by Kevin M. Smith

I love movies. Like, I mean really love movies. And I think it’s no secret that I love beer – so, when I heard that the people behind the Warehouse Tap Room in Hagerstown were taking over the space that was once the Hoyt Cinema at the Fredericktowne Mall, I’ll admit I was a little excited. I managed to get out there this past Friday.

I enjoyed my experience, but it doesn’t come without some caveats.

I’m going to start with the bad – bad being a relative term. Unlike the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, the Warehouse does not feature seat-side, in-theater service. This means that anyone who has ordered one of the meal options, and drinks has to leave the cinema should they require a refill on their beer, spirits, or wine. Additionally, it means that the customer needs to decide on a dessert option while ordering dinner, if they do not want to interrupt their movie.

The kitchen was reasonably quick in turning around the ordered items, but it should be noted that there was not a big crowd, so it’s difficult to say what it will be like when the kitchen is inundated with orders.

Onto the good…

The Warehouse powers that be did an admirable job of going into the old Hoyt Cinemas space, gutting it, and repurposing it for their tap-house cinema. I love that they embrace the name, and utilize doors from cargo crates throughout, and the lobby space is clean, well appointed, roomy, and includes ample seating near the bar. I got there about an hour before showtime, ordered the pretzel bites with beer cheese, and grabbed myself a Queen of Swords by Olde Mother from the wall of taps.

Both the wall of taps, and the bar at which one can order a variety of cocktails, include a broad selection of locally produced beers and spirits. While I expect the taps to rotate, currently 19 of the 32 taps are Maryland-made beer, and 14 Maryland breweries, including Idiom, Rockwell, and Flying Dog, are represented – providing customers with both a wide variety of styles to choose from, and a number of different breweries to try.

It’s an interesting system – you load a card with the money you wish to spend on beer, select your tap, slip the card in a slot in front of the your beer of choice, One of the nice features about the tap system is that you can pour by the ounce, allowing for the ability to sample a variety of beers, or to adjust your pour so that you can have a half pour, full pour, or what have you.

The snack bar has the traditional movie-fare; popcorn, candy, and soda – but it’s currently also serving flatbread pizzas, and there will be other menu items, such as a variety of grilled cheeses, as the kitchen gets up to speed. While the flatbread pizza’s aren’t going to make anyone forget about Pistarro’s, or Toppings, they were solid – of course, I am admittedly a sucker for bacon, and the Love Boat has chicken, bacon, and pepperoni. The food is certainly not gourmet, but it is an enjoyable bit of pub grub.

A nice little option the theater is currently playing a mix of new releases (tickets range between $11.00 and $16.00 depending on movie and day), and second run (tickets are $5.00 per). I stopped in this past weekend to catch a showing of Jurassic Park. In addition to new releases like Tenet, The New Mutants, and Unhinged, this weekend Frederick-area movie-goers can look forward to watching the likes of The Empire Strikes Back, Jaws, The Goonies, and The Big Lebowski on the big screen from the comfy leather recliners.

Personally, I definitely thought that it was worth the cost of admission, and plan on dropping by again sometimer soon.