Family lore (and what genealogy research I’ve done) states that my mother’s side of the family arrived in America when three brothers came over from Germany around 1830. Two of the brothers scattered and sadly, are currently lost in history, but one of the brothers Henry, ended up settling in Claiborne MD to make his living as a waterman (fisherman, oysterer, etc) and farmer on the Chesapeake Bay.
When I was young we often traveled to Claiborne in the summertime to stay at the house that belonged to his grandson, or my great grandfather depending on which direction on the family tree you’d wish to take. The house was a modest two story with a porch and a detached garage that once served as barn, chicken coop, and coal shed. By the time I could remember, the outhouse had long since been gone, but my mom and her brothers and sister remembered it well.
Summers in Claiborn consisted mainly of two things, crabbing and fishing. Many days we’d get up early to hit the tide right on the flats to wade for grabs. Any day we came home with less than a bushel was considered “a bad day.” Small shedding crabs were kept aside for the evening’s fishing which many times didn’t end till after sun down.
Claiborne is situated on a peninsula of land that separates Tighman creek from the Eastern Bay and is literally a two road town. Both roads end at a landing that once acted as the terminal for a series of ferries that came in and out of the town including one that ran between Claiborne and Annapolis starting in 1919 and continued until the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built. The town is located past the well known Eastern shore town of Saint Michael’s, which houses The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, awesome seafood restaurants and Eastern Shore Brewing.
Eastern Shore Brewing opened in 2008 when Adrian and Lori Moritz realized through discussion with locals that the town needed a microbrewery. I grabbed some beers from Eastern Shore in hopes of finding something good. My family spent a good amount of time down at my Great Grandmother’s house in Claiborne during the summers and ran into Saint Michael’s from time to time so I feel a little kindred spirit to the area.
I started with the Saint Michael’s Ale (O.G 1.048, F.G 1.010, ABV 5.0%, SRM 13.1 and IBU 30), which I found to be a nice, drinkable beer with its light hop spiciness and touch of malty sweetness. Being a brewery on the Eastern shore of the Chesapeake, you are required by maritime law to brew a beer that would drink well with steamed crabs. I believe this beer fills that requirement. Bring on the Old Bay!
Next was their Knot So Pale Ale (O.G 1.062, F.G 1.012, ABV 6.8%, SRM 7.6 and IBU 76), a beer which poured with a big fluffy white head that wasn’t going anywhere any time fast. Again, this presented itself as nice drinkable beer but the flavor was interesting, a combination of spice, caramel with maybe a touch of honey. There’s enough bitter in the back to balance it, but a sticky sweetness lingers. I didn’t like this nearly as much at the ale, but I’m sure it would appeal to someone.
Finally was Duck Duck Goose Porter (O.G 1.052, F.G 1.010, ABV 6.0%, SRM 23 and IBU 32) one of my favorite beer styles. The website states that it has a coffee and chocolate backbone. The coffee (to me) is actually more like the whole skeletal system. The moment I sipped it the words “cold coffee” leapt at me. The finish had a dry bitterness to it, much like a coffee or unsweetened chocolate. It’s a decent beer, but to much coffee for my taste. If the coffee/chocolate profiles were flipped as far their prominence were concerned then this beer would have been much more to my taste.
Part of my family still owns my Great Grandfather’s house, and a couple more in Claiborne, and they still go down often. Sadly, I haven’t been down in quite some time, but certain things tend to still take me back there; crabs, seeing rockfish on a menu or croakers at a fish market, the singing of frogs at night. Because of these fond memories I really wanted to fall in love with the beers from Eastern Shore Brewing and I’m going to admit, that didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing here to keep me from stopping at the Brewery and spending some time in their tasting room to see what other offerings they have. There just wasn’t enough here to displace anything that’s already on my normal drinking list.
And for the record, Wild Goose Ale is still my favorite “local” beer with crabs. If only it wasn’t so hard to find because the brand has been passed around from one brewery to another.
Time for another beer.