Sunday, March 29, 2009

Open: Pratt Street Ale House

I ran into Bill Oliver yesterday in downtown Baltimore, Maryland, at the Pratt Street Ale House.

Bill is one of the pioneers of the Maryland craft beer movement. In 1993, he opened the Wharf Rat brewpub in downtown Baltimore —Maryland's third brewpub since Prohibition. Bill got out of the game in October 2008 selling the Wharf Rat brewpub, but retaining the original non-brewing pub in Fells Point.

The new owners closed the Wharf Rat brewpub early in 2009 for renovations. After six weeks, they've reopened it as ... the Pratt Street Ale House.

Pratt Street Ale House

It's not dramatically different, but the ol' gal does look gussied up, airier, with new paint and gloss. (The bathrooms are clean!)

There are a total of 42 taps, most downstairs in the main pub, and the remainder upstairs. About 8 of the taps seem reserved for non-house beers. Located as it is across the street from the Convention Center, the pub probably needs to offer a few industrial lagers. I did see another Maryland brewery on tap —Frederick, Maryland's Flying Dog— but nothing from Baltimore neighbor Clipper City.

I had a draft Mad Monk, a dark 4%-ish mild ale, one of my favorites from Wharf Rat days. It tasted as good as it had ... as it should have. The brewing kit from the Wharf Rat remains in operation. And handling the brewing chores is Brewer Steve Jones, retained from the Wharf Rat.

One of the new owners, Justin Dvorkin, stopped by my barstool to say hello.

He was quick to reassure me —and by extension all Baltimore real ale fans— that the missing gorgeous beer engines were to be reinstalled next week. That's good news. Cask ale was one of the hallmarks of the brewery from its inception. [UPDATE Installed! 2009.04.07]

The pub is girding itself for baseball Opening Day, Monday 13 April. The Orioles' Camden Yards is just across the street. A grand re-opening with a full menu is a few weeks away.


  1. SUCH great news.

    I remember a few months ago, Alexander Mitchell ( had his doubts as to whether or not they'd actually re-open.

    Can't wait to check out the "new" joint pre-Opening Day.

    Thanks for the update.

  2. Actually, for the record, I never had any doubts as to whether they'd reopen, one way or the other. The worst I had was, for about one day or less last October, I knew the place had been sold but hadn't had a chance to interview the new owner, and what I said was I was uncertain whether the SPBW would have the place to use for its annual Real Ale Festival. I never had any doubt that the place was sold with the full intention of continuing brewing operation and functioning as a pub, but stranger things have happened. Note that we no longer have either an Old Dominion brewpub or an Old Dominion brewery in Ashburn anymore, in spite of the past proclamations of the then-new owners. You learn to take every pronouncement in this industry with several grains of salt, no matter how sincere they seem or well you know them, and whether or not you're drinking margaritas.

    It was apparently a bunch of other people--apparently primarily on BeerAdvocate--that started some rumors that the place was closing for good--just before the owners announced plans for remodeling--and for a while BeerAdvocate even listed the place as "closed" in their database. I remember receiving some confused and irate e-mails from several folks during that time, and had to get others to correct BeerAdvocate. Needless to say, I don't think I would mention that website around the current owners/management anytime soon...........


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