Brewery Name: Burley Oak Brewing Company
Type of Brewery: Retail Brewery
Location: 10016 Old Ocean City Blvd, Berlin, MD 21811. Not far from the highway and just 15 minutes from the beaches of Ocean City.
Facebook: Burley Oak Brewing Company
Background: Every year, Pete, York, and I take a trip to Ocean City, MD with a few friends from college. Since Together We Drink launched just a few months ago, we knew we wanted to make it a priority to visit a few breweries in the area this year. We knew about Backshore, Assawoman Bay, and Ocean City Brewing Company, but we were pleased to learn that there was a great brewery with a huge following just 15 minutes up the road. In fact, when I stopped into Liars’ Bench to pick up a growler for the road, the guy sitting next to me at the bar excitedly recommended Burley Oak and revealed that he was considering making the 10 hour drive overnight for a recent beer release. With a recommendation like that, it was impossible not to make Burley Oak a priority for the trip.
Growlers: Yes. They offer both growlers and crowlers and will happily fill any screw-top growlers that you may have.
The Beers: Burley Oak had a wide variety of beers on tap, and I did my best to try as many as I could. I also took two growlers with me, as well as a couple of bottles. Burley Oak makes a hibiscus wheat beer, which they then aged in wine barrels. One version is aged in red wine barrels, the other in white. Needless to say, I had to grab both.
Vibe: Before I get into it, a slight disclaimer: we visited Burley Oak on our way out of town, which happened to be just as they opened on Monday. Understandably, not a ton of people were hanging out at the brewery before noon on Labor Day. I’m sure there are plenty of times (especially when they have live music playing!) when the brewery is absolutely hopping--but, sadly, we didn’t get to experience that.
All that said, the brewery is awesome. Burley Oak has a really, really cool space. They sit in a gorgeous wooden building with a cool rustic interior. The tap list is a chalkboard, they have cool wooden shelving where their merch sits, and they even have paintings on the wall with bid sheets for customers who might like to purchase them. The bar is beautiful treated wood, and I almost feel bad putting a beer glass down on it.
The people there were great, too. Always willing to talk about their beer and tell us a little about the place. Like I said, I wish we had been able to be there when it was a little more crowded, because it would have been nice to be able to talk to some of the regulars. That said, we did see a few people come in for growler fills in the time we were there, and they all seemed to have a friendly, easy relationship with the people running the place.
We had originally planned to stop by on Saturday, since Burley Oak was planning a release of their Lost IPA that morning. Unfortunately, Burley Oak cancelled the release. When we talked to them about it, they told us that something had gone wrong during the brewing process, and while the beer was certainly still drinkable, they have a very firm rule against releasing anything less than their best. I love that philosophy. While we were definitely sad to not have the opportunity to try one of Burley Oak’s most beloved beers, it’s pretty tough to put a price on the fact that when Burley Oak puts their name on something, you know they’re proud of it. It’s hard to express how much we all respect that. Hopefully next year we’ll get another chance!
Dogs: Yep! Burley Oak has a big sign right on the door announcing that they welcome families and dogs. Just keep your dog leashed and you’ll just fine.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$$. Growlers are about par for the course, and I was able to snag a couple of bottles that ran for about $13 apiece. Cans are fairly standard for a brewery of this caliber, and they’ll usually run you between $10 and $15 for a four pack or a six pack (depending on the release). Special releases are probably more pricey, but chances are if you’re waiting in line for a beer release you already know what you’re getting into.
Food: No, just bar snacks. For a couple of bucks, you can get chips, pretzels, or, somewhat perplexingly, "meat sticks." I can’t believe I forgot to ask what a meat stick is.
Final Thoughts: Amazing beer. Amazing atmosphere. Amazing people. And an amazing dedication to putting out the best beer possible. Any brewery that would rather take a financial hit than risk the trust that their customers have in them is an A+ brewery in my book. The wide variety of beers on tap at Burley Oak was impressive, and they have definitely carved out a great niche for themselves in the hearts and minds of Marylanders. When I heard someone raving about Burley Oak as far away as New Hampshire, I knew there was something special about the place. And I was right! Really looking forward to next year’s trip, and can’t wait to go back.
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