More of Baltimore
By Bobby Bush
Last week we opined about the various beers of downtown Baltimore brewpubs, The
Wharf Rat, Capitol City and Baltimore Brewing Company. Sit back- our journey
Still hot for more action, we taxied over to Baltimore’s Federal Hill district.
Sisson’s Restaurant, which houses the city first brewpub- South Baltimore Brewing
Company -resides opposite Cross Street Market, one of Baltimore’s six famous public
markets. The restaurant opened in 1979 and brewing began ten years later, so this is no
johnny-come-lately. From three connected mid-19th century buildings, Sisson’s, as the
brewpub is more commonly called, serves a creative menu of seafood and cajun entrees,
from an Jambalaya Stew to Fried Eggplant Creole to Smoked Crayfish Cakes.
And, of course, there’s beer. Sisson’s was between brewers at the time we visited,
but the beer did not suffer from inattention. We skipped the requisite summer fruit beer,
this time a Blueberry Wheat, as well as Gunga Din IPA and Marble Golden Ale, choosing
instead Bob’s Common, a fresh (two days old) Anchor-style ale complete with tart finish.
The Maibock was golden and sweet, with no alcohol notice. Edgar Alan Porter, deeply
black, initially introduced a strong roasted malt taste which yielded to a chocolate malt
What may have been missing from Sisson’s was a variety of beers listed on their
Beer Offerings menu. Perhaps because of the brewer dilemma, perhaps not, several beers
were unavailable for our tasting or comments, including Stockyard Amber Ale, Cross
Street Wheat and Stonecutter Stout. The list also included two tempting seasonals: Fere
Jaffe Grand Cru Ale and 42nd Regiment Scots Ale. We’ll have to go back when the new
brewer is starting to feel at home.
After a marathon hike, we discovered Globe Brewing Company in a cavernous
old harborside un-air conditioned building, which formerly served as a Bethlehem Steel
warehouse. Overhead fans, suspended from a 20 foot ceiling, hardly stirred the humid
indoor air, but determination persevered. Beer was ordered and cooler heads prevailed.
The White Ale sported some proper clove and yeast flavor, but was fishy and soapy.
Yuck. Mobtown Brown Ale was thin, but smooth with very little taste. Likewise, Crazy
Dog Porter was light in body with a lager yeast aftertaste. No one had the nerve to try
Constellation Stout. Globe claims to specialize in Belgian ales. Leftover from Christmas,
the Trippel Celebration was golden and deceivingly mild in taste with no sign of the nearly
9% alcohol it hid. Subdued hops, sweet nose and finish, here was one- and only one -beer
that Globe Brewing could boast about.
Let’s get the heck out of this party place and go drink some real beer. Thirty
minutes later, after three frantic phone calls, we finally hailed a cab down and headed to
the north side of town for dinner.
Now Brewer’s Art is a restaurant/brewpub that really specializes in fine Belgian
ales. Amidst mahogany paneled walls, Wedgwood pattern mantle, faux marble molding,
cameo-like ceiling and a cramp brewery behind arched Victorian windows, we started with
their yet-to-be-named House Pale Ale. Done as a Belgian or Dutch session beer, this 5%
alcohol brew was extremely mild with little obvious hops effect. The seasonal Cherry
Charm City Sour Cherry was dry and cider-like with no clue that it was an ale. Ozzy, their
“answer to the Belgian ‘devil’ beers,” packed sweetness into its flat 7.2% medium body.
At 7%, Resurrection, an Abbey-style dubbel, was deep red and soothing with hoppy flavor
and malty finale. The Tripple, another seasonal, was light gold in hue, cidery and big in
Their beer menu lists a nice bottle selection of Belgian Lambics, German beers,
Trappist Ales, Scottish and English ales, ciders and a dozen from American micros. What
a place! A bit spendy, Brewer’s Art is for fine dining, with vegetarian emphasis, and fine
beer. Don’t settle for less.
Looks like this Baltimore trip is going into one more issue. See Bad To Good.
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush