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January 13, 2011

Review: Frisco Tap and Brew House in Columbia

PX00233_9.JPGColumbia's Frisco Tap and Brew House opened in December to what owner Adam Carton called "gangbusters" business.

The bar, which is located in a strip mall, is the new, larger home of Carton's Frisco Grille and Cantina, which remains open in Columbia as well*.

It's three times as big as the old location, has 30 more taps, and expanded parking.

Last week, I went to review it. Here's the top of the review:

The strip mall bar is maybe a rung below the outlet mall bar and just a couple of notches above a dive on U.S. 40.

From the outside, Columbia's newest watering hole, the Frisco Tap and Brew House, doesn't inspire much confidence. It's sandwiched between a furniture store and a BMW motorcycle showroom. At the end of the strip, there's a Batteries Plus.

Frisco looks handsome — wide windows and a tastefully designed facade — just the way a Chipotle can look handsome. But the first hint that this might not be your average, anonymous strip mall tenant is its name. This isn't just a casual carrier of taps, it's a taphouse; one might even say a small temple — a tap-ernacle, if you will.

The rest of the review is here. A video tour of the bar is below:

Video tour of Frisco Tap and Brew House, via:

Photo: Frisco Tap and Brew House (Colby Ware/Special to the Sun) *The old location closed in December, Carton confirms; due to a miscommunication, this post indicated otherwise earlier.

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Posted by Erik Maza at 11:52 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


Note: The old place is not open. It closed after Thanksgiving to move the equipment to the new place. And I don't remember a BMW motorcycle dealership? Are you thinking of where he stores his bike in the front window?

Not listing the price of each beer seems like a practice I would not like to support, seems sneaky and dis-honest.

I agree. The prices should be listed on beer lists Digital or blackboard. I'm sure the same people that think the "dime a drink" tax is OK because if you are worried about a dime maybe you should not be drinking craft beer, disagree with that.

Do you know why the site lists some bars and not others?

@sheila- I think that the bars have to pay to be a part of their website, something like $250 a year.

Regarding listing prices... they didn't list them at the old place either (for bottles or draft). That lack has been pointed out to them on a number of occasions (their prices are your typical Howard County, over the top expensive, and I've seen more than one patron surprised and more than a bit upset about his or her bill). In all fairness though, I'm not sure I can think of too many other beer bar type places in the Baltimore area that do this (Judge's Bench doesn't, Max's doesn't, the Metro doesn't, Victoria's doesn't, and to the best of my knowledge, neither does Mahaffey's). Alewife is the only place that comes readily to mind that lists their prices on the menu.

Don't get me wrong, I wish they would list their prices on their beer menu as well.... I'm just saying that apparently it's not all that uncommon not to list beer prices at beer bars in Baltimore (and the surrouding area).

JohnM's general point is correct about bars not listing their beer prices.

However, one slight correction, Victoria Gastro Pub does list its prices in its beer book (not online).

Almost no credible beer bar that has rotating taps in Maryland lists its beer prices, really. There's some logistical reasons for that, I don't necessarily think its a sneaky thing but a "only so much time in the day"/"by the time we print our literature with pricing the keg's already blown and we're onto the next cool new beer" thing.

Beer prices can be confounding for the casual beer drinker but I think most of us nerds have a general idea what most beers are going to cost us.

Cost complaints seem a bit overwrought anyway, outside of people who generally order Boh's or Miller Lite bottles or what have you (not making a judgment here), we all know there's a premium to be paid and its splitting hairs the extra dollar or maybe two per drink once you've made a commitment to enjoying the pricier drinks available.

Your general mixed drink or shot or craft beer or glass of wine is generally in the same price range from $4-$15 per depending on demand/hype/etc.

For the record, I'm all in favor of bars posting prices for their beers--full disclosure all the way, including alcohol percentages and actual ounces in your glass. But at the same time I can see the problems in some cases.

I've seen bars where the price of the drinks depends on whether the band is playing yet or not. Then there's "day-long happy hour on Tuesdays," or bars in the vicinity of the stadiums where the prices go up on game days.

But whatever the situation, I really want to avoid the situation where I bought a "pint" of a favorite import beer, one that I normally pay $2 each for in a retail store and expect to pay $5 for in a bar, paid with a $10 bill, and got back less than a dollar in change.........

"I really want to avoid the situation where I bought a "pint" of a favorite import beer, one that I normally pay $2 each for in a retail store and expect to pay $5 for in a bar, paid with a $10 bill, and got back less than a dollar in change........."

The answer is simple Alex. Stop spending any more over at Vitoria's Gastropub.

Cheers! :-)

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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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