The Quest for the Holy Grain - Best Brew Pubs





Bel Air



Ellicott City


Ocean City







Silver Spring



White Marsh




Denizens Brewing Company
1115 East-West Hwy
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 557-9818

Denizens Brewing is a stand alone brew pub a block from the newly developed area around the Silver Spring Metro.
Although it's brand new (as of 2014) with lots of windows, it is relatively small, almost like an European bar.
The bar itself sits six and the rest of the main room might seat 30 with lots of space around the variously sized tables.
There is a small room in the back and a downstairs area also, as well as a large patio by the front door.
Food is provided by a food truck which supplies Denizens kitchen.
Denizens has six of their own beers on tap as well as one guest beer.
All the beers seem to be full-time, as there is no reference to seasonals.
Although it wasn't overly crowded, Saturday afternoon had a brisk business with the yuppie crowd.



Tall Tales Brewing Company
6929 Heron Grove Ct
Parsonsburg , MD 21849
(410) 824-2739

Tall Tales Brewing Company sits about 100 yards north of route 50, several miles east of Salisbury.
Tall Tales is self-described as a "small premium brewery based in Parsonburg, MD."
Roni, our bartender, explained that they were "definitely not a microbrewery," but also did not describe them as a brew pub. Nevertheless, they do sell beer made on-premise, and they do offer a limited but tasty light fare menu featuring artisan pizza; I'm calling them a brew pub.
The basic pour at Tall Tales is 6 ounces...they are only licensed to sell full pints 3 out of every 30 days.
A 6-oz. beer will cost you $2 or $3, and customers can choose from about 8 different Tall Tales beers.
Most of their brews had an ABV of 6-10%, and the ones that I tried were tasty.
Another brewery on the Eastern Shore to which I would gladly return at the drop of a hat.



Antietam Brewery at Benny's Pub
49 Eastern Boulevard  
Hagerstown , MD 21740
(301) 791-5915

The Antietam Brewing Company is housed in Benny's Pub, on the banks of Antietam Creek in Hagerstown.
Benny's was a successful restaurant/bar when they began their brewing operation in 2012.
The establishment, which occupies a storefront in a shopping center, consists of three large rooms, with the brewing equipment as a focal point.
The L-shaped bar seats about a dozen patrons, and the other two rooms bring the seating capacity up to 170.
Antietam has 3 flagship brews...a golden ale, porter, and an IRA. During our visit, there were also two seasonals.
I can speak for the General's Golden was very tasty, as was the food we ordered.
Our barkeep was cheerful and informative, and gladly filled my 1-liter growler.
Antietam/Benny's is only ten minutes away from the Antietam battlefield, and both would be an apt reason to get you up to this neck of the woods.



Ocean City Brewing Company
5509 Coastal Highway
Ocean City, MD 21842
phone: (443) 677-3075

Ocean City Brewing Company is a brewpub that opened in this resort town in 2014.
According to their mission statement,
" there is nothing better than drinking a good craft beer, enjoying good food, and being surrounded by good people. That's why we wanted to bring this experience to Ocean City. "
The venue is large and can seat about 300 patrons.
The long bar accomodates 25 drinkers, and there is room for many more at the 15-foot Oktoberfest-style community tables.
The merchandise shop is about as large and varied as any you will find in a brew pub.
As for the beers, there were about 15 OCBC brews on tap, and one being poured from a hand-engine.
There were several additional guest beers on tap.
One of our bartenders, Jason, was knowledgeable and friendly in explaining about the brewing company.
Our other barkeep, Kim, was vivacious, professional, and an excellent rep for the brew pub.
Kim recommended my two beers, a mango-kiwi lager from the cask, and rye IPA...both excellent choices.
Ocean City Brewing Company is a stellar stop for any shore-going lover of craft beer and good times.
As of the summer of 2017, OCBC had at least 4 other locations in Maryland.



Backshore Brewing Company
Boardwalk between 9th & 10th
Ocean City, MD
(443) 373-1224

On a chilly fall evening, the boardwalk was desolate.
We had heard that Backshore Brewing was on the boardwalk at 9th Street...we had also read that it was on Atlantic Avenue.
We couldn't find it.
But then I smelled a familiar odor...somebody was cooking beer.
We followed our noses.
Outside a man was cooking a batch of beer...turned out he was the brewer working on an "experimental batch."
We entered Backshore. It is small...only about 6 seats a the bar.
The place was full...mostly regulars and us. They were all there for the beer.
Backshore had 6 of their homebrews on tap. The Kolsch that I tried was very good.
Though the barroom was small, Shorebilly is attached to Hammerheads. If one desires food or liquor, they can walk through a door to Hammerheads and bring it back.
Seating is more plentiful in warm weather, as there is room for 40 more drinkers out on the patio.
In or out of season, Backshore is a great place...I shall return.




