The Quest for the Holy Grain - Best Beer Bars
Maryland

 

 

 

Annapolis

Baltimore

Boonsboro

Cambridge

Clarksville

Columbia

Crofton

Crownsville

Eldersburg

Ellicott City

 

 

 

Frederick

Gaithersburg

Hagerstown

Hanover

Hyattsville

Maple Lawn

Mt. Airy

Millersville

 

North Bethesda

Ocean City

Olney

Parkville

Salisbury

Severna Park

Silver Spring

 

 

 

Owen's Ordinary
Pike & Rose
11820 Trade Street
North Bethesda, MD 20852
(301) 245-1226

Owen's Ordinary is an upscale beer bar and gastropub located in the DC suburb of North Bethesda, formerly East Rockville.
Owen's Ordinary is a large establishment, with seating both indoors and outdoors in the beer garden.
The bar seats about 16 patrons, with room for possibly 40 more at booths and tables.
There are several large rooms beyond the bar for those who prefer a quieter dining experience.
Guests at the indoor bar sit facing folks sitting outdoors at the bar, who are served through large open windows.
The beer selection of 50 drafts and about 150 bottles is extremely well thought out.
The drafts are listed on a menu, complete with a description, style, ABV, size of pour, and type of glass for each beer.
Crystal, our bartender, was amiable, professional, and eager to answer any questions we may have had about the bar and the brews.
Conveniently located off routes 270 and 495, Owen's Ordinary looks like a must for any thirsty Questor.

 

 

 

 

Dan's Restaurant & Taphouse
3 N Main St.
Boonsboro, MD 21713
(301) 432-5224

Question: For what is Boonsboro, MD famous?
Answer: Two things...it is the site of our nation's first Washington Monument, and...it is the location of Dan's Restaurant & Taphouse.
Dan's sits in a large building, actually what appears to be two buildings, right on Boonsboro's Main Street, and was very busy at lunchtime on this particular Friday.
The bar seats 16 patrons, with room for about 20 more at tables. There is a larger restaurant room to the left, that probably seats as many as the barroom, or maybe more.
Dan's offers 34 rotating taps all conveniently noted on printed beer lists, with price, ABV, and brewery of origin.
The list also separates the brews by style, which is helpful.
In addition to the 34 taps, there are about 30 bottled beers.
The barroom offers 6 HD TVs and a jukebox for your amusement.
Dan's is a welcome find for the Questor, and maybe unexpected in the rural outpost of Boonsboro.
I don't see why we can't have something like Dan's R & T in Catonsville!

 

 

 

Old Town Pour House
212 Ellington Blvd, Gaithersburg, MD 20878
(301) 963-6281

Old Town Pour House is one of a Chicago-based group of establishments, most of which are located in Illinois.
The restaurant/bar is located in the new Downtown Crown section of Gaithersburg.
The long bar seats about 30 patrons, and there are many tables and booths.
There is also patio seating outside.
But let's get to the beers.
Old Town Pour House offers 90 different drafts, 14 of which rotate.
The selection is well-chosen and balanced.
The man who chooses the drafts is Daniel, the General Manager, and he was glad to explain to us about the Pour House.
All the beers are listed on a large chart that takes up an entire wall. They are also listed in the menu. All the brews are listed with prices for the 6- or 12-ounce pour, as well as the ABV.
Aleida, our bartender, was very helpful in explaining our food and beer choices, and seemed to be very informed about the beers she pours.

Old Town Pour House is a gem in this brand new area of Montgomery County.

 

 

Bavarian Brauhaus
7304 Pkwy Dr S
Hanover, MD 21076
(410) 712-0300

American craft beers are in abundance today and this is superb. But where can I go to find a nice selection of German imports on tap?
No farther than Bavarian Brauhaus in Hanover, MD.
Bavarian Brauhaus is located just off Route 100, between Route 1 and the B.W. Parkway.
The bar/restaurant boasts authentic German food and beer, and is owned by the Blob's Park family.
The long 3-sided bar seats about 20, with seating for about 40 more patrons at tables.
There is a separate dining room adjacent to the barroom.
Brauhaus has eight drafts on tap...5 German imports, 2 Maryland brews, and a cider.
The weekday Happy Hour features $2 off drafts.
The German drafts were served in authentic German glassware, although I don't know if the styles always matched.
Na ja.
Undecided drinkers can get a flight of 4 drafts,
I had 2 large pours of Hacker-Pschorr Maibock and Hofbrau Oktoberfest which were wunderbar.
My sausage platter contained and outstanding selection, and, there were tiny Bavarian flags to tell you which wurst were which.
Bavarian Brauhaus...it ain't exactly Germany, but it's easy to get to.

