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CBoTB: A Brief Look at Baltimore’s Brewing History

Craft beer’s explosive popularity is being driven by people of all ages with one thing in common: a desire to drink amazing beer.  The tremendous variations on each style, by each brewer, has made the craft beer experience an incredible adventure.  Craft breweries have differentiated themselves from the large production national breweries because of the vast variety they offer and the complexity in the aroma and taste of these beers that are truly crafted. 

If we go back two hundred years, the beer world was much like what’s happening today with local breweries producing the beer that locals drank.  Two hundred years ago, right here in Baltimore, breweries were often starting out just the way today’s craft breweries are: making a few thousand barrels a year and then growing as the brewery’s popularity grew.

Baltimore has a rich brewing heritage, dating back to 1748, when the first brewery was established by John Leonard Barnitz at the corner of Hanover and Baltimore Streets.  Through the remainder of the 18th century and into the 19th and early 20th centuries, Baltimore and its breweries grew together.  The development of increasingly advanced brewing systems led to better and more consistent beer.  Some of the largest breweries from those years include the Baurenschmidt Brewery, the Eagle Brewery, and Frank Steil Brewing.  Then prohibition came along in 1919, ending the brewing of beer and closing almost every brewery in the city.  In 1933, prohibition was repealed and Baltimore’s brewing tradition was restored.  Globe, Gunther, American, and National Brewing—the brewers of the original National Bohemian—were big Baltimore brewers from the 30’s through the 60’s.  The 70’s and 80’s were quieter years as the large national breweries started to dominate brewing.  But the 90’s brought about change, as “microbreweries”, or what we now call craft breweries, began to open with Hugh Sisson’s Clipper City Brewing—now Heavy Seas Beer—leading the way.

To learn more about Baltimore’s history with beer pick up “Brewing in Baltimore” by Maureen O’Prey and “Baltimore Beer” by Rob Kasper.  Then sit down with your book and a delicious Baltimore craft beer and step into the past while you toast the renaissance in the brewing industry—today–in Baltimore.



The Craft Beer Guy




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