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Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Breweries
is available now!

If you'd like a sample of VMDDC Breweries, I'm listing all the breweries and regions here, with a bit from the manuscript for each one, just as a teaser. Remember: this is a book about the whole experience, so the quote might be about the beer, the people, the food, a local bar or attraction, or even the parking. It's all in there! (And the new cover, too!)

Seen enough? Want to buy it now? Of course you do! Just click on the cover to purchase through Amazon. Thanks!

 

Brewery Name

Area

Quote from the manuscript

Calhoun's

Blue Ridge

When the weatherís warm Ė and it does get warm here, I can tell you Ė the pubís patio seating balloons its capacity to over 300, and Eric can make enough beer to keep everyone happy. The quality of the beer keeps people happy, too; when beer-lovers found out I was headed for Calhounís, the most common reaction was "Get the Smokiní Scottish!"

Kegler's

Blue Ridge

Successful or not, Dave intends to get back to brewing. "I have ordered more of the ingredients, and Iím going to brew some more beers," he said. "I just like it because itís unique." Heís not intimidated by the quality of the local competition, either. "Oh, I know," he said, "Starr Hill is the award-winning brewery in town. But every microbrewery has its own flavor."

Queen City Brewing Ltd.

Blue Ridge

But I wasnít in Staunton to do Civil War archeological research, learn about Woodrow Wilson, or even eat Mrs. Roweís fried chicken. I was there to find Queen City Brewing, and after a pleasant little drive through town, I did. It was closed.
Just till 4:00!

South Street Brewery

Blue Ridge

It doesnít happen often, but here at South Street Iím picking the most popular beer, Satanís Pony. This is simply a fantastic beer that has realized its potential under Taylorís hand, a real tour de force of bright, fruity yeast character, solid malt underpinning, and tempting hop finish. Steal this pony and ride him to Heaven.

Starr Hill

Blue Ridge

But Markís passion is in every drop of Starr Hill beer. Listen to him as his eyes gleam with it and he makes you believe him: "Thereís malt, and hops, and yeast, and water in the beer. And the fifth ingredient...is The Love." Anywhere else it would sound corny. From Mark, it sounds like a revival meeting at its sweating, fervent peak. Preach on, Mark.

Castlebay Irish Pub

Baltimore & The Bay

"I never wanted this brewery."
It was the first thing Vince Quinlan said when we started the interview. Trust an Irishman to have a good story! All Vince wanted to do, it turns out, was to open a bar in Annapolis. The city wasnít wild about the idea, thinking that there were enough bars in the town already.

Ramís Head/Fordham Brewing

Baltimore & The Bay

"It wasnít very big," brewer Jim Sobczak told me. "It was so smallÖ well, you saw the bathrooms up the stairs, around the corner? They were outside then. They sold sandwiches by the pound, too. They weighed them right there, on the bar." Ah, the good old days.

Baltimore BC

Baltimore & The Bay

The Rauchbock has won the most medals and probably has the most devoted following, a small but dedicated cult who worship its authoritative smoky maltiness, dripping with flavor and powerful enough to blow the shattered splinters of your teeth right out of your mouth, the beer that all others bow down toÖ Sorry. Yes, I belong to the cult. 2/3/05 Confirmation arrived today that Baltimore Brewing is closing this month, as soon as the current stock of beer runs out. I mourn, truly.

Brewer's Art

Baltimore & The Bay

Why Belgian? "Itís what we liked," says partner Volker Stewart with a grin. "Seriously, the Wharf Rat was doing British ales, Baltimore Brewing and Fordham were doing lagers, and Sissonís had American micro-styles covered, so there was room for Belgian-style beers. There was an immediate positive reaction to them. Many people told us, ĎI donít like beer, but I like this.í

Capitol City BC Inner Harbor

Baltimore & The Bay

I dove in. Ouch! Big battering bitterness and the roar of malt are tempered with the beautiful punch of heavy-brewed Sumatra coffee added in the secondary, making for one serious pint of beer, a deadly good pint. Fuel is a popular tap here.

