8/31/2013

Mt. Airy Craft Beer at Milkhouse Brewery

Say hello to the owner, Tom Barse, and find some peace far from the frenetic media 24/7 feeding frenzy at the rural peace of the Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm in Mount Airy. 8253 Dollyhyde Road, Mount Airy, MD 21771, 301 829 6950
http://www.milkhousebrewery.com/home
I first discovered Tom Barse while searching videos about Mt. Airy, MD as part of my civil defense work. The brief video about how he grows cascade hops on Stillpoint Farm is very educational and can be found here: Hops Video by Tom Barse at Stillpoint Farms.
This is what I find most fascinating: the guy invents a way to separate hops and he does not patent it. He told me he sees it as "open source." Can you imagine? He helps others who grow hops to build their own hop separators. Unreal.
Use your GPS to find it because it is hidden back along winding single lane roads with miles of corn, soybeans and cow pastures on gently rolling hills and forests.
I made a quick hand map and tried to find it. Not a good idea. This is real rural country with outlier mystery and topography that will make your head spin. Around every curve is an even more magnificent landscape you want to pull over and record with a photo...only to find that a utility truck has suddenly appeared and you will need to drive forward because there is no where on these narrow roads to pull over.
After I spent about an hour driving, turning around, and trying to find the fine, sweet brew they offer there, I finally did, and was I glad I did!
Listen well and save time getting there. Do not use MD Route 75 like I did. Instead, use MD Route 26. Turn onto Mappleville from 26 until you hit the fork in the road for Dollyhyde. I just saved you about a half hour and lots of frustration getting there.
I will give you their self-description and then my own.
"Stillpoint Farm, nestled in the beautiful agricultural heartland of Frederick County, Maryland is home to Maryland's first farm brewery - Milkhouse Brewery at Still Point Farm. In addition, the farm offers a unique array of products and services including Leicester Longwool sheep and fiber products, local honey, fresh hops, eggs and hay. We believe that diversity is at the heart of small-scale farming. We are strongly committed to maintaining a sustainable approach to farming that preserves the land and the agricultural heritage we feel fortunate to continue."
We are now open to the public on weekends!  Our hours are Fridays from 3:00 to 7:00 and Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 to 6:00.
 True Farm House Ales
Including traditional favorites and unique beers from ingredients grown on the farm.Beers on tap for August 30 - September 1:
Stillpoint Farm Harvest Pale Ale.  This malty, full bodied, harvest ale is loaded with fresh Stillpoint Farm Cascade hops - but not "over the top".  This very quaffable brew is only 4.4 ABV and 38 IBU's.  Another one you can enjoy all day!
Second Step IPA.  A little more oomph than the Stairway IPA, see if you can tell the difference!  We need the extra strength for bringing in the hop harvest. This is the second step on the stairway to hoppiness.  This very limited edition IPA is worth the trip!  6.3 ABV, 65 IBU's
"Red Eye" Porter.  A toasty, dry porter with a roasty nut finish - surprisingly refreshing porter for a Summertime dark ale.  5% ABV, 40 IBU's.
Dollyhyde Farmhouse Ale. - Tapping on Sunday August 25!  This spicy "Blonde" Belgian Style farmhouse ale is full of special treats from this year's wheat and honey harvest.  If you like a belgian style ale you will fall in love with this one!  5.3 ABV, 23 IBU's.  Come try this golden nectar.
 All of our beers are brewed with hops from Stillpoint Farm.   Come try how wonderful and different East Coast hops can be! We do not filter or clarify our beers with "finings".  Check out the "natural" difference.
Coming soon: Dollyhyde Third Step IPA.  Ready in about 3 or 4 weeks.  The next step on the Stairway to Hoppiness!  A little more malt backbone - get ready for Fall!
Coppermine Creek Dry Stout.  Our sessionable Irish Style Dry Stout will warm your Fall fantasies and make you wish we were open every day!
 Come enjoy a pint or two, try a tasting of what's on tap, or take a growler home with you!
8253 Dollyhyde Rd
Mt. Airy, Maryland 21771
Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm is Maryland's first Farm Brewery under Maryland's new law.  We carefully hand craft fine beers with ingredients grown on our farm in Frederick County, Maryland.
We are proud of our "Farm Grown and Hand Crafted" products.