 

 

Frisco Tap House
2406 Brandermill Blvd
Gambrills, MD 21054
443.292.4075

Frisco Tap House in Crofton is the sister bar of the original Frisco Tap House, a brew pub in Columbia.
The first thing you'd notice about the Frisco in Crofton is the parking...acres and acres of parking. This is still a vexing problem in Columbia.
The new store is set up just like the old one. To the immediate left of the entrance there is a door into the bar area.
The bar area is as deep as the separate dining area and perhaps another business bay wider than the old one, maybe 50% bigger.
The bar itself stretches most of the way across.
There are two great tables separating the other tables from the bar.
The ceiling is much lower so that the TV's are only one set high, and adjacent to each other down the length of the bar.
The beer list is on three screens, on both side walls of the room.
With so many beers (106 taps!) on the list though, the print is small, and hard to see, even close up.
Most patrons seemed to be pulling up the list on their phones.
Way to the left is a separate area with couches and a throne, about the size of your living room.
Push beers were sold out when I was there.
The new Frisco is at least as noisy as the other place, and was about half full on a Sunday afternoon.

 

 

Old Dominion Brewhouse
University Town Center 6504 America Blvd. Hyattsville, MD
301-887-1818

This is Questor hell. When Tony Soprano was shot, he was stranded in an awful hotel bar where he hovered between life and death. Had he hovered here at ODB in Hyattsville he would have chosen death, an option not open to me on the day of my visit. My fate was much worse... FIFA soccer in a pick-up lounge inside the DC Beltway.
I do not like this place. It looks like a Bar Rescue episode. I am looking for John Tapper to turn this into a theme bar.
The bar is tucked into the crotch of a high-rise office building a block off the street that gives it its address. It is not a drive-by find but no one would drive by here anyway. American Boulevard is one of those streets that is more pedestrian plaza than street.
I enter.
It takes the brain two nanoseconds to say, “Lounge” and only one nanosecond to say, “Ewwww.” There is a slightly wavy bar that seats about 20. Behind the bar is a row of bar seats lined up at a wall with a drink shelf that separates the bar action from the tables that fill the rest of the place. The bottom half of the walls are faux stone blocks, the floors are tile, the upper walls are painted different colors depending on where you look. About 20 TVs show Brazil vs Mexico in the World Cup.
I am alone and wonder why I stay, then I hear Homer's voice in my ear, “Beeeer,” he says.
There are eight OD's on tap and 23 guest taps that are mostly macros and popular smaller beers like Blue Moon. Stone IPA and Dogfishead 60 minutes are two pleasant surprises.
I ask for a small Double D IPA and my barmaid presses a large on me for the happy hour price of $.50 for 22 ounces. The beer is treacley sweet in the first sip and the second sip reminds me how amazingly misleading the assault of a first sip on the palate can be.
As I settle into my beer and seat the place is screaming "pick-up joint" not "come in and have a beer joint." The clientele is black, white and Asian; all look like movie extras, but no doubt so do I.
Firebombs slide across the bar, strawberry margaritas are popular, and one man orders a Yuengling.
This place has a sushi menu and I wonder who in their right mind would order sushi here?
I appeal to the TV for relief, a fatal mistake.
The yellow shirts chase the ball or the red shirts; no one gets close to either the goal. In all the time a really slow beer takes, no one even took a shot at the goal. Here is what I do like about this horrific short pants no scoring sport. Once they started it they did not stop it to let bullfrogs talk of for ice climbers to deliver beers. I invested an hour at this joint and lost big time on my investment. I did, however, learn that I would be happy to die in a USA where 7% of the people cared about the World Cup and that there are things worse than death, this ODB and soccer to name one of them.

