Tag Archives: COLUMBIA MD


Black Flag Brewing Co. - Bates Architects - Bates Architects


Established in 2015 with a second location now in nearby Marriotsville, BLACK FLAG BREWING COMPANY’s flagship at Columbia gave founder Brian Gaylor his footprint in the Maryland brew scene. Despite borrowing its moniker from anarchic punk band, Black Flag, the sterling wood-ensconced pub features a ‘warm color palette’ leading to the ‘boulevard of brewtanks’ in the rear.

Inside a tan stone professional building with gleaming cement lacquered floor, Black Flag’s 12-seat, 15-draught oak top bar services several pristine metal-seated community tables. Exposed pipes at the black ceiling offer dramatic contrast to the yellow wooded splendor.

My wife and I grabbed a few core brews and one-offs, some slightly beyond the ‘established norm,’ on our February ’24 Baltimore-Columbia excursion.

Toffee-sugared banana, cherry and fig guided creamily caramelized Dubbel Doug, a sweet spiced Belgian styler.

Waxy tropical fruiting gained vanilla-creamed oated wheat density for Stupid Sexy Wizard NEIPA, coalescing mild lemon-limed grapefruit bittering with yogurt-like pineapple tartness and tangy mandarin orange sweetness.

Terpene-infused hop oiling lent dank cannabis gunk to the salted mango, lemon meringue and buttery Chardonnay influences of Maui Waui, a hazy NEIPA with a boozy gin flourish.

Yet another tropical NEIPA, Sun Run, let softly billowing oated wheat creaming froth its lightly pined Citra-Mosaic hop fruitiness as yellow grapefruit, white peach, navel orange, mandarin orange and pineapple tanginess glimmers.

White peach and Bosc pear combined for Crumble: Peach & Pear, a cinnamon-spiced fruited sour.

Mild chocolate nuttiness reached oats-sugared malts for Suede Shoes Brown Ale, using English ale yeast to invite wispy fruity esters.

Black chocolate and mild coffee roast merged for Dark Arts Imperial Stout, picking up latent hop charred nuttiness.

Blending Dark Arts with Fuzzy Whitaker Raspberry Wheat Sour created Dark & Fuzzy, a delightful combo securing its tart raspberry souring with lemony white grape tannins to contrast ascendingly sweet Black Forest caking.

Then came two exquisite barleywines for dessert. First, ‘unaged’ Uncut Diamonds retained smooth caramelized toffee spicing, buttery whiskey serenity and dried fruited plum-fig conflux as well as heady 11.3% ABV.

An even more complex nightcap, luxurious barleywine, Sunken Diamonds, sank fruitful cuvee-like Madeira wining into lovely bourbon, rum and brandy aged whiskey caramelization, garnering tertiary medicinal cherry, bruised orange and sherry illusions.


Cushwa Brewing Company · Arium|AE · Architecture, Engineering, & Planning


Gaining high acclaim amongst the entire Maryland brewing community, CUSHWA BREWING COMPANY’s second location inside a maroon-edged white brick building at Columbia opened in 2023 and serves “Rad Pies” as well as Mocktails to complement their sturdy array of home brews. Cushwa’s original Williamsport brewhouse along the Potomac River also continues to thrive since 2016.

A half-mile from Reckless Shepherd, Cushwa features 40-plus taps, multiple community tables, an art deco black ceiling and windowed frontage. An illuminating white Cushwa sign overlooking the white-tiled bar captures attention.

I visited Cushwa February ’24 to quaff nine beers on site and another two canned afterwards (reviewed in Beer Index).

Year-round light bodied fave, Pura Pils, let fizzy lemon spritz prickle grassy hop astringency over musty pilsner malts.

Designed to pair with pepperoni pizza, pithy red and orange fruiting and light caramel spicing reached sugary cereal grained pale malting for Rad Beer Lager.

Tidy straw gold kolsch, Kolschwa, brought semi-sharp IPA-like citrus perfuming and Hallertau Blanc white wine esters to the fore as buttery Easter bread flouring sweetened the dry pale malt base.

Dryer than most hefeweizens, Never Say Hefe maintained politer banana-clove sweetness and blanched honeyed wheat bottom, letting herbal whims skim the surface.

Valentine’s Day fruited wheat, Cupid’s Boldt, let its subtle strawberry adjunct pick up tart rhubarb tanginess and blood orange snips above raw-honeyed wheat.

