View Top Breweries in Maryland in a larger map
Portland, Ore., may have made the microbrew cool back in the early 90s and Colorado may always be the main state for American beer, but Maryland has built up quite a repertoire of breweries that are nothing short of world-class. So even if you were just hoping to get your hands on some blue crab, we recommend carving some time out of your leisurely schedule to visit a few of these delightfully smooth, hoppy and effervescent brewpubs, so here goes... the top 4 breweries in Maryland:
Located in the quaint city of Frederick (near Easton), Flying Dog is actually a Colorado transplant that came to Maryland via Aspen in 2008. With a history of making great stouts, imperial pale ales (IPAs) and lagers, Flying Dog also has a number of heavily sought-after seasonal ales.
To get your hands on a few of these great craft beers fresh from the tap or recently-capped bottle, head to the brewery for one of its tours. Held every Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and on Saturdays at noon, 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., tours last around two hours and cost a mere $5 for five (yes, five!) samples. Reservations are required, so be sure to visit Flying Dog's website to secure your spot. If you're toting along little ones on this vacation, be sure to find some appropriate babysitter for them, as no one under the age of 21 is allowed.
Heavy Seas Brewery
Located near the University of Maryland in Baltimore, this brewery is all about pushing the envelope while still providing some of the state's best aromas and flavors - you really couldn't ask for more! Heavy Seas is one of only a few local breweries that offers cask ales, and is one of the largest cask ale producers in the country. For those who are new to the world of hops and barley, cask beer is beer that is matured in a cask similar to how beer was originally brewed - you know, back when large pieces of sheet metal were a bit harder to come by. Similar to yogurt, cask beer is contains live yeast cultures and often has a smoother, less "fizzy" taste than most beers on the market today.
To try out a few of these living brews during your vacation in Maryland, head to Halethorpe to partake in one of Heavy Seas' tours, which take place most Saturdays at 1.5-hour intervals. First tours usually start at 11 a.m. Tours (sans beer) are free, but if you're looking to imbibe, be sure to bring five smackaroos to get your five beer samples as well as a great pint glass for the road!
Located southwest of Baltimore, Heavy Seas is a cool 7 miles away and about 15 minutes' drive from downtown via Interstate 95.
Growler's Brew Pub
Named after the iconic half gallon beer holder, Growlers is Montgomery County's oldest brewpub, with the brewery using many traditional techniques to brew the finest amber ales and porters.
While Growlers does beer well, it does just as well with its food - yep, this brew pub is also a restaurant. Enjoy your Yorkshire Porter with a slice of peanut butter cheesecake or a refreshing Roof Razer IPA with a delicious chorizo burger.
Located in Gaithersburg, you can get to Growler's via Interstate 95 (going south from Baltimore) and take the MD-355 N exit. Growler's is on East Diamond Avenue, due east of downtown.
Union Craft Brewing
Looking for something a bit more simplistic? If you're headquartering your vacation in Baltimore, check out Union Craft Brewing, where the beer menu only consists of a few well-made brews. Founded by a unique trio - a brewer, an artist and a financial expert - Union is a true Baltimore startup - the flavors of Charm City run rampant here. If you favor lighter craft ales, this is the place to be. Try out the Balt Altbier, known for its slight bitter taste and creamy top - while this is the darker of Union's brews, it's still on the lighter side of the full beer spectrum. If you're a purist, try the Duckpin Pale Ale, made with strong Pacific Northwest and New Zealand hops, as well as delicious malty notes.
A newbie to the Maryland beer market, Union didn't start brewing until spring of 2012, yet the brewery offers tours of its 20-barrel operations every Saturday from 1-4 p.m.. To reach this northside brewery, head north on Interstate 83 North, then take exit 8 for Falls Road, followed by a quick left turn onto Union Avenue.