Located at Ellicott City’s St. John’s Plaza mall on bustling Route 40 since 1996, I visited BARE BONES during two-day January 2011 jaunt to Baltimore vicinity. (Note: A second Bare Bones facility is in Stuart, Florida.)

Not necessarily a brewpub, since brewing operations ceased when tanks were removed circa 2008, but a clean blue-collar sportbar specializing in ribs and reasonably priced pub fare (if not diversified beers and ales).

Perched west of Baltimore City, its wood entry with green awning leads past waiting area to low-ceiling central bar sidled by right side dining and elevated left seating. A separate family-styled dining space was off to the far right.

During early afternoon visit following one-hour Ellicott Mills Brewery stopover, I downed a crock of white chili (skinless chicken with navy beans, herbs, and spices) alongside seven contract brewed house beers crafted by Oliver (Pratt Street Brewery) and Clipper City Brewery. Great classic rock by Yes (“Siberian Kutra”), The Who (“Join Together”), and Alice Cooper (“No More Mr. Nice Guy”) played in the background as I dipped into my sampler tray.

Best of the middling light-to-moderate-bodied ales was probably approachable red-orange-fruited licorice-perfumed spice-hopped Old Frederick IPA. Other mainstream standard fare included distantly floral-pined orange-lemon-apricot-teased Tiber River Red, Saaz-hopped crystal-malted lemon-limed wheat-corned hop-fizzed pilsner-styled Patapsco Valley Gold, and citric-blanched maize-dried soft-hopped white-breaded cardboard-like astringency Hunt Valley Light.

Though Savage Mill Porter lacked typical robust nature, its slick oily-hopped nut-charred ashen-backed mocha malting might appease milder thirsts not ready for prime time porter-stouts. Perhaps the soft-buttered nuttiness and minor hop-charred spicing of pecan-fig-rigged Chesapeake Brown Ale would better suffice.

Mild lemon-fizzed pepper-hopped malt-toasted Old Ellicott Ale (an English pale ale) and lemon-wedged apple-spiced lime-lined white-breaded Seven Hills Hefeweizen were clearly mediocre (with the latter beer in need of banana-clove injection).




Rustic bohemian village, Elliott City, an old milling and manufacturing community,  featured Old World charm, unrefined antiquity, and the B&O Railroad Museum. Along steep hillside in gray-stone green-trimmed building, ELLICOTT MILLS BREWING (opened 1997) was originally visited November ’06. Interior had windowed brew tanks, exposed ducts, and copper-top wooden tables. Left bar featured huge wood-column mantle and twin TV’s. Catacomb-like lower-level Batskellar offered single malt Scotch, cigars, and bar specials while loft dining space served family-office parties.

Appetizers, salads, pasta, seafood, and wild game went well with wort-nosed sour-fruited mineral-grained vegetal-oiled rye-finishing Alpenhof Kolsch, dry-hopped fruit-soured cereal-biscuit-y Illchester Ale, earthen rye-breaded fig-dipped caramel-nutty Redrum Ale, and phenol chocolate-malted date-dried Semper Fi Strong Ale. Best bet: Scotch whiskey-fronted raisin-fig-dried toffee-lingered Bock Of The Bat.

Upon January 2011 revisit, sat at copper-topped stainless-steeled left side bar to sample a few goodies while the lunchtime crowd rolled in. It seemed as if each brew’s flavor profile led nicely right into the next.

Best-selling hop-spiced sugar-malted Marzen attained buttery walnut resolve above orange-soured finish. Australian-styled lager, Boomerang, brought sour butterscotch-malted orange-rotted candi-sugared fig-cherry spurt to musty fungi yeast. Buttery fig-date-soured caramel-toffee-malted hazelnut-pecan-backed Dunkel gained murky fungi funk and cellar mustiness.

Even better was nut-roasted crystal-sugared Brown Ale, with its careening honeyed walnut, pecan, chestnut, macadamia, and butternut illusions. Not far behind, soft coffee-burnt toffee-malted German-styled Dopplebock gained apple-bruised pear-browned fig spicing.