Clipper City BC

Baltimore & The Bay

But I also liked that Small Craft Warning: a big bock-strength lager, sure, and itís pretty clean, but what gets you is that big hop hammer that just doesnít stop whacking till the end of the glass. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! AhhhhhÖ

DuClaw BC

Baltimore & The Bay

Me, I call them DuClaw. And I drink Jimís excellent beer: the hoppy but extremely drinkable Venom and its somewhat scary big brother, Serum; the deep black and silky Bad Moon Porter, some of that creamy and spicy Sawtooth Wit; and Devilís Milk, a barleywine as smooth as finely tuned hydraulics, and as powerful. Who needs to label this place? Letís have a beer.

Ellicott Mills BC

Baltimore & The Bay

Darryl started at Wild Goose in 1993, learning brewing partly from a Siebel course, "but mostly on-job training," he said. "We knew what we were doing wrong, but we were still making good beer; six tight-knit guys on a proven systemÖalthough, you know, those Pugsley systems were all built for a left-handed, 6' 5" Englishman."

Red Brick Station

Baltimore & The Bay

Michaelís Highlander Heavy, a classic Wee Heavy that comes on like a huge hunk of malt pudding with fruit salad heaped on top, chewy and dense, a ponderous but precise beer. "Thanks, Ringwood," Michael replied when I told him how great it tasted. "Not many yeasts could handle a beer like that."

Rocky Run Tap & Grill

Baltimore & The Bay

Barwench Brew golden ale was a big surprise to me: it reminded me strongly of a beer I used to drink back when I first started drinking beer that was a bit different from Rolling Rock and Miller High Life: Molson Export. "The Ex" was beefier in those days, with more body and hop than it has today, and that old flavor was what I found in the Barwench. What a welcome memory it was.

Ryleighís

Baltimore & The Bay

"No," Tom said firmly. "We had to keep it. This was Marylandís first brewpub. Itís a big deal. Hugh Sisson got laws changed so this place could open.

Wharf Rat

Baltimore & The Bay

Billís father was originally from England and had emigrated to Canada, where Bill grew up, often hearing the sound of caps from his dadís homebrewed ales pinging off the ductwork in the basement. "I thought, thatís it, weíll make Dadís ale," said Bill.

Capitol City BC Mass Ave

The District

Iím almost embarrassed to pick this, with all the ranting and raving about the crazed trend to over-strength, over-hopped beers Iíve done in the past year, but Mike McCarthyís Double IPA was Mr. Hopís Wild Ride, and no mistake about it. Itís 8.5%, quite bright, and orange in color with a smooth, slippery malt body. You smell the esters even under the sharply piney hop aroma, but once you start sipping, the hops never ever go away. Hurt me real good, beer!

District ChopHouse

The District

If youíre tired of an unending diet of pizza and burgers with your fresh-brewed beer, well-made though they may be, catch a cab to the Chophouse and order up a thick steak or a couple of pork chops, paired with a big Bourbon Stout. This is a difference I can appreciate.

Gordon Biersch

The District

Good beer is a treasure, a valuable part of life, something to be kept from harm, not just left lying about. Maybe thatís why when Gordon-Biersch came to town they put their Washington brewpub in a solidly built former Riggs bank. The thick walls, tall windows, and marble columns give you the feeling that youíre walking up to the red granite bar to make a withdrawal, not just order a beer.

John Harvard's DC

The District

Most people donít know Ė or care Ė any more, but John Harvardís DC used to be the first Dock Street brewpub outside of Philadelphia, and Nick Funnell, now head brewer at Sweetwater Tavern, was the brewer there. It was eight years ago, and it only matters to me because Iím a total beer geek about things like that, but itís brewpub history, and we donít have much of that, so youíre getting it.

Brandywine BC

Delaware

"Iíve been experimenting with some British yeasts," Hull told me recently. "Iím just tired of ales that donít have a real ale character." That ale character was already starting to come through in the beers I tasted; they had a definite similarity in profile. "See, some people think thatís a flaw," Hull said. "Itís not, itís the fingerprint of your house yeast!"
1/19/05 update: unfortunately, Brandywine closed on 12/31/04. They hope to re-open in about a year.

Dogfish Head Brewery

Delaware

And how about Miss World Wide Stout? The brewers have to feed her every day! Youíd think she would get fat, wouldnít you? But sheís always working, day and night, so she just gets stronger and stronger, and stronger and stronger and stronger, until sheís the strongest dark beer in the world!

