Baltimore is awash in suds. Beer bars, microbreweries and brewpubs have sprouted like so many mushrooms, changing Baltimore's night-life landscape forever.
One does not simply go into a pub these days, sidle up to the bar and ask for a cold one. Choices are stupefying: Do you want a porter? A weizen? Do you want it hoppy? Extra malty? There are Belgian-style beers at Brewer's Art, British-style brews at the Wharf Rat, German-style entries at Baltimore Brewing Company, a whole lot of South Baltimore Brewing Co. options over at Sisson's, and hundreds of other bottled possibilities at Max's, Racers and the city's other fine drinking establishments.
With all this, is there room for another brewpub? After a visit to Globe Brewing Co. on Key Highway, my answer is an emphatic "yes."
Opened on Feb. 21, Globe has been bustling since day one. Owners Charles Bowman, Louis D'Alesandro and Harold Saircloth (former head brewer at the Wharf Rat) have adopted an aesthetic that has proven successful at some well-known beer bars and brewpubs on the West Coast. The general idea is this: Make sure the place has a roof, a lot of poured concrete to walk on, spread around a lot of brewing equipment and stacked sacks of malt, and open the joint to the public.
No one would say that the sprawling warehouse that contains Globe Brewing Co. is "decorated" in any particular way. It nonetheless has a very appealing behind-the-scenes-at-a-brewery feel to it, with a simple bar, a bunch of festive red picnic tables and five red felt-topped pool tables for customers to congregate around.
The only other touch made in the name of decor is a tropical fish mural that looks down on the raw bar that brims with fresh seafood every weekend.
Even during the week seafood makes up a big part of the menu. Blue Point oysters and littleneck clams (steamed or raw), steamed mussels, shrimp and Alaskan king crab legs fill out the raw bar menu, and daily fresh fish specials are listed on a little card inserted in each menu. The rest of the menu is devoted to bar staples -- sandwiches, burgers and wings -- all well-crafted foils for Globe Brewing Co.'s five house-made beers.
When Globe opened, it served only its Aero 77 Pale Ale and Mobtown Brown Ale. Since then it has added a Locust Point Porter, Old Line Stout and Shamrock Strong Ale to its lineup (a couple more beers are down the pike).
For my money, a pint of the Mobtown Brown Ale is the way to go, with its toffeeish richness imparted by crystal malt. While the Shamrock Strong Ale (an Irish-style red ale with 5.2 percent alcohol) was pleasant, it was missing some of the buttery quality of a true Irish red ale.
After sipping at our pints a while, we began dinner with a half-dozen Blue Points and an order of buffalo wings. Both dishes were exceptional: the sweet raw oysters perfect with just a squeeze of lemon, and the wings lacquered with hot and vinegary sauce nicely tempered by a dunking in rich blue cheese dressing.
Our favorite entree was the evening's special of fish and chips. Both parts of the meal were greaseless, crisp and flavorful. Potatoes made another fine showing as an accompaniment to both a grilled chicken breast sandwich and a burger.
The chicken was juicy but a bit bland and the burger was a touch overcooked, but the potatoes fried with onions were heavenly. If you order a cold sandwich you miss out on the potatoes (chips and a pickle instead), but you get, for example, a pit ham sandwich piled high with thick-cut, smoky meat.
Dessert is clearly not a focus at Globe. Our server had two lone pieces of chocolate-chip cheesecake to offer, and had to brew coffee at our behest. No matter, though. I was happy to finish my evening's calories with another brown ale while trying to perfect my nine-ball game.
Globe Brewing Co.
1321 Key Highway
Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner
Credit cards: All major cards
Prices: appetizers $2.50-$14.95; entrees $5.95-$13.95.
Pub Date: 4/10/97