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What are the top beers in Baltimore? We tried local breweries’ picks to find out.

Beer from local Baltimore breweries is put to the taste test.

The breweries that populate Baltimore and surrounding counties, from middle-of-the-block neighborhood establishments to sprawling farm-based ones, offer a tremendous variety of options for beer snobs and novices alike. But with so much to choose from, how do you know what’s best?

We reached out to every major craft brewery in the city limits and asked them to send their best in show. 11 responded by the deadline we set; one, Peabody Heights Brewery, didn’t make our deadline, while Nepenthe and Oliver Brewing companies didn’t return our outreach.

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We dispensed with the typical categories and rated each on its own merits. While we can’t be every beer drinker, we can hopefully point the way to something you’d like. And although advisories surrounding the coronavirus make drinking at these breweries impractical, you can still buy many of these beers to go from the breweries themselves.

Here are the best beers in Baltimore city.

Hops the Cat IPA.
Hops the Cat IPA.(Handout)

Hops the Cat IPA—Full Tilt Brewing

Style: Unfiltered India pale ale

ABV: 7.4 percent

Thoughts: Although it’s technically named after co-owner Nick Fertig’s late cat, this beer’s name also points to its main taste. It is very hoppy. It’s also very flavorful, which owes to its being unfiltered and brewed with a variety of hops. This might not appeal to people who aren’t fans of IPAs, but should definitely be in rotation for fans of the hoppy beer genre.

Rating: 4.5/5 pints

Where to find: Hops the Cat is available via can and draft at Full Tilt’s Mid-Govans/Homeland taproom (5604 York Rd.), as well as bars and distributors throughout Greater Baltimore.

Making Out with Cherry Amaretto Cheesecake—Wet City Brewing

Style: Sour

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ABV: 5 percent

Thoughts: This beer looks and smells a little like cough syrup when poured, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying its rich cherry notes. It balances sweetness and tartness in a way many sour beers don’t while being simultaneously refreshing. One of several varieties in the “Making Out” series, it would pair well with a variety of sweet and savory dishes.

Rating: 4.5/5 pints

Where to find: You can find this beer at Wet City’s taproom/restaurant in Mt. Vernon (223 W Chase St.) and in kegs at several other places, including Wine Source and Light House Liquors.

Resurrection Ale.
Resurrection Ale.

Resurrection Ale—The Brewer’s Art

Style: Abbey-style brown ale

ABV: 7 percent

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Thoughts: This widely-recognizable staple of the local brewing scene packs a malty punch from first sip. It’s very robust and almost resiny in taste. Unlike some more alcoholic beers, this one doesn’t taste deceptively less alcoholic than it is. This is great for drinkers who want to have one or two full-bodied beers over the course of a session, especially in cold weather.

Rating: 4/5 pints

Where to find: Resurrection Ale is available at The Brewer’s Art’s Mount Vernon taproom/restaurant (1106 N. Charles St.) and is distributed throughout Greater Baltimore.

Taps at the bar at Monument City Brewing.
Taps at the bar at Monument City Brewing. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

NOBO Northbound IPA—Monument City Brewing Company

Style: New England hazy IPA

ABV: 6.5 percent

Thoughts: This is a delicious beer for many types of drinkers. With a subtle flavor, fruity notes and citra hops, NOBO IPA is a refreshing IPA that’s great for IPA skeptics and responsible session drinking.

Rating: 5/5 pints

Where to find: NOBO is one of this major area brewery’s limited release beers. It’s available year round at Monument City’s taproom in Baltimore Highlands (1 North Haven Street), with very limited distribution around the state.

Resident cats Bert and Ernie are littermates who live at Mobtown Brewing in Highlandtown.
Resident cats Bert and Ernie are littermates who live at Mobtown Brewing in Highlandtown.(Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Lost Shades Golden Coffee Stout—Mobtown Brewing Company

Style: White coffee Stout

ABV: 5.4 percent

Thoughts: Most coffee stouts aren’t this easy to drink. Lost Shades is also notably lighter in color than what’s typically associated with this beer genre. With a robust taste of coffee and cacao, courtesy of the Ecuadorian cacao nibs and Black Acres Roastery coffee incorporated into brewing, this is a great beer for people who don’t normally like stouts.

Rating: 5/5 pints

Where to find: Like much of Mobtown’s output, you’ll primarily find Lost Shades on draft and available for take-out fills at the brewery’s taproom in Brewers Hill (4015 Foster Avenue, Suite 400).

