I’m a beer geek. Enough of one that I usually do some background research before the ESA meeting, to suss out where I’d like to drink. Which has paid off more than once, by identifying good places that aren’t totally swamped.* Including out of the way places that are worth a cab ride.
This year, I’m sharing the fruits of my background research, which mostly consists of looking at the reviews on beer geek websites like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer.
Max’s Taphouse. One of the best beer bars in the country, and correspondingly famous. You’ll need to take a water taxi to Fell’s Point (UPDATE: or a 30 minute walk, or the orange circulator bus), but it’s surely worth it. Over 100 taps including several cask ales. I am definitely going here.
The Wharf Rat. Apparently the second-best beer bar in Fell’s Point. 20+ taps including several cask ales. British-style food service–order at the bar and they bring the food to your table.
Pratt St. Ale House. Pretty good brewpub, across the street from the convention center. I predict it will be absolutely rammed. And that the sun will rise tomorrow. #psychic
Alewife. Gastropub with something like 30+ taps. Only a few blocks from the convention center. The food sounds awesome (and they make an effort to serve invasive species), though it seems to get mixed reviews. I am going to try to get here.
The Brewer’s Art. Another gastropub (well, upscale pub with proper restaurant in back, from the look of the pictures). They brew their own beer. Has a first-hand recommendation from reader Karen Lips.
Note that the surrounding area may be a little sketchy. UPDATE: a commenter who lives two blocks away reports it’s not at all sketchy.
Mahaffey’s. Unassuming but excellent local in Canton, the neighborhood east of Fell’s Point. Might be too far afield and not special enough to be worth a trek, but I’ll throw it out there. About 20 frequently-changing taps, including a cask ale.
Of Love and Regret. Also in Canton. 27 taps split evenly between Stillwater beers and very hard-to-find international guest beers (an Italian sour beer?!). Judging solely from their website, Stillwater is the most creative and/or most pretentious microbrewery on earth. Gastropub food. I’m actually a little suspicious of the wide range of cuisines on offer; can they really do good versions of Vietnamese, German, Japanese, Texas BBQ, and more? But whatever–I’m definitely going here.
*In my experience, ESA meeting attendees tend to go to the good bar closest to the convention center, as long as it’s within the main concentration of bars and restaurants. A corollary is that attendees tend not to discover any good bar outside the main concentration of bars and restaurants, not even if it’s close by. Case in point: the Minneapolis meeting, when you had your choice of drinking at the admittedly-fine Brit’s Pub with every other ecologist at the meeting (at least, that’s how it seemed), or walking literally one block further (but crucially, off the main drag) to the Bulldog Downtown. Second case in point: Albuquerque, where hardly any ecologists went to the awesome Marble Brewery despite its location a few blocks from the hotels–because it’s in an industrial park.