February is Maryland Craft Beer Lovers Month, or FeBREWary, so this month I’ll be taking you on a little tour of some of my favorite local craft beer joints in downtown Annapolis.
Going on a beer tour in Annapolis is special. Some of these bars are cavernous, hundreds-of-years old places, the kind that have seen generations of happy drinkers come and go. Recently, a number of these historic establishments have reinvigorated their beer lists, going back to their roots and curating excellent local beer brewed right here in the Free State.
First Stop: Rams Head Tavern
Rams Head Tavern has been at the forefront of the local beer movement in Maryland, opening Fordham & Dominion Brewing in 1995 on-site. F & D is arguably the first craft brewery to be founded in Maryland after prohibition (a few other breweries in Baltimore would say otherwise, but we don’t have time for them in this article). They’ve since moved to Delaware, but are still heavily involved in the Annapolis beer scene. The basement bar at Rams Head includes the famous World Beer Club plates of all the great beer drinkers of Annapolis’ past.
While there, we sampled RAR Brewing’s Nanticoke Nectar from just across the Bay Bridge in Cambridge. This IPA ought to be a staple for local beer lovers. Nanticoke Nectar goes down easy all summer, with balanced citrus notes and fresh hop aromatics.
Round Two: 1747 Pub at Reynolds Tavern
We stopped next at the basement pub at 1747 Pub at Reynolds Tavern. When I spoke of cavernous, old-world places that ooze character, this is it. There’s beautiful stone, a giant hearth, and, well, very very good beer. When the weather starts to turn warm, you absolutely must drink a beer in the Beer Garden behind Reynolds Tavern.
Bartender Sean Wood hooked us up with Evolution Craft Brewing Co.’s Southern Pecan Pie Brown Ale. This beer had caramel sweetness, and could easily (and deliciously) be a desert replacement. Evolution, and it’s brewing brothers, call Salisbury, MD home.
Last Stop: Federal House
We left Federal House Bar & Grill for last, because Vikki Green, manager and curator of Federal House’s beer list, really should be commended. Federal House’s taps read like a registry of all the breweries within 50 miles of Annapolis – perfect for FeBREWary. I told her I wanted to focus on some of the little guys for this piece, if I could, and she quipped right back, “Do you know the little guys?” She then proceeded to show me a few breweries, right in our backyard that I’d never heard of.
Federal House is hosting Malt Madness on Friday, February 23rd. They’ll have 12 MD breweries competing over the course of four weeks to get permanent tap lines at Fed House. If you want an education on the local beer scene, this is your event.
At Fed House, we had the pleasure of tasting the Black Flag Brewing Co.’s Z. Morris Blonde Ale, brewed in Columbia, MD, as well as Antietam’s Hager Weiss Hefeweizen. Both were excellent MD recreations of traditional brewing styles.
Get out and sample some of the great beers in the area, and start drinking local this FeBREWary!
Videography and Photography courtesy of Patrick McNamara of Drawn to the Image