Checkerspot Brewing Co.
Checkerspot Brewing Co.(Kenneth K. Lam)

Juniperus IPA—Checkerspot Brewing Company

Style: India pale ale

ABV: 7.4 percent

Thoughts: This IPA is more refreshing and drinkable than most IPAs of comparable ABV or hoppiness. Credit this to the refreshing notes of juniper berries that give the beer its name. Hoppy and smooth, Juniperus is great for people who normally don’t like IPAs.

Rating: 5/5 pints

Where to find: You can get Juniperus IPA at Checkerspot’s taproom on draft and to-go. It’s located under the highway and near the major league stadiums in the Spring Garden Industrial Area (1399 S. Sharp St.).

Beer kegs sit at Union Craft Brewing Company.
Beer kegs sit at Union Craft Brewing Company.(Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun)

Divine IPA—Union Craft Brewing

Style: India pale ale

ABV: 6.5 percent

Thoughts: Billed as “a perversely hoppy ale" and named after an iconic local drag queen, this beer is indeed quite hop-forward. Despite that, it has a rich fruity aroma that balances out the bitterness of the mosaic and citra hops. It’s just hoppy enough that we wouldn’t recommend this to people who normally dislike IPAs. IPA stans, drink up.

Rating: 4/5 pints

Where to find: You can visit Union’s taproom, visible from the Jones Falls Expressway in Hampden ( 700 W 41st St, Suite 420) to find this beer. You can also find it on draft and in cans throughout Maryland, Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Delaware.


A glass of beer sits on the bar at Waverly Brewing Company in Hampden.
A glass of beer sits on the bar at Waverly Brewing Company in Hampden.(Steve Ruark / Baltimore Sun)

Bulbs of Passion IPA—Waverly Brewing Company

Style: Passionfruit India pale ale

ABV: 7 percent

Thoughts: Pour this beer and you’ll immediately smell the namesake passionfruit. Despite its dry-hopped character (courtesy of amarillo, citra and South African Southern passion hops) this is a surprisingly refreshing beer that doesn’t taste as alcoholic as it is. IPA lovers would enjoy this beer during the summertime oranytime.

Rating: 4/5 pints

Where to find: You can get Bulbs of Passion at Waverly’s taproom near the Jones Falls Expressway in Hampden (1625-C Union Ave.).

Francis Smith, center, one of the three owners of Diamondback Brewing Co., stands inside the company's brewing room in Locust Point.
Francis Smith, center, one of the three owners of Diamondback Brewing Co., stands inside the company's brewing room in Locust Point.(Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Virgilio Urban Wild Ale—Diamondback Brewing Company

Style: Wild ale

ABV: 7.7 percent

Thoughts: The first mixed-culture beer from Diamondback’s The Otherside Project, which focuses on barrel-aged beers, Virgilio is very smooth with citrusy notes. It will throw fans of the brewery’s IPAs through a loop, with a taste almost like that of a mead or cider. It’s undoubtedly refreshing, even with the deep flavors that came from being aged in French oak barrels with a variety of cultures for 17 months.

Rating: 4.5/5 pints

Where to find: This is a limited-release beer, so it’s easiest to find at Diamondback’s headquarters in Fort McHenry Row (1215 E. Fort Ave., Suite #008). You can also find them in select bottle shops across Maryland and the D.C. area.

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Trophies Mexican Lager—Suspended Brewing Company

Style: Mexican lager

ABV: 5 percent

Thoughts: Brewed with Cascade hops and pilsner malt, this Mexican lager has a subtly powerful flavor. It’s refreshing like Corona, but packed with far stronger taste without being too intense. You could pair this with a variety of cuisines and drink it in situations ranging from dinner parties to sports games. This is a great brew for a lot of different tastes.

Rating: 5/5 pints

Where to find: The best place to find this will be Suspended Brewing Company’s brick-and-mortar tavern in Pigtown (912 Washington Ave.).

Honorable Mention: Mango Comapeño—Charm City Meadworks

Style: Mead

ABV: 6.9 percent

Thoughts: So this is cheating a little, since mead and beer aren’t synonymous. But Charm City Meadworks is a Baltimore institution and has collaborated with brewers before, so it deserved a mention. This selection has a very spiced smell, courtesy of the comapeño peppers, that the mango notes cut pleasantly. It makes for a sweet and easy drinking experience. Great for those who want something different than a beer when going craft.

Rating: 4.5/5 pints

Where to find: You can get this mead at Charm City Meadworks’ Johnston Square headquarters (400 E. Biddle St.), as well as throughout the meadery’s distribution network in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia.

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