 

 

 


 

 

Oscar's Alehouse
1438 Liberty Road
Eldersburg, MD 21784
(410) 795-7001

Oscar's Alehouse is located in the Eldersburg Plaza Shopping Center on Liberty Road.
Oscar's large bar seats about 22 patrons, and there are three or four other large rooms in which to drink and dine.
Oscar's beer list is impressive, with 36 taps, 16 of which rotate. All selections appeared to be American craft beers.
Twenty or so bottles and cans round out the choices.
For those who wish to sample a wide variety of microbrews, Oscar's offers several different varieties of flights.
Oscar's Alehouse is a superb venue in which to get a bite and drink a beer in an area where suburbs meet farmland.

 

The Barn Taphouse
9527 Harford Rd
Parkville , MD 21234
Phone: (410) 668-2276

The Barn is located on Harford Road just outside the beltway.
The location is a Baltimore landmark and has been, in previous incarnations, a hotel, a dance hall, and a saloon.
The Barn has been a well-known crab house since 1982.
The rectangular bar seats about 30, and the barroom also contains lots of tables and booths.
There are over 20 taps, but it is unlikely that a Questor will find any surprises.
The tap list included a Stone, a Dogfish, and a coupla locals. (see photo)
There were a like number of bottles, mostly macros.
The Barn gets points for bringing a worthy tap selection to this part of the County, but the bartender, though professional, seemed to know little about the craft beers, and was not sure how many of the taps rotated.
The crowd on a late Sunday afternoon was drinking mostly macros, or enjoying mixed drinks.
There is another bar downstairs, with dart boards.
The Barn is a great bar/restaurant with a reputation for crabs and ribs, and now has an expanded tap list.
Let's hope that the craft beer populace find this out and make it a great beer bar.

 

 

The High Spot Gastropub
305 High Street
Cambridge, MD 21613
1-410-228-7420

High Street Gastropub is located in charming and scenic downtown Cambridge, on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
The barroom was sunny and cozy on this beautiful fall day of our visit.
High Spot has a wide, wooden L-shaped bar that seats about a dozen patrons.
Ten tables round out the seating in the barroom, and another dining room has tables for possibly another 30 customers.
High Spot features 6 well-chosen taps, all of which rotate.
A bottle list offers 32 more beers, most of which appear to be bombers.
The High Spot Gastropub provides food that is fresh and local, in an atmosphere that is casual but classy.
High Spot is a restful stop on the way to the Maryland and Delaware beaches.
In fact, Cambridge may be a beer destination in itself.

 

 

Park Tavern
580 Ritchie Highway Severna Park, MD 21409
(410) 793-5930

Park Tavern is situated in a Strip Mall along Richie Highway in Severna Park.
The large, metal-topped bar seats about 2 dozen patrons.
The venue is discreetly divided up into dining areas both large and small, with tables and booths.
Park Tavern, a sister bar of Pratt Street Ale House and Ale House Columbia, has 32 taps, including 2 casks and 4 nitrogen pours.
Approximately half the beers are Oliver's products.
Black and white subway tiles aptly decorate this industrial-suburban neighborhood tavern.
Park Tavern was noisy and busy early on a Saturday evening.
Both the casual beer drinker or the experienced Questor should be able to fill their needs from the beer list, which is printed on paper, listing the ABV, and the prices for 5, 12, and 16-ounce pours.
It's always nice to know the price.

 

 

Severna Park Tap House
58 W Earleigh Heights Rd
Severna Park , MD 21146
(410) 793-5759

The Severna Park Tap House is the latest iteration of what appears to have been a road house.
The property is probably a half-acre, with addional parking on the lot next door, and is off the beaten path in an otherwise residential neighborhood.
Previously a motorcycle bar, the interior still sports a biking motif.
Through the main door to the vestibule, one encounters a large chalk board that lists the 28 or so beers on tap.
To the right is a smallish dining area with about 8 fair-sized tables. The tables are part of the structure as they are bolted both to the floor as well as the wall.
Out the picture windows to the rear, one can see a large formal patio area with it's own small bar, and also a grassy area with picnic tables.
To the other side of the vestibule is a large bar area. The three-sided bar seats maybe 15 or so, but there is plenty of standing around room as well as two pool tables.
The food was good but particularly pricey, and the beers cost as much as any where else.

