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The Beer Trail - Hunting for local Mid Atlantic Breweries

View BHAM - Bar Hopping Across America & The Summer 2019 Brewery Tour on littlesam1's travel map.


Beer glasses from 15 Breweries I visited during summer 2019

Mark and I are travelers. Anyone who knows us has been told at least one travel story from our many adventures. When we bump into friends at the end of summer one of the first questions we are asked is "Where did you go this summer?" Our answer this year is a bit different. We did not really go away any place this summer. Instead we spent the summer taking road trips each weekend. We sat down either on Friday night or Saturday morning and googled " local breweries". Then we made a decision and hit the road in search of that brewery. Our road trips this summer took us through four states and fifteen breweries. This will not be my usual travel blog. I am going to list all of the breweries we visited this summer and give them my own personal rating on a level from one to five. I fully support the small local brewery industry. And I did not have any real bad experiences at any of the breweries I visited. But I did have some I enjoyed more than others. But there are none I would I really not recommend visiting. Even my lowest rated are so far above the big mass produced beers nationwide that there is really no comparison in my opinion. My ratins are based on the beer of course. I also factored in my thoughts on the tap room itself. Was there food or a food truck. Did the servers add to my experience. I included the appearance of the tap room. And even factored in the design of the beer glasses I purchased.

Dogfish Head Brewery - Milton, Delaware


Dogfish Head Brewery - Off centered beers for off centered people - Milton, Delaware

The first brewery I visited this summer was Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware. My daughter Katie was on a quick vacation before starting a new job. She had no plans to go away for a vacation. She asked me if I would like to do a day trip with her. I suggested visiting Dogfish Head Brewery. We would be able to take a tour of the brewery and then also also have time to go to the beach in Rehoboth, Delaware for the afternoon. We had a wonderful experience at Dogfish Head. This was the largest brewery I visited this summer. It is not your typical small local brewery. It's almost too large to fairly compare it to the smaller breweries. We had a great time touring the brewery.


Katie and I having fun touring Dogfish Head Brewery


Dogfish Head is a very large independent brewery

Dogfish head is a very large and successful independent brewery. And they make some of my favorite beers. They have a very good food menu which not all local breweries have. Katie and I had a good lunch and a we each had a flight of four beer samples in the tap room.


My favorite in my flight was their new beer for the season SuperEIGHT fruited sour gose. Although all four beers were excellent. I bought my first souvenir glass of the summer in their gift shop. Their beer glass is a local classic here in the Delaware/Maryland area. So I have to give Dogfish Head major points for this. Also in Dogfish Heads favor is the fact that I won a raffle the week before our visit at my local pub. Dogfish Head was visiting for a tap take over that night and I won a portable phonograph player with a Dogfish Head design. Their facility is large with ample parking. The tour was very extensive and educational.

My rating for Dogfish Head Brewery - 5 out of 5 Pints.

Diamondback Brewing Company - Baltimore, Mary;and


My next brewery of the summer came on Fathers Day weekend in June. My daughter Katie took Mark and I out for lunch on Father's Day. After lunch I suggested going to a local brewery. We had such a good time at Dogfish Head so I started reading a lot about local breweries. Just off the top of my head at lunch I suggested that we might want to go visit Diamondback Brewery in Baltimore after lunch and sample their beers. So off we were to our next brewery. We had no plan at this time to spend the rest of the summer visiting breweries. But we enjoyed ourselves so much we decided to locate and visit more.


I had two beers at Diamondback Brewery. I had their Ostend Sudays Blonde Ale and their Green Machine IPA. I have an app on my cell phone called Untapped. It allows you to list and rate beers that you drink. I rated both of these beers very high on my Untapped phone app. We had already eaten lunch so we did not sample any food at the brewery. They do have a limited supply of pizza and snacks at Diamondback. And they were all out of food when we arrived late on Sunday afternoon. I did really like their colorful Greenfest beer glass they served their Green Machine IPA in. I purchased one for my now budding beer glass collection. The brewery and tap room are small but very welcoming. There was a large outside patio with lots of seating. The servers were very friendly and inviting.


