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The majority of Maryland breweries are clustered in the central part of the state, between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. But if you want to get out of your comfort zone and visit some new breweries, here is your guide to western Maryland’s beer scene.
About an hour from D.C. and Baltimore, you’ll find a little hot spot of breweries in Frederick, Maryland. The reason most people might come to Frederick is to visit Flying Dog. Started in Aspen, Colorado, and transplanted to Frederick in 1994, Flying Dog has made a name for themselves with sometimes controversial beer names and labels with the artwork of Ralph Steadman, who also illustrated Hunter S. Thompson’s books. The taproom is open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons and evenings, and you can get a tour of the brewery or just enjoy one of 29 taps, including specialty beers offered nowhere else, like the nitro version of their bottled beers.
While you’re in town, you should also check out lesser-known breweries that have opened in the past few years. Just outside of downtown is Rockwell Brewery, which opened in 2017. In a strip mall, the brewery is unassuming but is making a name for itself as a great hangout spot with good beer, and their beer garden is dog-friendly. Another new place is just across the street, and like many breweries, it started as a home-brew passion project. Midnight Run Brewing is open Thursdays through Saturdays with a limited but eclectic selection of beers.
Monocacy Brewing Company opened in 2011 in an old ice cream factory in downtown Frederick. They brew and bottle beer, and on Thursday through Sunday, you can sample beers in the tasting room. On Saturdays, they offer tours of the brewing process. Also downtown is Brewer’s Alley Restaurant and Brewery, Frederick’s original brewpub. The space definitely feels like a pub, with lots of bar-area seating in a historic building. Stop by for lunch or dinner on your beer tour since they serve from lunch until late nightly.
In nearby Hagerstown, you’ll find the Antietam Brewery and Cushwa Brewing Company. Named for the Cushwa Basin where C&O Canal boats would turn around, Cushwa Brewing Company offers 12 beers on tap and light fare. Stop by on a weekend night and catch a local food truck and live music. Antietam Brewery is named for the famous Civil War battlefield nearby and loves incorporating history into the names and styles of their beers. In 2018, the brewery held their first inaugural 5K run and the beer mile, a grueling race where participants consume 12 ounces of beer (350 mL) every quarter mile (.4 km). For those who are less sports-inclined, the taproom is open from Thursday through Sunday, and it has a limited food menu.
If you’re out biking on the C&O Canal path, make sure you stop into Brunswick, Maryland, and the Smoketown Brewing Station, just minutes from the trail. Located in a former fire station, the brewery has 12 beers on tap that you can sample, have a full pint of, or take to go. While they don’t serve food, you can bring your own picnic.
All the way out in the farthest reaches of western Maryland, you’ll find the home-grown 1812 Brewery and the not-so-home-grown Mountain State Brewing Company. 1812 Brewery lies in a repurposed barn in a farm outside Cumberland, Maryland. Open Thursday through Sunday, this is the place to check out if you want to feel like you’re at a scenic winery, but drinking beer instead. Mountain State is actually a West Virginia creation, and the owners opened up a brewpub in Deep Creek Lake. The beers are classic and simple, and the wood-fired pizzas shouldn’t be missed.