The Quest for the Holy Grain - Best Brew Pubs
Maryland

 

 

Annapolis

Baltimore

Bel Air

Bethesda

Columbia

Ellicott City

Frederick

Ocean City

 

Gaithersburg

Hagerstown

Hyattsville

Parsonburg

Salisbury

Solomons

Westminster

White Marsh

 

Tall Tales Brewing Company
6929 Heron Grove Ct
Parsonsburg , MD 21849
(410) 824-2739

Tall Tales Brewing Company sits about 100 yards north of route 50, several miles east of Salisbury.
Tall Tales is self-described as a "small premium brewery based in Parsonburg, MD."
Roni, our bartender, explained that they were "definitely not a microbrewery," but also did not describe them as a brew pub. Nevertheless, they do sell beer made on-premise, and they do offer a limited but tasty light fare menu featuring artisan pizza; I'm calling them a brew pub.
The basic pour at Tall Tales is 6 ounces...they are only licensed to sell full pints 3 out of every 30 days.
A 6-oz. beer will cost you $2 or $3, and customers can choose from about 8 different Tall Tales beers.
Most of their brews had an ABV of 6-10%, and the ones that I tried were tasty.
Another brewery on the Eastern Shore to which I would gladly return at the drop of a hat.


 

 

Antietam Brewery at Benny's Pub
49 Eastern Boulevard  
Hagerstown , MD 21740
(301) 791-5915

The Antietam Brewing Company is housed in Benny's Pub, on the banks of Antietam Creek in Hagerstown.
Benny's was a successful restaurant/bar when they began their brewing operation in 2012.
The establishment, which occupies a storefront in a shopping center, consists of three large rooms, with the brewing equipment as a focal point.
The L-shaped bar seats about a dozen patrons, and the other two rooms bring the seating capacity up to 170.
Antietam has 3 flagship brews...a golden ale, porter, and an IRA. During our visit, there were also two seasonals.
I can speak for the General's Golden Ale...it was very tasty, as was the food we ordered.
Our barkeep was cheerful and informative, and gladly filled my 1-liter growler.
Antietam/Benny's is only ten minutes away from the Antietam battlefield, and both would be an apt reason to get you up to this neck of the woods.

 

 

 

Backshore Brewing Company
Boardwalk between 9th & 10th
Ocean City, MD
(443) 373-1224

On a chilly fall evening, the boardwalk was desolate.
We had heard that Backshore Brewing was on the boardwalk at 9th Street...we had also read that it was on Atlantic Avenue.
We couldn't find it.
But then I smelled a familiar odor...somebody was cooking beer.
We followed our noses.
Outside a man was cooking a batch of beer...turned out he was the brewer working on an "experimental batch."
We entered Backshore. It is small...only about 6 seats a the bar.
The place was full...mostly regulars and us. They were all there for the beer.
Backshore had 6 of their homebrews on tap. The Kolsch that I tried was very good.
Though the barroom was small, Shorebilly is attached to Hammerheads. If one desires food or liquor, they can walk through a door to Hammerheads and bring it back.
Seating is more plentiful in warm weather, as there is room for 40 more drinkers out on the patio.
In or out of season, Backshore is a great place...I shall return.

 

 

De Lazy Lizard
305 N 1st St  
Ocean City, MD 21842
(410) 289-1122

De Lazy Lizard Brew Pub is an offshoot of De Lazy Lizard Bar & Grill which is just a block away on the bay.
The Brew Pub occupies the building which for 80 years was known as Melvin's Steak House, on the corner of 1st St. and Philadelphia.
The U-shaped bar seats about 25 customers, and an additional room brings the total capacity of the establishment up to 150.
De Lazy Lizard Brew Pub had six of their own brews on tap, as well as about 10 guest taps.
I had a Blonde Ale and the IPA, both of which were darn good. Their beers are sold by the pint or in flights.
The bottle list numbered about 35.
The young lady who was our bartender was friendly and eager to answer our questions, even though she was new to the job. If she didn't know the answer, she found out.
De Lazy Lizard Brew Pub is a welcome addition to lower Ocean City.