Dogfish Head Brewpub

Delaware

Iíll say it one more time: donít expect the obvious from this brewery. I donít know what Sam will think up next, but for as long as Iíve known him, the man has had a talent for coming up with an answer before anyone else has even thought about the question.

Fordham Brewery

Delaware

Thatís a long, complicated story, the kind you hear down here in the land of weird brewing laws. Letís just skip over it by saying that brewing Fordham beers always comes first at Southern, and that the owners include Bill Muehlhauser, the owner of the Ramís Head Taverns. If we get any further into it, Iím gonna get a headache. Talk about tangled brewery DNAÖ

Iron Hill Brewery Newark

Delaware

Iron Hill is one of the most successful small brewpub chains in the country. I have nothing to back up that statement: no numbers, no comparisons, no spreadsheets, nothing. I donít care, Iím sticking with it, because I know what I see.

Iron Hill Brewery Wilmington

Delaware

Oh, but it did my heart good to see Iron Hillís new brewpub standing two stories tall and hometown proud with all the chain restaurants clustered around it. Wilmingtonians are rightly pleased to finally have an Iron Hill near enough to enjoy.

John Harvard's Wilmington

Delaware

Brianís also brought home some Real Ale Festival medals for John Harvardís. The man has a penchant for strong, bottle-conditioned beers that translates into a delicious sense for the estery yeast effects that characterize that kind of beer.

Stewart's BC

Delaware

Let him loose on some bigger beers, and Hoffman and Ringwood shine. The 6.4% IPA, a light orange-gold in color, floats with hop and ester aromas, underlaid with classic British earthiness and solid malt, but firmly shot through and through with hops.

Capitol City BC Shirlington

Metro DC

This is where youíre going to get the full Capitol City story, because this is where the big tanks that make Capitol Cityís best-selling KŲlsch hang out, the big brewery of the chain. It may not look like much, but this brewery does 2,500 barrels a year, and is capable of cranking out 4,000 if things run flat out. Those are big numbers for a brewpub.

Founderís

Metro DC

Mt. Vernon is the major attraction here. You can tour the house, the outbuildings (donít miss the distillery, recently restored with the help of several Kentucky bourbon distillers I know who looked really funny in colonial garb), and the vineyard, where George and Martha Washington are buried together.

Franklin's

Metro DC

"We converted the space to a general store with a 40 seat deli in the back," said Mike. "Weíve got cards, toys, wine, beer, food, hot sauces, all kinds of crapola, and we got a good lunch crowd."
They still have all kinds of crapola, and browsing it is an amusing way to while away the short time it takes for your meal to arrive.

Hops Alexandria

Metro DC

They had Hopsí new Love Handles Low Carb seasonal on, cashing in on the Atkins craze. "My marketing people talked us into a low-carb beer," Dave said, "and it was a real challenge. But itís selling quite well for us. Put it up against Michelob Ultra, and itís a better beer." Well, maybe. But like Michelob Ultra, what Love Handles mostly reminded me of was mineral water. Iím just not a low-carb kind of guy. Thatís why I got nachos to go with it.

Old Dominion BC

Metro DC

Old Dominionís pub typically pours over 20 different beers on three sets of 16 taps and two beer engines. Itís the only brewpub Iíve ever been to in writing these three books where I had to decline sampling everything. I just hit the highlights, skipping the beers Iíd already grown familiar with and a few that were just too scary for mid-day drinking, the over-10% ABV Millennium barleywine, for example.

Rock Bottom Bethesda

Metro DC

Geoffís a big fan of cask beer and has carefully adjusted his cold room to ensure proper aging. "I put the casks at the end of the cold room away from the fan," he explained, dead-pan. "And theyíre right by the door, where Iím in and out. So they stay a little bit warmer, which is what you want." High tech.

Rock Bottom Arlington

Metro DC

Dollar Draft Night is insane. On Wednesday nights, drafts go to a buck and the bartendersí world explodes. "They pretty much just leave the KŲlsch tap open and put empty glasses under it," Gary Winn told me. I didnít make it to a Dollar Draft Night, and it wasnít an oversight; Iím too old for that kind of thing!