Katie, Mark and I at the brewery

My rating for Diamondback Brewery is 4 out of 5 pints.

Union Craft Brewing - Baltimore, Maryland


We continued our summer brewery tour on June 2, 2019. But we didn't have to drive very far. We went to Union Craft Brewing on 41st Street in Baltimore. I was familiar with Union Craft Brewing because I frequently drink their Union Duck Pin IPA. The brewery uses icons of Baltimore for inspiration in the beer names. I had a Divine IPA. It was labeled as perversely hoppy and free spirited on their menu and that description was correct. They also had a unique and fun glass to serve the beer. I bought one for a souvenir.


I also reied their Rough Drafts Ginger Sour Ale served with a habanero pepper sauce shot. The combination sounded scary but fascinating. As I was first sipping the beer a lady from behind the counter asked me what I thought of it. I said I was surprised at how much I liked it. She smiled real big and said thank you. I created that beer.

Not all of the tap rooms we visited this summer had full kitchens and food available. So Union get points for a very delicious pizza and good sandwiches.


The tap room is very large and there is a huge patio outside for summer drinking hours. This is a local brewery I plan to visit again.

The staff was very friendly and made us feel like regulars even if it was our first visit. I guess you can see I will be rating this one very high.


My rating for Union Craft Brewing is 4.75 out of 5 pints.

Waverly Brewing Company - Baltimore, Maryland


We started out the first weekend in July with a trip to Waverly Brewing Company. Once again this is Baltimore brewery. We had visited the tap room previously for a birthday party for one of Mark's cousins two years ago. It's a small brewery in an old warehouse area on the banks of the Jones Falls River. The building sits just beneath a bridge on the Jones Fall's Expressway. The inside is interesting. Part of the drinking area almost looks like the set for a TV sitcom where characters meet to laugh and tell stories.


had a Mango'at fruited sour beer at Waverly Brewing. It was a good choice. I rated it a four on my Untapped phone beer app. The atmosphere was fun. From the sitcom set seating area to finding minature babies all over the bar we had a good time. There had been a baby shower the previous day and they left tiny plastic babies behind after their clean up.


Hey! There's a baby on my beer glass. Que the sitcom audience laughter.

There is no kitchen at Waverly Brewery. But they do have a rotation of food trucks on the weekend. We did not eat here as we had lunch plans later in the day.


Larry having a Mango'at Sour beer.

I liked the souvenir beer glass. It was colorful and not just with a black or white logo. The beer was good. And the tiny babie's made me laugh. Parking can be a problem if they are busy. All in all a fun afternoon.

My rating for Waverly Brewing - 4 out of 5 pints

The second weekend in July we were off to the country where we found two breweries in the hills of northern Harford County, Maryland.

Slate Farm Brewery - Street, Maryland


We took about a forty five minute drive from our house in Baltimore County to the Street, Maryland in Harford County to find Slate Farm Brewing. This is a new brewery that just opened this past year. I was unsure what to expect. I knew it was on a farm. I knew it was in the country. And I knew they had live entertainment. We found the brewery to be very nice. Wide open windows overlooking the farm. A large outside patio area. And the beer was excellent. It was way above our expectation. All of ingredients in the beer were grown fresh on the farm.


Patio and recreation area at Slate Farm Brewery - Pets are welcome on the patio area

The live entertainment was a very big surprise. It was a blue grass band from North Carolina. The group was very eclectic. It was three men and two women. One of the women was dressed in middle eastern clothing, the others were dressed in typical blue grass band type clothing. She was playing the bass fiddle. The groups harmony was spot on. We requested one particular song and they took time to find the music on line to play it for us.


Blue grass band playing at Slate Farm Brewery

The beer was excellent. The freshness of the ingredients had to have added to the flavor. I had a Quarry IPA and afterwards a Strawberry Blonde Ale. There was just something special about meeting the brewers, seeing the ingredients being grown out on the farm, and tasting the freshness in the glass.

They also had a very good permanent food truck attached to the brewery. Mark had tacos and I had an excellent bacon cheeseburger.