 

 

 

9th Street Taphouse
3 9th St
Ocean City, Maryland
443-664-2641

Yes, Virginia...and Maryland and Delaware too, you can get a great selection of craft beer in the thriving resort town of Ocean City!
9th Street Taphouse is the sister bar of the 45th Street Taphouse on Ocean Highway.
If your strolling the boardwalk on a hot summer day, or on the prowl for some tasty microbrews, the Taphouse would be a pleasant place in which to stop.
They offer 22 taps, about half of which constantly rotate, and ample seating.

 

 

Pizza Tugos
Rt 50 & 611 / The TAPROOM
West Ocean City
410-524-2922

Pizza Tugos is one of Ocean City's premier pizza venues.
Tugos has three locations; however, the one that is of interest to the thirsty Questor, is known as the Taproom on Route 50 in West Ocean City.
Pizza Tugos states that they have "Ocean City's best draft beer selection bar none."
After a visit, I couldn't argue.
Tugos 30 taps are attractively displayed against a stainless steel backdrop. The current selection, which largely rotates, contained many locals, with a smattering of nationals such as Green Flash, Stone, Great Divide & Boulder.
Pizza Tugos would be a great place to drink and eat after a visit to Burley Oak Brewery in nearby Berlin.
I'll be back.

 

45th Street Taphouse Bar & Grille
4507 Coastal Highway
Ocean City , MD 21842-3245
phone: (443) 664-2201

The 45th Street Taphouse is located in the 45th Street Village Shopping Center in the middle of Ocean City, MD.
In a resort town where oceans of beer are consumed each year, there has always been a dearth of places in which to imbibe a variety of microbrews.
No more.
The Taphouse offers 36 taps with very few wasted on macros. Local beers abound.
Four-beer flights are provided for those who want to drink a little of a lot.
The long L-shaped bar seats about 2 dozen patrons, with a number of tables as well.
There is an outside bar and seating for use in fair weather.
We were treated to live music with no cover on this particular Friday evening.
Our barkeeps were extremely friendly and helpful, and General Manager and Executive Chef Jeff Burton was available to answer our other inquiries.
Ocean City no longer need thirst for a great beer bar.
45th St. Taphouse will be on our list of regular O.C. stops.

 

Hellas Restaurant & Lounge
8498 Veterans Highway
Millersville, MD 21108
410-987-0948

Hellas is situated about halfway between Baltimore and Annapolis.
The bar area is large and separate from the dining room.
A large U-shaped bar seats 25 comfortably, and there are shelves at which to lean, and 15 tables or so if you would prefer to eat with your drinks.
Four large pool tables are provided, along with TV's which are not overbearing.
Hellas offers 20 taps of well-selected, mostly American microbrews. Their impressive bottle list numbered in the 70's.
All of the draughts, and many of the bottles are aptly described on the beerlist.
All of my beers were very fresh.
The craft beer scene seems alive and well at Hellas, but you could not have told that from our bartender, who was civil but seemed generally disinterested.
The bar was crowded at happy hour, and many of the patrons seemed to be there for the $1 Michelob Lights, which were selling briskly. The craft brews were holding their own too, however.
With all the effort that Hellas puts into their craft beer menu, one would wonder why that is not even mentioned on their website. Good Idea, no?
Hellas is well worth a stop for a Questor in the Baltimore-Annapolis corridor.

 

 

Brew River
502 W Main St.
Salisbury, MD 21801
410-677-6757

Brew River is located on the Wicomico River just off Route 50.
Brew River features a large restaurant and bar inside, and enough outdoor tables to seat hundreds of patrons on the decks at the scenic river's edge.
We were there for the brews.
Brew River offers 25 taps with about 20 dispensing craft beers. The list leans heavily to regional brews.
According to my sources, this is a very popular seafood restaurant, and can turn into a college hangout late.
We were there in the middle of the afternoon when it was very slow. The barmaid promised to return for our order, but was never seen again, so we hit the road and headed east to the shore and more craft beer locations.

