Tag Archives: Microbrews

Baltimore Beer Week Begins Today

Today is a holiday in the City of Baltimore. It’s not the usual thing for a holiday to be on a Thursday, but… wait; is today Thursday? Who cares! It’s a holiday. A high holy day. A high holy week. And by week, we mean like 2 weeks. Eleven days to be exact.

Today marks the opening festivities for the third annual Baltimore Beer Week with the Star Spangled Banger Parade kicking off at high noon. They’re going to muster up at Fort McHenry with the eponymous banger, a giant ceremonial cask-cracking mallet. The parade itself is somewhat, er, ambitious; rivaling this Spring’s Schaefer Tour in terms of scope.

The Star Spangled Banger... a mighty symbol of Baltimore's thirst for liberty. The liberty to drink beer, that is.

Billed as a walking pub crawl, the parade begins in Locust Point, but includes stops as far-flung as Alonso’s, Grand Cru, and Canton. We’re kind of dubious that people are walking that far for a pub crawl. Carrying a giant mallet all those miles would be part barhopping, part Olympic torch relay, and part Stanley Cup showoff fiasco. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Charm City Pedal Mill were somehow involved.

For those drinkers not of the pedestrian persuasion, the parade ends at Power Plant Live at 6 pm, where the official opening ceremony will take place and the first firkin of heavy seas will be cracked open. After that, Baltimore Beer Week is pretty much a free-for-all with more than 300 separate events from which to choose.

We made the trip to Oktoberfest last year, and it ended up exactly like we said it would. We might even make it back this year, who knows? The truth is that we’re thoroughly incapable of writing one of those elementary school style essays on the theme of “What Baltimore Beer Week Means to Me,” but one thing is certain, with that many events happening, we’re definitely going to sample a few new brews even though we’re decidedly not a beer snob.

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Best Bets: Best Beers for Non-Beer Snobs

Late Spring and Early Summer are officially Beer Season in Baltimore. Beer is great all the year round, of course, but warm weather brings with it the opportunity for backyard parties, grilling, porchin’ it, and other chances to drink outdoors for extended periods. And for that, you’ve got to put down the highballs and reach for a beer.

There are those among us who are always seeking out the latest and greatest in the world of beer. Even some of you reading this probably count yourselves among the ranks of ‘beer snobs’ ‘beer nerds’ or, if you prefer, ‘enthusiasts.’ There’s nothing wrong with trying to track down the hoppiest IPA, the most carefully crafted barleywine, or the cloudiest Belgian wheat. For the rest of us though, most of the time, we just want a beer.

The beer's two bucks. The opinions are free.

So where does that leave us? We haven’t got the time or the patience to seek out the rarest imports and smallest microbrews and brag about it boorishly online, but neither will we settle for AB and MillerCoors products, which are all terrible. We just want something that we can get most places, drink several of, and, you know… not have to think about too much. It’s with these criteria in mind that we’re happy to present The Best Beers for Non-Beer Snobs.

Shiner Bock. According to Wikipedia: The Bavarians of Munich pronounced “Einbeck” as “ein Bock” (“a billy goat”), and thus the beer became known as “bock”. To this day, as a visual pun, a goat often appears on bock labels. The one produced at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas wears its goat proudly, and it’s one of the most balanced beers out there. It’s a great choice as a takealong to a party or a drink-it-while-watching-a-game beer.

Sam Adams Boston Lager. A lot of beer snobs turn up their noses at the offerings from Sam Adams. That’s why they’re called snobs, we guess. Sam Adams is the Radiohead of the beer world. The people who loved it originally now pretend they never did. You just assume it’s a big major thing, but it’s still relatively small. It still doesn’t quite suit the tastes of the mainstream, exactly. We love Sam Adams. Radiohead on the other hand…

Löwenbräu. Löwenbräu may technically Be owned by A-B InBev, but it’s still producing the same beer it ever has. With a history dating back to 1383, it makes brands like Bass and Guinness look like up-and-comers by comparison. It even predates the famous Reinheitsgebot, the 1583 German law that dictated purity in beer. If it’s good enough for Oktoberfest, it’s good enough for the Chop.

