By Karlyn DeSteno
Liam Flynn’s Pint Size Pub was the kind of bar that lonesome people everywhere dream about. Cramped and unfancy, the bar had a running conversation that was always open to touchy subjects and wayward newcomers. The smallness of the space forced camaraderie. When the Pint Size shut its doors back in 2008, Baltimore lost a classic.
This past June, Liam Flynn opened his new edition the Pint Size Pub, Liam Flynn’s Ale House—this time on North Avenue, in the newest corridor of the Station North Arts District. It’s less pint-sized than its predecessor. In fact, it’s spacious enough to host a sizeable crowd of soccer fans and still have room for corner conversation. The soon-to-be-installed wood floor will be big enough to host Caeli dances to accompany the new Wednesday Irish music sessions. The new bar also supports a hefty upgrade to its beer and cider selection, and is now home to the only cask beer on tap in Baltimore.
Liam Flynn, who is funny but demure in person, spent years on the West Coast as a longshoreman, and moved to Baltimore about 12 years ago. He and his wife, Jessica, keep watch over the pub in the evenings, do crosswords, and talk to locals.
“It’s just funny, because whenever interviewers come, he [Liam] ends up telling them step by step everything that happened between moving from San Francisco and opening the bar, and I was there the whole time,” Jessica said.
With a quiet smile, Liam explained: “That’s true. She’s the reason I stopped sailing and opened the bar.” When I asked how she had managed that, he patiently explained, as one would explain to the obviously uninitiated, “It’s just not a good idea, when you’re married, to sail. When you’re single or divorced, that’s when you sail.”
Liam Flynn’s building was once part of the North Avenue Market in the 1920s, which then burnt down in 1968, in a blaze apparently unrelated to the riots. “It was probably abandoned a few years, and now it’s being divided into different projects. Ten years ago, you just didn’t go to North Avenue,” Flynn said, echoing the sentiment of many other business owners in the area. “We’re sort of the first test model for the new Station North Market, but we’re the first who actually changed the face of this building.”
The new Liam’s is taking full advantage of its new size and new location within Station North, and building the neighborhood crowd through collaborations with musicians, local bike shop Velocipede and the Baltimore Bike Coalition, and others. It hosts live music three nights per week. It has even hosted theater performances, like December’s run of Rhymes With Opera’s Ketamyth.
If all this seems like a chaotic match for a bar that generally specializes in Irish ale and soccer game screenings, good. Station North needed an unpretentious host for its mismatching charm, and Liam’s is it. By the way, Baltimore is probably the only city in the U.S. where it’s possible to watch experimental opera in a sports bar, and that’s exactly what I love about this city.
Liam Flynn's Ale House
Happy hour Mon-Fri 4 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Karlyn DeSteno is a writer and artist living in Baltimore, Md.