Shenandoah BC

Metro DC

"We did about 330 bbls. of our own commercial beer in 2003," said Anning, "and about 300 bbls. of customersí batches." Not bad for a little brewery that sells brewerís dreams. These days I still smile when I see a BOP, but itís because of those fulfilled dreams, the beer passions realized, not because of any thoughts of old movies.

Summit Station

Metro DC

"By God, I donít think youíve missed a meal since I saw you last!" The familiar voice rang out behind me. I was sitting at the bar at Summit Station, swapping lies with a couple regulars while I waited for the waitress to find brewer Joe Kalish. I was starting to feel like a regular, in that relaxed small-town welcome way, when Joe announced his presence with characteristic verve.

Sweetwater Tavern Sterling

Metro DC

Yippie-Ei-O Springbock (which I can only assume people ask for by saying "Springbock, please") was golden in color, and smooth in body, with a broad malt character and a beautifully blended overarching hop presence, just like a well-balanced choir, where you hear music and canít really tell for sure which voice is singing which part. Very nice beer, too bad itís a seasonal.

Sweetwater Tavern Merrifield

Metro DC

The decor is like a 5 year old boyís dream, riding gear, pictures of Indians riding hard across the plains, buffalo, and cowboys, but the waiters donít wear cowboy boots and cap guns or call you "pardner." Thank goodness. Thereís "themed" and then thereís "stupid."

Sweetwater Tavern Centreville

Metro DC

The most basic difference, though, is not readily identifiable: it is a mirror image of the other two. So if youíre used to heading for one corner to visit the little cowboyís room at Merrifield, well, donít forget to head for the opposite corner at Centreville.

Anheuser-Busch

Richmond & Tidewater

Because A-B is so huge, and so profitable, they can afford to do their own research on barley strains (they have a barley research institute), and malting (they have three of their own maltings), and hops (they have several hops farms), and rice (they have two rice mills), and yeast (they have ...well, you get the picture).

Blue & Gray BC

Richmond & Tidewater

I could easily Pick any of these beers, theyíre all very good and hit me right in the sweet spot. But letís focus on Fred Red, because this kind of beer is not common. Fred Red is a dark garnet, with a fruity nose, a malty, juicy mouth, and a finish that leaves you thinking about your next sip. Itís a beer that tastes just as good ice-cold or at cellar temperature, and thatís not easy.

Extra Billy's

Richmond & Tidewater

"He said, ĎHowím I going to go back home without any barbecue? I gotta have some of your barbecue!í Well, we found him some somewhere. I realized that good beer and good barbecue both have what you call cult followings." He chuckled. "That is, you get crazy people looking for both of them!"

Hilltop BC

Richmond & Tidewater

Mikeís particularly happy with the free license to brew whatever he wants: "Within reason," he adds, though even that seems pretty broad when you learn that it apparently encompasses Mikeís Over The Top IPA, a 7.5% ABV hopmonster that Mike claims rings in at a terrifying 147 IBU. "Arrogant Bastard has nothing on me," he proudly stated

Hops Richmond Koger Center

Richmond & Tidewater

But the beer was just fine. They were all clean and tasted fresh, and the Alligator Ale was a dark brown beer on the border between brown ale and porter with a medium body and hints of chocolate. Something odd was going on here; maybe the people Iíd talked to were just overtaken with chain hatred? I confess to more than a touch of it myself, but thereís no denying that these beers were better than Iíd been led to expect.

Hops Richmond  Broad St.

Richmond & Tidewater

CLOSED, PURGED FROM THE BOOK. There were five beers on tap, all brewed in-house on the plainly visible brewing system in the back of the dining room. At least, Iím pretty sure thatís where it was. The major difference once I got inside these places was the bartender; I remember this one had the brunette with the pierced eyebrow, but Iím not sure where the brewhouse was located. The eyebrow distracted me, I guess.

Legend BC

Richmond & Tidewater

I took the opportunity to pour myself a quiet pint of Bradís absolutely exceptional Tenth Anniversary Ale and sneak out to the prep kitchen and sit in my old spot by the window. Iíd go up to the deck later, and enjoy the view. But for now I was enjoying the old daysÖ the Legendary ones.