Fin City Brewing Company
12913 Ocean Gateway
Ocean City , Maryland , 21842-9505
phone: (410) 213-1771

Fin City Brewing is located at Hooper's Crab House in easygoing West Ocean City, Maryland.
Hooper's is a popular, well-established restaurant and hangout which you can learn more about by viewing their website.
Fin City Brewing debuted in 2012, making several different styles of beer, and may have as many as 6 on tap at any one time.
About 6 other drafts are also offered, mostly macros including several Leinenkugels.
The beer is crafted in a loft above Hooper's main bar, and during the time of our visit, on their penultimate day of the season, offered four of the Fin City creations on tap.
Fin City offers beers for most tastes, and you can put away as much as you want without breaking the bank. The pints were going for $4, but a patron could get a 22-ounce pour in a souvenir stadium cup for only $5, with refills for a scant $2.50!
Hooper's is an enormous venue with many booths, tables, levels, lofts, and much outdoor dining.
The layout and decor cannot be must be experienced.
Our barkeep, Danielle, was helpful and informative about the Fin City beers, and Hoopers in general.
Hooper's and Fin City Brewing is an enjoyable place to visit away from the beach bustle of Ocean City proper.




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

Frisco Tap & Brew House, a stable fixture among area beer drinkers for their 50 rotating taps of American microbrews and imports, is now brewing their own beer.
This puts Frisco on the map as not only one of the best beer bars in the state, but also as Columbia's lone brew pub.

The Columbia watering hole will also have the distinction of being the first pub on this website to be listed as both a Best Beer Bar and Best Brew Pub.

Patrons of Frisco have long awaited the debut of the home brews, following the progress of the brew works through the large windows in front of the establishment.
Frisco's brewing operation has been named Push Craft Brewing.
For openers, Push Craft served a pale ale and an IPA.
Some high-octane styles will follow.
The beer is pumped from the serving tank in the brew house up and over into the bar, where it is dispensed to the customer from two dedicated tap towers.

Why did Frisco start brewing their own beers when they are able to so successfully purvey 50 other craft beers in their taphouse?
As owner Adam Carton so succinctly put it, "Who doesn't want to have a microbrewery?"


Evolution Craft Brewing
US 13
Salisbury MD

In 2012, Evolution Craft Brewing moved from its home in Delmar, Delaware just a few miles south to Salisbury, Maryland.
Evolution is one of Maryland's priemier craft brewers and their beers such as Primal Pale Ale, Lot No. 3 IPA, and Lot No. 6 Double IPA can be found on tap and and in carryout stores throughout the region.
The brewery needed more space and now they've got it.
In addition they have opened a restaurant and tasting room both attached to the brewery.
Their Public House was voted "Best New Restaurant in 2012" by Metropolitan Magazine Readers.
And to think that this venue used to be an ice house!
The tasting room features 6 taps to choose from, some of which are their staples, while others are seasonal. You can take tours of the facility or visit the restaurant for a bite to eat.


Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill
Corner of MD-4 and Dowell Road
Solomons, MD

The Ruddy Duck Brewery & Grill, located in scenic maritime Solomons, offers six brews of their own and six guest taps. Proprietor Carlos Yanez and brewer Jonathan Reeves have conspired to privide an ambitious spectrum of beers, including a golden ale, a porter, and a Belgian wit, dubbel and tripel. I found the three that I consumed to be well-crafted, delicious, and true-to-style. And they are served in appropriate glasses! There are also at least 10 bottled beers, mostly imports in large bottles.
The bar seats 12, with maybe 10 tables in the bar area. There are two other dining areas, and an outside patio.
You won't accidently be passing through Solomons. Located at the tip of one of Maryland's peninsulas in rural Calvert County, it would have to be your destination. And a trip to the Ruddy Duck is a great reason to make it one.




Johansson's Dining House

4 W. Main Street
Westminster, Maryland, 21157-4816
(410) 876-0101

Located in quaint downtown Westminster, Johansson's was one of Maryland's first brew pubs.
Johansson's is noted for both their casual and fine dining, and for their beer.
They are always serving their Hoodle Head IPA, Whistle Stop Amber, and Honest Ale, as well as one seasonal.
They provide 11 guest taps and about 20 bottles, mostly commonplace.
The bar is long, dark, and comfortable, and darts are offered for those so inclined.


Ellicott Mills Brewing Company

8308 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043

The square stone ediface stolidly situated on main street in Old Ellicott City was once a hardware store; don't take Alpenhof beers for granite!
Ellicott Mills Brewing Company
makes good beers and lots of them. They are prolific in the styles of beer they make, crafting both ales and lagers, but their specialty beers are their bocks. Bock of the Bat, Big Red, Firecracker, Doppelbock...there is one on tap no matter the season.
Walk down to the Batskeller where bartender Tim Kendzierski runs one of the best bars in the region. There is also a bar on the first floor, and a cozier dining area on the second floor.
Depending on the day of the week, specials might include lobster night, shrimp, wings, and $2.00 beers.
Ellicott Mills also runs home brew contests, and many other interesting events.


