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Beer Quality
Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good
Good Good Good Good

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good So So Good Good

Establishment: Baltimore Brewing Company, Baltimore, MD

Change of management (not ownership) took place January 1, reports Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, as Theo DeGroen became director of the family-controlled Parkbrauerei (Park Brewery) in Pirmasens, Germany. "Change of management" was also the explanation given for the new menu I saw last night. Featuring appetizers, salads, and sandwiches, it was not the distinctly German menu I remember. The lack of entrees suggested an off-hours menu (though it was just past 9 PM on Friday night), but the waitress seemed to be saying otherwise. The Brewery burger, Marzen Pork Sandwich, and Turkey Burger were favorably (though not enthusiastically) received, but the Crabcake sandwich was a complete disappointment. Seeming to be about 50% filler, it was not up to local standards.

The Marzen and the Doppelbock (December's seasonal) were fine. The Pils, Dunkle, and Weizen were all very well received. The Rauchbock got mixed reviews, but that may be due to the style itself being so different.

(02/19/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats, Rehoboth Beach, DE

Pardon my typo in the URL: Last Chance Saloon.

(02/05/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great N/A N/A N/A Great

Establishment: Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats, Rehoboth Beach, DE

Indian Brown Ale is fantastic! I'm not a brown ale fan, but the hops won me over. On tap at The Last Chance Saloon, Columbia, MD.

(02/05/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good So So So So So So

Establishment: Hard Times Cafe, Columbia, MD

A good selection of microbrews (between six and ten, if memory serves) and four types of chili served about ten different ways. They also offer six variations on the hamburger, five types of grilled chicken sandwich, and three different chili dogs. If you don't go for the chili, it's slim pickings. Pretty much the same beers, and more, are available nearby at The Last Chance Saloon, at comparable prices and with a broader menu. But if you like chili, this seems like the place to go. (BTW, their web site map for this location is off by at least a quarter of a mile.)

(02/05/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good N/A N/A N/A Good

Establishment: Big Sky Brewing Company, Missoula, MT

I tried Moose Drool brown ale on-tap at the Mangy Moose in Teton Village, WY (Jackson Hole ski resort), where one waitress thought it was a stout. I thought it was a good beer. I might rate it higher if I were a brown ale fan.

(01/31/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good N/A N/A N/A Good

Establishment: Kessler Brewing Company, Helena, MT

I had a bottle (draught was tapped-out) of "Moose Brew" IPA at the Mangy Moose in Teton Village, WY (Jackson Hole ski resort). The label attributed it to Kessler. It was strong, bitter, and full-bodied, without the highly-hopped flavor of many American-made IPAs. I thought it was just what an IPA should be.

(01/31/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Great So So So So So So

Establishment: Mangy Moose Saloon, Teton Village, WY

Bar service was great even when extremely crowded, but the dinner service in the dining room was slow. The barstaff and waitstaff tried hard. The dinner menu was broad but uninteresting; I was hard-pressed to find something of interest on my second visit. French fries are not an option with anything, and, "they [the kitchen] don't like substitutions," one waitress said. (Who's the customer here?)
The selection of beers is great, including draughts of Full Sail Amber, Snake River Lager, Moose Brew (IPA from Kessler Brewing, Helena, MT), and Moose Drool (Brown Ale from Big Sky Brewing, Missoula, MT, though one waitress called it Stout). The last two weren't always on tap, but they had bottles, too. There were dozens of bottled beer brands.
Located at the base of the ski slopes at the Jackson Hole resort. Go for the beer, but go elsewhere for food.

(01/31/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Good Great Great

Establishment: Jackson Hole Pub and Brewery was Snake River Brewing, Jackson, WY

Zonker Stout (GABF 1999 Gold medal, Foreign-style Stout) is good, maybe great if I didn't prefer Irish-style dry stouts. Snake River Lager (GABF 1999 Silver medal, Vienna-style Lager) is good, with a nice malty sweetness. Snake River Pale Ale is also good, crisp with a hoppiness that I noticed more from the bottled beer than the draught. New Dehli Freight Train cask-conditioned IPA was great -- strong, smooth, full-bodied, with a great head resulting from a great pour.

