Friday, August 24, 2012

Cruisin' For A Brewsin': Operation Baltimore


Jason at Max's Tap House holding up one of his faves.
 En route to Virginia Craft Brew Festival, I hit up ‘Charm City.’

I am planning on having an awesome weekend in Virginia for the inaugural Virginia Craft Brewers Festival on Saturday, August 25th, at Devils Backbone Brewery in Nelson County. Besides this historic day, the entire state is running an awesome promotion to get the word out about their breweries throughout the month, so you know I had to come through and see how they get down in the VA. I am actually a big fan of Virginia thanks to my last visit to Norfolk. (I’m going to provide a detailed list of places to eat, sip brews and chill when you visit there (the Green Onion and Birch Bar are two of my joints!), so keep an eye out for that!
Anyway, before heading over to the Commonwealth state, I made sure I visited my Uncle and good friends in nearby Baltimore, MD. I mean come on, the crab cakes are reason enough, but it is a fantastic city regardless. My good friend and business partner of AllWays Open Creative, Mike Moore—a B-More native who now lives in Atlanta—hooked me up with his homey Nigel who knows the city in and out. Since Nigel knew how serious I was about craft beer and my passion to enlighten the world on where to get it during my travels, he was excited to show off his local digs. The result? Man, B-More is the shizznit for beer and, of course, crab cakes! Here are some flicks from visit. You haaaaave to check out these spots when you hit up the land of the Ravens!
First up, I was starving when I arrived at BWI Airport around 1:30 in the afternoon and I was starving! Nigel expected as such and took me to where he considers the best crab cakes in Baltimore reside, a spot called G & M about ten minutes from the airport. The outrageously huge crab cake was straight-up lumps of sweet crab and extra moist in the middle; it basically dwarfed the fries on the side and confirmed Nigel knew what he was talking about. Our mutual homey Mike swears by another spot called the Windsor Inn being the best, but I had no idea if I would have a chance to compare the two. Regardless, G & W was one hell of a competitor!
Since they pretty much only had the macro breweries on tap, I waited like the beer snob that I am for our first stop, the Abbey Burger Bistro. It was a chill spot in the back of a cobblestone alley donning the flags of various Maryland sports teams. Let’s get it on!
Jon, a laid back general manager who welcomed us with open arms, made sure Nigel and I were taken care of by bringing out a hard-to-find bottle of  Gulden Draak 9000 out of his personal stash (delish!), along with tastes of the impressive Dominion Double IPA and other ales from the region. Besides Abbey’s dedicated beer list (they even had Fruili on tap, a Belgian white and strawberry a recommend especially for the ladies which is crazy hard to find in Georgia), this spot is known for the best and most eccentric burgers in the city (kangaroo, anyone?). Since I was full from the crab cake thrashing, I rainchecked a future dining experience with these super cool folks.
Next up, Max’s Tap House. In one word, this place was pretty much unbelievable. Set on a corner of the charming Fells Point district, I fell in love with Max’s from the moment I walked in the door. Bob, the bartender who has been there for more than a decade, immediately yelled “Ale!” and gave me a pound (that’s a handshake, folks.). The energy, knowledge, and overall appreciation everyone exuded who worked there (whaddup, Jason!) was rooted from the owner, Ron, who gave me the grand tour from the keg room in its basement, to the eye-popping four floors of beer art, event spaces, beer cellars, office spaces decorated with nostalgia, and even an apartment in the works for visiting brewmasters and reps! With almost 120 taps and 2,000 bottles to choose from, I will make it a point to hit up Max’s any chance I get!
Last up, I had to see my grand Uncle Billy, a legendary Tuskegee Airman, who, at 92 years-old, is still sharp as a tack. He was down to hang out for dinner, so after swinging by his house near Towson, MD, he had me go to a local spot right around the corner. My jaws dropped when I found out what it was: the Windsor Inn, Mike’s crab cake spot! And the ballots are in. This is the best crab cake by a nose…err, claw.
Of course, my charming Uncle Billy was a little busy getting some extra attention while I raved about the grub, but hey, after seeing this pic below, you would understand too. Thank you, Baltimore.
 Now, after a little bit of travel drama (a long story), it’s on to Virginia and I can’t wait! Stay tuned for my coverage of a little bit of history in the making, the first Virginia Craft Brew Festival ever!
Cheers!
Ale 
 

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