DuClaw Brewing makes some of the most-respected beers in Maryland. But despite the proximity of cities like Washington, DC and Philadelphia, few beers lovers outside of Maryland have heard of DuClaw.
DuClaw is a microbrewery that supplies four of their own pubs. 98% of their beer is sold this way, with Oriole Park making up the bulk of the rest of their sales. This unusual arrangement was borne of Maryland’s curious brewpub laws.
Initially, DuClaw was a brewpub. When they wished to expand, they were informed that they could open a second location, but not put a brewery there. So they serviced the second location with the 15bbl brewery at the first.
When the time came for further expansion, they were not allowed. In other words, as a brewpub, they could open a second location but not a third. So they opened up a microbrewery instead, at a site separate from the pubs.
One of the keys to the company’s success, from a beer lover’s perspective, is beer-friendly ownership. Proprietor Dave Benfield was the original brewer, and while as a businessman he understands the need to make beers that he can sell to everyone who walks through the door, he also has a desire to stay true to the company’s roots as a craft brewer. This has allowed Brewmaster Jim Wagner to dabble a bit.
Wagner has kept his lineup flexible, not wanting to stick to one genre of brewing or another. The result has seen DuClaw hit with English, American and Belgian-style beers. Respective examples would be the sweet, caramelly Old Flame, the brash, citrusy Serum (an Imperial IPA), and the powerful Quadrupel-style Deception.
Following up on Deception, DuClaw released last year what they term a “pent”, referring to five, as in one step above a Quad. This was known as Repent. They brewed it in May 2005 and unleashed it in the fall. Made from a Munich malt base with rye, cara-aroma malt, corn and candi sugar, this limited edition 14.6 % behemoth opened a few eyes, and probably shut a few, too.