On my first visit, 8-ish on a weeknight in ski season, I turned around at the door because the bar was packed and there was an hour wait for dinner; but, there was plenty of room the following Saturday afternoon. My spinach salad (saving my appetite for dinner) was good, and I'll second the earlier comment about the good display of the brewhouse. Overall, a great brewpub. (I just wish I had bought a ski hat.)

(01/31/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Good N/A N/A Great

Establishment: Otto Brothers' Brewing Company, Jackson Hole, WY

Picked up four six-packs on a ski trip. (Unfortunately, Wilson is not on the local bus routes between Jackson and Teton Village/Jackson Hole ski resort.) Moose Juice Stout is an excellent dry stout with good roasted notes, well appreciated by this Guinness lover. Old Faithful Ale is a great hoppy pale ale, while Teton Ale is a good, not over-hopped, English-style ale. Huckleberry Wheat was a disappointment, being not noticeably fruity at all.

(01/30/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good N/A N/A N/A Good

Establishment: New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO

Fat Tire, on tap at the airport in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is a good ale, not strongly hopped. With it's Belgian roots, it reminds me of Celis Pale Ale (labelled "Pale Bock" in Texas). I hope to try New Belgium's other beers someday.

(01/30/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good N/A N/A N/A Good

Establishment: Minhas Craft Brewery was Joseph Huber Brewing, Monroe, WI

A friend brought back from Iowa a six-pack of Berghoff Genuine Dark Beer. Though I took it for a brown ale, other web sites describe it as a German or European-style dark lager. While not a style I like, it is a high quality beer. (And, obviously, my friend thought very highly of it.)

(01/30/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Awesome! Awesome! N/A Awesome! Awesome!

Establishment: Chesapeake U Brew (BOP), Annapolis, MD

I've been back for three recent "Brew with a Pro" sessions -- Baltimore Brewing Co./DeGroens in October, The Brewer's Art in November, and Dogfish Head in December -- yielding three cases of seven different beer styles, with lables and design assistance included in the price. I also enjoyed selecting a Wild Goose IPA recipe from the one-hundred-plus recipes available (or bring your own), and brewing up my "Millennial" ale to have as my first beer of the new year/decade/century/millennium. I just can't say enough about this place and these people!

(01/03/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good N/A N/A Good

Establishment: Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats, Rehoboth Beach, DE

Brewer Kent Templeton conducted a tasting from bottles last month during a "Brew with a Pro" session at Chesapeake U-Brew in Annapolis, Maryland.
Shelter Pale Ale (5% ABV) is a nice American-style pale ale: yellow, medium-bodied, bitter but not hoppy, with a clean finish.
Chicory Stout (5.2% ABV) is good, with roasted notes and other interesting flavors I couldn't quite pin down, presumably from its blend of seven grains, chicory root, licorice root, Mexican coffee, and St. John's Wort.
Immort Ale (11% ABV!) is like no beer I've ever had. It is visibly thick and has a syrupy mouth feel, no doubt due to the use of maple syrup in the brewing, as well as juniper berries and vanilla. It is sweet, though not as much as those ingredients might suggest. I liked it.

(01/03/2000)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Carling National Brewing, Baltimore, MD

I'm told some of my details are wrong. I look forward to learning more. If you know better than I do, please add something.

(12/06/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great N/A Great Great

Establishment: Clipper City Brewing Company, Baltimore, MD

Twenty of us from the Columbia Ski Club had a great time touring the Clipper City brewery on Saturday, November 20. In the absence of proprietor Hugh Sisson, brewer Matt Menke, who joined Clipper City with its acquisition of Oxford Brewing, took good care of us.

The highlight of the tour, naturally, was sampling the beers on tap:

  • Clipper City Reserve Winter Ale lives up to Hugh Sisson's promise of "a huge beer, deep amber, bronze in color, with alcohol by volume in excess of 6%, and more hops than any other beer we make." (I haven't had a chance to try the bottle conditioned version, or the just-returned Clipper City Porter.)
  • Ipswich IPA, contract-brewed for Ipswich Brewing of Massachusetts, is a nice, mildly-hopped ale (Clipper City Reserve IPA is more hoppy).
  • Clipper City Chesapeake Gold Ale and Clipper City Chesapeake Lager are good versions of more mass-market styles.
Matt related that adjusting the Oxford brews to the larger Clipper City plant wasn't too difficult, though subtle differences in the beers might be discernable (I haven't noticed). Looking forward (if I caught this part of the conversation right), larger volume purchasing may allow for more raspberry puree to be used in making the Oxford Raspberry Wheat, while the use of Ipswich's yeast may make for an improved Oxford Class Ale.

