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February 3, 2011

Nacho Mama's taps one of the first kegs of Natty Boh in 15 years

On Thursday afternoon the cramped Canton bar Nacho Mama’s was jammed.

Inside the bar, which is decorated like a shrine to National Bohemian, there were more people than Mr. Boh logos on the walls. The waitresses had a hard time delivering their regular orders.

It wasn’t a flash-mob. The crowd, evenly split between young and rickety old-timers, was there to toast the tapping of one the first keg of Natty Boh in 15 years.

Last week, Boh owner Pabst Brewing Company announced it would start selling the beer on draft, which since 1996 had only been available in in bottles or in its iconic gold-on-white cans.

To mark the return, it organized eight official keg tapping events throughout the region, starting Thursday here in Fells Point and ending in Columbia on February 16.

Judie Mitchell, a 54-year-old nurse who grew up in Highlandtown when a six-pack of Boh would set her parents back a little over two bucks, said she came to celebrate the beer as much as her childhood.

“Every time I see Mr. Boh it reminds of the times that were. It’s comforting to see this coming back,” she said.

Boh, Baltimore’s beer of choice for centuries, had been locally owned until 1979, when it was sold off to the G. Heileman Brewing Company. In 1996, it even stopped being brewed locally. But throughout all that, it’s remained popular, and in the last five years, it’s enjoyed a revival, especially among young drinkers.

Pabst, under new management since last year, brought the beer back on draft to capitalize on that nostalgia and to expand its footprint in the region.

Initially, it had modest expectations for the product on draft. In October, it set an initial run of 300 kegs and pre-sold it to 80 locations in Maryland, said Rachel Warren, a Baltimore sales representative for Pabst.

But since then, the demand has overwhelmed them, Warren said. The company had to approve an shipment of 600 extra kegs this week just to satisfy the 80 locations it had pre-sold beer to.

(Mount Royal Tavern, which got three kegs Tuesday, was already down to one and a half by Thursday evening, said manager John Corun.)

“We never thought we’d need to do almost 1,000 kegs,” Warren said. “Hopefully 600 will be enough, but we have to play it by ear.”

Warren acknowledged it’s hard to tell if they’ll keep selling 900 kegs a month. “There’s always enthusiasm at first so we have to see how it shakes out,” she said.

Along with Mount Royal Tavern and Della Rose’s, Nacho Mama’s has long been a Boh stronghold in the city. Owner Patrick McCusker has decorated his bar with all the Boh memorabilia he’s been collecting for years.

The ceremonial tapping of the keg, which was actually hooked up to a kegerator, happened at 6 p.m. on the dot; the bells from a nearby church could almost be overheard over the crowd.

McCusker entered the bar, to the tune of “Ride of the Valkyries” and the cheers of the crowded bar, wearing a bulbous Mr. Boh head. One of his bartenders pulled the kegerator's lever, and the official first glass disappeared to the crowd.

Rusty Walters, a 25-year-old native who works in marketing, couldn’t even step inside the bar when he got there. The crowd was starting to spill out into the street. He said he didn’t start drinking the beer for the irony, or because it was because it was passed down through his family.

“I don’t know if it was my grandfather’s first beer,” he said. “I started drinking in college because it was cheap.”

But then it became a reminder of Baltimore. When he lived in Los Angeles, he and his friends used to have it shipped. “It’s not even about the taste,” he said. “It’s about drinking Natty Boh. It’s just Baltimore.”

Ron Hartman, 64, on the other hand, said he’d been drinking it since he was 21, when it was the beer of working-class families.

“Back then this was a very poor neighborhood,” he said. Now, he drinks it out of loyalty.

“At one point, we had a lot of beer in this town; there was Gunther, Hamms,” he said. “Ths is the only that survived.”

Even though it’s not brewed here anymore, it’s not owned by a local brewery, and this might have been described as a big, frothy promotional event for a beer magnate, Hartman doesn’t care. Boh is part of the city’s heritage.

“It’s us,” he said.

A video of the keg tapping and a gallery of photos from Nacho Mama's will be posted later today. Update: Video is here, photos are here.

Photo:  Nacho Mama's bartender Delaware Dave serves up Natty Boh drafts to the crowd.(Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun)

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Posted by Erik Maza at 8:11 PM | | Comments (30)
Categories: News


Who the hell cares? its cheap beer, and it tastes terrible. why did u waste your time on this article? ill never get my 3 minutes back i spent reading this.

is there nothing else to report on? something worth-while.

Natty boh is used to induce vomit, usually in an emergency room somewhere...why does this place want people to vomit...when that stupid natty boh guy winks it is because he is sayig, "F you, you are drinking my piss."

A lot of people care, hence it being sold out already. Go back to Pittsburg and drink your crap IC. Loser. True Baltimore cares about Boh. Great Article!

I'll go back to pittsburgh ...probably to celebrate another super bowl...i guess true baltimore likes losing ....and crappy beer

Nacho Mama's is not in Fells Point, its on the Canton Square. Kind of ironic that an article about an iconic Baltimore beer manages to confuse 2 of Baltimore's most well known neighborhoods.

Riptide By The Bay had it on tap Tuesday....get with it.

its not simply about the taste or quality of the beer, people. its what it used to represent to this city. its more of a nostalgic thing than anything else. when i come home from work and see that huge natty boh neon head winking at me it makes me feel better evertime. and actually its really not a terrible beer if you compare it to all the other mass produced light beers that are consumed in the same fashion... to drink mass quanties of, not for savoring its taste.

