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April 15, 2009

It's not enough to have a fancy wine list anymore

good beerPicture this: You're at a fancy downtown steakhouse. One of those chain joints.

The waiter brings you the drink list, and on it, you see tons of wine, tons of scotch and tons of post-dinner liqueurs. Lovely stuff.

But what if you want a beer? What if you want a good beer? And not just some standard like Heinekin or even Sierra Nevada.

Chances are, the fancy downtown steakhouse is not going to have a big beer list. 

And that, gang, is not acceptable ...

When I toured Clipper City's brewery, our guide said this is the "golden age of craft breweries."

So shouldn't you be able to choose from a big wine list AND and big beer list at fancy steakhouses? I want to see local options as well as national favorites.

I'll bet more and more guys my age would want a hoppy IPA or a robust stout with our fancy steaks.

Something, dear readers, needs to be done. And quick.

(Sun archive photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:30 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I agree, though there are some places with a decent draft/bottle list to compliment your fine dining options. However, Jack's Bistro and Brewer's Art are exceptions to the standard that is found at all the restaurants in the area.

good call. couldn't agree more.

then again i am not usually one to frequent fancy steakhouses....but maybe i would be more likely to if they had good beer.


That's the ultimate dream Sam.

Sure there are plenty of great downtown bars with a wide variety of quality beer to choose from. But restaurants? Completely different story. And like you said, THAT needs to change. The sooner, the better please :)

Um, Outback has plenty of fine brews. Get your facts straight, reporter. This is why the Sun is failing...slipshod nonsense!

Those places are definitely few and far between.

One concept I liked, haven't visited yet but sounds great is like the District Chophouse (I think thats the name) in D.C.

Brews their own beer, mostly standards but they have an experimental tap as well, at a fancy steak joint.

I think it would be wise for places like Pazo etc. to hop on the high end beer train, purchase a beer fridge or two and stock some fancy Belgians, or run nothing but Trappist beers, or just run the gamut from IPAs to Stouts, perhaps have a local theme, or just stock big beers that have similar alcoholic weight to wine (all the imperial beers out nowadays) or even just the boozy after-dinner, wine-like beers like quads and barleywines.

Outback is upscale? Nah I don't think so. It's nice, but not upscale.

baltimore beer guy, I've been to the Chophouse. It's great! Solid beer selection, as well as excellent onion rings. Our server bet my friend a pint that he couldn't drink the beer sampler and eat his dinner and the onion rings. My friend enjoyed his free pint.

Rayray, JTK was joking. You can't take him seriously. Not no way, not no how.

I'll be enjoying a fine Miller Lite with my Bloomin' Onion why you guys figure this out.

Sam, couldn't agree more. My boyfriend's birthday is on Sunday and we wanted to go to a place with great steaks and good craft brews. Shouldn't be this hard to find.

I agree Sam, but it's definitely better than it was 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. Now you can pretty much assume that when you go out to a restaurant they'll have at least one decent (non-swill) beer. That certainly hasn't always been the case, and it used to really tick me off.

Oh, and to all beer-friendly restaurant owners who might be reading this: please stop overdoing it with the Belgians already! One or two on the menu will suffice. There are so many great regionally produced aperitif and desert beers out there, I just don't get the fascination with sticking 10 different Belgians on the beer list and neglecting everything else.

The District Chophouse Bourbon Stout is awesome, and is a perfect desert beer!

"You're at a fancy downtown steakhouse. One of those chain joints."

one of many good reasons not to go to one of those upscale chains. get a better steak, more creative food, and better beer at places like Jack's, Annabel Lee, Miss Irene's, etc.


Dave, I don't know about that, man. I've had some pretty good steaks downtown.

Who needs fancy smachy or corporate chain atmosphere? Steak night (Tuesday) at Mahaffey's is all you need. They got a couple of beers on the menu that will go with their NY strip.

Man, the Bourbon Stout at District Chophouse is one of the best beers I've ever tasted. Grab one before a hockey game or concert at the arena down there. Mmmmm!

The Saranac bar at the Albany airport suggested in the menu which Saranac beers went best with your food. I totally loved that. There was something great about knowing that my (delicious) personal cheese and personal pepperoni pizzas deserved different beers.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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