Just eight miles west of Ocean City in a former cooperage, Berlin’s BURLEY OAK BREWING COMPANY opened late 2011 to much local fanfare. Entrepreneurial brewer Bryan Brushmiller and ‘head beer-ologist’ Zach Newton surely know their craft, splendidly delivering stylistically robust ales as well as atypical hybrids to the craving public.
After hanging out at the beach for three hours, my wife and I venture to this gray-shingled prefab barnyard for a few pops during 3rd annual Bikes At The Beach weekend, April 2013. A front glass window with Burley Oak lettering and stenciled oak tree insignia welcomes patrons to the blue-walled interior, where a large U-shaped oak bar with 20 stools and several oak barreled tables are situated. Through the windowed glass behind the bar lies rustic silver brew tanks. On the left side TV, the Washington Nationals are playing ball while I begin sampling the goods.
Perfect as a mild opener, well-named Just The Tip Kolsch brought lemon-seeded blood orange, mandarin orange, tangerine and orange rot to soft floral hops. Then came a host of diligently prepared Belgian style brews.
Belgian yeast from a Trappist monastery gave Dirty Blonde Ale a peppery herbal notion to go alongside sweet crystal-malted banana fruiting. The same yeast provided a candi-sugared sweetness to viscous nickel-hued Brunette Belgian Dark Ale, where mild plum, raisin, prune and plantain dried fruiting beat a path to its chocolate-y coal-hazelnut finish. Citra-hopped Honey Comb Belgian Golden Ale brought white-peppered lemony orange-grapefruit spicing to sweet honey comb sugaring.
Next came the India Pale Ale selections, starting with Pale Ryeder Rye Double IPA, a fruitful brown-sugared medium body with pumpernickel-toasted caraway seeding overriding grapefruit and orange rind bittering as well as ancillary peach, apple and pear illusions. Darker fruited MOB Barley Black IPA loaded piney citric Simcoe hops atop bittersweet dark chocolate and black coffee.
Another rewarding choice, crisp-watered Barreled Brown Ale clustered maple-sapped praline, pecan and almond alongside toffee sugaring.
As for the barrel aged offering, Lower Class Barleywine (matured in Jack Daniels whiskey) carried cedar-chipped maple sugaring and oaken bourbon illusions to a spicy rum-buttered whiskey soothe.
For a closer, dark-roasted chocolate malting guided Bunker C Robust Porter, settling above hop-charred ashen nuttiness, cocoa-powdered vanilla-cappuccino conflux and floral-dried bourbon-burgundy-raisin snip.
Down the street one mile west of Burley Oak lies Cheers, a fine liquor store with great independent beers from far and wide.