Local beer connoisseur and home brewer Danny Glazier is giving beer a spicy twist with a habanero ginger pale ale he brewed with brother Justin Glazier and brother-in-law Dave Stump.
The trio call themselves Brotherhood Brewing and their ale, Fire Drill, was named the best home-brew in Montgomery County in a competition held by local distributors this winter. If they win at the regional level next week, Cuginis Restaurant and Bar of Poolesville, where Danny Glazier is manager, will get six kegs of the fiery brew, which they’ll tap at the bar to sell to customers.
Scott Smith, division sales manager for the Craft Brew Alliance, organized the home-brew competition among the Washington and Maryland distributors with whom he works. Widmer Brothers Brewery of Portland, Ore., a member of the Craft Brew Alliance, is sponsoring the competition.
When Carlee Delt, a representative with distributor Montgomery Eagle, asked Cuginis to participate, owner Barbara Stull turned to her in-house beer expert — Danny Glazier.
On Jan. 25, Brotherhood Brewing gathered on Cuginis patio with Smith and bar patrons, brewing the winning beer.
To make Fire Drill, Danny said, they steeped the grains in near-boiling water, and over several hours added in hops and malt every 20 to 40 minutes. Finally you “pitch the yeast,” to begin the fermentation process, Danny said. Over the next month, the beer ferments and gets bottle conditioned, during which “basically it’s carbonating itself in the bottle,” he said.
For flavor and heat, during the fermentation process “we just peeled the ginger, crushed it, then sliced up the habanero and put them in,” creating a piquant single-hop pale ale. Danny called it a mild pale ale, with a touch of bitterness and spice.
“It’s not overly spicy. It kind of burns on the way down a little,” he said.
Smith said, “It was tasty, a little bit of fiery bite to it. I think it would be great with some sushi.”
For winning at the county level, Widmer will throw a party at Cuginis this spring, and gave the bar a beer brewing kit.
Now the habanero ginger pale ale is in New Hampshire, where judges at Red Hook Brewery, another brewery in the Craft Brew Alliance, will choose the best home-brew among Fire Drill, three other Maryland brews and one from Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced April 2 at the Hops N Tots Hoppy Hour at the Maritime Museum in Annapolis.
If Fire Drill wins, Stull and Danny will go to New Hampshire to brew the beer at Red Hook for limited release sale at Cuginis. Turning the home-spun batches into a business piques Danny’s interest, but is still a long way off if the group ever decided to do that, he said. For now he said he will continue to build Poolesville’s beer empire through Cuginis, and brewing in his backyard in Frederick.
During the past five years, Danny has stocked an arsenal of more than 70 craft beers at Cuginis, making it a local hot spot for beer.
“I’m there at least two, maybe three times a week,” Ken Barger said. “It seems like weekly [the bar is] having an event with either a local brewery or a craft brew specialist.” The bar is hosting a pint night with Kona Brewing on April 18. Barger said these events have begun to draw crowds of craft-beer seekers from outside the small town. Often, “it’s standing room only,” he said.
And patrons who try more than 50 different beers can say they’ve conquered the Cuginis 50 Notch Challenge, and show it off with a free T-shirt.