My burger and the Strawberry Cream Ale

Great experience. Excellent beer. Beautiful farm location. Fun entertainment. Good food. This was a perfect afternoon. We will be returning.


My rating for Slate Farm Brewing is a big 5 out of 5 pints.

Falling Branch Brewery - Street, Maryland


Just around the corner in the same area of Harford County we found Falling Branch Brewery. Unfortunately for this brewery it followed an excellent experience at Slate Farm Brewing. It would be all but impossible to top or even equal that experience. Falling Branch is also on a local farm. It's a bit larger than the farm at Slate Farm Brewing.


There is no kitchen or permanent food truck at Falling Branch Brewery. They do have a rotating schedule of food trucks. The band that was playing outside was very loud and made it difficult to hear inside the barn where we were seating. Had we not visited Slate Farm Brewing first we might have enjoyed the experience here much more. I have to rate this brewery lower just due to the comparison of the two. But as I said in my introduction to this blog I support all small independent brewers. And compared to the watered down tasteless beer you get from the big mass produced national breweries this brewery was far better than any of those. I had one IPA because I had already had two beers previously. The beer was good but not memorable. The beer glass souvenir was not memorable either. Their name was not even on the glass.


My rating for Falling Branch Brewery is 2 out of 5 pints

Victory Brewing Company - Kennett Square, Pennsylvania


The first weekend in August we drove north into Pennsylvania to the town of Kennett Square to go to Victory Brewing. I have been a fan of Victory Brewing for several years. Their Summer Love beer is one of my favorite summer beers. So I was looking forward to going to their tap room near Philadelphia.


Victory Brewing is located in a large industrial building in a shopping area in Kennett Square. The space is large. There is a parking lot so parking is no issue. They have a full menu which a lot of smaller breweries do not have. And they have a huge selection of beer on tap.


As I mentioned above I an a fan of their Summer Love seasonal beer so I did not try it on our visit. I wanted to try something I had not tasted before. So I chose a pilsner and also a strawberry cream ale. It would be interesting to see how their strawberry infused cream ale compared to the one I had the previous weekend at Slate Farm Brewery.


I had no complaints on the beer. Both were very good. So on to the food. They do have a full menu and full kitchen. The place is more like a restaurant than just a tap room.


.The bacon cheeseburger I ordered was made to perfection. And the french fries were fresh cut potatoes not a frozen restaurant variety from a plastic bag. The servers were very friendly and glad to talk beer with us which always is nice in a brewery. This does not always happen but should.

It was a great day. We enjoyed the ride in the country to get there. We spent some time shopping in Kennett Square and also in West Chester, Pennsylvania. And we completely appreciated the experience at the tap room. We liked it so much that we returned two weeks later. We went to tour Long Wood Gardens in Kennett Square and stopped back at the brewery for another good meal and beer that day. They also get points for a colorful souvenir beer glass.


There is a smile on my face so you know this is going to be a good rating.

My rating for Victory Brewing Tap Room is 4 out of 5 pints

Lancaster Brewing Company - Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Two weeks later we once again ventured up into Pennsylvania to go to Lancaster Brewing Company. I had family that lived in the Lancaster area so it was like old home week driving back up into the Amish Country of Pennsylvania. I had several aunts and uncle who lived in the Lancaster area while I was growing up and I spent many weekends in this area.


Lancaster Brewing Company is on a side street in down town Lancaster. And it was very busy the day we visited. The seating area is on a level above and around the actual brewing floor so you get the feel of being in the brewery when you are there. They have a full menu and kitchen which made us happy. After our drive we were hungry.


This was the view from our table where we sat.

For my first beer I order a a Hefeweizen. Mark always laughs at my Hefeweizen's. He calls them the Lemon Pledge beers because of their citrus aroma. But I really like a good Hefeweizen. And the one at Lancaster Brewing was excellent. It had the required banana/clove after taste and was very light. Perfect. I also ordered their crispy chicken sandwich for my lunch. It was a perfect compliment to the Hefeweizen. Fried chicken, cheeses, pickles, and mayo served with chip. I am always won over by a good crispy chicken sandwich.


