Food

7 Waterfront Towns to Visit for Their Microbreweries

Sampling the Nation's Best Microbreweries by Boat

By
Doug
Simmons

With many pleasure boaters planning trips around interests like top-flight golf courses, gourmet restaurants and dazzling fall foliage, is it so far fetched that, for some, craft brews and breweries can be a destination unto themselves? Not in our book. Here are 11 sudstastic towns to add to your personal booze cruise itinerary. Just remember to enjoy responsibly.

Portland, Maine

Already known for its classic New England water-town feel and fresh-as it-gets seafood, Portland is making a case as a must for traveling libationists. Its D.L. Geary Brewing was founded in 1983, when there were only a handful of microbreweries in the U.S. Since that time, 13 startups have joined the local ranks. Take a tour and quaff a pint at Allagash Brewing Company, which favors a Belgian style, or venture into Portland's historic Old Port and visit Sebago Brewing Co. or Shipyard Brewing. Rising Tide Brewing Company in the East Bayside neighborhood produces Daymark American Pale Ale, recently named one of the Great Beers You've Never Heard Of  by Men's Journal. Dock at DiMillos Old Port Marina.

New York, New York

With so much else to see and do here, it would be easy to dismiss New York as a humdrum craft beer destination. That would be a mistake. The Big Apple is home to some of the best beer bars drop in at the Blind Tiger or Rattle N Hum for amazing pours from around the world and also has some champion breweries. Brooklyn Brewery didn't just capitalize on a name; it's brewed right in the borough, so you can visit for a tour and a taste. Sixpoint Brewery is nearby, canning four core beers in addition to a series of super-rare brews that are made one time only. Ale addicts flock to Bronx Brewery's backyard on warm days to enjoy four year-round and four seasonal beers. Dock at MarineMax at Chelsea Piers, North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place or in Jersey City at Liberty Landing Marina.

Baltimore, Maryland

The second largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic, and at one time a major manufacturing center, Baltimore has always been a hardworking town. Many of the microbreweries here reflect that history and character in their names Union Craft Brewing, Heavy Seas Brewery, Public Works Ale and manifest the idea that first you work hard, then play hard. Full Tilt Brewing has the mouth-watering Berger Cookie Chocolate Stout and Patterson Pumpkin. (It's website asks: Why do something half-assed when you can go Full Tilt?) Stillwater Artisanal seems to agree, offering bold creations like Rauchstar Scandinavian Smoked Ale, Classique Postmodern Beer and Gose Gone Wild Sour Wheat Ale. Dock at Crescent Marina at Fells Point, Henderson's Wharf Marina, Harbor East Marina or at any of the Baltimore Marine Centers.

Jacksonville, Florida

Ideally positioned at the confluence of the St. Johns River, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean,with 22 miles of white-sand beaches, Jacksonville is already a boater's dream come true. So, what if I told you there was also this thing called the Jax Ale Trail? Bingo! Pick up your brewery passport at any of the participating locations and wineither a koozie or a t-shirt by getting stamps at four or all eight of the designated stops. Breweries include Aardwolf Brewing Company, Bold City Brewery, Engine 15 Brewing Co., Green Room Brewing, Intuition Ale Works, Pinglehead Brewing Company, Veterans United Craft Brewery and Zeta Brewing Company. Visit the local Budweiser Brewery, one of only five in the country, for extra credit. Dock at Fort George Island Marina, or River City Brewing.

Tampa, Florida

Beer Advocate magazine lists a dozen breweries in the Tampa area, adding to an array of enviable local attractions such as world-class beaches, seafood, sunshine and citrus. Cigar City Brewing is probably the most well known in town, with five Great American Beer Festival medals to its name. It also offers fresh rolled cigars for a great one-two punch. Tampa Bay Brewing Company has an open-air patio and house beers that include Red Eye Amber Ale, a Best Florida Beer Championships Gold Medal Winner in 2015. Other popular suds purveyors include Dunedin Brewery, the oldest microbrewery in Florida, and Three Palms Brewing, which brews 82 beers throughout the year. Dock at Tampa Harbour or Tampa Marriott Waterside Resort & Marina.

