Tag Archives: BEL AIR MD




Open for biz since 2015, INDEPENDENT BREWING COMPANY celebrated its seventh anniversary this past October. Occupying a gray grain house with blue brick base, decorative grain silo and rusty metal roof awning, this rustic barnyard pub utilizes aged aluminum, metal and wood to create its homespun warmth.

A black metal-enclosed front deck (with bark top side table) leads to the cream taupe-walled interior where a lacquered wood serving station offers over a dozen homemade draughts. Barreled, bark-topped and community tables (with low hanging caged Edison lights) fill out the cement floor space alongside the left side wood-furnished couch lounge area. Glass-encased brewtanks are behind the bar near the side garage door.

I settled into all twelve available suds on this amicable early March ’23 stopover before heading to DC for the weekend.


Totally sessionable pre-prohibition pilsner, Siebel OneFiveO, let musty hay-dried mineral graining and salty herbage seep into mild lemony perfume musk.

Combining the candi-sugared citrus spicing and fungi herbage of a Belgian blonde with easygoing gin-teased white wining and cidery tartness, Blue Eyed Blonde escaped simple stylization.

Dewy orange-oiled lemon spritz and diacetyl buttering paced bland Get Off My Lawn!, a sessionable pale ale with pasty malts.

A collab with all eight Harford County breweries, Come See About My Pale Ale retaineed dry lemon-rotted orange tartness, mild green grape tannins and teasing vegetal herbage above musky pale malting.

Exceptional flagship IPA, Carpe Diem, placed mild orange-peeled grapefruit, pineapple and lemon bittering alongside lightly grassy hopped pine tones and floral herbed respite over dry pale malting.

Infused with tart blood orange, offshoot IPA, Blood Orange Carpe Diem, had sourer citrus fruiting and less insistent piney herbage than its year-round bellwether.

Brisk lemony grapefruit bittering and subtle mango-guava-lychee tropicalia brightened Nasty Woman NEIPA, gaining resinous pine tones atop its creamy oated wheat base – not as juicily fruited or yogurt-milked as most hazy Northeast ilk.

Sour-candied light body, It’s The Pits Cherry Wheat, let juicy Montmorency cherry preserve tartness take control as lemony mandarin orange wisps and oaken vanilla tannins were setback.

Nutty dark-roast chocolate and coffee settled beside mild soy saucing for Poots Magoots Baltic Porter, leaving subtle Blackstrap molasses treacle.

Easygoing dry Irish stout, Wooden Coat, stayed dewily mossy as dark chocolate saturated Blackstrap molasses-embittered burnt wood tones.

Creamily lactose Breakfast Stout, Cereal Killer, wed nutty chocolate to medium coffee roast and mild espresso snips as its light hop char embittered the molasses oats base.

In its fluffily creamed nitro version, CK’s dryly nutted chocolate and espresso frontage obtained tobacco-chawed hop sear.      


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Many independent shops dot the streets of Bel Air, a festive small town 20 miles north of Baltimore now housing two successful breweries. Celebrating their fifth anniversary in 2022, ALECRAFT BREWERY crafts a well-rounded assortment of stylishly diversified small batch beers down the rear corridor of its snazzy art deco taproom.

An L-shaped 14-seat bar with planked pine surface and embossed bronze kick-plated frontage offers quaint antiquity for the pristine cement floored main space. Several wood tables and a cozy two couch side space bedeck the cozy interior.  A red brick-enclosed black metal-furnished outdoor deck adds further seating. There are twelve draughts listed on the electronic board.

Alecraft will expand capacity when they open a second larger location 45-minutes North in York, Pennsylvania during 2023.

My wife and I sank ten fine brews (reviewed below) during our December ’22 sojourn – missing out on the lemonade/black tea mixed fermentation Sliced! Sour Ale and Reviction Double IPA.

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Pallid barley roasted hop crisping gained light floral spicing for Alecraft Oktoberfest, leaving wispy orange-apple-pear illusions on the earthy bottom.

Mild pale malt spicing and light herbal hops coalesced for Bel Ale Pale Ale, a crisply dry moderation less involving thirsts will enjoy.

Placid Citra-hopped Imperial IPA, RecalCitrant, rushed sugared citrus tanginess by mild wood tones and pale malt breading.

Easygoing floral-perfumed orange and grapefruit tanginess retained a soft-toned twang absorbed by the dry wood lacquering of Le Renard, a standard all-grain West Coast IPA.

Meanwhile, offbeat New England-styled IPA, Seven Wonders #3 Olympia, utilized Kveik yeast for its fruit-forward lemony limed grapefruit zesting and mandarin orange tartness pushed aside for enigmatic cologne-daubed cilantro herbage and grassy hop astringency.

