Heavy Seas Celebrates 20 Years of Brewing with Anniversary Ale


BALTIMORE, MD — On December 8, 2015, Heavy Seas Beer will celebrate its 20th year of brewing craft beer in Baltimore. To commemorate, the brewery will release an anniversary ale and host special events in Baltimore and other markets.

Heavy Seas Founder, Hugh Sisson, was responsible for successfully lobbying the Maryland Legislature in 1987 to legalize brewpubs in the state, making Sisson’s Tavern, now Ryleigh’s Oyster Federal Hill, one of the birthplaces of craft beer in Maryland. Hugh remained at Sisson’s until December 1994, when he left to form a new company, Clipper City Brewing Co., now home to Heavy Seas Beer.

The first beer ever tagged “Heavy Seas” was Winter Storm – an Imperial ESB with an American twist. In celebration of the 20th anniversary, a stronger, 10% ABV, barrel-aged version of that first Heavy Seas beer was created. 20 Year Storm is an Imperial ESB brewed with imported UK malt, local Domino brown sugar, a powerful English ale yeast, and a blend of American and British hops (to the tune of 70 IBU’s). Post-fermentation, the beer was aged in bourbon barrels for approximately 75 days.

The official world premiere of 20 Year Storm will take place on Monday, December 7th from 6:00pm – 12:00am at the Heavy Seas Alehouse in Baltimore. Throwback menu items from Sisson’s, such as smoked crawfish cakes, will be featured at this event – prepared by former Sisson’s chef, Bill Aydlett.

A memorable anniversary event, “20 Beers for 20 Years”, will take place on December 8th from 5:00 – 9:00pm at Ryleigh’s Oyster Federal Hill in Baltimore. As the former location of Sisson’s, one could call the Ryleigh’s building the “birthplace of Maryland craft beer.” Ryleigh’s will feature 20 different Heavy Seas beers, including 20 Year Storm, throughout the night. Guests have the option of buying a VIP ticket with unlimited sampling included, or paying as they go for samples and full pints. There will also be a raffle at 6:00pm and 9:00pm with a chance to win a “cask build” at the Heavy Seas brewery. The raffle winner’s cask will be featured in the Heavy Seas Tap Room on a later date TBD.

The official brewery release party for 20 Year Storm will take place on Wednesday, December 9th from 3:00 – 10:00pm in the Heavy Seas Tap Room in Baltimore. Notable members of the Maryland craft beer industry and Hugh Sisson will be guest bartending throughout the night. Also, $2.00 of every pint sold will be donated to Ocean Research Project, a non-profit organization out of Annapolis, MD, committed to serving the ocean research community and providing data that explores man’s relationship with our planet’s oceans. This event is not only celebrating Heavy Seas’ 20th anniversary and the commemorative ale, but it’s also a celebration of the entire Maryland craft beer industry.

“When I started brewing at Sisson’s in 1989, I had no idea the industry would ever get so big,” says Hugh Sisson. “Back then, we just wanted to produce beers with flavor – and recreate the concept of small scale, artisanal beer. I am grateful for the opportunities we have had to nurture the growth of our industry in Maryland, and hope that this 20th anniversary for Heavy Seas is seen for what it really is – a milestone for Maryland beer as a whole.”

Finally, in 2016, there will be celebratory “20 Beers for 20 Years” events in other markets where Heavy Seas beer is available (venues TBA):

  • Richmond, VA – Friday, March 11th
  • Providence, RI – Thursday, May 19th
  • Philadelphia, PA – Thursday, June 2nd
  • Cleveland, OH – Friday, October 28th & Saturday, October 29th
  • Washington, DC – Thursday, December 8th (21st anniversary)