Now, I stopped in on Friday, August 30th, 2013 and here is my take.

This is a very, very special place made more special by the friendliness and knowledge of the owners and the people who work there.
This is not a bar, a club, a restaurant, or another roadside attraction. It is a temple to beer. The owner, Tom Barse, has been brewing beer for 40 years. When the bureaucrats in Maryland didn't know what to do when he approached them about opening a craft brewery and they did not know what to do about it...he wrote the bill that went to the Maryland legislature that permitted it to happen.  
When I walked in, I was greeted by Bridget at the stand up bar. She was very friendly, very welcoming, very Irish as her name indicates. Then it dawned on  me.
Although very new, modern, extremely clean, American, and very well designed interior...it was the same Irish pub I visited in Ireland as a 19-year old student in 1975. The same sense of ease, belonging, comfort, friendliness, kindness, beauty and good times.
As I stood at the bar, I met the barmaid Bridget, the owner Tom Barse, workers from the back a mere few feet away that I could see from the small bar, and the workers who made the mystical brew. Very quickly we got into a number of conversations that were fun, fast, and human.
I asked Tom if I could take photos of his place and he was very accommodating. He let me take photos of the tasting room and the brewery. He even offered to take me to the hop separator to take a photo, but people arrived and he had to take care of them.
What I found especially interesting is that there were money people there at the outside patio that looks at the corn fields and workers inside at the bar all mingling and talking and mixing in harmony...again, like all the Irish pubs I've visited in my misspent youth and after. 
Tom's an impressive guy. In the short time I was able to observe him, I saw him pay special attention to ALL his customers. For example, one woman came in from Wisconsin asking about the whole microbrewery business as that is going gangbusters in a heavily German ancestry, heavily beer friendly state like Wisconsin. This was when Tom was about to take me to his hop separating machine, and he turned to talk to her instead and answered her many questions. Good business, that, and I admire him for having his priorities straight.
At one point we got talking poetry and the told me about the St. Patrick's Day poetry reading all day in Hyattsville, MD. I never heard of it before, but it sounds like a great way to celebrate St. Patrick and I will try to make it to the reading.
He's that kind of brew house owner, one who can go from a talk about the finer points of brewing with a woman from Wisconsin to talking to me about Irish poetry to talking to another patron about his electric cigarette peanut butter cup flavoring...all in a matter of a seconds.
Several times the phone rang and Tom would announce, "It's the boss!" and talk to his wife about the operation. Wise man, that Tom.
And the patrons were very mixed...diverse as they say these days...some from the money crowd, some from the skilled working crowd, some local farmers, and some young people very much in love locking eyes and pair bonding. 
An artist spoke to Tom about handing his art for sale on the walls. A local farmer stopped by with two baskets of tomatoes for him. The woman from Wisconsin was obviously very in love with her date but took time when getting a pint to talk to Tom about the finer aspects of the art of brewing.
So go to the Milhouse Brewery at Stillpoint farm. Enjoy a pint and the conversation that goes with a pint in the ancient Irish way...good craic, good talk, good fellowship, good exercise of the soul and the brain and the wit.
There is commerce there and there is art and poetry. No doubt there will be music...hmm...my classical violin playing wee one Eamon should see about playing there. Eamon Curley Plays Culley Backey Hop and Concerto No. 9
And young people in love who find their way there.
Given the beauty of the sun cascading across the gently rolling hills of corn and soybean that surround the Milkhouse brewery, this is a place where commerce, love, art, poetry, friendship, and a great, great pint mix in kind of setting that is rare in this media-centric world. 

Oh...how does the beer taste! Like liquid gold. Tom knows how to brew a pint that is smooth, tasty, golden, and...yes...hoppy. I had the Red Eye Porter and the Dollyhyde Farmhouse Ale. Both were...just smooth, tasty and sublime. (The great thing about beer, unlike wine, is that you don't have to use way too many adjectives to describe it.)Well done, Tom Parse (and the "boss" Carolann McConaughy...although I did not get to meet the brains behind the operation this time).Again, here is the link if you want to drive out there and have a pint (or two):  http://www.milkhousebrewery.com/home

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