Richbrau BC

Richmond & Tidewater

Next time you stop in at Richbrau, come on over to the Taphouse. Rest your elbows on the 100 year old loblolly pine bar (and if you think thatís old, take a look at the service bar over by the kitchen; itís 400 year old pine, milled out of beams they found in the basement that survived the Civil War fires). Order up, settle in, and take off your watch. Turn off your cell phone. Relax. This neighborhoodís not going anywhere, and while youíre enjoying the beer, neither are you.

St. George BC

Richmond & Tidewater

Andy and the gang werenít interested in running a brewpub, just using the brewhouse. Virginia had other ideas. Atlanta Beer Gardenís brewing license was a brewpub license, and that meant that in order to brew they had to sell food.
"Well, we just wanted to keep it simple," said Andy. "We needed to sell food, right? So we bought a hot dog stand."

Williamsburg BC

Richmond & Tidewater

Iíll bet that Hugh Burns is the only brewery owner who used to be a Stealth fighter pilot. Thatís right; the owner of Williamsburg Brewing has logged hours in the cockpit of the F-117 Nighthawk, the most sophisticated combat aircraft in the US Air Force (that we know about). As you might suspect, it was a long strange trail that brought him to this historic town in Tidewater Virginia.

Barley & Hops Grill

Western Maryland

Barley & Hops. Itís a basic name, and they stick pretty close to that basic image of a brewpub: fresh-brewed beer and beer-friendly food. But when you start looking around, and realize how much thought about beer went into the place, youíll remember how many different and wonderful beers you can make...with just Barley & Hops.

Brewer's Alley

Western Maryland

Tom literally had to squeeze out seven minutes to talk to me (really: not six, not eight; seven), but he does find time to make an occasional batch of New Moon Strong Ale. Thatís one of the things regulars know about, a little reward for being a regular. One keg of New Moon is tapped every new moon.

Clay Pipe BC

Western Maryland

Gregg brews this beer for Racers Cafť, where they call it Tire Tread Porter. I donít care what they call it, so long as they shut up and let me drink it. This is a deep, malty porter, with recognizable hops and that roast-a-roma character brimming over every sip, almost on the edge of being a stout Ė which porters are, but donít get me started. Worth a trip to Racers, as if you needed convincing.

Deep Creek BC

Western Maryland

Itís summer at Deep Creek. The hills are a lush green, thick with trees, and the grass surrounding the lake is a fresh Irish green. Boats are buzzing around the lake: speedboats, houseboats, pontoon-built Ďparty barges,í jet skis, sailboats. The deck is sunny and hot by day, all about cold beer and sunglasses. By night, the firepit glows, casting its flickering orange-yellow light on people in the cooling air.
1/19/05 update: unfortunately, Deep Creek has ceased brewing.

Flying Barrel 

Western Maryland

By now, youíve read about a number of Mid-Atlantic brewers, folks who are doing the real work: making the beer. They measure, they mash, they boil, they hop, they strain, they chill, they ferment, they package, and finally, after all their work, you drink. To be honest, this set up suits me just fine. I enjoy the drinking part quite a bit, and the rest of it looks a lot like real work.

Frederick BC

Western Maryland

First, shove the container in the "Heatiní Hut," an insulation board shack with two space heaters and a fan inside. When the syrup is warm and free-flowing, they hoist the container 30-some feet on a forklift, and hook up a long, curved piece of PVC pipe to the valve: "The Hillbilly Syrup Slide." Itís goofy-looking, but it works, and the whole thing cost under $150.

Johansson's Dining House

Western Maryland

Jeffís done rye beers pretty regularly, including one he called Sherwood #12, named for a big rye whiskey distiller that used to be across the street from where the brewpub sits. "People asked me, ĎRye in beer?í" Jeff recalled. "I told Ďem, youíve been drinking rye in your whiskey for hundreds of years, itís time to get some in your beer!"

Uncle Tucker's Brew House

Western Maryland

A big fella walked in, black shades, black hair, black leathers, black boots, and walked up to the bar. "Is the oatmeal stout on yet?" he asked. Assured that it was, finally, on, he ordered two pints. When they arrived, he put the first one up to his lips and smoothly drank the whole thing down.
"Damn," he said, with real feeling, apparently speaking wholly to himself. "Iíve really been wantiní that." Then he picked up the second one and began to work on it more slowly.

 

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Copyright © 2008 Lew Bryson. All rights reserved. 
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Revised: August 19, 2005