Clipper City Chesapeake Amber Ale is the same as Oxford Class Ale. Clipper City Chesapeake Gold Ale has also been available this year as "KML Ale" as part of a local radio station promotion. Matt may have said (or I may have misunderstood) that Clipper City Chesapeake Lager is the same beer that is contract-brewed for The Weeping Radish in North Carolina to be their Corolla Gold.

"The Raven" lager, contract-brewed for Baltimore-Washington Beer Works and available locally, may not be brewed again. Though Matt (and Hugh, previously) spoke well of its quality, the one-man operation has had distributor and marketing problems.

I guess Lew "Pennsylvania Breweries" Bryson heard the same thing from Hugh that I did on an earlier visit: Clipper City's seasonal Maibock won't be brewed anymore because of low sales. "People didn't know what it was," Hugh said.

(12/06/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Great Great Great

Establishment: Brewer's Art, Baltimore, MD

I tried the House Pale Ale and Resurrection (abbey dubbel) over dinner at The Brewer's Art last night. They were the only house brews on tap, but the selection of other brews looks impressive. The House Pale Ale is very good for that style, which is not specifically Belgian. Resurrection is well described on the menu as "quite strong and flavorful, without being too sweet." I'm not a big Belgian beer fan, but I really liked it. I also liked my dinner. The menu shows good variety in both tastes and prices.
I met brewer Chris Cashell and owner Volker Stewart on a recent "Brew with a Pro" night at Annapolis' Chesapeake U-Brew. They provided samples of three Belgian ales (Duvel, Chimay, and Steenbrugge); two Belgian-style ales from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, NY (Ommegong and Hennepin); and, their own golden strong ale, Ozzy (7% ABV, real fizzy), and their abbey triple, Cerebus Triple (9.5% ABV, malty with a banana aroma). I prefer hoppier stuff, but it was interesting.
We brewed an Abbey Dubbel and Belgian Holiday Special. Both used less hops and more grain than what I've brewed, none of it dark. The Special had honey added with the malt extract. Since the magic happens to Belgian ale after the yeast is added, I have no idea what the special will be like. I asked Chris, but he smiled and said, "I don't know. We'll see."

(11/28/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Baltimore Brewing Company, Baltimore, MD

I heard a different version of this rumor while bottling today at Chesapeake U-Brew: Theo bought a small brewery or large brewpub in Germany, but he will retain ownership of BBC.

(11/28/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Lousy Good Good Good So So

Establishment: Rocky Run Tap and Grill, Columbia, MD

The stout has been mildly acceptable in the past, but a recent mug was terrible. It had none of the roasted notes I expect in a stout, and there was something in the taste--maybe a malty sweetness, I don't know--that just wasn't right. I had a good crab cake, though.
This is a decent place (and apparently good for bringing the kids) if you judge it against chain family restaurants like Denny's or Stuckey's, or if you compare the bar to other sports bars, I guess, but it just doesn't cut it as a brewpub.

(11/24/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Carling National Brewing, Baltimore, MD

This macro-brewery was built in the 1950s when the old National Brewery (brewer of National Bohemian and National Premium) moved out of Baltimore City's Highlandtown neighborhood for this Baltimore County site on the Beltway, hard by the Patapsco River. It came to its end two or three years ago as a G. Heilman facility. Some attempts were made to revive industrial brewing on the site, the last one I heard of being a proposal to brew saki.
Late in the summer of 1998, all the brewing vessels were ripped out and laid on their sides in the parking lot. It was quite a sight, since their heights (now lengths) looked to vary between two and four stories tall, and they were numbered from one up into the eighties. There are still a few of them left, but the buildings are now being used as a storage facility for a moving company. I remember there was a "for sale" sign with them last year, so if you want to make a *really* big batch of home brew, maybe you can get deal. ;-)
By coincidence, Clipper City Brewing Co. is within a quarter mile of this site. I'm told they have some guys from the old brewery working part-time.