 

Specific Gravity Pizzeria
105 E College Ave
Salisbury MD
443-859-8412

Specific Gravity is a modern-style pizzeria which surprises you when you walk in with its 12 rotating taps of good craft beer.
A large chalkboard on the wall lists all of the current brews as well as daily specials. Specials include souvenir pint glass night on Wednesdays and pizza discounts throughout the week.
Seating includes 3 large community tables as well as several smaller individual tables. In addition there are bar stools around the perimeter of the room.
This pizzeria has another surprise in store...connected to the restaurant is a bottle shop with a decent selection of six packs. There are also some bombers to choose from and a smaller section of individual 12 oz bottles.
Beer and pizza were both good, so its a worthwhile stop when you're headed down to Ocean City.


 

 

 

Always Ron's
29 North Burhans Blvd.
Hagerstown, MD 21740
301-797-7887


Unassuming on the outside, cozy and comfortable on the inside, Always Ron's has long been a Hagerstown favorite for great food at good prices in a friendly atmosphere. Only recently have they become the area's best beer bar. With 24 taps, all of which rotate, they certainly have earned that distinction. Lagunitas, North Coast, Laughing Dog, and Saison DuPont were just a few of the names that graced this well-chosen selection on the afternoon of my visit.

Always Ron's motto has always been, "Where good friends and good food meet." They are going to have to add a line about the beer.

 

 

Brew'd Pub
5018 Old National Pike, Frederick, MD 21702
(240) 575-6046

Located just west of Frederick,
Brew'd Pub opened on Thanksgiving Day, 2013, in an historic 230-year old building built beside the National Road, before the Road was completed and designated as such.
The building was purchased by John Hagan in 1830, and he used it as a tavern, giving it the name (Hagan's Tavern) that stayed with the building for almost two centuries until the current owners took over.
The interior has been beautifully restored, keeping its colonial-era charm while incorporating a completely modern kitchen, dining areas and beer bar.
The bar has 16 taps, each with a continuously rotating upscale microbrew. Some preference is given to a couple of local breweries, but the overall beer selection is varied, interesting, and always changing.
The ownership and staff are true beer aficionados, and convey their enthusiasm to novice and connoisseur alike.
Particularly impressive to this Questor was that the beer menu on an electronic display lists not only name of the beer, but also the serving size, the price, the ABV, and the IBU. I have never seen this much attention given to a beer menu.
The food menu is upscale pub fare. We were there for beer, really liked the place and plan on returning soon for a meal.
Beer enthusiasts will find the selection is terrific, the prices reasonable, the waitstaff helpful, and the ambiance in the beautiful setting is unparalleled.

 

 

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
5616 Spectrum Drive
Frederick, MD  21703
Phone: 301.695.0470

BJ's is a chain of restaurants and brewpubs with outlets in nearly 20 states.
The BJ's in Frederick sits like a fortress in the Francis Scott Key Mall a few miles south of downtown.
BJ's offers seven of their regular beers on tap, and had two more seasonals at the time of our visit.
The Questor could also revel in the fact that there were more than 20 guest taps, and a craft bottle list of maybe 25.
This particular BJ's has all the trappings of a large brewpub...except for the fact that they don't brew the beer on site. The beer comes from Texas.
No, not Texas, Maryland but the Lone Star State.
The venue is huge.
As a wise man said, it is "not quite a sports bar, but if that's what you're there for, it's okay."
Our bartender was friendly and helpful.
As I was taking the picture at the lower left, a manager appeared and informed me I was breaking protocol.
Luckily, we escaped with the camera.
I would be glad to return anytime...in disguise.

