When Fin City first brewed its Backfin Blue Crab Stout in 2016 it was a super-small batch just for locals, but now there are rumors the trend may spread statewide. At this year’s Shore Craft Beer Fest: Brews on the Beach, people were asking whether Blue Crab Stout could be made the State Beer. Things like this tend to move pretty slowly, but it is hard not to get excited about the rumors that crab is the next great ingredient in Maryland Beer.
The case for making it the state beer is pretty straight forward: Maryland is synonymo
us with crabs even moreso than with any other ingredient or spice. Other fishy beers, like oyster stouts are made all over the place, but, as Wright pointed out in an interview on the matter, as far as he could ascertain, his is the only beer made with crabs.
Boil in the Bag
The process is fairly straightforward. As with any other beer, malted barley is boiled to extract the sugars that will be turned into alcohol. The twist with the Backfin Blue Crab Stout is that, toward the end of the boil, they throw in about three dozen crabs. Crab meat is a little more subtle than you might remember, so it adds a brinyness that is particular to the crabs and to the process.
As with many stouts, the beer is only lightly-hopped and also fermented with crab seasoning, in this case Hooper’s crab seasoning. There is a more well known crab seasoning company, but they’re touchy about branding and trademark. Crab spice beers, thoug
h, are pretty common on the market anyway, which is how the discussion of petitioning to get Blue Crab Stout designated the Maryland State Beer Style started to take shape. No one believes one brewery should have the only state beer, but the notion that a style that originated in Maryland featuring one of the state’s most prominent foods should be considered for the honor just seemed to make sense.
Last year, the beer was available in only limited release, this year its wider spread and Fin City hopes to have it for increasingly wider distribution as it gains popularity. Blue Crab beer is something of a tough sell, because it sounds a little novel. But the stout is chocolaty and briney in a world where salted dark chocolate has become something of a craze unto itself. It is part of the notion that there is a beer for everyone. Craft brewers have not only been saying that forever, they also have been living up to it by pushing the boundaries of flavor possibilities.
The Proof of the Beer is in the tasting
Whether or not Blue Crab Stout becomes a statewide thing is secondary to the fact that it already is an Eastern Shore thing. Drinking specifically Eastern Shore beers is something that we can get a little spoiled about here. Vinnie said they already are brewing their Bad Luck Banana stout which might even already be out as you read this, if not it can’t be too far away. Whatever the case, good beer is worth waiting for, but also worth advocating for.