TIPSY TOURIST: Heavy Seas ahead

So many choices...

So many choices…

A sample of Heavy Seas' Below Decks barley wine — and a Cannon Fuse, a cocktail featuring Loose Cannon.

A sample of Heavy Seas’ Below Decks barley wine — and a Cannon Fuse, a cocktail featuring Loose Cannon.

Sometimes a beer is a beer. Sometimes it’s part of a great meal. Heavy Seas beers shined at dinner the other day. They weren’t just delicious on their own, they were ingredients in the food and the cocktails.

Heavy Seas Alehouse, on the edge of Harbor East, clearly isn’t content to pour you a beer to go with your pretzels.

Take a look at their menu and you’ll see beer everywhere: in the nuts, as part of the broth those mussels are swimming in, or mixed in the sauce. They’ve also got pairing recommendations for their entrees.

Or as part owner Vince Cassino said, “We do a lot more with the beer than just drink it.”

He isn’t kidding.

Did I mention the cocktails made with their beer? We’re not talking boilermakers here. There’s a whole  menu of beer-inspired concoctions. A pear-flavored martini is sweetened with a not-so-simple syrup made with Powder Monkey English Pale Ale. A citrusy Cannon Fuse is made with Loose Cannon  IPAand a dark Lost Cargo mixes stout with port and bourbon. I couldn’t tell you which I liked best…but I’m going back for a Lost Cargo.

And then there is the beer itself.

The alehouse serves up the brews Hugh Sisson brews at Clipper City Brewery in southwest Baltimore County. Sisson is a pioneer in Baltimore’s brew pub world. His Sisson’s pub in Federal Hill in the early 1990s changed the way I thought about beer. Frankly, I hated the stuff in bottles and cans. Pale and watery, it tasted bitter and just, well, icky.

Still have my growler from Sisson's brew pub.

Still have my growler from Sisson’s brew pub.

I don’t remember what I drank at Sisson’s anymore but I remember the color was darker, the flavor was still bitter but it was well-rounded with other notes of fruit or hops or something that made me want more. I liked it so much I returned with a table-full of friends and took home a growler.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and Heavy Seas is brewing all kinds of ales and stouts and lagers, a few seasonal brews, too.

The alehouse has plenty of options on tap. I got to taste a few of Heavy Seas’ rarer brews: a cask-conditioned TnC Cannon, a barley wine and their newly bottled  Siren Noir Chocolate Stout.

TnC Cannon is a variety of Loose Cannon made just for the alehouse, with Twigs and Cherries (oak and sour cherry flavors) added to Heavy Seas’ most popular ale.

Heavy Seas Alehouse is located in a converted tack factory.

Heavy Seas Alehouse is located in a converted tack factory that was used as a hospital for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.

I never heard of barley wine before but what a revelation. It’s a little mellower than the usual brew and served a touch warmer. Fruity, malty and strong, it made a great impression.

The chocolate stout is made with Belgian cocoa nibs. What  great combination of sweet, bitter and rich. The right way to end the evening.


Sailors tell stories, pyrates make legends…a Heavy Seas slogan on the wall at the alehouse.