Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Overview: DuClaw Brewing Company

By:  Jennifer Duff
Capital Cooking Contributor

Good beer and good food can be hard to find, especially if you live outside the District.  But for all you Maryland residents, look no further – DuClaw Brewing Company just revamped it’s menu and is offering a “gastropub” experience closer to your front door.  DuClaw Brewing Company is the #1 craft brewery in Maryland with restaurant locations in Baltimore, Bel Air, Bowie and Anne Arundel.  And they just stepped up their game by pairing new, seasonal fare with their delicious handcrafted brews.  We had the opportunity to go try the new menu items created by Chef Giovanni Leopardi and they did not disappoint.  

I had never been to DuClaw Brewing Company before, and I was amazed at all the beers they served on tap.  We did a beer tasting, which was an experience unto itself.  They literally have a beer for everybody.  They have beers ranging from hoppy pale ales, to sweeter Belgium-style beers, and darker stouts and porters – all made at their brewery up in Abingdon, MD.  

After much tasting and deliberation, I settled on my top 3 beer favorites –Old Flame (a copper strong ale), Mysterim (a Belgian Spiced Ale), and HellRazer (a medium-bodied IPA).  An honorable mention goes to Sweet Baby Jesus based on name alone.  How can a fun beer name like that not get the recognition it deserves?  Anyway, after all that hard work, I had worked up an appetite and it was time to enjoy some food.  

We started off with the Duck Fat Fries which were served with three types of dipping sauces – vinegar aioli, white truffle aioli, and harissa aioli.  The fries were delicious – golden, crispy and perfectly salted – a great accompaniment to a pint of beer.   The dipping sauces were creamy and flavorful, I really liked the vinegar aioli sauce which gave the fries a malty, bitter finish.    

Next, we decided to try the new Pepperjack Chorizo Croquettes, little potato doughballs stuffed with chorizo and cheese and fried until crispy.  The croquettes were good, but they could have been a little more cheesy and a little less potato-y.  I was not a fan of the marinara sauce… I think it would have been better to serve the croquettes with a spicy dip that paired with the pepperjack cheese.  The marinara sauce completely overpowered the flavor of the croquette.      

To save room for dessert, we decided to split an order of the “Pick Three Sliders” for our meal and chose the crab cake, meatball and ahi tuna sliders.  The meatball slider was super tasty, very cheesy and dense like a meatball sandwich should be.  The ahi tuna slider was also very good and the ginger wasabi mayo gave the sandwich a little ‘kick.’  The crab cake slider was a bit bland and needed something more.  Oh well, two scores, one miss.  Sometimes that happens.     

And then came dessert.  It was not your typical dessert… it was Xango… a banana cheesecake wrapped in a tortilla shell, lightly fried and then drizzled with caramel.  It was absolutely fantastic.  It was like a fun carnival treat with a creamy, smooth filling and a tropical taste.  I would have never ordered this type of dessert – I’m more of a chocolate-loving girl – but this was phenomenal.

Overall, DuClaw Brewing Company offered some tasty treats to go with their extensive selection of handcrafted brews.  If I lived in Maryland, I think I would be there every week, sampling their new seasonal beers and munching on Duck Fat Fries.  It's probably best that I live in Virginia... for the sake of my 'skinny jeans.' 

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