dan Bueter – who manages the Tap Room at the Brewery – talks about his job being made for him. “I reform domestic beer drinkers one beer at a time”. He pointed out that it was only 6 months ago that Maryland passed a law that allowed Breweries to have tap rooms like the one at Heavy Seas. “We are still working on it – we wanted to make it look like you are walking into a ship…” I can’t wait to see that.
And the beers are really good. “Loose Cannon runs the brewery” says Chad – but he also gets to make ferkins with all types of additions and yeasts. “I have made beers with bacon, peppers, wood chips soaked in Makers Mark – it’s a lot of fun”.
Their year round standard brews other than the IPA include a tasty pale ale “Powder Monkey” (4.75% abv), their “Uber Pils” (7%) “Small Craft Warning” and “Cutless” a Vienna Lager and GABF winner. This inventive selection is just the start – as there are specialties like “Black Cannon” (Black IPA) and the hop blast that is “Big DIPA” 10.5% aged with oak. I found myself seeing stars after repeated sampling of this powerful beer.
As Chad squired our tour around the brewery, his passion for his job and dedication to really sharing interesting information with his guests was clear. “I want to be sure I am entertaining, but also educate”. While standing in front of a fermenting tank he pointed out how much of his job is cleaning and sanitation. “Brewing is 85% cleaning – I am in many ways just a beer janitor”.
As the tour ended up back in the tap room, it was time to snap up some beer swag, and be happy that you have a momento of this very pleasant experience. Only wish that Chris Leonard – old brewer friend from the General Lafayette Inn – had been there. (He is now the brewmaster and Ops manager.)
Outside the “Smoking Swine” food truck offered succulent ribs and pulled pork, and you can sit in the sun on the deck sharing a pint or two with other beer enthusiasts – just very glad to be there. It’s a must visit for all beer appreciators. Drink Heavy Seas and become one of their happy crew!