Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beer, Beer Everywhere, and not a Drop to Drink

This is a lament.

I began drafting this post a few days ago when Beer In Baltimore shared a story that Fordham Brewing (a local Brewery that began in Annapolis and has since move to Dover, DE) was breaking their bonds with Aneheuser-Busch. The stated reason for the break being an interest in experimentation. This was exciting news, but BiB has since rescinded their story, crushing my minuscule hopes and dreams of being booze laden in my home town, and not having to drive to b-more or DC for a decent beer.

Anyhow, here is what I WAS going to say:

I am an Annapolitan. I grew up in this town, I started drinking in this town, and I stopped drinking in this town.

I stopped drinking in this town because Annapolis has a lot of great things to offer, but beer isn't one of them. Craft brews just aren't available in any of the bars, or restaurants, and very few stores have much of a selection. Any anyway, nothing that is worthwhile is ever patronized by Annapolitans so it never lasts.

However, there is new hope for Annapolis, or maybe old hope renewed in Fordham Brewing Company.

Fordham is a local brewery that has been partnered with beer giant, Anehuser-Busch. BeerInBaltimore reported a few days ago that Fordham is planning on breaking with AB because they are looking to do some experimentations.

In 2007 a share of Fordham was purchased by AB for distribution purposes. Locals insist the quality of the beers went down after this, not that they were so great to begin with, but my research tells me that AB had no say in formulas or daily management. I wasn't old enough to drink prior to 2007 (yes, I am a baby), so I can neither confirm, nor deny these allegations. I can only confirm that their current beer selection is boring, and boring.

Regardless, I am hoping a break may result in the hiring of a new experimental head brewer (possibly Dr. Sleech), and some exciting, and interesting new beers. And god forbid, they might still be affordable.

Is it possible for a local brewery to start making good, craft beer in Annapolis again? I can only hope. And I dream among dreams that Annapolitans will patronize them and support something worthwhile for once.

Fordham started out as a local brewery in 1703 by Benjamin Fordham. 1703!! Pause for effect and contemplation of how in the world Annapolis has had a local brewery since 1703, and STILL has no good local beer!


Please, explain this to me. I guess change comes slow in this old town, maybe 308 years is enough?

In the mean time the scoop on the local places to purchase for home consumption is thus; Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits in Annapolis or Dawson's Liquors in Severna Park.

Bay Ridge Wine and Spirits comes the closest within Annapolis City Limits. But its kinda out of the way if you want a quick fix. BEERsimple and I were able to purchase a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin (BrewDog), a few weeks back, which is an exciting beer find (No, I have not tried the TNP yet, I promise to share all the dirty details a few days after I do. I'm sure I'll be waiting to regain mental function). I'm not complaining about the selection they do have at Bay Ridge. It's just that its still pretty small. I've tried most of what they carry, so while it's possible to get a good beer there, you can't just browse for the next new treat.

Dawson's Liquors in Severna Park is the largest selection within 20 miles of Annapolis, but alas, I cannot consider them Annapolis, and again, rarity isn't necessarily their thing.

Don't think I don't love these places. These stores are great. And if you are in Annapolis and you want beer, they are the places to be. They staff is enthusiastic and helpful. Really, I am not knocking the stores.

In fact, I hear tell that Dawson's is expanding and will have a nice new tasting room in the near future. Oh, goody (I'm rubbing my palms together greedily).

Dawson's sits next to a local chain of BBQ restaurants called Adam's Ribs, who also just expanded. Last time I was over at Dawson's I peeked in and noticed some decent beers on Adam's taps, and I am guessing Dawson's was nice enough to curate a beer list. I will be popping in to verify these details for a later post.

If you want to drink craft beer at a bar, you have three choices. Tsunami on West Street has a small but nice selection of craft beers, and a good cocktail list, but their drinks are kind of pricey.

Heroes Bar and Grill is a decent place to drink, with around 30 beers on tap, and they usually have something from Oliver's in Baltimore, but they rarely change their selection, and again rarity is not their forte.

Or you have to go to Lure's Bar and Grille. It's in Crownsville, so again, not Annapolis, but they have a selection of cool beers on their draft list that are swapped frequently, a beer club, and fun pairings. A few weeks ago I went and couldn't decide what I wanted so I got a flight: four 5oz pours for around $8. Their selection always features a variety of styles so I was able to create a nice spectrum of flavor.

Stout, Sour, ESB, Imperial IPA

If you don't go to those bars or stores, you are SOL. Annapolis just doesn't have good beer in bars. Some other local bars carry Sierra Nevada and that's the best they can do. Few are even still carrying Dogfish Head. Flying Dog is at Heroes, but I can't think of any other bars that carry it. So what is a beer lover to do? I drive to DC, I drive to bmore, I pay parking tickets, I beg for designated drivers, all in the name of a good beer. 

What more must I do? 

Fordham, this is a plea. Step in, and step up. PLEASE! Get me some good, experimental, local brews. 

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Chris said...

When you asked me what other craft beers are in Annapolis, I forgot that Middleton's and Rockfish have Heavy Seas Loose Cannon. Harry Browne's also has Stone IPA (or used to anyway) and a handful of Belgians and other foreign beers.

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