After eating we decided to order a flight of beers to share. They had a large selection of beers to try and we were so happy with our first choices we wanted more. Also we were glad to see they serve a full six glass flight where most breweries only serve you a flight of four.


On our flight we had a Milk Stout, Strawberry Wheat Ale, Double chocolate milk stout. I did not get the list of the other three written down. But we enjoyed each one and did not find an unpleasant one in the entire flight.

Our server could not have been nicer. He was very busy still took time to explain each of the beers to us. The food was good. I liked the souvenir beer glass I purchased. This was really a very nice experience. We would gladly return here again.


My rating for Lancaster Brewing Company is 4 out of 5 pints

Black Walnut Brewery - Leesburg, Virginia


We had a busy weekend. We went to Lancaster Brewing in Pennsylvania on Saturday and then we headed south into Virginia on Sunday. We took a drive down to Leesburg, Virginia in search of our next brewery. I had never been to Leesburg before so it was fun driving some place new to discover beer. We went to the Black Walnut Brewery. There are several breweries in the Leesburg area. We saw several in our Google search before leaving that morning but for some reason Black Walnut Brewery caught our attention the quickest so we decided that would be the one. And it was a good choice. It's a relatively new brewery in Leesburg. The owner was in the taproom talking with us and was very friendly. He was surprised we had driven all the way from Baltimore to visit his brewery. They have an outside area this has a roof over it if you would to sit outside. But it was early in the afternoon and it was not opened yet when we arrived. The tap room is small but it did not have a crowded feel to it. Most of the people there were locals that day.


The tap room was in an historic building but it had a very modern feel to it inside.

They do have a small kitchen and small menu. But it was not disappointing. The food was very good as were the beers. I ordered pork sliders which came in a very good barbecue sauce. And they paired very well with my Peach Ale. The ale was not sweet at all. It had a nice hop taste to it with just a slight peach after taste. Not at all what I expected but just how the owner described it to me.


We also ordered a flight. Our first beers were very good so we wanted to sample a few more.


I'm smiling again so that must mean a good rating.

I give Black Walnut Brewing Company a rating of 4 out of 5 pints.

We took a long time walking through Leesburg taking photos and doing some window shopping before departing back to Maryland. However on our way back we had one more brewery to check out.

Smoketown Brewing Station - Brunswick, Maryland


We stopped at Smoketown Brewing Station in Brunswick, Maryland on our way home. Brunswick is located on the Potomac River and the tap room was in one of the more interesting buildings we had seen all summer. This brewery was in an old fire station.


We'd had a long day. It was a long drive to Leesburg. Then we did a lot of walking around in the heat. So when we got to Brunswick we were a little tired and it was going to take a lot to please us. And sadly Smoketown Brewing just did not want to go out of it's way to make us happy. The setting on the Potomac River was pretty. The idea of a tap room in an old fire station was interesting. And the beer was not bad. Yet it was lacking something. There was no table service which was fine but there was no indication or sign saying this to us. Finally a lady cleaning tables told us that we needed to step in the next room and place our order. Mark was still a bit hungry so he ordered some chicken fingers to snack on. And we ordered our beers. I ordered a black IPA named Smokestack. It goes with the fire station theme. Also we were in Patsy Cline country and they had a canned beer named Patsy. This place had so many fun ideas going for it. It really should have been a much better experience.


The Patsy was a fun name and an ok beer. The Smokestack black IPA was interesting also. But neither were outstanding beers. Then the problems started. We waited for a long time for Marks food and were ready to just ask for our bill and forget the food. We thought they had forgotten it anyway. Then the server suddenly found the food and brought it to our table explaining to us it was burnt and she hoped we didn't mind. Well we did mind.


So we said goodbye to the interesting themed brewery with the somewhat interesting named beers.


This is me with a forced smile. Not a good sign for a high rating.

My rating for Smokestack Brewery is a 2 out of 5 pints. Had the food not been burnt I would have given it a 2.5 or maybe a 3 for creativity and an interesting beer glass.

