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December 15, 2009

The recession is official

hops innMy friends, it is with a heavy heart (and a spotted liver) that I give you this sad news: The price of a glass of Johnny Walker Blue at Hops Inn (7002 Railway Ave. in Dundalk) has tripled, from $3 to $9.

Blame the recession. Blame the demand. Blame whatever you will. But there's no escaping it.

These are tough times, when even the best bars must tighten their belts and hike up their prices.

Of course, the average price for a glass of Johnny Walker Blue is more than double that at most Baltimore bars. But still! 

Midnight Sunners Jmgiordano and Shankman stopped by Hops last weekend, and relayed the sad but expected news.

I mean, $3 glasses of JWB don't last forever, folks ...

I'm still leery of going back to Hops, because I had such an awesome, awesome time there last time, and I don't know if Hops could ever live up to itself ...

Our night at Hops for the original Dundalk bar tour was one of the best bar experiences I've ever had. It was mind-blowingly good.

Anyway, I would still recommend Hops to anyone who likes low-key county joints. I went back through the archives and dug up this bit from the Dundalk bar tour nightlife column, which originally ran in June 2008:

It's possibly one of the most random but welcoming bars I've ever been to. Hop's sits in the middle of a residential section of Dundalk on Railway Avenue. A list of the buildings on this street would read: house, house, house, Hop's, house, house. A big sign out front advertised "Bud On Tap," as if it were some novel thing, and I wondered just how long it had been there.

I'm glad Hops is still doing well -- even if the scotch has gone up a bit. In my humble opinion, it's still one of the best bars I've ever been to.

(Sorry for the lack of a scotch photo. I e-mailed Johnny Walker Blue, but they never got back to me. Huff.)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:08 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I'm assuming that someone didn't know the difference between JW Red and Blue- you can't get a glass of Black anywhere in town for less than 6 bucks let alone Blue

You know what they say about assuming, Tif. It was Blue, not Black.

yeah but I've seen it happen in bars many times- the bartender just hits the Johnnie Walker button and the price comes up. I'm not naming names but I had some friends swindle Ryleigh's out of an entire bottle of Green (I think?) b4 they realized they were charging for red. Kinda payback for the crappy service lol

Tif, dude, there was no "Johnny Walker button" at Hops Inn. The bottle was labeled on the back: $3.

wow that's a helluva promotion because at 25 shots a bottle $75 bucks is half the retail price of JWB. Maybe the liq reps tossed them a bottle

I paid $40 for a double at the Hyatt in Savannah. I was flush with "just married" cash at the time, so I can't really complain.

I guess I paid for the view of the river walk.

Waitaminute, waitaminute, let me get this straight:

There's a bar in Baltimore called Hops..... NOT part of the Florida crap-brewpub chain...... and, according to this beer list (, there isn't a damned "hoppy" beer to be found in that place to save your life or lupulins????

Fie on them!

Scene: Hops Inn, Friday night.

Baltimore Beer guru Alexander D. Mitchell IV is in Hops Inn in Dundalk.

Alexander: Barkeep! I'm looking for a hoppy beer.

Bartender: A what?

Alexander: A hoppy beer! Preferably, something aggressively hopped, liked Clipper City Loose Cannon IPA.

Bartender: What the hell are you talking about?

Alexander: Well, this place is called Hops, isn't it? Where are the Hops?

Bartender: Johnny! Reds! Give this smart-aleck what's comin' to him.

External shot of Hops Inn: Two old guys stand outside the bar, puffing on Marlboros. Suddenly, the door bursts open, and Alexander D. Mitchell IV is shoved out the door. He falls down the steps and lands on his rump, his hat crooked and little birdies circling his head.

I was distracted by the fact there are three other Alexander D. Mitchells

Speaking of strange reactions from bartenders, i once asked for a house cab and the bartender picked up the phone, dialed a number and said "they need the address to your house" I say who does? "the taxi service you asked for"

I was riding around Dundalk last night (checking out the best decorated houses for our Christmas light tour tomorrow night) and happened to catch a glimpse of the Hops Inn. It is indeed house, house, house, Hop's, house, house . Love Love Love Dundalk. :)

@ ADMIV: don't most all beers contain some hops?

Most beers--99.98% or so--contain at least some hops. The role of hops in general is to add both a bittering effect to counter the "sweetness" of malt (present even if all the sugars are fermented out), and a preservative effect that makes the beer last longer.

The question becomes whether the hops are even noticeable or not. Beer snobs joke that companies like Bud/Miller/Coors dangle a single hop cone into a tanker-truck load volume of their beer, lest any bitterness come through and "offend" the drinkers that claim to want "smooth" (i.e., uncomplicated, non-bitter) flavors--not that flavor's actually an issue if your beer's so cold it numbs the taste buds. The big beer companies DO add hops (or hop extracts) to their mass-production beers, but at what amounts to merely token levels.

The Hops Inn has absolutely NO beers on that menu with ANY hop character to them. If they want to just get a "token" hoppy beer, their best bet would be either Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or a local beer like Olivers, Clipper City, or Flying Dog/Wild Goose, all of which have a hoppy beer in their portfolios and for whom even their lighter, more pedestrian beers would be a step up in hoppiness. On the other hand, however, it's entirely possible the Hops customers have no interest in beers that actually have flavors, and care more about who advertises during Ravens games, who has a "Swedish Bikini Team" or weird dog mascot......

And BTW, Tif, the name "Alexander Mitchell" is such a stereotypical Scottish name that it would almost pass muster as a cliche, much like Amos Stoltzfus as an Amish name, or Josef Rutkowski as a Polish name, or Joshua Goldstein for a Jewish name.

I actually have a long and convoluted story about my name and the experiences with it that spanned three generations of "Alexander D. Mitchell"'s. Catch me with time to kill at a pub someday and I'll relate it to you.

maybe because Hopps INN is the name of the owner of the place, I grew up in the area and it is nothing more then it seems, don't make out that is is more, but it is a decent, friendly, out of the way place to disappear to and have a good time.

You grew up in the area, seem to know the place, yet you still added an extra "p" to the name? If the bar's name had that extra "p", half of this discussion wouldn't be going on........

I grew up next door to Hops the owner. His wife just passed away in 2008. He had three beautiful daughters. I still talk to them. Hops opened the bar with his brother, I know it was there in 1954 when I moved there. THe bar has never changed in years.

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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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