Where to drink in Baltimore for #ESA100 if you’re a beer geek (UPDATED)

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’sUnassuming 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 RegretAlso 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.

6 thoughts on “Where to drink in Baltimore for #ESA100 if you’re a beer geek (UPDATED)

  1. I’m a beer-loving DCite and can vouch for some of these recommendations, having trekked up to Baltimore to try new beers and by virtue of the “localness” of Baltimore beer distribution to DC. Of Love and Regret (and Stillwater, although I think they’ve got more ties to Brooklyn than Bmore these days) are absolutely fantastic for those who love saisons, funky farmhouse smells, and all of the beer variants in that vein. I don’t love some of Stillwater’s more recent collaborations (they’ve dramatically upped their production in recent years and maybe they’ve spread out too far from their original base?), but their beers certainly have a distinguishable style. The Brewer’s Art is a solid choice for both the food and beer selection (their own and others); they also think about food and beer pairings, which isn’t the norm among fine dining establishments. Finally, Pratt St Ale House is home to the small Oliver Breweries, which produces some nice English-style ales. I’ve only seen the occasional collaboration make it down to taps in DC, so that’s the place to go if you want to give them a try.

    I’m disappointed I won’t be at ESA to join in (on the research and sharing beers/delicious food), but I’m sure you’ll all enjoy!

  2. As someone who currently lives just a couple of blocks from Brewer’s Art, the neighborhood (Mt Vernon) is not at all sketchy. It’s also easy to get to from the convention center as the Circulator has a bus stop right up the street and the light rail (Cultural center stop) is only a couple of blocks away. The Centre St stop on the light rail just south of Mt Vernon does feel a bit desolate at night due to the boarded up buildings across the street.

    All of the places on your list are good. Fells Point is walkable (20-30 min) from the convention along the harbor if it isn’t too hot out, otherwise the Orange circulator route can get you most of the way there.

  3. I can now report that the Wharf Rat has excellent beer (try Yards ESB on the handpump). Mediocre food, but that’s not why you go there. And it wasn’t busy on a Sat. night, didn’t even get half full until 9 pm.

    And Of Love and Regret lived up to my high expectations for Sunday lunch. The beers are great (unusual in a good way, at least the ones we tried), the servers know their stuff, and the burgers are terrific. Worth the trek for a special night out with a fellow beer geek or two.

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