Pig Iron Brewing Company - Marietta, Pennsylvania


The third weekend in August found us journeying back north to Pennsylvania once more. We seemed to have good luck with breweries in Pennsylvania so we decided to check out one more. We drove to Marietta, Pennsylvania which is a beautiful little town on a hill just above the Susquehanna River.


This is a rural area. Lancaster to the east is the largest city in the area. So it was nice to see someone starting a brewery in such a small town area. We did not expect anything fancy. We thought it would just be a nice little unassuming brewery. And it was all of these things but something more also. It was warm and welcoming. We were obviously not local people yet we were treated inside like regulars. We immediately felt at home.


I loved the looks of everything inside. Our bartender could not have been nicer. It was all a little rough but fun. The bartender asked where were from and we said Baltimore. She said that's a long way to come for a beer but I'm glad your here. Some other folks at the bar asked us what brought us up there and we explained we had been hunting down breweries each weekend during the summer. They all were interested in this and asked us where we had been the previous weekend. Then they wanted to know where we were going next weekend. We felt like Travel Channel celebrities.

Now to the important things. Beer. I ordered a Pig Iron IPA. Looking back at my Untapped phone app I see that I rated this IPA 5 stars. And thinking back I was correct. It was probably the best IPA I had all summer long. After the IPA we ordered a flight as had become our pattern.


Our flight contained a Pig Iron Amber which was an American Amber Red Ale and I rated it 4.75 stars. A Pig Iron Vienna Lager which I gave a rating of 4. A Pig Iron Citra IPA which I gave 4.75 stars and finally a Cucumber IPA with a 5 star rating from me. Mark and I disagreed a bit on the Cucumber IPA which was not a favorite for him but that was alright because I was glad to finish it.

We also ordered food. The have a kitchen here and a full menu. Surprising because it's not a big brewery. But the folks here just don't seem to realize this. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich and some mac and cheese. As you can see from this photo this was no small plate quickie sandwich. This was a full meal.


We really thought his little place was a great find. Mark never smiles in his photos but trust me he was happy here.


We are planning to return here and maybe take my daughter Katie with us later in the fall. This place bears repeating.

They have ample parking. There is outside seating behind the building. If I have one tiny complaint, after all no place is perfect, its the beer glass. They only had beer mugs to sell. And I really wanted a glass for my collection. But I bought the mug any way. And it's unique. Just like the tap room. So I'm not complaining.

My rating for Pig Iron Brewing Company is a big 5 out of 5 pints.

Olde Mother Brewing Company - Frederick, Maryland


The last weekend in August we headed to Frederick, Maryland to visit Olde Mother Brewing. I did not find this one on Google. Instead I saw it's logo on a sticker on a telephone pole in Parkville, Md. I liked the logo. It made me laugh. I thought to myself that brewery is calling me.



Located in downtown Frederick, Maryland Old Mother Brewing is an interesting brewery in an old store front. They take their beer serious but they have a great sense of humor at Olde Mother's. From the small beer glass in the flight that says listen to your mother, to all of the photos of their logo in the tap room I found it a fun place to visit. There is no food menu at the brewery but I did not mind as I had such a good time here.

We each ordered a flight of beer as we could not agree on which ones we wanted to try.


My flight contained four beers. White Satin was one of the best witbier's I had tried all summer. I rated it five stars on my Untapped app. Next I had a Sips of Summer: Peaches and Cream Wheat beer. Once again I really liked this one and rated it 4.75 stars. My third choice was Queen of Swords which was a pale ale. This one I rated 4.5 stars. And finally a Nitro Cho Cho which was a silky chocolate milk stout. I gave it four stars. Mark was not as impressed with the beers as I was although he did say he had no complaints and liked the brewery a lot.


Their selection was smaller than some of the other breweries we visited but for me they were still top quality.



And I enjoyed the humor in their art work and logo which was on display all over the brewery.

The beer was very good. The atmosphere was fun. The servers were friendly and knowledgeable. And I bought a beer glass with the logo that originally attracted me to the place. So all was good.

My rating for Olde Mother Brewing Company is a solid 4 out of 5 pintts.

With a food menu this would have easily been rated at a 4.50 or maybe a full 5 pints.

