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Jan 15 2013
The Pyrate’s Grog: Heavy Seas Plank II

Being a resident of the frequently judged area of Baltimore, I can say that I enjoy living here. Sure, meth is probably being pushed at the children’s bus stop at the crest of my neighborhood and I’m fairly certain I heard at least 2 gunshots last evening, but all of that gets cancelled out by the ever expanding stockade of breweries growing within the foundation of local craft beer meccas that have already solidified themselves in my life.

Speaking of such a foundation, no one can talk Baltimore beer without mentioning Clipper City and its Heavy Seas beer. While Clipper City Brewing Company is still the name behind the beer,  all brews fall under the Heavy Seas brand and into one of its 3 different beer fleets (Clipper, Pyrate and Mutiny). While their Clipper Fleet is chock-full of award winning, easy drinkin’ session beers and their Pyrate Fleet is a brawny herd of delicious seasonals, the Mutiny Fleet ratchets things up a notch. This is the fleet that gives the brewers their time to shine. These beers are by far Heavy Seas more adventurous recipes and are only sold in 22oz. bomber fashion. Any beer bottle size that garners the nickname of “bomber” not only garners my attention, but also my affection.**

**If you have trouble agreeing I’m sure there is a ferry en route to Canada that you are welcome to board.

While I have had the majority of Heavy Sees Mutiny Fleet beers in most of their iterations, today was the first time I had the pleasure of cozying up to Plank II. Plastered on the ass end of the bottle, you will find it described by Heavy Seas as a Dopplebock style lager matured with specially treated Poplar and Eucalyptus wood planks. A complex description for a complex beer.

When I visited Heavy Seas on their brewery tour, they once again emphasized that craft beer should always be enjoyed from a glass and never from a bottle or can because the zest and aromas are imprisoned within and need a chance to escape for the drinker to enjoy. They also suggest that even though copious amounts of foam are produced you should pour the beer aggressively from the bottle to ensure the release of all the intricate flavors that the brewers spent so much time perfecting in each batch.

Not one to disregard the advice of anyone that spends their “9-to-5″ brewing deliciousness, I slung the cap off my bomber of Plank II and thrust my bottle to the glass like I was qualifying for a butter churning speed competition. The beer poured rich and dark, giving off a slight Guinness like cascade effect with a chestnut colored head. I took a generous whiff and while there wasn’t much of an aroma I did smell a bit of roasted maltiness. My first initial gulps gave way to to a slight burnt, dark chocolate flavor and a semi-sweet finish. Very pleasant and smooth. I was shocked that I didn’t immediately get the “wood” flavoring that I was expecting from a “wood aged” beer. But fear not as the flavors definitely changed a bit as my pint glass depleted and the beer began to lose its chill. Smokiness and that evasive “wood” pungency came through in droves. It was a welcome flavor change as the oakiness balanced out the initial sweetness and really kept the beer interesting.

Another flavor nuance that made its presence known towards the end of my bomber was the infamous alcohol (boozy) taste that has a tendency to creep about in more potent beers. At 8.5%, Plank II is no slouch in the abv. department, but I was surprised at how much it made its presence known in flavoring towards the end of the bottle. Another of Heavy Seas Mutiny Fleet beers, The Great’er Pumpkin,  packs a 9% punch, hibernates for three weeks in bourbon barrels and (in my opinion) doesn’t have nearly as strong of an alcohol flavor profile as the end of my Plank II bomber. Some of you might welcome that reminder of potency on your taste buds while slugging beer, it just isn’t my thing. It came off a little bitter and kind of threw off my enjoyment. At least it came about in the end when I was just about finished.

Before wrapping up, I should touch back on the potency of the beer. A beer that comes in at a stout 22oz and 8.5% abv. is obviously not one you would want to be lining up multiple bottles of for a night of bingeing…unless you want to find yourself feeling bloated, pantless and passed out in the bath tub. This is a heavy lager and it will sneak up on you if you don’t give it the respect it deserves. It’s perfect for throwing a couple of logs on the fire pit, kicking your feet up and sipping away amidst the autumn air.

Will I buy Heavy Seas Plank II again? Of course. Will I go out of my way to find a bottle? Probably not. I love Heavy Seas beer and while this is a welcomed staple in their lineup, they have other beers that are more deserved of your time and hangover. I give Heavy Seas Plank II 3 Beer & Pig Coozies out of 5.

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