New Orleans, Louisiana

The Big Easy is a city bursting at the seams with heat and flavor, and a cold brew here goes down effortlessly, almost magically. The largest, and arguably best, homegrown label is Abita. Abita Brew Pub lets you sample draught versions of all its offerings Amber, Turbodog, Jockamo IPA, Purple Haze and more as well as select seasonal batches. Other breweries are up and coming after the town's long tradition of beer brewing almost died out after Prohibition. Covington Brewhouse specializes in Bavarian styles. NOLA Brewing Company offers a selection of lagers and ales. Crescent City Brewhouse is the sole French Quarter microbrewery. Dock at Orleans Marina or Seabrook Harbor & Marine.

San Diego, California

If you like your India Pale Ale (IPA), and we do, then this Southern California hop spot is for you. San Diego boasts more than 50 breweries, and has been a haven for grog guzzlers since Prohibition, thanks to its proximity to Tijuana, Mexico, where booze was legal. These days, it has its own style of beer the San Diego Pale Ale; a local twist on the IPA as well as some great Belgians. You can get your drink on at nautical-sounding places like 32 North Brewing Co., Ballast Point Brewing, Green Flash Brewing and Oceanside Ale Works. Brewery Tours of San Diego offers daily excursions showcasing some of the award-winning beers produced locally. Dock at Cabrillo Isle Marina or Kona Kai Marina.

Seattle, Washington

The multitude of breweries dotting the map in the Puget Sound area is staggering even before you start imbibing. So why not leave the planning and transportation to the knowledgeable guides of Road Dog's Seattle Brewery Tour? Book one or more seats on a three-hour join-in and visit breweries in downtown Seattle, as well as neighboring communities, such as Ballard, Fremont, SODO and West Seattle. Each tour stops at three locations, including places like Bad Jimmy's Brewing Company, aptly named because it only brews intense ales; nothing less than 6% alcohol by volume, Georgetown Brewing Company, the second most productive in the state, and Hales Ales Brewery, one of the true granddaddies of craft beer. Dock at Bell Harbor Marina or Shilshole Bay Marina.

Louisville, Kentucky

Move over bourbon, there's a new favorite drink in town. Not only does this river city have 10 breweries 12 if you count two more right across the Ohio in Jeffersonville, Indiana it will be adding four more in 2015, according to the devotee website LouisvilleBeer.com. Falls City Beer has been a Louisville tradition since 1905, when the brewery first opened. After closing its doors in 1978, the brand was revived in 2010 with a craft-brewed English Pale Ale. Cumberland Brews has a beer list that includes Red Ale, Cream Ale, Nitro Porter, Meade and Pale Ale, plus rotating small-batch beers. New Albanian Brewing Company is noteworthy for its innovative brews as well as its distinct names and label artwork such as, Bonfire of the Valkyries Smoked Black Lager. Dock at RiverPark Place Marina.

Cleveland, Ohio

As the song goes, Cleveland rocks! And we think that nothing goes better with rock than a nice cold local brew. Nationally respected Great Lakes Brewing produces close to 100 beers, from stout to porter, weizen to bitter, bock to rye, and pilsner to ale. Nano Brew Cleveland and Market Garden Brewery are also highlights, with Fat Head's Brewery serving up its award-winning Head Hunter Indian Pale Ale alongside munchies, sandwiches and pizza. Cleveland Brew Bus will pick you up and drop you off after tastings at three or four stops, all the while filling your head with fun facts about craft beer styles, Cleveland brewing history and background on the breweries you visit. Dock at Olde River Yacht Club.

Toronto, Canada

Microbreweries in this metropolis used to be hard to come by, but the success of the labels Mill Street and Steam Whistle has led to a thriving craft beer culture. Fans of diverse flavors flock to Great Lakes Brewery, the oldest independent brewer in town. It produces five year-round lagers and ales, plus more than a dozen limited release beers, from Saison Dupump to Long Dong Pilsner. Black Oak Brewing Co. offers four perennial brews Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale and Ten Bitter Years Imperial IPA all of which have won Canadian Brewing Awards. Indie Ale House in The Junction neighborhood serves hard-to-find ales like Belgian Sour and Double IPA, for the true beeroisseur. Dock at Island Yacht Club or Toronto Island Marina.