Gordon Biersch Brewery
1906 Towne Center Blvd
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 266-5965

The new Gordon Biersch-Annapolis sits in a brand new spacious retail mall off of Riva Road just South of Route 50. The restaurant is clean and spacious as befits a successful brew pub chain. The bar seats about 15 with numerous tables, booths and rails...the dining area is large. Gordon Biersch makes German-style lagers; you will find nothing new or complex here, but all are clean, drinkable, and true-to-style. The brew works are visible from the bar. Garage-door type windows open behind the bar to service outdoor patrons in warm weather. Biersch offers six taps consisting of 5 standards and 1 seasonal. Gordon Biersch is about 10 minutes from Main Street Annapolis, and well worth a visit in this historic town...a beer destination in its own right.


Brewer's Alley

125 North Market St.
Frederick, MD 21701

Brewer's Alley is located in an historic building, and was Frederick's first brewpub.
They have 7 brews on tap, and rotate about 10 seasonals in with their 5 regulars. They also offer three bottled beers.
On this Saturday night, the bar was jumping, and the fact that many patrons were consuming Miller Lites is testament to the fact that this must be a swinging night spot as well as a source of excellent craft-brewed beers.
The Pils was hearty, yet delicate, and well-hopped. The hefeweizen was excellent, so much so, that when I set mine down, it disappeared.
On the left you can see a "giraffe", a device that dispenses 2.5 liters of beer right at your table. It's guaranteed to infuse your group with instant Gemutlichkeit.



Barley and Hops
5473 Urbana Pike,
Frederick, Maryland 21703
Phone: 301-668-5555

Located in a shopping center, just South of old downtown Frederick, Barley and Hops is a friendly place to eat and drink.
They offer about 7 is a hand engine.
Barley and Hops also offers several bottled beers.
Their brewings range from the summery hefeweizen and kolsch to a hoppier, stronger pale ale and red ale.
My favorite was the pils, which was an excellent example of the style.
The staff was particularly helpful in providing material for this site.



227 East Diamond Ave
Gaithersburg, MD 20877

(301) 519-9400

Growlers is a brewpub located in the quaint section of Gaithersburg that is still reminiscent of a sleepy, small town. It occupies the same site as the old Summit Station Brewpub. They offer 8 taps, six of which are their house beers...the other two are guest taps. They also carry about 15 bottles. The lunch hour presented an eclectic crowd of diners and beer drinkers. The bar is comfortable, and the beer was very fresh. As the name would indicate, growlers can be filled.

Rock Bottom Brewery
7900 Norfolk Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 652-1311

The Rock Bottom Brewery is a successful chain, with the Bethesda location being the only one in Maryland.
Brewmaster Geoff Lively knows his craft and his clientele. The former is evidenced by the impressive array of awards and medals he has garnered, and the latter by the sampler of six very smooth and drinkable beers that he graciously proffered.
"We try to have something for everyone." is Geoff's philosophy, and this is no idle boast. Their five regulars are brewed to satisfy the normal spectrum of beer drinkers. In addition, Geoff offers one or two seasonals, and one or two cask-conditioned ales dispensed through a hand engine, for his more beer-cultured or curious customers.
Ask your bartender, and other special brews are liable to be available in 1-liter bottles.

Rock Bottom offers fine foods and special events as well, and should be a definite stop for residents, tourists, and those citizens in search of good beer.


Franklin's Restaurant, Brewery, & General Store

5123 Baltimore Ave.
Hyattsville, MD 20781

Franklin's is one of Maryland's best kept brewing secrets.
Located right on Rt. 1 between DC and College Park, Franklin's has a restaurant downstairs and spacious bar up the steps.
They offer 8-10 taps of their own brews, and several macro bottles for the unenlightened. Head brewer Mike Roy crafts a kolsch, hefe-weizen, pale ale, red ale, IPA, and Belgian triple to name a few.
The lunchtime crowd was quite diverse, the General Store fun to browse in, and most importantly...the beer was excellent.



DuClaw Brewing Company
16 A Bel Air South Parkway
Bel Air, MD 21015
p. 410-515-3222

DuClaw began as a brew pub in Bel Air, MD, and now has locations in Arundel Mills and Bowie Town Center as well. DuClaw's secret is brewing beers that people love to drink, and providing a fun setting in which to do it. DuClaw unveils a new seasonal beer each month, and these evenings, where free glasses are usually given away, are quite popular. All of the beer is brewed in Abingdon, MD. Many patrons also take home Duclaw beer in growlers.


Red Brick Station

8149 HoneyGo Blvd
White Marsh, MD 21236 410.931.PUBS

Red Brick Station houses the White Marsh Brewing Co., a local brewer of fine beers.
There are around 7 on tap, one hand engine, and one guest beer.
The regulars ranged, at the time of our visit, from Honeygo Lite at 3.6% to the Daily Crisis IPA weighing in at 6.1%.
RBS offers a casual atmosphere with good food and "Baltimore's Best Happy Hour."
Mug clubbers drink more for less.