Lighter than a Belgian pale ale, pilsner-malted patersbier, Father Time Enkel, let fungi Abbey yeast infiltrate delicate champagne bubbling, subtle banana sweetness and white peppered herbal spicing.

Easygoing New England IPA flagship, Cush NEIPA, plied lemony grapefruit and orange tanginess to dry hemp-oiled pine resin and mellow floral daubs.

Dry West Coast-styled Imperial IPA, Like A Million Elephants, merged piney citrus glitz with mild herbage, dainty florality and pale crystal malt sugaring in an unassuming 8% ABV whirl.

Resounding Mexican coffee stout, Seven Caves, coalesced dark-roast coffee, dry espresso and vanilla-creamed cinnamon spicing.


Frisco & Reckless Shepherd Brewpub (Wednesdays) | Cap City Trivia


In tandem with Frisco Taphouse restaurant, RECKLESS SHEPHERD BREWING COMPANY became Howard County’s first full-time craft brewery during 2017. A large multi-purpose gray brick venue hosting live entertainment at its high ceilinged art space, Reckless Shepherd’s pristine modern industrial setting captures an upscale sportsbar atmosphere.

Founding owner Adam Carton began brewing in 2004 and by 2012 developed Push Brewing’s 7-barrel system inside Frisco Taphouse. Renamed Reckless Shepherd in 2017, the 20-barrel Columbia, Maryland taphouse continues to gain attention with their eccentric blend of elixirs (plus Frisco’s extensive pub menu).

The 20-seat bark top main bar at Reckless Shepherd fronts several wood tables and the glass enclosed brew tanks stand impressively tall in the rear. There are multiple TV’s and a large entertainment space leading to a theatre screen. The right side restaurant has an oak-topped bar with 30-plus tile-walled draughts, several wood seats and a community table.

On my February ’24 Columbia brew trek, discovered five diverse draughts.

‘Steadfast classic ale,’ Loyally Blonde, escorted sour citrus musk, white peach stipend and dry Noble hop herbage to its mild rye wheat base.

Hopheads rejoiced the dry floral perfumed citrus sharpness and pungent bark-dried pine lacquering given extremely bitter nickel-cleared IPA, Chico & The Man Celebration, raising juniper-licked navel orange, yellow grapefruit rind and salted pineapple illusions atop sugary pale malted cookie dough base. 

Cinnamon-sticked vanilla sweetness elevated the powdered sugar cannoli pastry creaming and wintry nutmeg-ginger spicing contrasting the astringent hop phenols of Santa’s Little Helper Christmas Blonde, letting its lemony orange fizz prickle the nose in between.

A medium roast coffee overture invited debittered dark chocolate and tart cocoa powdering to Black patent malts for full-bodied porter, Working Class Hero, leaving walnut-charred burnt wood tones on the backend.

Creamy dark chocolate syruping coated milk-sugared coffee countering tarry hop char of full-bodied nightcap, Mr. Gorbachev ’24 Russian Imperial Stout.


   American Push Brewing Company at Frisco Taphouse


In the light industrial section of Columbia (blocks from Pub Dog Pizza & Drafthouse and ten miles south of Baltimore), FRISCO TAP & BREWHOUSE rules the roost with its awesome fifty rotating taps, four on-site homemade beers by PUSH AMERICAN BREWING and amazing pub fare. 

A pristine sportsbar atmosphere, conducive to a cocktail lounge, makes Frisco a fine choice for any high-minded beer-drinkin’ jock. At the prominent U-shaped oak bar (where eight TV’s and a blackboard beer list are located) my wife and I grab stools for a lunchtime visit, April ’13.

Along the tan and maroon walls of the high ceiling interior are several canvassed banners representing top-notch craft brewers such as Stone, Troegs, Lagunitas and Southern Tier. Local offerings by Dogfish Head, DuClaw, Evolution, Flying Dog, Old Dominion and Union Craft crowd the current tapped selection while many more fine chocies are available on both tap and in refrigerated bottles.

Before getting to the appealing house beers, we’re struck by the solid food menu. Manhattan Clam Chowder, goat-cheesed Arugula Salad and olive-oiled Hummus (with pine nuts and parsley) are outstanding. Pizza, sandwiches, burritos, fajitas and meat-fish entrees all look appetizing.

