Baltimore is a little further than we usually cover on this blog, but there’s no way I was going to miss a new bar run by one of the most talented brewers around. Brian Strumke is the gypsy brewer behind Stillwater — he doesn’t own a brewery or manufacturing space, so he travels around the globe, using other people’s brewing equipment and collaborating on beers with other brewers. But Strumke calls Baltimore home, and his first bar is located, appropriately enough, in Brewer’s Hill.
It’s a hip place that still has the new-bar smell: exposed brick walls, a gleaming wooden counter, shiny high-top tables. (There are plans for a gourmet food shop selling bread, charcuterie and coffee upstairs, but that won’t be finished until later this year.) What will get most people through the doors are Strumke’s beers, all of which will be offered on tap. Last week, that meant 12 of 23 taps held favorites like the crisp Stateside Saison, the bright, hoppy Our Side — a collaboration with Denmark’s Mikkeller — and the rich and fruity Red Wine Barrel Folklore. Another 10 range from the classic Schneider Hefeweizen to the assertively hopped Freudian Slip from Denmark’s Evil Twin. (The two brewers have a good working relationship: Of Love and Regret hosted the release party for Evil Twin’s new American Blonde Ale and European Blonde Ale; the latter is gorgeously malty and only available in bottles.) The last tap pours house-brewed iced coffee.
The menu is as interesting as the beers: grilled duck tongues with scallion; fried rock shrimp with corn fritters and a tangy “key lime” dipping mustard; a Korean pancake with shredded pork and jalapenos.
Prices are on the high end for Baltimore: $7 to $9 for 12-ounce pours of most Stillwater beers, and $6 to $9 for similar-sized pours of the guest beers. Some of the Stillwaters, though, can be ordered in a 36-ounce pitcher for $18, which will save a few bucks.
Not everyone is going to be cised to jump on the MARC (or Amtrak) to Baltimore to go sample beers, but I could happily spend a day barhopping between Of Love and Regret, the Brewer’s Art and the Pratt Street Ale House (home of Oliver Ales).
-- Fritz Hahn (June 5, 2012)