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Chesapeake Seafood Houses
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Meet newcomers to the Bay’s waterfront dock-and-dine scene

If the pandemic hampered your travels and you haven’t cruised into the Chesapeake Bay for a while, then welcome back to its sunny shores. While you were away, the oyster and striped bass populations blossomed, and blue crabs grew plump in the shallow marshlands. 

During the past few years, quite a few new restaurants have opened and tapped into the cornucopia of fine local seafood.  Some innovative chefs grace plates with creative flavors and ingredients, while others take a traditional path with family recipes handed down for generations by watermen’s wives. Many concoct ways to consume invasive species, such as the blue catfish and northern snakehead, but eateries that nail up a sign declaring “Steamed Maryland Crabs!” attract the most attention.

To help you rediscover the bounty of the Bay, Marinalife has handpicked 10 terrific crab shacks and seafood houses for you to explore.

Maryland

Bowleys on the Bay Bar & Restaurant
Middle River, MD

For a tropical getaway without long-distance travel, Bowleys on the Bay has created a resort destination groove on Frog Mortar Creek in Baltimore County. Push your toes into the sand on 300 feet of beach surrounded by palm trees while sipping a rummy cocktail and listening to a steel drum band. You can watch boats glide into Long Beach Marina or see planes take flight at Martin State Airport as you nibble on fresh local seafood, hearty sandwiches, and meat dishes.

Where to Dock:  Long Beach Marina

The Choptank
Baltimore, MD

In the heart of the historic Fells Point district, The Choptank has risen from the foundation of the 200-year-old Broadway Market. Its menu reads like a culinary voyage around the Chesapeake Bay with steamed crabs, just-shucked oysters, steamed mussels, crab soup and fried chicken. On the spacious outdoor deck, sample 20 draft beers while live bands play tunes, and the stars twinkle above the urban skyline.

Where to Dock:  The Sagamore Pendry Hotel & Dock

Watershed

Baltimore, MD

It’s hard to say what Baltimore loves more — seafood or sports. But if you’d like to indulge in both, head over to Watershed in the Federal Hill neighborhood, which is in easy walking distance from Orioles Park and the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium. A menu laced with classic dishes harvested from the Chesapeake waters entices you to pick a dozen steamed crabs or slurp fresh local oysters while watching games on big-screen TVs. Located in the newly remodeled Cross Street Market, you can belly up to the long wooden bar on the main floor and wash down a platter of Old Bay wings with a cold Natty Boh. Or step up to the roof deck to watch the bustle below on South Charles Street with an orange crush in hand. A casual vibe and live music create an upbeat place to hang out with friends.

Where to Dock: Inner Harbor Marina

Latitude 38 Waterfront Dining
Annapolis, MD

Where the Severn River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, you can order local seafood with a view of boats cruising into Ego Alley, the showplace for vessels visiting Maryland’s state capital. With the new Upper Deck Bar and plenty of event space, this waterfront eatery accommodates groups of all sizes. Take your pick of regional favorites from crab cakes and peel-and-eat shrimp to herb-crusted rockfish and oysters Rockefeller. Chicken, beef and bourbon meat loaf ensure carnivores won’t go hungry.

Where to Dock:  Annapolis Town Dock

Marker Five
Tilghman, MD

Every visit to the Bay’s Eastern Shore holds the promise of exceptional seafood along unforgettable waterfronts. From Marker Five’s outdoor patio, you can watch watermen chug along Knapp’s Narrows and marvel as the Tilghman Island Drawbridge rises to let boats pass through. Eagles soar overhead while you peruse the menu of classic Chesapeake fare.  It’s almost impossible to resist starters such as Maryland crab soup or smoked corn and crab fritters, and your first bite of pulled pork, buttermilk fried chicken biscuit or pan-fried monkfish will delight your tastebuds.

Where to Dock:  Knapp’s Narrows Marina & Inn

Virginia

Portside Grill on Urbanna Creek
Urbanna, VA

Located in the heart of Virginia’s oyster-growing region, this family-owned and pet-friendly restaurant specializes in taking local seafood from the water to the table. At Urbanna’s only waterfront eatery, you can tie up along the bulkhead and kick back on the patio for casual dining with a spectacular view.  Crab tots and fresh oysters will whet your appetite for a Southern style meal of crab cakes, shrimp and grits, and chicken stuffed with Smithfield ham and goat cheese.