 

 

Fin City Brewing Company
12913 Ocean Gateway
Ocean City , Maryland , 21842-9505
phone: (410) 213-1771

Fin City Brewing is located at Hooper's Crab House in easygoing West Ocean City, Maryland.
Hooper's is a popular, well-established restaurant and hangout which you can learn more about by viewing their website.
Fin City Brewing debuted in 2012, making several different styles of beer, and may have as many as 6 on tap at any one time.
About 6 other drafts are also offered, mostly macros including several Leinenkugels.
The beer is crafted in a loft above Hooper's main bar, and during the time of our visit, on their penultimate day of the season, offered four of the Fin City creations on tap.
Fin City offers beers for most tastes, and you can put away as much as you want without breaking the bank. The pints were going for $4, but a patron could get a 22-ounce pour in a souvenir stadium cup for only $5, with refills for a scant $2.50!
Hooper's is an enormous venue with many booths, tables, levels, lofts, and much outdoor dining.
The layout and decor cannot be described...it must be experienced.
Our barkeep, Danielle, was helpful and informative about the Fin City beers, and Hoopers in general.
Hooper's and Fin City Brewing is an enjoyable place to visit away from the beach bustle of Ocean City proper.




 

 

 

Frisco Tap & Brew House
6695 Dobbin Rd
Columbia , MD 21045
(410) 312-4907

Frisco Tap & Brew House, a stable fixture among area beer drinkers for their 50 rotating taps of American microbrews and imports, is now brewing their own beer.
This puts Frisco on the map as not only one of the best beer bars in the state, but also as Columbia's lone brew pub.


The Columbia watering hole will also have the distinction of being the first pub on this website to be listed as both a Best Beer Bar and Best Brew Pub.


Patrons of Frisco have long awaited the debut of the home brews, following the progress of the brew works through the large windows in front of the establishment.
Frisco's brewing operation has been named Push Craft Brewing.
For openers, Push Craft served a pale ale and an IPA.
Some high-octane styles will follow.
The beer is pumped from the serving tank in the brew house up and over into the bar, where it is dispensed to the customer from two dedicated tap towers.


Why did Frisco start brewing their own beers when they are able to so successfully purvey 50 other craft beers in their taphouse?
As owner Adam Carton so succinctly put it, "Who doesn't want to have a microbrewery?"

 

Evolution Craft Brewing
US 13
Salisbury MD


Evolution Craft Brewing has moved from its home in Delmar just a few miles south to Salisbury MD in early 2012. The brewery needed more space and now they've got it. In addition they have opened a restaurant and tasting room both attached to the brewery. The tasting room features 6 taps to choose from, some of which are their staples, while others are seasonal. You can take tours of the facility or visit the restaurant for a bite to eat.

 

Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill
Corner of MD-4 and Dowell Road
Solomons, MD

The Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill, located in scenic maritime Solomons, offers six brews of their own and six guest taps. Proprietor Carlos Yanez and brewer Jonathan Reeves have conspired to privide an ambitious spectrum of beers, including a golden ale, a porter, and a Belgian wit, dubbel and tripel. I found the three that I consumed to be well-crafted, delicious, and true-to-style. And they are served in appropriate glasses! There are also at least 10 bottled beers, mostly imports in large bottles.
The bar seats 12, with maybe 10 tables in the bar area. There are two other dining areas, and an outside patio.
You won't accidently be passing through Solomons. Located at the tip of one of Maryland's peninsulas in rural Calvert County, it would have to be your destination. And a trip to the Ruddy Duck is a great reason to make it one.

 

 

 

Johansson's Dining House

4 W. Main Street
Westminster, Maryland, 21157-4816
(410) 876-0101

Located in quaint downtown Westminster, Johansson's in noted for fine dining and beer. Although their brewing operation was on hiatus for a while, they are brewing once again; although on our visit, they only had two varieties...an amber and an altbier. They have brewed a number of different beers in the past, and are probably best known for their Hoodlehead IPA. They provide 11 guest taps and about 20 bottles, mostly commonplace. The bar is long, dark, and comfortable, and darts are offered for those so inclined.

 

Ellicott Mills Brewing Company

8308 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043
410.313.8141

The square stone ediface stolidly situated on main street in Old Ellicott City was once a hardware store; don't take Alpenhof beers for granite!
Ellicott Mills Brewing Company
makes good beers and lots of them. They are prolific in the styles of beer they make, crafting both ales and lagers, but their specialty beers are their bocks. Bock of the Bat, Big Red, Firecracker, Doppelbock...there is one on tap no matter the season.
Walk down to the Batskeller where bartender Tim Kendzierski runs one of the best bars in the region. There is also a bar on the first floor, and a cozier dining area on the second floor.
Depending on the day of the week, specials might include lobster night, shrimp, wings, and $2.00 beers.
Ellicott Mills also runs home brew contests, and many other interesting events.

 

Gordon Biersch Brewery
1906 Towne Center Blvd
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 266-5965

The new Gordon Biersch-Annapolis sits in a brand new spacious retail mall off of Riva Road just South of Route 50. The restaurant is clean and spacious as befits a successful brew pub chain. The bar seats about 15 with numerous tables, booths and rails...the dining area is large. Gordon Biersch makes German-style lagers; you will find nothing new or complex here, but all are clean, drinkable, and true-to-style. The brew works are visible from the bar. Garage-door type windows open behind the bar to service outdoor patrons in warm weather. Biersch offers six taps consisting of 5 standards and 1 seasonal. Gordon Biersch is about 10 minutes from Main Street Annapolis, and well worth a visit in this historic town...a beer destination in its own right.