 

 

Jojo's Restaurant &
Tap House

16 E Patrick St
Frederick, MD 21701
(301) 732-5197

JoJo's is an upscale yet very comfortable restaurant and beer bar in downtown Frederick.
Jojo's offers 20 taps, mostly American micros, and about as many bottled beers.
All the drafts come in a 9 or a 16-ounce pour, depending upon the ABV of the beer.
A curious customer can also get a 3-ounce sample of any beer for a buck or two.
The venue is U-shaped with the restaurant on the left, and a large bar area around to the right.
The long bar seats about 18, with maybe 10 tables around the barroom.
The staff was friendly; JoJo's warrants a return trip.

 

 

 

Roast House Pub
5700 Urbana Pike
Frederick, MD 21704
301-418-6098

The Roast House Pub opened in July 2011, as the only real beer bar in Frederick. It is a small joint with about 12 tables/booths to choose from.
There is a bar that seats about 12 with a clear view of their 20 rotating taps. They had a great variety of IPAs and Belgians, as well as some other
smaller beers and even a cider. If you're not into good beer, they even offer Coors Light and Budweiser, but only in a can. The Roast House Pub was built on 3 rules, the first of which is "Beer taps should pour craft beer".
If you're in the area The Roast House is certainly a place in which to stop.

 

Mount Airy Inn
1401 South Main Street
Mount Airy, MD 21771
(301) 829-1400

You wouldn't expect to find a vibrant beer bar in Mount Airy, just about halfway between Ellicott City and Frederick. And yet here's the Mount Airy Inn, sporting 11 very well-selected taps and maybe 40 bottles, including a "rare and obscure" list. They also keep an updated draft list on their website, which is helpful for Questors and like-minded enthusiasts. The bar seats about 12 or so, and the barroom and dining area contain numerous tables and booths. At the time of our visit, the place had only been open for about a year, but they are quickly putting themselves on the beer map by hosting events like tonight...an evening with Colossus, a 21% glass of potent potable made by DuClaw Brewing Company. The brawny brew is out for a limited time on an exclusive tour.
Questor Rusty said his food was great, and I would even hazard to say that my BLT was the best I have had to date.
Mount Airy Inn is another highlight on Maryland's growing craft beer scene.

 

RIVER HILL SPORTS GRILLE
6040 Daybreak Circle
Clarksville, MD
410-531-7900

River Hill Sports Grille is nestled in an upscale shopping center along the 108 corridor in the River Hill/Clarksville metropolis. The long L-shaped bar seats about 14. There are tables in the barroom, and a separate dining area. The taps numbered 20, with 12 dedicated to a rotating selection of mostly American microbrews. Not in the mood for any of these? The Sports Grille offers nigh on to 80 bottled selections. The clientele at our end of the bar were mature, and interested in discussing the beers with the bartenders, who were knowledgeable about the products. A curious beer-drinker could also try a flight of 4 5-oz. beers for $10.95. The walls were adorned with numerous TV screens of all sizes, tuned to everything from the royal wedding to rodeo, as would befit a sports grille, but no one seemed to watching anything until baseball came on at 7:00.

 

Kloby's Smokehouse
7500 Montpelier Road
West Laurel (Maple Lawn), MD 20723 301.362.1510

In a strip mall in the village of Maple Lawn just south of Columbia you'll find Kloby's. OK...so it may be a restaurant in search of an identity; is it a sports bar, smokehouse, beer bar, or can it be all three? You decide. And while you're deciding, have a couple of craft beers from their choice of 30 taps and about 40 bottles.
The large bar seats about 17, and there is a smaller bar for 6 patrons. 10 more can sit on stools at the rails. Serious diners who intend to get messy with Kloby's excellent barbecue can sit at the numerous tables over two rooms. There are a number of flat screen tv's that can cover the sports angles at appropriate times.
The staff was more than friendly, and willing to explain the beer and food options. And speaking of the food, the pulled pork was great. Wear jeans so you can wipe your hands on your pants.
Kloby's is another necessary stop in Howard County's burgeoning beer bazaar.