Sierra Nevada Is Sierra the best bad beer or the worst good beer? This is a typical beer snob question, as it’s usually what they’ll reach for when they’re ‘slumming it.’ For us though, it’s just a good call. Most bars have it on draft and most stores have it in the cooler. It’s strong but not too strong, and tastes good enough for us.

Heavy Seas Gold Ale. We secretly yearn for a time when Baltimore will be known not as Boh country, but as Heavy Seas country. We realize that’s a pretty big hill to climb, but this might be just the beer, and just the brewery to do it. Just about everything heavy seas puts out is de-goddamn-licious, but Gold Ale has been our favorite since the early Clipper City days. We’d drink it even if it wasn’t super local, but we’re sure happy it is.

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Best Bets: Baltimore’s Best Liquor Stores

Sometimes you just want a six pack of Heineken. That’s a problem easily solved. Other times, all you need is a bottle of Beam. You can find that just about anywhere. Occasionally though, you need to go above and beyond. If you’re planning for a large party, stocking your bar from scratch, or starting your wine collection you’ll need a liquor store that goes above and beyond.

The shops mentioned here aren’t so much liquor stores as they are liquor wonderlands. They’re like candy stores for grownups. They’re the places you keep coming back to, because they’ve got more different bottles in there than you could ever possibly drink, try though you might. They are, simply put, the best.

A visual approximation of the Chop buying a bottle at one of our favorite liquor stores.

Beltway Fine Wine. You’ve probably driven by Beltway at a pretty high speed and not thought much of it. It’s easy to miss, being jammed underneath an Ethan Allen furniture store. What you don’t realize from the road though is that it’s got the same square footage as the giant furniture store above it. It’s huge. There may be some strange obscure liquor somewhere in the world that Beltway doesn’t have, but we kind of doubt it. 8727 Loch Raven Blvd, Towson.

The Wine Source. As liquor stores go, the Wine Source is the Chop’s home base. Simply the best inside Baltimore City, as the rest of the stores on this list are all out in the suburbs. If the Wine Source had a walk-in beer cooler and a better parking situation, it would achieve liquor store perfection. 3601 Elm Avenue, Baltimore.

Dawson’s Liquors. We’ve never actually been to Dawson’s, because it’s in Severna Park and we only pass through that way about once every 10 years or so, but we were tipped off to it by our man over at I Hate JJ Redick who’s always on point, so we’re going to take his word for it. We hate to judge a store by its website, but theirs is pretty damn good, and crappy stores don’t usually invest in outstanding websites. 589 B & A Blvd, Severna Park.

Midway Liquors. If you’re traveling that far out Route 40 East, you must make a point of stopping in at Midway. Even if you have to pull a u-turn to do it. We’ve only been in there once, but we walked out with three good bottles of Scotch for $100. Those bottles would have cost $150 most other places, and that’s the beauty of Midway. You could say the same about anything in the store. 12320 Pulaski Highway, Joppa.

Honeygo Wine and Spirits. with their ‘Wall of Beer’ Honeygo is known as a go to spot for fans of microbrews and imports, and is even favored by one of Baltimore’s foremost beer experts. Of course, as any great liquor store does, they excel in their selection of wine and spirits as well. 5004 Honeygo Center Dr, Perry Hall.

Shawan Liquors. Shawan Liquors is in Hunt Valley. Like everything else in Hunt Valley, it’s pretty much by rich people, for rich people. So if you’ve got a taste for a well aged Islay or a Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape, Shawan is the place for you. If you want a 30 pack of High Life, well, they might have that gathering dust in the basement too. 11337 York Road, Hunt Valley.

Ronnie’s Fine wine and Spirits. Last but not least is the pride of Harford County, Ronnie’s in Bel Air. They’ve got a wonderful walk in beer cooler, as well as a ton of microbrews, a good selection of kegs, and a 3-for-$12 wine bin. They’re also known for their occasional blowout sales which draw large crowds looking to stock up. Putting every bottle in the store on sale once in a while is a policy we’d like to see more stores adopt! 1514 Rock Spring Road, Forest Hill.

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