1173882_10201348953941952_1895230960_nThe kids are back in school, and weekends are now the time for your little craft beer adventures Last week I chatted up some great points to hit both south and west. This week we will be looking north and east. Sorry about not delving into Delaware or Maryland’s burgeoning craft seen out towards the Old Line State’s great beach front property, but then we’re talking two to three hour drives, and then you get into hotel stays and it’s no longer about heading out for the day. It’s about heading out for the weekend.

So, without more delay, here are this week’s three;

Baltimore – As far as beer towns go, Philly might be one of my favorites, if for no other reason than The Monk’s Cafe. However, Baltimore isn’t far behind in my book. There are a number of great craft beer destinations in and around the city which include places like The Pratt Street Ale House, Brewer’s Art, Union Craft Brewing (which had an impressive showing at the Great American Beer Festival last year) and a slew of others that there’s just not enough space to include. And that’s merely in city limits.

Out on the beltway there are a slew of other places serving and making quality craft beer. You can stop in for a tour of Heavy Seas, or grab a bite at the likes of Frisco’s Grill (50 taps), Ellicott Mills Brewing Company or even DuClaw.

Part of the beauty of Baltimore is that you can easily target one or two neighborhoods, or even decide that you’re going to plan a specific route, and still be able to come back on another day and hit a whole slew of destinations that you were unable to get to on that first day.

Harrisburg – This was a hard one. Typically when I hit Harrisburg, it involves hitting Hershey and/or Lancaster. It’s easy to do all three in one day, but for the sake of this column, I’m going wrap Hershey in with Harrisburg (it is, after all, only about 20 minutes away). Why include Hershey, one might ask. Well, quite simply due to the fact that the Troeg’s Brewery moved not long ago from Harrisburg into the old Hershey commissary. The new building will eventually allow for the Troeg’s Brothers to close to triple their production…oh, and you can get food while you’re there. For my money, not a bad addition to the Hershey property…chocolate and beer. What’s not to like.

Of course, in addition to Troeg’s, as you work your way back into the Keystone State’s Capital, you drive past a Lancaster Brewing Company brewpub, and in city limits you can enjoy beers at the Appalachian Brewing Company, or craft destinations like the Federal Taphouse, or Anthony’s. And like with Baltimore and DC, there are other locales to hit just off the beltway such as Millbock Brewing Company, or Al’s of Hampden, the pizza place with a hundred taps. Yeah, you read that right.

Lancaster – I have to admit, when I hit Lancaster, I seldom go anywhere but Iron Hill. The ideal combination of good food and good beer – and I’m usually going after I’ve been at one of the other destinations (like on my way home with the kids after a day at Hershey Park), but the small city in the bucolic countryside of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country has a whole lot more to offer. For example, there’s The Fridge.The Fridge is one of Lancaster’s great little secrets; flatbread pizzas, 10 rotating taps of craft beer, and over 400 bottles available for the hardcore beer geek, this is one of the locations that should be on anyone’s list when day tripping.

The small city boasts a Lancaster Brewing Company pub of their own, and a solid 10 other craft beer locales that I don’t have room to mention. Suffice it to say, it’s an ideal small city to spend the day in if you’re looking to satisfy your craft habit.

Local Happenings

I wanted to take a moment this week to give a teaser about next week’s column which will be a detailed preview of a couple of upcoming events being put on by our local brew-pubs. If you’re not heading out for one last summer hurrah for that unofficial close of the summer, that final three-day weekend that is Labor Day Weekend, then you might want to check out the happenings at Monocacy Brewing Company and Barley and Hops.

So, since I’m going to go into depth on both of these events next week, I’m just going to give you the basics.

A week from this Saturday Monocacy Brewing Company is presenting you with Bags and Beer – a team cornhole tournament to benefit a charity that works with victims of sexual violence. The down and dirty version: there’s beer, food and cornhole. For more details, go to http://www.monocacybrewingco.eventbrite.com/ or tune back in here next week.

Two days later, on Labor Day, Barley and Hops will be hosting Brew-a-Palooza in their parking lot. Brew-a-Palooza is a small little beer fest being held for the first time ever, and is slated to have over 60 beers poured from a variety of breweries. Again, you can stay tuned to this space next week or you can visit http://www.mdbrews-a-palooza.com/ for details.

Our locals are pretty adept at putting on some great events, so we’re probably looking at a pretty damn awesome weekend.

Tapped and Uncapped

For this week’s recommendation, I am taking a look at one of the better session IPA’s available…well, at least in my humble opinion. Over the years it seems like much of the brewing industry has been consumed with pushing the limits – more hops, higher ABV, more outrageous advertising – so much so that at times, nuance is forgotten in the forging of new beers.

So up pops a movement from some to create more sessionable beers. And that’s a hard thing.

It’s hard to go small without losing body, with keeping bold and complex flavors, but there are brewers that accomplish it (the Lunch Break series at Barley and Hops certainly qualifies, but that’s not what I’m discussing this week). It’s easy for these beers to be thin and uninteresting.

But St. Louis’ Schlafly brewing company has made a nice, medium bodied session IPA with a great hop aroma, a pleasant lemony note, and satisfying hop bitterness in the finish. Look for the light blue can (The Can Sessions). At 4.5 percent, you will be able to knock these back all day when you’re barbecuing with your friends and family this Labor Day weekend…assuming you don’t make it to any of the great events happening around Frederick.

Until next week, be well and drink good beer.