(11/24/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Baltimore Brewing Company, Baltimore, MD

Rumor: I heard on a tour of the Clipper City brewery Saturday that the Baltimore Brewing Company is being sold to its head sales guy and that Theo DeGroen is taking a job with a brewery in Germany.

(11/24/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great Good So So Good

Establishment: Rams Head Tavern, Savage, MD

Black-eyed Susan Wheat is a yeasty, dark, and unfiltered wheat beer. Not to my personal tastes, but appropriate to the style.
Had dinner with a large group. Service was a bit slower than the group size should account for. We were surprised to be charged for second baskets of bread while we waited for our entrees. (I would have been surprised even if the waitress had told us.) The food is good, and the dinner specials are priced well, but other items are bit high-priced. $4.95 seemed a bit much for a cup of the soup du jour.
If you don't know the area, check SavageMill.com for directions. They aren't the greatest directions, but they're better than nothing.

(11/24/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

Establishment: Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, Ellicott City, MD

I forgot to mention:
Holiday Bock is coming on November 26 (day after Thanksgiving Day).

(11/17/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Good Good Good Good Good

Establishment: Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, Ellicott City, MD

Dismissed early from jury duty, Ellicott Mills was a convenient and pleasant stop for lunch. The lunch special, a crab cake sandwich, was delicious, and up to local standards. The Marzen was well balanced--malty sweet, but not too much so.

If you've heard about last week's Main St. fire, don't worry--it was two blocks down and across the street. I was happy to note that this building, despite its age, has sprinklers. However, I also noted that the front doors can still cause a draft through-out the main floor. BTW, the bar downstairs is the smoking area.

For directions to Ellicott City and for parking information, see VisitEllicottCity.com. The pub is not at Ellicott Mills Dr., but rather a block and a half down Main, beside the pay parking Court Ave. lot. I usually use the Post Office lot across Main St., the back of which is free. (The free Court House lot is at least 100 feet higher in elevation!)

(11/17/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great N/A N/A Great

Establishment: Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY

I recently enjoyed brewmaster Garrett Oliver's visit to Baltimore's "Max's on Broadway," though due to the crowd, I couldn't sample all of the beers. Brooklyn Pilsner struck me as a malty, flavorful Pils with little bitterness and a clean finish. Brooklyn Lager, a Vienna/Marzen, had a nicely balanced malty sweetness and a malty finish. Brooklyn Pennant Pale Ale '55 (celebrating the world championship of the Brooklyn Dodger, but ironically brewed with MARIS Otter Malt), described by Mr. Oliver as an ESB, is a fine pale ale with a nice hop finish. Mr. Oliver described Brooklyn East India Pale Ale (EIPA) as being close to the historic IPA style with its high alcohol content (7% abv). I can't dispute that, but for my own tastes, I found the alcohol flavor competed too much with the hop flavor; still, I liked it. Mr. Oliver described Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout as his "resume beer," brewed at his previous job in order to get his current job; it's a Russian Imperial Stout.

Garrett Oliver is one of the most interesting and charasmatic brewers I've met. Having been told that the EIPA was previously a seasonal, I asked if any of the seasonals hadn't caught on. He told me that the Brooklyn Dry Stout, available in the spring, has had difficulty breaking into the crowded market, but they'll try again as it is one of his favorite styles. He also mentioned, to the entire room, that this winter's Brooklyn Monster Ale (barleywine), due anyday, will be extra strong: 12.3% abv.

(11/13/1999)

Beer Quality Beer Selection Food Service Overall
Great Great N/A N/A Great

Establishment: Max's on Broadway, Fells Point/Baltimore, MD

I recently enjoyed a Tuesday Beer Social upstairs in The Mobtown Lounge with Brooklyn Brewery's brewmaster, Garrett Oliver. I counted about 60 people in the room, which was crowded; someone said they usually get about a third of that. As a result, some of the free samples didn't make it to everyone in the room. I thought the free buffet was good, particularly at that price. The room itself, besides being crowded on this night, was smoky, but I liked the rest of the atmosphere: wood paneling, hardwood floor, metal work on the ceiling, over-stuffed leather chairs at some tables. The social began at 6 PM, but the presentation didn't begin for another hour. It was fun and interesting.

(11/13/1999)


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