With a Strange Enchantment In My Heart

True Respite is sort of the big player in the Rockville beer scene. Even though they opened after 7 Locks and Saints Row, they’ve established themselves here pretty quickly through their knack for promotion. As mentioned, they were ahead of the curve during the quarantine by having their Bierme app cued up before Maryland’s stay at home order was put into place. But they also made a big splash when they opened because Maryland Governor Larry Hogan cut the ribbon at their opening.

True Respite co-founder Brendan O’Leary said during the opening ceremony that he was inspired to invite Gov. Hogan to the ribbon cutting after the governor’s speech at the 2016 HomebrewCon in Baltimore. For his part, the governor said that his popularity at HomebrewCon may have had a lot to do with his chugging a beer onstage before his remarks.

I mean, know how to play to your audience, right?

Hogan at True Respite

Of course I went to the opening. Didn’t stay long enough to see if Gov. Hogan chugged another beer, though.

Early on, True Respite had focused a lot on IPA variations. Their signature beer for me is Week Away India Pale Ale. It is the type of IPA that made me fall in love with the style in the first place. It has a red grapefruit aroma, and that carries through to the mildly bitter flavor. But there are also hints of cedar and bitter melon. All the flavors are subtle and they leave a pleasantly astringent taste in my mouth. It also has a sweetness to it, and it develops a faint candy shell finish as the beer comes to room temp. It’s lovely.

But True Respite also aren’t shy about experimenting. One of their boldest creations is Tiki Bula, a mai tai-inspired New England India Pale Ale. It takes the harsh citrus flavor that NEIPAs often have and infuses it with maraschino cherry and rum notes. The tangy pineapple finish makes it quite delightful.

And they are trying out unusual-for-America styles, too. For example, last month they came out with Bear Helles. Helles is the Bavarian style of beer that is popular in Austria. In fact, the house beer at my favorite place in the whole wide world, Fischer Bräu, is a Helles. So True Respite has a lot to live up to.

And it does the trick! Bear Helles has a yeasty, funky nose and a bright, barely opaque gold color. It’s light-bodied, almost ephemeral, and it’s sweet with a bitter, lemony tang in the back. I could judge it harshly based on Fischer Bräu, but honestly, being able to get a good Helles delivered to my house helps me get over my faint desire to fly out to Vienna the first chance I get.

As it is with 7 Locks, I don’t go to True Respite all that often. But the silver lining to 2020 is that a new option to drink local opened up, and I’m hoping that sensible heads will take charge and make sure that this option sticks around.