Location: Baltimore, Md.
Notable Brew: St. Festivus Volker
Stewart, founding partner of The Brewer’s Art, says what makes his Baltimore-based brewpub really stand out is its unusual setting — a Mt. Vernon townhouse.
“It’s a pretty unique space,” Stewart says. “The guy who built this was a big shot investment banker around the turn of the last century. It’s pretty ornate.”
The happy hour specials don’t hurt either, he said. With six beers on tap at any given time, the North Charles Street pub changes its offerings seasonally. At holiday time, ask for "St. Festivus." This brown winter ale is brewed with five types of malt, noble hops, and then, for an added kick, Curaçao, along with orange peel and ginger.
Location: New Hope, Pa.
Notable Brew: Princeton Bengal Tiger
Dan Weintraub, sales manager for Triumph Brewing Co. in New Hope, Pa., says what has made the brewery so successful is top of the line beer with food to match.
Servers and bartenders refine their skills at a Beer 101 class, which teaches them general pairing techniques, Weintraub says.
“Our brewpub offers traditional style lager beers which aren't often found in smaller brewpubs, especially ones that do not distribute their beer,” says Weintraub.
The most sought-after, he says, is "Rauchbier," a smoked German lager. “People that like smoked beers really look forward to our small, yearly batch,” he said.
The most popular beer they serve, however, is "Princeton Bengal Tiger," named for the mascot of the university town where Triumph has an outpost.
Location: Austin, Texas
Notable Brew: Malt Beer
The Draught House in Austin, Texas, has been a steady presence in this college town since it was built in 1968. Josh Wilson, the current brewer, says the history of the place is just one of the things that make it special. “The furniture was custom built for it over 40 years ago,” he says. “People who carved their initials in our tables when they were in college in the '70s come back and see them still there.”
Wilson says “keeping it fresh” is the secret to running a successful brewpub.
“I follow my muse with brewing and may brew a different beer for months before repeating a recipe," he says. "We always have something fun on tap. We also have 70 guest beers on tap and emphasize local, seasonal, limited-release beers. We flip faucets a lot to keep things exciting.”
Wilson says some of his crazier concoctions that have been a hit with beer drinkers include "Smoked Saison," a sour "Pumpkin Ale," and "Malt Ball," a beer that tastes like Whoppers.
Location: Cambridge, Mass.
Notable Brew: Youenjoymystout
In its 22 years in business, Cambridge Brewing Co. in Cambridge, Mass., has showcased its special ales by creating special beer- and food-themed events throughout the year.
“Our Pumpkin Ale Festival drew 1,300 people this year,” says Phil Bannatyne, owner of Cambridge Brewing. “It features eight of our own pumpkin brews and another 30 guest pumpkin beers from other breweries, as well as a pumpkin-focused food menu and Halloween-related shenanigans.”
Speaking of shenanigans, earlier this year, the company released a beer-sake hybrid; and in 2006 it partnered with Boston favorite Toscanini’s to create beer-flavored ice cream.
Bannatyne also touts his wooden-barrel aging program, which produces such popular brews as "Youenjoymystout," a 10 percent Russian Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels; "Arquebus" and "Blunderbus" barley wines; and "Cerise Cassee," a Belgian blonde ale aged in oak with cherries and wild yeasts and other micro flora.
Location: Portland, Ore.
Notable Brew: Ruby
Originally built as an elementary school in 1915 in Portland, Ore., the Kennedy School has been transformed into a unique hotel and brewery. The former little girls’ room of the school is now home to the Concordia Brewery, named for the North Portland neighborhood in which it’s located. In the pink-tiled powder room, brewers Ben Nehrling and Kevin Lee crank out company standards, as well as seasonal offerings.
Visitors can enjoy a pint in a classroom, a cigar in the Detention Bar, or some whiskey-barrel-conditioned brews to the sounds of classical and operatic music at the Honors Bar.
One of the favorites since the hotel opened in 1986 is "Ruby," which gets its name from the Oregon-grown raspberries that are brewed into every batch.