@ Packers are going to kick your tails in...enjoy it while it lasts......."bartender, an IC light for this man".... :-)

It was a great idea to cover this, I enjoyed reading it. I'm not sure why some people on this blog have so much rage.

It appears you do seeing that you took the time to read it AND the time to comment. By the way, it took you 3 minutes to read this short article!? Yea, I would say you have nothing better to do!

I have no issue with Natty Boh coverage - but the do 3-4 articles while not even attempting to cover the various super bowl events around town is a bit strange

I like complex, tasteful beers as much as the next guy, but it's good to have a "baseline" light beer to sip when you don't want to down 7%-10% beers all night, or you're eating heavy food, or all I got is $3 in my pocket, or just want something light in general.

I mean, the kegs just didn't happen on a whim. There was overwhelming demand from bars who serve thousands of Bohs up in can and bottle form up. People want it, so you gives the people what they want.

I got to admit that I like Natty Boh. It is cheap, has a good taste and I dig it. Have one at Nacho Mama's with some of their no bean chili..... now thats living. why don't you go back to Pittsburgh and order another hoagie with french fries and mozzarella sticks on it. Watching an at-home Steelers game is like watching a casting call for The Biggest Loser. You guys could use some more light beers in that city!

@KGN801 whoa- hoagies are all ours don't confuse us with the city 500 miles away- they put fries on their sandwhiches or submarines or whatever they call them over at the 'O'

I'm as much of a beer geek as anyone, but there's no use trying to piss on a Natty Boh fan's parade. Everyone has their own tastes and preferences. No need to knock someone for theirs. Like folks have said, it's cheap and has some history. No one actually claims it tastes good! Let the Boh fans have fun with this.

That is not orginal Boh. Original Boh could be bought in any corner bar in Baltimore for $0.50 an 8 ounce glass. This is yuppie swill sold for $6 a glass at some overpriced Canton bar.

I've been to a game in Pittsburgh and I can must say it really is like an over-eaters support group exploded in a Wal-Mart - with scarier looking women

nacho mamas tapped our first keg at 6 pm and we finished the fourth fourth at 7:45 pm Thats 62 gallons in 105 minutes Thanks to everyone who had a great time with us. The yuppie swill was LESS THAN TWO BUCKS FOR A 16OZ glass.

nacho mamas tapped our first keg at 6 pm and we finished the fourth fourth at 7:45 pm Thats 62 gallons in 105 minutes Thanks to everyone who had a great time with us. The yuppie swill was LESS THAN TWO BUCKS FOR A 16OZ glass.

The only people that are excited about Natty Boh on tap are trendy douche bags that live in Fell Point, Canton, etc. that have a "I Heart City Life" bumper sticker on their car. First of all, Nattry Boh is the mos god-awful tasting crap around. Second, why don't you I Heart city lifers go down to North Avenue and tell you me how much you heart city life then. You frickin' posers!!!

Nacho Mama's is on O'Donnell Square, not Canton Square. Get it right glsever before you snark.

Somewhere in the greater Baltimore area John O'Donovan Gilman class of 1979 smiles.

Im from Pittsburgh and I will tell you that Iron City is terrible. Anyone who says other wise is a moron. IC Light on the other hand is pretty good and very comparable to Natty Boh in flavor and color. As far as the "yuppie swill" goes I'm a fan. I'll be joining the rest of the yuppies this evening for a cold one.

@ Neal

You are an idiot.

NO where sells Boh for $6 a glass or 12 oz bottle, or even close to that. Everyone knows its a cheap beer that is just for getting your buzz on, its not yuppie swill, its just swill. Cheap swill. No one claims its a great tasting beer. Its cheap, its got history here and it's fun. All you negative nancies calling this whole thing stupid are pretty ignorant. I love good local micro beer, its all I order. And I hate macrobeer and its clamoring to take every available space in the beer cooler at the store, pushing out small business'. But you know what? Natty Boh isn't that. It is fun and part of Baltimroe(whether its still brewed here or not) so get off your high horse and ill buy you a draft, because its cheap, and I ain't buying you a rezzie.

Thanks DE Dave, Sean, Meghan Pat and all the crew@ Nacho Mommas!! That was true Baltimore last night! 4get the few negatives on here. They obviously have no clue on things that make Baltimore 1 of the coolest cities that we all know it is! Can't wait 2 get back to our seats @the bar n enjoy some more Nattys on draft & best Mexican food!!!

This isnt twitter, please use words.

Erik / The Midnight Sun beating us over the head with this Natty Boh garbage would be like Richard Gorelick (Baltimore Sun's Dining @ Large) raving for a week about a Burger King 2 for 1 Whopper special.

But why stop there?

All Baltimoreans should root for the Colts next year!!!!!

@ Baltimoron

Completely agree with you. NB isn't my cup of tea and that's not going to change any time soon, but if others enjoy it and are having a good time with a "blast from the past," where's the harm in that?

I honestly do not understand why this should bother anyone.

Hey be "donk" a duh, that is super what? Really that is a complete crap on the city I love! Natty boh is what it is and we love it for that and root for the colts are you for real, the ravens all the way baby. If you know anything about this city? We love our teams even if they aren't that good (at all)!!! I live in va and still come home all the time, it's like that. That is is what it is to be a true baltimorian!!

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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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