Where to Dock:  Regatta Point Yachting Center

Deltaville Tap & Raw Bar
Deltaville, VA

In a charming cove along Jackson Creek where the Piankatank River flows into the Bay, you’ll find a seafood eatery with an energetic vibe, live music and a nice sampling of craft brews and cocktails. The expansive view from the back deck matches the extensive list of dishes on the menu.  Highlights include hush puppies packed with crab and corn, Jonah crab claws, shucked oysters, and Lowcountry boils with crawfish, shrimp and other local catch. Try to leave room for dessert favorites: deluxe peanut butter pie or raspberry cheesecake.

Where to Dock:  Deltaville Yachting Center

The Surry Seafood Company
Surry, VA

A leisurely cruise up the James River to Gray’s Creek will deliver you to a seafood-centric destination where you can dock, dine and decompress.  Surry’s chefs present delicacies from the local waters such as golden fried oysters, bacon-wrapped salmon and flounder stuffed with crab imperial. If the serene view of the grassy marshlands makes you want to linger longer, spacious hotel suites are available above the restaurant. Boater bonuses: 45 new floating docks, fuel, ship store and bathhouse.

Where to Dock:  The Marina at Smithfield Station

Longboards at East Beach

Norfolk, VA

The green bamboo shoots on the menu’s border give a clue that this restaurant is blessed with a touch of tiki.  While seafood standards remain popular — she-crab soup, cod fish and chips, and Old Bay wings — Longboards also takes you on a culinary journey to Polynesia to taste Hawaiian-inspired dishes such as Singapore shrimp with veggies and Waikiki wings. Enjoy the restaurant’s upbeat atmosphere and stellar sunsets at the marina.

Where to Dock:  Morningstar Marinas at Little Creek

Stripers Waterside
Norfolk, VA

The bustle of Norfolk’s recently renovated Waterside District is attracting newcomers from along the Atlantic seaboard. Among the new eateries is Stripers, a seafood haven from the Outer Banks that features 30 beers on tap and a panoramic view of the Elizabeth River. Take a seat on the patio and savor dishes made from scratch, from clams and cod to mussels and shrimp.  After a hearty meal, explore the area’s attractions and nightlife.

Where to Dock: Ocean Yacht Marina or Tidewater Yacht Marina

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Cappy’s Crabs & the Chesapeake Feast
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My grandfather Cappy’s love of the water started with visits to his cousins’ house on the Potomac River. He was 14 when he built his first boat from a mail-order kit. Some of his fondest early memories on the water were the fishing charters his uncle would take him on and the bucket of fried chicken he’d bring along. Later in life, this motivated him to buy property on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay where I spent my summers as a child.  

Life on the Bay with a gaggle of cousins (18 of us) was a highlight of my childhood. We had free reign over the cul-de-sac populated by beach houses owned by my grandparents and their six adult children. When I was young, I would wake up with the sun and race to the window to assess the water conditions. The soft waves of early morning and glass surface made the best conditions for crabbing. 

All the cousins would meet at our grandparent’s house to grab chicken necks from the freezer and nets from the closet before rushing down to the dock. There weren’t enough nets to go around, but that hardly stopped us from crowding the dock in the cool dawn air in various states of dress, between pajamas and bathing suits. Each crab we caught was celebrated, sexed, sized and placed in our crab pot in the shallows under the dock until lunch. 

When my grandma Molly got out the crab pot and tongs, it was show time. My grandmother with a pair of tongs and feisty crustaceans are more evenly matched than you might expect. A few crabs near the top of the big pot always manage to hurl themselves over the edge, only to land in the boiling mac ‘n cheese water pot nearby. 

We would dress the picnic table in the front yard with newspaper, mallets and dishes of vinegar and Old Bay. Seated at an exclusive table away from the adults, we smashed, picked and dipped to our heart’s content.

“Pass the vinegar!” “Is there a mallet I can use?” “Can you help me get the meat out?” “May I have another crab, please?” 