Rockwell Brewery - Frederick, Maryland


We left Olde Mother's Brewing and drove a little farther down the street to find Rockwell Brewing. It's located in a strip mall shopping area. The name Rockwell Brewery seemed to be a little stuffy to me. Not exactly fun or exciting sounding. However I was fooled by the name, as this was a fun brewery. The do not have a kitchen, but there is a restaurant owned by Michael Voltaggio, of Top Chef fame, located right in front of the brewery. The brewery has the restaurant menus available for you and the restaurant will deliver your food directly to you. And although owned by a Top Chef star the food is very affordable and of course very good. So this was a good first impression for us.


I ordered a flight. The beers all had fun names. I had a Cyborg Bette which was a New England IPA. I liked it very much. It had nice hop taste but not overwhelming as some IPA's can be. It was a solid 4 star rating on my Untapped app. Next I had a Rapture Blonde Ale. The name was inspired by the record by Blondie. The beer was once again a solid 4 star rating for me. Then I had an Atomic Blue Wheat Beer which was once again named after a Blondie record. And once again a solid 4 star beer. My fourth beer in the flight was called My Little Way. It was a sour. I like sour beers or gose beers. And this one was very good with a big 4.75 stars from me. My food arrived as I was finishing my flight so I ordered a fourth flight sized sample named Capital Offense. It was an American Pale Ale and it paired well with my pulled pork sandwich.

This brewery was a lot of fun. From the Blondie inspired beer names...


...to this friend I met on my way to the men's room...


...I have to rate this brewery high. The beer was all excellent. The atmosphere was fun. The nearby restaurant delivery was a big plus. And this all helps me to over look the somewhat simplicity of the beer glass design I bought.


We are all smiles here at Rockwell Brewery.

My rating for Rockwell Brewery is a big 4.5 out of 5 pints

And yes this is a tap room I could easily return to visit.

We extended our summer beer journey one weekend past Labor Day. We spent Labor Day on Maryland's eastern shore with friends in Rock Hall, Maryland. We did not visit any breweries. So we decided to do one last brewery search the following weekend to finish off the summer.

Independent Brewing Company - Bel Air, Maryland


We stayed somewhat local for this weekend driving only about fifteen miles from our home to Bel Air, Maryland where we visited two breweries. These two are very well know locally but we have never visited them previously. We started out with Independent Brewing Company. Their name is somewhat generic but their tap room is anything but generic. It was a fun tap room! We are dog lovers and this brewery is pet friendly which made us very happy. There were dogs every where.



There was even a man with his pet bird.


The tap room was decorated with bicycles which also gave it a fun feeling.


And they had a sense of humor with their merchandising.


I really liked this brewery. They have a rotation of food trucks for food which we did not sample. They also have a nice outside patio area both in front and in the rear of the building. And they have a large parking area. I only had one beer here. We had a lot to do on this weekend so we were kind of rushed. But the beer was very good. The beer was Off Your Gourd, Pumpkin Imperial Red Ale. It's now pumpkin spice season here and all of the pumpkin beers are appearing. I have a love hate relationship with pumpkin beers. To me they are either very good or just plain nasty. I don't find any middle ground with them. And fortunately I will say this one was excellent. My only problem was that I was so busy watching the dog and taking photos of them that I forgot to take a photo of my beer.


So what's my rating? This one was difficult to rate. I would like to return and try more beer and perhaps the food truck also. I did not get a real good sampling to make an opinion. I liked their glass and their other swag they had available though. I am sure on a return visit I would rate this one very high. It was a fun tap room.

My rating for Independent Brewing Company is 4 out of 5 pints

I started to go 3.75 just because I only tried the one beer so I did not have a big sample to compare it to the other breweries. But there was no doubt I would have like the other beer here. So for now I will leave it at 4 pints

Alecraft Brewing - Bel Air, Maryland


This leads me to our final brewery in our summer brewery tour. And I wish I could write great things about this brewery. But I just can't. The beer was excellent. Their web page looks like it can be a fun tap room to visit. The outside patio also looked lively on their web page. It appears they have bands that perform here and also trivia night. The web page was fun.