 

 

 

Centre Park Grill
8808 Centre Park Dr
Columbia, MD 21045
(410) 997-0050

Centre Park Grill is the latest (Spring, 2015) craft beer-friendly bar to open in the Columbia/Ellicott City area.
The decor sports beautiful wooden floors, and plenty of glass and stone.
The rectangular bar seats about 20, and the spacious dining area has numerous tables.
Centre Park has 12 taps.
All of them rotate, and none are wasted on macrobrews.
The bottle list numbers over 20, and appears well-chosen.
Staff were friendly and attentive, and manager Tony was eager to talk about the beer and the food.
And check this out...Happy Hour is 3-6 on weekdays.
Drafts are 1/2 price!

We hope to return to Centre Park Grill soon.

 

 

The Ale House - Columbia
6480 Dobbin Center Way
Columbia , MD 21045
410-244-8900

'Twas a gray and murky day as I made my third attempt to review the new Ale House - Columbia.
We were here on a Friday night; it was too crowded to find a parking space.
We returned Saturday night...got on the lot, and managed to stand at the bar. Had one beer but no time to ask questions and take pictures.
Third time was a charm.
On a Tuesday afternoon, the bartender had some time, although she was busy learning her trade, as were all the staff in this new establishment. She was gracious and helpful, and if she didn't know the answer, she found out.
The Ale House - Columbia is sister to the Pratt Street Ale House, a brew pub in downtown Baltimore...purveyor of Olivers Ales.
The Ale House occupies the same space as the Rocky Run brew pub which closed several years ago.
The decor is modern without appearing sleek or glitzy, with a lot of gray and brushed stainless steel.
Ale House is large, but numerous booths and enclosures divide it effectively. The large bar seats about 20, and there are many tables and booths.
The beer selection is outstanding, offering 30 taps. About half of these are Olivers. The two that I ordered were superb.
The brews are served in three pours...10, 12, and 23-ounce.
The Ale House looks like a fun place with great beers, and a spot to which I will return.

 

Frisco Tap & Brew House
6695 Dobbin Rd
Columbia , MD 21045
(410) 312-4907

The Frisco Grill in Columbia has become
Frisco Tap & Brew House.
Over the last several years, due to an expanded draft selection, and a spot on the leader board of Maryland beer bars, Frisco had outgrown its skin, in Kafka-esque fashion, as a strip mall Mexican restaurant and carry-out. After acquiring a devoted, knowledgeable, and demanding beer clientele, Frisco has moved into a much larger and sleekly upscale venue only one-half mile from its former location.
Frisco Tap & Brew House is made up of several rooms, the largest of which houses the bar and main dining area. The bar itself is long and staple-shaped, and seats about 30 thirsty patrons. Two large lighted boards over the bar list the 50 tap selections, 10 of which are devoted to Belgians, and these boards are flanked by 8 large TV screens.
Paralleling the bar is a long community table which seats 25; a good way to sip your beers and discuss their relative merits face-to-face with other patrons. The main dining area has about 20 tables.
Aside from the 50 well-chosen draft beers, Frisco offers about 70 bottled selections.
What about the Brew House? That would be the remaining smaller room at the front of the building, where there is brewing equipment on hand.
Frisco is also a brewpub, and you can read more about this on our page dedicated to brewpubs.

 

Victoria Gastro Pub

8201 Snowden River Parkway
Columbia, MD 21045
410.750.1880

A gastropub is a public house serving food that is a step above your average pub fare. This would be true of Victoria. Of course, we were there for the beer. Victoria offers 24 taps, which seem to be carefully selected and cared for. Additionally, they have about 100 bottled beers. The staff was helpful with suggestions and explanations. The drafts were expensive, but big, and the food that we ordered was very tasty. So if you've never visited a gastro pub, Victoria would be a great one with which to start.

 

 

 

The White Oak Tavern
10030 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21042
(410) 680-8974

The White Oak Tavern is located in the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center in western Ellicott City.
The large horseshoe-shaped bar seats about 20 patrons, and six or seven tables round out the barroom side of the restaurant.
White Oak has 30 taps, all of which rotate.
None of the 30 taps are wasted on macros, but the 21 beer bottle list should cover any of those needs.
Beer lovers at the bar can see the draft choices displayed on a large screen giving style, ABV, and price. The screen is linked in to TAPLISTER, so the information changes on the screen and on the internet simaltaneously.
As far as price goes, all beers cost the same...only the size of the pour changes. Some beers cost $2 less during Happy Hour.
The restaurant has 2 other separate areas with tables for dining.
According to their mission statement, White Oak "uses the best local, seasonal, and sustainable meats & produce whenever possible."
White Oak Tavern is an excellent drawing card with which to bring beer-friendly Howard County to west Ellicott City.


