For some, the idea of a summer ale scuttles up aromas of bright citrus or sweet fruits. For others it’s tropical hops, or floral accents like hibiscus.

In the state of Maryland, a summer ale means the return of Dead Rise, the collaboration between Old Bay, the seafood seasoning, and Flying Dog.

Old Bay has a cult following. There are those that use it year-round on all manner of foods well beyond its original intended purpose. The brand has recently been on a streak adding the Old Bay flavor to a number of other products including Goldfish crackers, hot sauce, sunflower seeds, and frozen crab cakes.

The collaboration beer was originally released in 2014 this melding of two institutions has been something a lot of Marylanders, especially those with a penchant for seafood boils or soft-shell crabs, have come to look forward to.

The beer has evolved from those early days (initial batches were not pasteurized and 12 oz bottles dosed with the spice were known to gush upon opening) when it was listed as a 5.6% ABV blonde ale brewed with Northern Brewer, CTZ, and Cascade Hops, as well as acidulated malt, rye, and white wheat.

There is less known about the 2022 version, except that it has evolved into a summer ale. It is still brewed with the McCormick Company owned spice, of course, and with lemon. Now at 5.7% ABV, the brewery calls the hops, malt, and yeast used in the beer “proprietary.”

It is unfair to call Dead Rise a gose, even with the spice blend’s noticeable celery salt aroma and flavor and the dark golden color and robust head. The lemon is front and center and is more herbal than tart, and an earthy pepper and paprika come in towards the finish of the sip, adding a little bitterness to the experience.  

Where summer seafood meals can be light and airy, even a little sweet, this ale adds balance to the palate with its overall earthiness.

While Flying Dog has been in the Old Bay Game for the better part of a decade now, Herr’s potato chips seems to be the reigning collaboration champion, with Old Bay flavored chips that have been around for more than 30 years.

Double Dead Rise. Photo courtesy of Flying Dog.

More Spice

As with the modern beer industry, there is no such thing as too much in the Old Bay universe, so this year Flying Dog has upped the experience by releasing Double Dead Rise. It’s an 9% ABV “imperial summer ale” that pours clearer and a slightly deeper shade of bronze than it’s lower ABV counterpart.

Available in 12-ounce bottles and sold as 4-packs, the Double Dead Rise concentrates the flavors creating a salty cured lemon peel aroma with a touch of heat, noticeable bay leaf, and a crusty bread malt body. Again, the brewery is being secretive with specific ingredients outside of Old Bay.

For those familiar with low country boils that use copious amount of the spice blend, Double Dead Rise smells like cooking water, shellfish, and all. It’s welcoming with the celery salt boosted and paprika taking a bit of bigger role.

The citrus here is dialed back and the warming booze adds body and heft to the glass.

It is a lot of fun to drink.

Just like the famed crabs of the Chesapeake, it’s around for only a short season, and has a limited distribution to just Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C., so go grab that spice.