 

Brewer's Alley

125 North Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701

Brewer's Alley is located in an historic building, and was Frederick's first brewpub.
They have 7 brews on tap, and rotate about 10 seasonals in with their 5 regulars. They also offer three bottled beers.
On this Saturday night, the bar was jumping, and the fact that many patrons were consuming Miller Lites is testament to the fact that this must be a swinging night spot as well as a source of excellent craft-brewed beers.
The Pils was hearty, yet delicate, and well-hopped. The hefeweizen was excellent, so much so, that when I set mine down, it disappeared.
On the left you can see a "giraffe", a device that dispenses 2.5 liters of beer right at your table. It's guaranteed to infuse your group with instant Gemutlichkeit.

 

 

Barley and Hops
GRILL & MICROBREWERY
5473 Urbana Pike,
Frederick, Maryland 21703
Phone: 301-668-5555
e-mail: barleyandhops1@aol.co
m

Located in a shopping center, just South of old downtown Frederick, Barley and Hops is a friendly place to eat and drink.
They offer about 7 taps...one is a hand engine.
Barley and Hops also offers several bottled beers.
Their brewings range from the summery hefeweizen and kolsch to a hoppier, stronger pale ale and red ale.
My favorite was the pils, which was an excellent example of the style.
The staff was particularly helpful in providing material for this site.

 

 

Growlers
227 East Diamond Ave
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

(301) 519-9400

Growlers is a brewpub located in the quaint section of Gaithersburg that is still reminiscent of a sleepy, small town. It occupies the same site as the old Summit Station Brewpub. They offer 8 taps, six of which are their house beers...the other two are guest taps. They also carry about 15 bottles. The lunch hour presented an eclectic crowd of diners and beer drinkers. The bar is comfortable, and the beer was very fresh. As the name would indicate, growlers can be filled.

Rock Bottom Brewery
7900 Norfolk Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 652-1311

The Rock Bottom Brewery is a successful chain, with the Bethesda location being the only one in Maryland.
Brewmaster Geoff Lively knows his craft and his clientele. The former is evidenced by the impressive array of awards and medals he has garnered, and the latter by the sampler of six very smooth and drinkable beers that he graciously proffered.
"We try to have something for everyone." is Geoff's philosophy, and this is no idle boast. Their five regulars are brewed to satisfy the normal spectrum of beer drinkers. In addition, Geoff offers one or two seasonals, and one or two cask-conditioned ales dispensed through a hand engine, for his more beer-cultured or curious customers.
Ask your bartender, and other special brews are liable to be available in 1-liter bottles.

Rock Bottom offers fine foods and special events as well, and should be a definite stop for residents, tourists, and those citizens in search of good beer.

 

Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery, & General Store

5123 Baltimore Ave.
Hyattsville, MD 20781
301-927-2938

Franklin's is one of Maryland's best kept brewing secrets.
Located right on Rt. 1 between DC and College Park, Franklin's has a restaurant downstairs and spacious bar up the steps.
They offer 8-10 taps of their own brews, and several macro bottles for the unenlightened. Head brewer Mike Roy crafts a kolsch, hefe-weizen, pale ale, red ale, IPA, and Belgian triple to name a few.
The lunchtime crowd was quite diverse, the General Store fun to browse in, and most importantly...the beer was excellent.

 

 

DuClaw Brewing Company
16 A Bel Air South Parkway
Bel Air, MD 21015
p. 410-515-3222

DuClaw began as a brew pub in Bel Air, MD, and now has locations in Arundel Mills and Bowie Town Center as well. DuClaw's secret is brewing beers that people love to drink, and providing a fun setting in which to do it. DuClaw unveils a new seasonal beer each month, and these evenings, where free glasses are usually given away, are quite popular. All of the beer is brewed in Abingdon, MD. Many patrons also take home Duclaw beer in growlers.

 

Red Brick Station

8149 HoneyGo Blvd
White Marsh, MD 21236 410.931.PUBS

Red Brick Station houses the White Marsh Brewing Co., a local brewer of fine beers.
There are around 7 on tap, one hand engine, and one guest beer.
The regulars ranged, at the time of our visit, from Honeygo Lite at 3.6% to the Daily Crisis IPA weighing in at 6.1%.
RBS offers a casual atmosphere with good food and "Baltimore's Best Happy Hour."
Mug clubbers drink more for less.