Burley Oak Brewing Company - located in Berlin, Maryland only a few miles from the beaches in Ocean City. The brewery takes its name from local history. The name of the town is a shortened version of a local tavern "Burleigh Inn" - derived from the Burley Plantation - and the building housing the facility was once a cooperage - hence Burley Oak. Since opening in August 2011, owner Bryan Brushmiller has kept a continual supply of about a dozen beers on tap where consumers can sample by the pint or take home with growlers. I was a bit confused by this situation since the brewery isn't a restaurant and thought selling by the pint was illegal in Maryland. And yes it still is; except Brushmiller was able to get the Worcester County in Annapolis to carve out an exemption for Burley Oak so they could operate as a pub and not a restaurant. Nicely played.
On my visit the brewery was pouring nine beers, plus a root beer, and was immediately impressed with the diversity of the offerings. There was a Kolsch, Pale Ale, Belgian Ale, IPA, Saison, Wit, Imperial Red, and a Milk Stout. Wow. And two of the beers, Pale Ryeder and SummaRye utilize local rye from Snow Hill. I included the later, a farmhouse saison, to my sample of four along with the Port d'Orange Wit, Cherry Poppins (Belgium Cherry Ale), and Black Cow Milk Stout. Through previous encounters I've found that milk stouts are excellent beach beers - the lactose infusion creates a creamy brew very compatible with excessive heat. The downside; the Burley Oak version is nitrogenized in the cask so is not available for growler sales. The SummaRye and Port d'Orange were each good examples of their respective styles and with low IBUs - another example of refreshing beach brews. But continuing my trend this summer, my favorite was the Cherry Poppins - a smooth ale with subtle hints of cherry - not overpowering so like a lambic - just nicely integrated. It reminded me of a concoction a bartender created for us at Fireworks Arlington, who blended the Allagash White with a small amount of Kasteel Rouge. Thus, I think we will be hitting Burley Oak two times each trip to the beach, once to fill growlers for our stay and then again on our return home. Cheers.