This fall, if all goes according to plan, Baltimore resident Barry Lowenthal will open the Brass Tap, a growing bar chain with roots in Florida known for its craft-beer selection.
The Indiana native realizes that sounds a lot like World of Beer, another chain that arrived here recently. Even with the Brass Tap's planned location — inside the Fitzgerald, the Mid-Town Belvedere apartment building about five miles away from the city's World of Beer — Lowenthal said he's not concerned about conceptual overlap.
"I would call World of Beer a very similar competitor," Lowenthal said over the phone on Tuesday from his home in the Dorchester neighborhood. "I've been to the one down in Locust Point more than a few times. Where we are, I'd say the finishes are more high-end."
Lowenthal, who last owned a restaurant in the early '80s in Bloomington, Ind., said that's where the difference between the two companies lies. The Brass Tap's pub fare will be higher quality, he said, and the black-and-brass design will be "striking." He also described having "upscale customer-service finishes" like USB charging stations and free WiFi.
Shelby Klein, property manager for the Fitzgerald, confirmed the Lowenthal's Brass Tap plans.
Lowenthal described World of Beer as appealing to college students, while the Brass Tap will likely draw an older crowd.
"I don't think we're going to see a ton of college students paying $8 for a pint of beer," Lowenthal, 53, said. (The average beer at his bar will likely cost between $7.50-$9.50, he said.)
The Brass Tap will have 60 beers on draft, and somewhere between 125-150 beers in bottles (depending on how he finalizes the cooler space), Lowenthal said. About half of the drafts will be from the city, Maryland and the region (Delaware, Pennsylvania and northern Virginia, he said).
He also noted what the bar won't have — macrobrews. Except, perhaps, one.
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He hopes to open the Brass Tap, Maryland's first, in either late September or October. (Lowenthal said he's opening it with his wife, Pauline, and brother, Michael.) The bar and the Fitzgerald are close to submitting plans for permitting (a 620-square-foot expansion of the apartment building to accommodate the Brass Tap is planned, he said). Pending approval, construction will follow.
A homebrewer, Lowenthal said he became a craft-beer enthusiast in the past few years. During that time, he visited a friend in Seattle, and was blown away by its beer scene. Once he left, Lowenthal said he wanted to open a bar that highlighted Baltimore's emerging beer scene.
"I really felt like there was an opportunity to do more with craft beer here in Baltimore City," he said.