Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Baltimore good beer man has died.

John Bates (of Baltimore Draft House)

To my Baltimore and Maryland readers: a good beer man has died. I'm saddened to report that the family of John Bates released this statement in the afternoon of 22 July 2017:
John passed peacefully today surrounded by family and loved ones listening to his favorite NOLA music. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. In John's honor, have a Sierra and listen to some Blues.

John Bates (on the left in the photo above; on the right, below) was the longtime publican of the Baltimore Taphouse. And many also remember his years, from the latter 1980s through the early aughts, behind the bar at Racers' Cafe, then one of the few places to find 'craft' beer in Baltimore County. As a longtime supporter and advocate for good beer —and local good beer— Mr. Bates introduced its pleasures to many. An all-around good guy, he was a real fan of the blues: he and his wife Kristen shared a passion for the music and city of New Orleans.

Sisson and Bates

In 2004, I reviewed Baltimore Taphouse on the former online beer review site Pubcrawler, a few weeks after the pub (then called Growlers) had opened:
If you've been to Baltimore's Racer's Cafe within the last 15½ years, you may have noticed one constant —bartender John Bates. John began at this northern Baltimore beer destination (and it's still there, thriving) back in the heady days of the late '80s. Difficult to overlook behind the bar, he was the gentle giant, always informative about the goings-on of the nascent and burgeoning local beer scene, and always a calming presence in the 'kettle'.

But past tense is inappropriate. Pushing the geographical boundaries of good beer in Bawlmer, a new beer friendly bar - Growlers Pub - has staked a claim to blue collar northern Canton. John Bates and his charming fiance, Kristen, have recently set up shop in a place of their own. They rehabbed an old neighborhood Patterson Park bar, rechristened it as Growlers Pub, and began serving at the end of February. There were two taps that day- Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and DeGroens Pils.

Since then, they've installed a sparkling new 10-tap system. Now there's Guinness, Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, Anchor Liberty, Olivers Irish Red, Clipper City Small Craft Warning, Sierra Nevada Pale, Victory Hop Devil, Brewer's Art Resurrection, and Dogfish Head Indian Brown. Many of the selections change weekly.

On the 10th tap is a, well, N.A.I.L., North American Industrial Lager. John hopes to wean the long-time locals off of it. Bottles include Belgians and, of course, Natty Boh, hon.

John Bates

A friend on Facebook thanked John for “all the happiness he has brought into others lives.” Which should be, after all, the real point of 'craft' beer.

For John and wife Kristen, in thanks, I shall indeed enjoy a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale AND listen to the Blues.

"A celebration of John’s life will take place on August 5, 2017, from 6PM-8PM at Racers' Cafe located at 7732 Harford Road, Parkville, Maryland 21234. In lieu of flowers or donations, John would most appreciate random acts of kindness."

  • A lovely appreciation from Steve Fogleman, former Baltimore City Liquor Board chairman: In Memoriam: Baltimore Taphouse owner John Bates.

  • I rewrote my post after its original publication due to the sad circumstance. It read, in part:
    To my Baltimore and Maryland readers: a good beer man needs your support.
    On Monday, 17 July 2017, John Bates experienced a severe allergic reaction that caused his throat and tongue to swell, ultimately cutting off his airway. Upon arrival to the ER via ambulance, John suffered oxygen loss during the intubation process and was placed in a medically induced coma. There have been complications impacting his breathing and brain activity that are preventing doctors from conducting needed assessments that will determine next steps and better define the best course of action.

    At this time John remains in grave condition. We will provide updates through Caring Bridge when new information is available. Doctors keep reinforcing that we need to understand this will take time. We are overwhelmed with the outpouring of support, prayers, and messages, all which bring comfort and keeps us focused on positive outcomes. Please continue to send love and good vibes our way.

    John Bates

    Get well, John, and soon.
    • Please consider offering Kristen and John love and support, via Caring Bridge.
    • Baltimore Taphouse website [Facebook].

  • For more from YFGF:

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