Maryland Avenue & State Circle Fall Festival


Even though I am a reformed city mouse who has said “Hell, no!” to flammable Metro cars or spending half a million dollars on what would probably be a 500-square-foot glorified closet in our Nation’s Capital, I do sometimes itch for the space of a city, where I can blend into the bustle of the sidewalks, thus avoiding running into people I know every day. Or to fall asleep to the soothing sounds of sirens and hipsters drunkenly wailing about the virtues of Fugazi on their stoops.

However, this past weekend was the annual Maryland Avenue and State Circle Fall Festival – an idyllic, laid back event that gave me a gentle reminder of why (and how much) I love the home we’ve made in Annapolis. We had lunch at Galway Bay. We caught the Eastport Oyster Boys jamming outside. We perused fun little shops, including my new favorite place, the Annapolis Bookstore, which has a fairy tale-like garden in the back.

We also ran into Andrew from Charm City Meadworks outside of Annebeth’s, pouring samples from their new, delicious draft mead line, including wildflower, basil lemongrass and elderberry. (My favorite was the basil lemongrass; Patrick preferred the wildflower.) But what struck me most about the encounter was something Andrew said:

“People don’t know how to drink mead.”

It’s a statement that’s been rolling around my noggin the past couple of days. He’s not wrong, and it makes me very excited to take a trip to Charm City Meadworks very soon.

Galway Bay & RAR Brewing’s Naptown Brown, An Exclusive Collaboration for Annapolis


As someone who used to live in the more fruitful beer market of Washington, D.C., – home of one of the best beer bars in the country, a number of awesome breweries and more than its fair share of high-profile events, like SAVOR – I find that what makes the Annapolis beer scene so special is its small town feel.

We may not be tripping over bars with hundreds of taps and expansive cellars, but each venue has its own distinct personality and point of view, both of which seems to come through with more clarity, since local bar managers have to make more informed and calculated choices due to lack of draft line real estate.

Down Main Street, DRY 85 is the cool kid on the block, always serving up something special, exclusive and unexpected from the American craft scene. Off Church Circle, 1747 Pub’s warm hospitality welcomes you with open arms, a cozy fireplace and a tap list that celebrates local favorites and imported classics. Take a trip up a bit further on West Street, Metropolitan’s boisterous, artful exterior acts as the gateway to what many consider the “Cheers of Murray Hill.”

But if you were to venture down Maryland Avenue off of State Circle, you’ll find yourself in front another one of our favorite haunts – Galway Bay Irish Restaurant and Pub. Typically I don’t go out of my way to advertise when we’re there. It’s our time to just relax and be, without the distractions of work or Netflix or bastard dogs who hatefully poop on our floors two minutes after we return from a walk.

Whether it’s a chilly December evening during Midnight Madness, or a sunny Summer day in June, you’ll often find us spending many a quiet afternoon or late night tucked away in a booth in the front bar of Galway. The wood paneling and rich interiors are as comforting as the food, and the beer flows readily into my always beckoning pint. It’s a place without affect that says, “Come as you are. Take a load off. We’ve got just the thing for what ails you.”

galway-bay-rar-naptown-brown-annapolis-brown-aleSo to say I was excited when I found out recently that they were releasing an exclusive collaboration brown ale with Cambridge, Maryland-based RAR Brewing called Naptown Brown would be a gross understatement. (Especially since the first time I ever had RAR Brewing was at Galway Bay last year. It’s fate.) Lucky for me, I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to sit down with Galway Bay owner Michael Galway, assistant manager Gary Brown, bartender Sean Brian Boylen and chef Kevin Duffy to talk about this exclusive collaboration.

Like the bar’s beer selection, which has changed over time with the thoughtful, patient introduction of craft beer, Duffy says a lot of what is happening with the local beer scene has been an evolution. “Thirty years ago, nobody was drinking anything other than regular yellow beer. Then a few of my St. John’s [College] buddies and I discovered Rams Head Tavern. They actually had beers from around the world. All of a sudden, I realized, ‘Wow. It doesn’t all taste the same. It’s not all boring.'”

“Now we have regulars come in and say, ‘Just give me whatever the new rotating tap is,'” Boylen shared, demonstrating the willingness of their patrons to try something new and adventurous, due of the level of trust Galway Bay has built in the community.

For them, however, it isn’t just about bringing in the most trendy or flash-in-the-pan brews with the craftiest labels – an easy trap to fall into, as the craft marketplace continues to expand. (Although I applaud how they served the Anderson Valley Gose not too long ago, a sometimes divisive style that many other Irish pubs might pass over for the sake of playing it safe with consumers.)

“It’s all about trying to bring in the best that we can and creating a unique experience,” Brown says. “We’ve been trying to drive it more local, as much we can. Which has been fun with all of the new breweries popping up. And with RAR [Brewing], they’re just blowing people away. Whenever we put one of their beers on, we sell right through it. People love them.”

Galway echoed his sentiment, sharing that collaborating with a local brewery was very important to them.

As we chatted away on that warm Friday afternoon, I realized the choice of the brown ale style suits Galway to a tee. Both remind me of that one guy (or gal) I’m sure we all know. They’re the one in a group of friends who seems to gets along with everyone. No one ever has anything bad to say about them, and they’re always pleasant and fun to be around. This symmetry makes the marriage of the brown ale and Galway Bay kind of perfect, because they both appeal to everyone in some fashion without sacrificing their own authenticity or quality. It’s a particularly admirable feat on both ends of the spectrum.

“We have a close community here, with regulars that we know by name, who we’ll sit and have lunch with, just to get to know them,” Brown shared. “It’s a great sense of community here, and it’s a similarity we noticed we shared with [RAR]. They would open these large shutters, and people would peek in to say hello. They would see someone across the street at the cigar shop, and they would know exactly what his order was. It was one of those driving moments, where we realized we wanted to work with someone like that, with the same sort of ideals that we do.”

Of the beer, Galway Bay family says the Naptown Brown is “lightly hopped, with notes of caramel and dry bitterness, all modest enough that you can drink this at any time of the day… perfect for a good pub session with your mates.” But Duffy is already dreaming up ways to take the Naptown Brown from pint to plate.

“I’m thinking about different things I might want to make with the beer. There are so many great options out there,” he says.

If you didn’t attend their Evolution beer dinner last year, then let me be the one to tell you that is a very good thing. What Duffy and his team pull off in the kitchen when beer is around is incredible and delicious – often elevated takes on comfort foods and classics – and that is still one of my favorite beer events from last year.

I haven’t had a chance to try this beer out for myself yet, but since I’m already a huge fan of Galway Bay and RAR Brewing – as well as the brown ale style itself – I’m more than ready to rock it out at the Naptown Brown release party tomorrow night (Thursday, September 10) at Galway Bay, starting at 6 p.mAnd I hope you’ll be there too, to try what is sure to be the collaborative ode to cultivating community that Annapolis has most definitely earned.

Why Is Nugget Mad at Me?


This is Nugget. She is very mad at me. Why is she mad at me on National Dog Day?


Because we’re a-hole dog parents who play Exploding Kittens from The Oatmeal on National Dog Day. Now you might be asking yourself (as Patrick just did of me), “Wouldn’t dogs want the kittens to explode?” This may be true, but I think she’d rather have the attention – and the pepperoni we have just out of reach on the table – instead.

Sorry, dog. You’re going to have to wait your turn.