BY MATT HUMBARD — Like all great ideas, the plan to brew a beer for the Hyattsville Anniversary celebration happened while people were drinking beer. At a Summer Jam last September outside of city hall, a couple of representatives from Calvert Brewing Company, a production brewery in Upper Marlboro, and some city officials discussed the possibility of brewing a beer for the upcoming Hyattsville anniversary.
They also decided to get the community involved and let the citizens pick what beer Calvert Brewing Company would make.
Hyattsville had recently launched the “Speak Up HVL” web forum to help facilitate communication between city officials and staff and the community. “We decided to put the beer survey on the Speak Up site to help draw attention to the new forum,” said Kara Capelli, from Calvert Brewing.
The anniversary beer was Calvert’s idea, said Jake Rollow, the city’s Community Services Director, adding that it successfully drew attention to the new Speak Up HVL site. “We had hundreds of votes, so it drove traffic to Speak Up,” he commented.
The survey received several suggestions for different beers to brew that ranged from dortmunder to “something hoppy.” The beer that received the most votes was the honey ale suggested by Hyattsville resident Maggie Mills.
Mills didn’t just suggest the beer. She is the owner of Hope Honey Farm, so she also provided the honey to Calvert for the brew. “Having brewed a bit with neighbors and friends, I really love the idea of contributing an ingredient,” she said. “I’m also familiar with the White House Honey Ale recipe, having helped brew it several times. So, that was ultimately the inspiration,” Mills added.
Calvert Brewing Company is not in Hyattsville but it is the first production brewery in Prince George’s County since prohibition and has participated in multiple events in Hyattsville, including the city’s “Summer Jam” festivals and Vigilante’s anniversary party, where Calvert collaborated with the local coffee shop on a beer that used coffee roasted by Vigilante.
Matt Ducey, the brewer at Calvert Brewing Company, said he was happy to brew the special beer with a local ingredient. “We don’t use extracts or syrups in our beers at Calvert. Using honey gives this beer a nice sweetness,” Ducey said, adding, “we also added Teddy Grahams.”
The beer most resembles an English-style blonde ale and “has some sweetness — but not candy-like — and some graham cracker as well,” Ducey explained.
The beer was produced on the pilot system at Calvert, making it truly an exclusive beer. “The beer will only be served [Saturday] night, at the concert before the fireworks,” Rollow clarified. Live music by Vybe Band and beer sales will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Calvert Brewing Company said that if there was any beer left after the concert, they would bring the rest to a future Summer Jam.
Matt Humbard is a Hyattsville resident. He is also the owner and brewer of Handsome Beer Company, and author of the Ph.D. in Beer blog.