Baltimore has long had a love affair with beer. The flames of that romance sparked back in 1885, when National Bohemian first started producing beer in the Charm City. Since that time, more and more brewers have followed suit and set up shop in the city for an urban landscape peppered with breweries, brewpubs and beer gardens.
Since you can spend endless hours discovering new suds and their purveyors, we’ve culled a few of our favorite spots to take a swig of Baltimore’s ever-evolving beer scene.
Heavy Seas Beer, 4615 Hollins Ferry Rd
Heavy Seas founder Hugh Sisson is a major player in the local beer community; he played a big role in legalizing brewpubs in Maryland in the 1980s. Today, he sits at the helm of an award-winning brewery that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. You can find Heavy Seas beers throughout Baltimore, but make it a point to stop by the taproom to try brews like the English-style Powder Monkey, the dry-hopped Double Cannon and Peg Leg imperial stout.
Union Craft Brewing, 1700 Union Ave
Founded in 2011, this rapidly growing craft brewery makes modern beer with an eye toward tradition. Visit the taproom for tours and tastings of their brews, from the German-style Balt Altbier and the light-bodied Steady Eddie IPA to the crisp, clean Blackwing Lager. As the weather warms, keep an eye out for the anticipated release of the tart and fruity Old Pro Gose.
Leinenkugel’s Beer Garden, 34 Market Pl
Leinenkugel’s brewery may be based in Wisconsin, but the classic brand’s beer garden is a beloved meeting place in downtown Baltimore. The glass-enclosed greenhouse-like structure has a retractable roof and doors that open onto a garden area with picnic tables and Adirondack chairs. The bar offers more than 30 drafts, which include domestic and local options.
Waverly Brewing Co., 1625-C Union Ave
Conceived over a table of beers, this brewery specializes in playful and experiential recipes. The petite but nimble brewery has a taproom with a regularly rotating selection of six to eight draft beers. Try their Clementine Wheat Ale, made with 100 percent Galaxy hops, or the Triple MoFo, a Belgian tripel made with more than 50 pounds of local honey.
Poets Modern Cocktails and Eats, 24 W Franklin St
This Mount Vernon restaurant and bar, located in Hotel Indigo Baltimore Downtown, has a small but mighty draft beer list that leans heavily on local breweries. Try the latest offerings from local upstarts and more established breweries including Monument City, Full Tilt, Flying Dog, Stillwater, Heavy Seas, Raven and more. The restaurant’s local Maryland crab cakes make for a perfect pairing.
Stillwater Artisanal, 1028 S Conkling St
A former backyard brewer started this nomadic brewing venture, which now distributes beer throughout the country. Restaurant, bar and bottle shop “Of Love & Regret” serves as the brewery’s headquarters, and it’s where you can try the full range of Stillwater’s brews. Feeling floral? Try A Saison Darkly, made with hibiscus flowers, rose hips and berries. Want something smokier? Go for the “soul-sucking bitter” Vacuum black IPA made with smoked malts.
The Brewer’s Art, 1106 N Charles St
Situated in a charming Mount Vernon townhouse, this seasonally driven restaurant also brews its own beer in-house. Sip the summery Birdhouse or the Resurrection abbey brown ale, or choose from a list of thoughtfully chosen bottles (not to mention an admirable selection of scotch).
Dempsey’s Brew Pub and Restaurant, 333 W Camden St
Baseball fans and beer lovers flock to this expansive spot at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. They carry more than 40 beers, including 10 local and regional craft brews and a few that are brewed right in-house. Choose from Rick’s Red Ale, Wild Pitch Wheat, The ’83 Golden Ale or the Rain Delay IPA before, after or during an Orioles game.
Monument City Brewing Company, 401 E 30th St
This craft brewery is run by brothers Ken and Matt Praay. With minimalist packaging and beautifully handcrafted tap handles, the company is as notable for its good design as it is for its carefully curated selection of ales. Their 51 Rye is brewed with — you guessed it — 51 percent rye, and the classic Brown Ale has a sweet, malty backbone.