The revival of “craft beer”–the catch-all phrase that covers brewpubs and microbreweries–in the U.S. is now approximately a quarter century old, or at the very least has been around long enough that those just reaching legal drinking age have always had some form of higher-quality beer somewhere in their environment. The movement toward more flavorful and complex beers has also been around long enough for some shakeout to have occurred in the field, and for many beer bars to have made their names for themselves. The undisputed king of them all is Max’s Taphouse in Fells Point, usually offering over 100 draft beers and a thousand different bottled beers at any given moment. Nonetheless, the field is not closed to newcomers, and furthermore the craft beer scene in Baltimore is attracting new entrants, in some cases far outside the legendary high-traffic, bar-heavy neighborhoods of Fells Point and Federal Hill. Here are five relative newcomers to the Baltimore region’s craft beer scene.
21 N. Eutaw Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Hours: Mon-Tue,Sun 11:30am-1am; Wed 1:30pm-1am; Thu-Sat 11:30am-2am
Opened in September 2010 in the historic Eutaw Savings Bank building (an Italian Renaissance Revival-styled building which had formerly housed an Irish pub and before that an insurance office and fire museum), Alewife is the Baltimore project of Daniel Lanigan, also the operator of three noted beer bars in Massachusetts. The attractive building, across the street from the Hippodrome and a short walk from Camden Yards, Light Rail, and Metro, houses two floors outfitted with bars and dining, with an intermediate floor for additional dining space. The bars feature 40 ever-changing draft lines pouring high-end beers ranging from local favorites such as Heavy Seas and Stillwater to West Coast favorites Stone, Rogue, and Lagunitas to Belgians–no Bud Light or Guinness here, thank you. The food is decidedly “gastropub” in nature, and the owners have termed the cuisine “New American” or “New Viking;” the signature is the Smoke Burger ($12 lunch, $15 dinner with duck-fat fries), with bacon and smoked Gouda and Gruyere cheese.
415 W. Cold Spring Lane
Baltimore, MD 21210
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri-Sat 11 a.m.- 12 a.m.
Although hardly a new venue (Alonso’s recently celebrated its 80th birthday as a tavern), a change in ownership a couple years ago changed the focus of this thoroughly “neighborhood tavern” in the Roland Park neighborhood to craft beer, with two bars (upstairs’ “Alonsoville” and the regular bar downstairs) serving multiple drafts along with a diverse selection of bottled beers and a retail take-out selection by the front door. The adjoining Loco Hombre restaurant gives a Tex-Mex feel, though the signature of the bar’s menu remains its burgers.
Hudson Street Stackhouse
2626 Hudson Street
Hours: Monday – Wednesday 3 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Thursday/Friday 2 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Saturday/Sunday 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
Named for the adjacent smokestack of the former American Can Company, this newcomer to the long-thriving Canton neighborhood features a long and diverse line of both bottled beers and drafts, and features a “draft sampler” of five sample-sized glasses of drafts for $5, an ideal way to broaden one’s craft beer experiences. Wednesdays feature half-priced German and Belgian bottled beers, including larger 750-ml bottles.
Liam Flynn’s Ale House
20 W. North Avenue
Hours: Seven days a week; 4 p.m.- 2 a.m.
Under reconstruction for nearly two years, Liam Flynn’s Ale House is a relocation of Flynn’s popular Pint-Sized Pub from a nearby location on Charles Street. Constructed with a combination of custom metalwork and architectural salvage and reuse (the bar top, for example, is a “recycled” bowling alley), the bar features fifteen taps, including two beer engines for pumping British-style “cask ale,” the fresher, naturally-carbonated version of regular keg beer.
Hellas Restaurant and Lounge
8498 Veterans Highway
Millersville, MD 21108
Hours: 10:30 a.m. -2 a.m.
Lures Bar & Grill
1397 Generals Highway
Crownsville, MD 21032
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 11 a.m.- 12 a.m.; Fri-Sat 11 a.m.- 2 a.m.
Two relatively new beer-scene places a short distance apart in Anne Arundel County between Baltimore and Annapolis have given craft beer aficionados a place to head besides the cities. Hellas is hardly new, having been in business for over a decade, but it has recently joined the craft-beer movement, installing a 20-line draft system, a larger bottled beer selection, and a “Resident Beer Expert,” Joey Marchiano. Lures, a short distance to the south, offers a more compact, cozier atmosphere and a “Beer Club” registration (a monthly free draft beer and a birthday dinner). Both bars have begun hosting occasional beer dinners, as well as the more usual brewery promotions and featured beers.