Spruce-tipped evergreen minting picked up tart lemonade sugaring for effervescent Spruce Tip Scottish Ale, riding atop lightly caramelized peat smoke.

Interestingly devised 5th anniversary ale, Cranberry Golden Spike Belgian Wit, let its orange-peeled coriander ‘holiday spicing’ seep into lemony cranberry tartness as well as sugary dried cherry, tangerine and clementine fruiting contrasting salty pink peppercorn souring.

There were also two delightful winter warmer nightcaps. Sweet vanilla-creamed brown chocolate richness and honeyed cherry guided nutmeg-spiced Sledding Around, pasting dried fruited date, green raisin and plum to its brown-sugared caramelization.

Nearly as engaging, Winter’s Run Winter Warmer let spiced-up orange peel sweetness recede as sugarplum, date and fig serenaded its hazelnut-glazed caramel center.

Another sugarplum-derived strong ale, Sugar Plum Fairy Dubbel, allowed its dark Belgian candi-sugaring to saturate the funky cellared herbal mustiness.


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Situated inside a red-bricked, green-trimmed mall center, DU CLAW BREWING COMPANY’S inaugural Bel Air pub opened 1996. Locations in Bowie, Hanover, and BWI Airport’s Southwest Terminal came into prominence post-millennium and continue to flourish. As for my three-hour January 2011 Bel Air fling, I examined the efficient soft-hopped alacrity of ten tangibly diverse brews, meeting Du Claw’s owner, Dave Benfield, while enjoying a few untried libations alongside some previously reviewed fare.

The high ceiling interior, centered by a huge wraparound bar, included front and side dining areas with multiple TV’s (and a billiards table to far right). An enclosed front patio near the front entrance suits sunny day feasting. The clean Industrial setting draws sports fans, businessmen, and party people. A separate dining area to the left satisfies families with children and the char-broiled burgers are damn tasty.

Newly discovered gems included peculiar fish-oiled hop-frisked Exile Belgian Pale Ale, with its mild orange-dried date souring receiving latent honey glaze. Red-orange-fruited perfume-wafted nicety, Old Flame Old Ale, enjoined fig-dried crystal-caramel malting to tingly hop spicing. Buttery smooth Serum Double IPA snubbed brisk stylistic bitterness for sugar-spiced peach-apricot-grapefruit tang and pine-combed maple malting.

Chocolate lovers will unite over two wonderful dessert treats. Euphoria Toffee Nut Brown Ale worked toffee sweetness into rye-malted chocolate-browned almond-pecan cluster coupling vanilla, cocoa nibs, crème brulee, and coffee ice cream illusions above astringent hop bitterness. Better still, velvety smooth Black Jack Imperial Stout drenched brown-sugared oatmeal cookie theme with macadamia-hazelnut pleasantries, Blackstrap molasses sapping, black chocolate richness, espresso milking, crème brulee sweetness, and raspberry-blackberry souring.

While previously tendered Venom Pale Ale retained aggressive orange-peeled grapefruit-skinned bark-dried bittering, its supplemental nitro version maintained soft-watered caramel-malted creaminess and delicate spicing for mild grapefruit-juiced Mandarin orange prod. Misfit Red Amber Ale upped the caramel roasting and Bad Moon Porter increased the stove-burnt coffee-roasted creaminess and dark chocolate malting from initial Fells Point sampling. And best selling Bare Ass Blonde Ale developed a lemon-soured floral peach briskness and peppery hop tingle since inceptive ’05 offering.

The following tasting notes were from initial ’05 visit of defunct Fells Point brewery:

Du Claw’s well-detailed brews showed tremendous diversity. Lightweights will adore citric-sweet cereal-grained Bare Ass Blonde Ale, caramelized barley-roasted apple-persimmon-spiced Misfit Red, tangy soft-fruited Ravenwood Kolsch Ale, and blanched Australian-hopped stone-fruited golden lightweight Kangaroo Love Lager.

Ripe quince-peach-melon tang, spiced Bosc pear sugaring and tart lemon-hopped bittering braced Venom Pale Ale.

Robust dessert treat, Bad Moon Porter, weaved roasted coffee and toasted hops around addictive Godiva dark chocolate sweetness.

More sophisticated tastes will lean towards expressive coffee-toned Naked Fish Chocolate Raspberry Stout (sporting a raspberry seed-ripened mocha-sweet hazelnut-walnut confluence). These are only some of the more than dozen selections available at any given time.