Sonoma Trip 2014 Header Ad
2 Gingers Header

Brian Strumke of Stillwater Might Brew More Olde Bay Saison

Just don't sell it on eBay
by Drew Lazor on Jan 4, 2012 in Beer
Brian Strumke of Stillwater Might Brew More Olde Bay Saison

For the most recent Baltimore Beer Week, Brian Strumke unveiled what might be the most unabashedly Maryland libation experience to date (save for that weird dream we once had involving Johnny Unitas and Cal Ripken wearing lacrosse gloves and crushing Bohs on the infield at Pimlico): the Stillwater Artisanal Ales founder brewed a hyper-limited run of “Olde Bay Saison,” literally featuring McCormick’s great-on-everything crab seasoning as a chief ingredient.

“I only did one batch, but nailed it on the first try,” says East Baltimore native Strumke, no stranger to unorthodox brewing challenges (see the pho-flavored beer he once crafted for Mekong, a Vietnamese restaurant in Richmond). “The hard part was there’s a lot of salt in Old Bay, so I had to be really gentle.” His steady hands combined Carapils malt, traditional saison yeast, Summit and Hallertau hops and corn (flaked, not on the cob) with the celery salt-heavy spice mix to create a beer that begins as a crisp, balanced farmhouse and finishes with a peculiar cracked-crustacean flourish (about 1000x better than crab juice).

If you snagged a taste, you’re damn lucky – the 101 cheekily-designed bottles, hyped up by beer geeks presale, went fast at Stillwater’s BBW event at Max’s Taphouse. Strumke hawked them for just $5 a pop (limit one per person), along with branded T-shirts. “It’s not about making money,” says the brewer, who donated all proceeds from the beer to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “I wanted people to come and have fun. Something like that brings a little excitement.”

So how did Strumke react when he began discovering bottles of his Baltimore baby surfacing online for way more than five bucks – including one recent eBay auction demanding a starting bid of $99.99?

On one hand, Strumke takes folks reselling his beers as a compliment. Not every brewery – especially a relatively small operation like Stillwater – puts out product rarefied enough to justify such price jackups. (“Is it flattering? Of course.”) But there’s definitely a line, and it definitely has been crossed, which puts Strumke in a position comparable to bands whose concert tickets are commandeered by scalpers and resold with outlandish markups.

“If it becomes an enterprise, with people profiting off my product for no reason, that’s ridiculous,” says Strumke. “I’m not making those margins on my beer. In fact, I didn’t make anything at all on this beer.”

Secondhand price gouging notwithstanding (“It is what it is”), Strumke’s primary concern is the quality of the beer itself – those who cellar or shelf the beer for too long might be disappointed once they finally pop the top. “When I do these limited releases, I intend them to be drank right away. With Olde Bay Saison, [if you wait too long] it’s not going to be good,” says Strumke, citing inevitable problems like oxidation and hop degradation (an ever-evolving Brett-crazy wild ale this ain’t). “It’s a good beer right now, and I want people to taste it now. The idea is that it’s consumable art, not collectible art.”

Luckily, fans of Stillwater or Old Bay Seasoning might not have to drop a freakish wad of online cash to try a glass of said art for themselves – the beer’s popularity has Strumke thinking he might crank out more in the future, this time officially. “Since it obviously pushed the limit of copyright statutes,” laughs Strumke, “if I did it again, I would definitely contact McCormick’s [to collaborate]. That would be cool. Baltimore would totally embrace it.”
 
Top photo via Stillwater on Facebook; bottom photo by Drew Lazor
Recent Articles
6 Myths About Tequila Debunked
Where to Find the Best Tiki Cocktails in Baltimore
Narragansett Brings Back Iconic 'Jaws' Can
spacer
2 Gingers Below Features
From Around The Web

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Narragansett Brings Back Iconic 'Jaws' Can

Narragansett Brings Back Iconic 'Jaws' Can

With the rollout of the new retro can, 'gansett's adopting a real live shark ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 18, 2014
File Under Bad Ideas: Beer Made with Sheep Poop

File Under Bad Ideas: Beer Made with Sheep Poop

All that poopy smoke is said to balance the IPA's sharp citrus hop character ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 17, 2014
Would You Pay $199 to Have a Cup Tell You What You're Drinking?

Would You Pay $199 to Have a Cup Tell You What You're Drinking?

Is this thing for real? Or just an overlooked sketch from Portlandia? ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 17, 2014
SPONSORED
Visit Drink Baltimore on Your Phone
Beachcomber Beers: Adventurous Brewers Draw Inspiration and Ingredients From the High Seas

Beachcomber Beers: Adventurous Brewers Draw Inspiration and Ingredients From the High Seas

Boundary-pushing beer makers utilize fossilized whale bones and seaweed to produce truly far-out brews...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 16, 2014
Here's a Video of a CRAB Stealing a Guy's Beer

Here's a Video of a CRAB Stealing a Guy's Beer

We don't know who this crab thinks he is, but it's totally not cool to steal someone's beer....read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 16, 2014
Coolest Cooler Concept Raises More Than $4.5 Million on Kickstarter

Coolest Cooler Concept Raises More Than $4.5 Million on Kickstarter

The cooler comes equipped with many life- and party-saving features ...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 15, 2014
Last Chance To Win a Trip For 2 To Sonoma, California!

Last Chance To Win a Trip For 2 To Sonoma, California!

Enter to win a trip to Sonoma County in California and visit some of the best breweries and wineries in the country!...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 15, 2014
Try a Beer From a Different State Each Week with Leinenkugel's 50 States of Beer Event

Try a Beer From a Different State Each Week with Leinenkugel's 50 States of Beer Event

Leinenkugel's Beer Garden is featuring beers from a different state each Thursday for the next year....read more ›

by Jennifer Waldera Jul 15, 2014
GABF Tickets Go on Sale Early This Year

GABF Tickets Go on Sale Early This Year

It's never too soon to start planning for the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), especially when tickets for the nation's premier annual beer festiv...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 14, 2014
Self Serving Beer Machines Launch in Minnesota Twins Stadium

Self Serving Beer Machines Launch in Minnesota Twins Stadium

Minnesota Twins' baseball team have launched self serving beer stations in Target Field....read more ›

by The Drink Nation Jul 14, 2014
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Like us on Facebook!

Close