 

Judge's Bench
8385 Main St
Ellicott City, MD 21043
(410) 465-3497

If you haven't checked out the Judge's Bench in Old Ellicott City lately, it's time to do so. Mike, the new owner, has a vision of making this a "local pub version of beer drinkers' Nirvina." He is well on his way. The 17 taps are carefully chosen and the beer seems very well cared for. The chef creates some great dishes, and there is live music every night. Judge's Bench is one more reason to visit Ellicott City.

 

T-Bonz Grille & Pub
4910 Waterloo Road
Ellicott City, MD 21043
410-461-4748

T-Bonz Grille & Pub is described as a "neighborhood hideaway" and that serves as an apt description. Tucked behind a strip center in a nouveau rural part of Ellicott City, T-Bonz proved a dark, cool respite on a 100-degree day. T-Bonz has 40 taps, all of which were microbrews with a large proportion being local offerings. They also offered about a dozen macro bottles. The L-shaped bar seats about 15, and there are a large number of booths and tables. Ambitious beer drinkers can order a 120-ounce beer tube for $22. The patron next to us explained how he had recently consumed one by himself in less than two minutes. Ouch.
T-Bonz is a fixture in what is becoming a tremendous area for draft microbrews in Howard County.
I'll be back.

 

Phoenix Emporium
8049 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043
(410) 465-5665

For a nice selection of abut 160 bottled beers with a modest rotation rate consider the Phoenix Emporium in Historic Ellicott City.
The proprietors have also started a "100 Beer Club" whereby a client can earn recognition and prizes by consuming 100 different bottled beers. A Questor's name is entered in the Big Book and tally is kept...no time limit.
Phoenix also has events such as Firkin Fridays.

 

Lure's Bar & Grille
1397 Generals Highway
Crownsville, MD 21032
(410) 923-1606

Located on the way to Annapolis in Crownsville, the Gateway to Southern Maryland, is hidden Lures...a gem of a beer bar.
Lures features 14 taps, 13 of which rotate. All styles were covered, from their own label, Jill's Pils, to your high-octane ales from Avery, 21st Amendment, and the like. All of the drafts were U.S. craft beers. If you were looking for something macro, they supply about 14 bottles.
An L-shaped bar seats about 12, with about a dozen booths and tables. There is also patio dining. The beers were pricey...$8 for a Bear Republic Apex...so I suggest you do your imbibing Monday-Friday from 5-7 when these micros are 1/2 price.
An enclave in a region of Bud and boats, Lures is well worth the trip for any Questor.

 

Olney Ale House

2000 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd.
Olney, MD 20832
Phone: 301-774-6708

About 45 minutes from Baltimore, the Olney Ale House used to be a rural roadhouse. Although the suburbs have infringed upon the pastoral setting, a more knowledgeable and affluent spirits crowd may have allowed the Ale House to become Montgomery County's best beer bar. They feature 21 taps, several of which rotate, and maybe 100 different bottles. The selection was diverse with micros, macros, Belgians, & other imports readily being dispensed. Warsteiner is a favorite here. The bartender was affable and knew his trade, and willing to provide samples. It's still a beautiful drive through the country to get there, and the beer makes it all the more worthwhile.

 

Quarry House Tavern

8401 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 587-9406

Doesn't look like much from the outside, eh? But walk down the steps, and you'll find yourself in the Quarry House, established just after the repeal of Prohibition. It has been called "a German beer garden in a basement." One of the few beer bars in a wide area, QH offers a well-chosen 9 taps and maybe 100 bottles.
You could be in someone's club basement from the 1950's. But they wouldn't have served beer or burgers like they do here. They have some pretty good live music, too. Look carefully, its hard to find, under an Asian restaurant. But don't miss it.