As for Push American Brewing, although their beers get hidden beside the fertile selection of local, national and international fare, each one deserves a chance. Weirdly beige-hazed Push 72 & Sunny Spring Wheat brought dry champagne grapes, lemon-candied spritz and clove-coriander spicing to a lime-salted white wheat finish (recalling a German Berliner Weiss).

Sessionable Push Gate Drop Pale Ale layered citric rind bittering atop herbal perfumed hops. A bit bitterer,  Push Hebrew Knievel Red I2PA brightened its red and pink grapefruit juicing with spiced peach-pear-apple illusions.

Before completing my meal, I get a pint of Push/ Heavy Seas collaboration, Thick As Thieves Porter. Its roasted dark chocolate entry and soy-milked coffee bittering allowed ancillary cola nut, toffee, molasses, vanilla, blackberry and cookie dough illusions to prosper.       



Pub Dog Pizza & Drafthouse - Columbia | Columbia, Maryland  Order Online! Pub Dog Pizza & Drafthouse - Columbia | Paytronix


Since the original PUB DOG PIZZA & DRAFTHOUSE in Baltimore’s historic Federal Hill section (shown above) didn’t open ‘til 5 PM as of this March 2012 sojourn through Maryland-Virginia, my wife and I headed a few miles southwest to the industrial-bound Columbia-based franchise an hour earlier on the Sunday trip back to Jersey.

Situated at the right corner of the white-topped, red brick-bottomed Lakeside Retail Mall in quaint suburbia, Pub Dog may be considered a pizza joint by foremost designation, but one step inside proves it more closely resembles a commodious public house. Hundreds of Grand Marnier bottles decorate the walls alongside maps and charts of dogs, verifying the assumption.

Opened in September ’07, six years after the initial Baltimore location began operations (but didn’t sell ‘house’ beers until ’07), Pub Dog’s clean black interior leads directly to the right side sportsbar, where three TV’s show different basketball games and a shuffleboard table keeps kids entertained. A small outside deck allows dogs to roam while their owners ironically quaff a few canine-designated ales.

Sitting at one of the twelve booths in the elevated left side dining area watching hockey and downing suds, I chomped on the Big Dog Salad, a red-peppered romaine lettuce with grilled chicken, smoked gouda and gorgonzola vinaigrette. My wife enjoyed Mr. Green Jean’s Pizza (with olive-oiled mozzerella, feta, spinach, tomato, mushroom and basil) while downing Peach Dog, a tart peach ale with blanched peach lacquering, washed-out stone fruiting, astringent hop bittering and tannic grape souring.

I countered with Blueberry Dog, an easygoing lacquered blueberry tonic with subsidiary cranberry, mulberry and quince hints over white wheat. More interesting was Belgian Blue Corn, a one-off hybrid tripel gathering lemony banana-clove tartness above sweet corn malts.

Before escaping, velvety Irish Stout, Black Dog, hit the spot (along with a courtesy shot of Grand Marnier). The soft-toned dark ale brought mellow coffee-roasted bittering to espresso-milked dark chocolate and toasted walnut.

On February ’24 revisit while staying at nearby Columbia hotel, enjoyed creamily mocha-bound Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, combining toffee-sugared brown chocolate with nutty cocoa powdered bittering above casual molasses oats.

Reviews of the bottled versions of Raspberry Dog, Brown Dog and Hoppy Dog are listed in the Beer Index.





Rocky Run Tap & Grill | Flickr

In a freestanding tan building with red-green trim inside Dobbin Square Mall five miles south of Ellicott City, Columbia’s ROCKY RUN TAP & GRILL had outside deck, rear dining, and glass door-separated sportsbar (with multiple NFL games on several TV’s, wall-strewn brewer’s posters-insignias, and extremely cool tap handles).

Visited November ’06, left side glass-encased brew tanks served menial fare to go with pub grub. Pale malt-softened cereal-oats-deferred mild-hopped Bar Wench Brew Golden Ale, tartly acidic citric-candied sorghum-neutered Maple Leaf Lemon Wheat, diacetyl cornmeal-biscuit-y Big Gut Pale Ale, and oily prune-fig-grape-fronted ice coffee-barren Brewhouse Barrel Stout were run of the mill. Try instead, honeyed caramel malt-y tranquility Mountie Red.