hey guys imma need your help with this. ive become a bit of a beer snob since i left baltimore, and when i go back, thats exactly what i want.
im currently a south florida guy, so there isnt a whole lot of beer culture here, except the niche craft brew, and home brew guys.
when i visit i want the good beer spots. (cause i gotta go see the fam, you know) anyway. the brewers art is always a great spot, i know that
what about duclaw? i know its a bit more starbucks-y but its still decent beer.
is the red brick still there on the white marsh avenue?
Heavy seas beer is brewed in baltimore by clipper city brewing company. you can pick that up in a liquor store. If you want beer brewed at a brew pub then check out rams head (they brew fordam) or check out brewers art in mt vernon. they have great beer there. also duclaw brews their own beer. good stuff as well. there are many more, those are just some of the more popular bars.
All great picks, especially Hal Sisson's Heavy Seas. He's been a great benefactor of the local Home Brewers and deserves everyone's patronage. That aside...
A little off the beaten path but a block or two off of Broadway in Fells Point is the original, I believe, Wharf Rat - not to be confused with the tourist trap version down by the Convention Center. Typical Fells Point ambiance, (people peeing on the street and no place safe to park, but the beer (Oliver's on tap) is reasonable to cheap and with nothing but a counter top single serving fry machine they manage to turn out the best orange roughy fish and chips bargain around. Shoot some pool and get a little local flavor, (lots of tattoos and piercings).
Just off of the corner of Harford Rd. & Taylor Ave. is what was back in the day a good old fashioned stag bar. For the last couple of decades it has been known as Racer's Cafe and has been home of some of the best draft beer and great bartenders in town. Cheap too. They rotate different beers through on a regular basis and since everything is drawn from Kegerator type taps there's never any of that nasty sour beer line fall out so common at places like Max's, if you pick a brand that doesn't sell regularly.
Anyplace that offers a ton of choice and has to keep kegs in the basement and pipe it up stairs is going to suffer from this, but most know to draw some off before they pour. This is of course not always the case so don't be afraid to send one back at Max's...they know. Also, don't go to Racer's looking for a Bud unless it's carryout, 'cuz they don't even offer it at the bar and you will get some strange looks. Check the chalk board upon entering for the list of specials and what's on tap. If you see something interesting the bartenders are more than happy to set you up with tasters before you buy. There's a lone pool table in the back and a beer garden that's a cool place to escape the press in the warmer months.
Racer's also has a great menu; free peanuts and hard pretzels. Close as it gets to beer drinkers' Nirvana. The only thing missing would be the piss trough along the foot rail.
Last outpost for those that like to accomplish the trifecta of social irresponsibility and political incorrectness: Satyr Hill Cue Club just off of Joppa Rd. near Perring Pkwy. and the Beltway. Cheap billiards on 9' antique tables, you can smoke there in-doors, and best of all it's BYOB and they have frig's there for just that purpose. Also some pinball machines and shorter coin-op tables for those that get intimidated playing on the big green.
I find DuClaw's beer to be far too sweet for my tastes. Well, most of their beers anyway. A few are decent. The one downtown did indeed close, but there's still one in Bel Air if you can make it up there. There are a few other locations as well, I think.
I was sad when DuClaw in Fells closed - I always liked their beers.
As others mentioned, Max's and Mahaffeys both have good selections. The Hudson Street Stackhouse (5 minutes from Mahaffey's) also has a good selection of beers - they recently installed a 24 tap system and if you're a hockey fan then it's the bar to hang out at.