We pulled up to the brewery and we both thought the outside of the building looked like a former funeral parlor. I am not sure about this but I have a feeling it just might have been. We went inside and the air conditioning was very cool giving us that funeral parlor feeling also. There were people at the bar and a few couples at the tables. But you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was talking in whispers. There was no interaction between people at the bar. We were almost afraid to talk above a whisper ourselves for fear of disturbing the strange vibe.

Now on to the important matter. The beer. We ordered a flight.


My flight included Treated Streetts Salted Carmel Porter which Mark seemed to like the best of the ones we tried. I liked it also but not my favorite of the four. Our second one was a Horchata Cream Ale. This was my favorite. Mark only had a couple of sips and moved on. Next we had Shoestring which was a German Klosch. It was also quite good. And our last one was White Rock which was a Witbier. Mark left this one to me as he does not like the Witbiers and I had no problem finishing it. All of beers were quite good. I had no complaints about them at all.


They have been recognized as one of Marylands best. And I have to admit the beers were good.



But it was very empty on this day. And so very quiet. We should have stayed longer with the dogs and the man with the bird at Independent Brewing Company I guess.

So how do I rate this? For their beer I have no question but to rate them high. But for atmosphere on the day we visited I don't have much to be enthusiastic about.


One picture speaks a thousand words.

My rating for Aleworks Brewery in Bel Air, Md is 3 out of 5 pints with a qualification

. The beer was very good and on a better day I am sure we would have liked it much more. They also get points for having a store for home brewing inside the tap room.

This was our summer. Four states. Fifteen breweries. Many beers. Lots of food. Some fun times and some nap times. And on plate of burnt chicken fingers. Will there be a fall brewery tour? Time will tell.

Posted by littlesam1 21:14 Archived in USA Tagged baltimore breweries tap_rooms milton_delaware lancaster_pennsylvania marietta_pennsylvania brunswick_maryland leesburg_virginia street_maryland @slatefarmbrewery @dogfishheadbrewery @oldemotherbrewingcompany Comments (6)

Traveling with the perfect cocktail

Drinking Around The World


I love a Manhattan. To me it's the perfect cocktail. It has three ingredients. It's has a history. And it tastes delicious. If I am out for a special evening a Manhattan is the perfect way to compliment my night. It's not for the light weight drinker. It's boozy. But if you sip it slowly it will not harm you so don't be afraid of it.

Basically I would describe it as a whiskey martini. But that is not giving it justice. It is made with three ingredients. Whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. It is garnished with a Maraschino cheery at most bars. If you are at a higher class bar you will get a brandied cherry instead of the waxy chemically colored Maraschino. Some bartenders use a lemon peel for the garnish but I honestly think the classic brandied cherry is the best. However I will not turn up my nose or judge the bartender for the lemon peel. And I usually have to accept the Maraschino cherry from most bars and I don't complain.

Now the question is what kind of whiskey. Most recipes call for a Kentucky bourbon or Canadian Whiskey. And these days Rye whiskey is making a big come back in Manhattans. This is the classic choice and the one I prefer. Please don't offer me Crown Royale in my Manhattan. I am a bit of snob that way.

When I travel I like to sample a Manhattan in the area I am visiting. And it's fun to see how the different bartenders treat the three simple ingredients. One of my favorite Manhattans came from a bar in Charleston, South Carolina named High Cotton. If you have a Manhattan at High Cotton you will be transported back to the 1920's and think you are in a speakeasy. Their recipe is simple and classic. They don't experiment or try to wow you with new age additions. The High Cotton Manhattan is made with bourbon , Carpano Antica vermouth, a splash of bitters and brandy soaked cherries. I would travel back to Charleston tomorrow just to have one of their Manhattans. We frequently travel with out friend Gillian Hobson from Manchester, England. We took her to Charleston four years ago and one of our first stops was to introduce her to the High Cotton Manhattan. She left High Cotton with a very big smile on her face and a bounce to her step.


Mark and I love New York. And I love cocktails in New York. Years ago when Sex and the City was popular I wanted to go to New York for a Cosmo just like Carrie Bradshaw. It was fun. But a few years later in New York I wanted the classic experience. I wanted a Manhattan in Manhattan. And I have to admit there is no comparison. If your in New York you really owe yourself a Manhattan in Manhattan. Historically it is suggested that the Manhattan originated at the Manhattan Club in New York. The story goes it was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall in the early 1870's for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome. She is better known as Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Wintson Churchill. The event was in honor of the Presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. The event was such a success the drink became highly fashionable. But don't let anyone fool you with this story. Lady Randolph Churchill was in France during this time and was very pregnant. So the story is likely false. Another story tell us it was invented in the 1860's at a bar on Broadway near Houston Street by a bartender named Black. So no one really knows the origin of the cocktail but it does have a long history.

Mark and I were once again in New York City with our friend Gillian. She does tend to end up in our travel stories frequently. We spent the day sight seeing. This was Gillian's first trip to New York so we wanted to show her all of the sights. At the end of a busy day we ended up in a bar not far from Wall Street where once again I had a Manhattan in Manhattan. I must have had a couple of drinks because here I am afterwords grabbing the Wall Street bull by the balls. No explanations no apologies. Go to New York. Have a Manhattan in Manhattan and then share your story with me.


My next rule for Manhattans. Watch your bartender. A Manhattan is a simple drink. Any good bartender can make one. But if you have doubts about your bartender I suggest skipping the Manhattan and just order a glass of wine. Why waste the experience on a bad drink. My daughter Katie and I were in Nashville earlier this year. We had spent the day walking and exploring the city. At the end of our evening we wanted to relax and have a cocktail before returning to our hotel. We found a beautiful cocktail bar called The Henley at the Aertson Hotel in Nashville. The bar was decorated with photos of Bette Davis's eyes. So this made me happy. I noticed the bartender was young. She was probably in her early 20's. So I asked her politely if she knew how to make a Manhattan. She looked at me and smiled and said "Oh, of course." So I ordered a Manhattan. Then I watched her closely. She did not go to pick up the bourbon, or the vermouth or the bitters. She went to pick up her cocktail bible. She had no idea how to make a Manhattan. I knew then it was not going to be a good experience. And she did make it wrong. And she did forget the cherry until I reminded her.


My main rule about Manhattans is to not mess with it. Don't experiment with it. Don't try to update the recipe or put your own personal touch on it. It's a classic. It does not need embellishments. However for every rule there is an exception. And if some one offers to make you a Smoked Manhattan go for it. Placing your cocktail glass over some smoked hickory chips before filling it with the Manhattan is a surprising delight.


I was in Waikiki November 2017. Once again I had been walking all day and ready for a relaxing evening with a cocktail. I had many Maitai's in Waikiki during my stay. But this day I was ready to just relax and enjoy a Manhattan. And what do I see on the menu but a smoked Manhattan. I was ready to break my rule and try this new idea. Something about the smoke and the rye whiskey just sounded perfect to me. I was in the bar at the Outrigger Hotel. I could see Diamond Head in the distance from the beach hotel's windows. It was the perfect location for this perfect drink. Now much like Charleston, South Carolina, I would return here to Waikiki tomorrow just to have another one of these drinks.

One of my favorite movies is Honky Tonk Freeway. You've probably never heard of it. It is considered one of the biggest box office flops of all time. But I saw it and loved it. In the movie Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy play a senior couple who are traveling to Florida. Hume thinks his wife has a drinking problem. She tends to order five old fashions with her lunch each day. Finally he tells her that he thinks she has a drinking problem.


Jessica responds that she is not an alcoholic. She says your sister always sucks her fruit when she is finished with her drinks. Now she is an alcoholic. I never suck my fruit.

Here I am after a very good Manhattan. I was not traveling, but here at home in Baltimore at Jerry D's, one of my local favorite restaurants.


Yes Jessica Tandy. I sucked the fruit. And it was good!

Posted by littlesam1 21:48 Tagged new york bars hawaii drinks honolulu waikiki baltimore nashville manhattans bette_davis _eyes Comments (0)

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