September 28, 2008

Two Different Howard County Beer Stops

On Wednesday evening I went to one of my favorite places, Frisco Grille in Columbia. At some point there will be a proper review of the place here at Baltimore Beer Guy but in brief they're the most craft beer friendly taphouse in Howard County. It's someplace I now regularly frequent.

Anyway, once there I had the Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale on tap (famously sold in cans around the country) which is one of my favorite "common" craft beers. I also had the Victory Festbier. Almost everywhere right now there seems to be an abundance of "fest", pumpkin, and Oktoberfest beers. Rightly so, but I've never gotten that into them.

The Victory surprised me a bit, it has some malty sweetness and wasn't off-putting while tasting, well, seasonal. For people who dig that kind of beer, this is your time of year!

Anyway, from there I made a short drive up Snowden River Parkway to Victoria Gastro Pub. They too, never a proper review from Baltimore Beer Guy. I haven't frequented them as much lately, but it was a good visit. I actually arrived at the peak of SIN (Service Industry Night) so the dining area was closed down and the bar was jammed with various people. They had a discount on tap beer, and I had a truly delicious Saison DuPont.

I've been on a huge saison kick lately, and while DuPont is a saison I have mixed feelings about, this thing was particularly fresh and refreshing that evening. Normally I think Victoria would serve that in a 10 oz chalice, but the 20 oz nonic glass really worked out well with this most recent pour.

On Friday I again went out, first to stock up at The Perfect Pour (my favorite bottle shop right now and a tremendous place for beer nuts) and then for some beers in downtown Ellicott City.

The first stop was at Ellicott Mills Brewing. I hadn't been there in a while, but decided to have some German brews which are seasonal without being cutesy like some of the true seasonals I've found lately. I tried the Firecracker Dunkel (I believe?) which was delicious and just about out, and then some kind of bock. Both were solid. Right now it seems Ellicott Mills is doing a ton of unique brews. I enjoy their standards -- the Marzen is particularly good and sessionable -- but it's nice to see variations on their Alpenhof theme so now is a good time to get in there.

From there I walked just up the street to The Judge's Bench. I had mixed feelings about this place the first time I went in, but I'm liking it a lot more now. They have a really good bottle selection and 17 taps along with a clean bar surface. Sticking with my saison kick, I went with an Ommegang Hennepin which was fresh and yummy if not quite as tasty as I've had it on tap before. The owner here is really nice and I timed it right, arriving before it got crowded and the beer drinking crowd focused on standard brews instead of their great tap offerings.

I need to make those kinds of trips more often. I'm more than happy to camp out at Victoria or Frisco's in particular, but the other stops went so well I'm itching to return.

ALSO: See my custom made "Howard County Beer Map", one of the new features here at Baltimore Beer Guy. I'll be updating the various beer maps (linked on the menu at right) as I turn this site into more of a beer resource for the area, feel free to suggest additional maps, locations on maps, revisions, etc.

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