This relaxed and fun-loving atmosphere inspired my grandparents to start their own crab shack in nearby Deale, MD. Eponymously named for my grandfather, Cappy’s Crabs sits over Rockhold Creek near Harbour Cove Marina. Every weekend in the summer, you can find Grandma in the kitchen and Poppy behind the bar, with kids and grandkids helping in the kitchen or waiting tables. The restaurant has an expansive deck with five slips, some large enough for a 40-foot vessel. 

Like most of Cappy’s float-up guests, the seafood on the menu comes from the Chesapeake. The menu changes according to the seafood seasons and pricing, but also to the whim of my grandmother and each diner. Catering to generations of dietary restrictions and picky eaters has made her a versatile and creative chef. Guests can always expect seafood and fried chicken in an array of forms from cakes and sandwiches to the star ingredient in one of the multiple salads available. 

Side dishes feature macaroni and cheese and an array of veggies such as beet salad or broccoli salad. More traditional summer treats such as corn and coleslaw make a heralded appearance on the menu. Family favorites such as French fries and cornbread round out any meal. 

Some say it’s best to have wings with your crabs, picnic style at one of the outdoor tables covered in paper. Watching marina traffic and listening to the waves underneath you is the perfect way to break up a day on the water. Order an orange crush from the bar, and your Maryland summer crab feast is complete!  

Cappy’s Coleslaw

A fresh, lighter take on the traditional creamy coleslaw recipe.

Ingredients

½ medium cabbage

3 scallions

2 carrots 

¾ cup of peanuts

Juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp rice vinegar 

1 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp canola oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Grate carrots
  • Chop cabbage and scallions into thin slices
  • Add ingredients to a large bowl; dress and toss well

Makes about 6 servings.

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What's Brewing in Baltimore?
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Remnants of a “Vote Against Prohibition” sign still linger in faded letters on a brick wall in Baltimore — a true representation of the city’s historical love for a brew. 

From the clipper ships that brought beer from Germany during the Revolutionary War to the birthplace of the beloved Natty Boh, Baltimore is not only rich in maritime and war traditions — it’s also known as a beer city. 

Baltimore boasts a nice selection of well-known bars and swanky restaurants, but you may not realize how many experimental breweries and eclectic taprooms are located just down the street. 

From serving ice-cold pints on a hot summer day to offering taproom tastings and outdoor events, these local breweries present unique, homemade craft beers in an entertaining atmosphere. The following locations explore antique structures, historic warehouses and a barn-turned-brewhouse in Baltimore City and County.

BALTIMORE CITY

Diamondback Brewing Company

1215 E. Fort Avenue
Locust Point

A garage-style window opens above high-top seating in this south Baltimore brewery — a perfect summertime hangout.  The experimental production brewery serves unfiltered lagers, hop forward ales and pizza in a lively urban atmosphere. Try the Maple Thief oatmeal stout, the Green Machine IPA or the American Locust Point Lager alongside a signature seasonal scratch-made house pizza such as the Howard, made with pulled duck confit, smoked provolone, onion, parsley and “Pee-Paw’s Secret BBQ Sauce.”

Ministry of Brewing

1900 E. Lombard Street
Upper Fells Point/Highlandtown

The stunning structure of the former St. Michaels Church in East Baltimore has high ceilings lined by archways with golden trim, colorful murals and a gorgeous organ on the second floor balcony overlooking an open space where pews used to sit. Originally opened in 1857, this church that once provided refuge to German Catholics was abandoned in 2011 and is now one of the city’s hottest brewery hangouts. Long beer hall-style tables and high-tops now fill the spacious renovated church. Biblical scriptures are written above where the taproom’s bar serves a selection of rotating beers such as the Old Maude brown ale, The Point pilsner and 9.9 Problems imperial stout.

The Brewer’s Art

1106 N. Charles Street
Mount Vernon

This hip and artsy brewery matches the vibe of the quirky neighborhood and local community. Built as a private residence in the early 1900s, the vintage townhouse remains in the same classical style as it looked centuries ago with a slight transformation into a cozy taproom. Each room provides a different feel from the upscale dining room to the gritty Downbar and the cozy upstairs lounge. While most breweries only offer beer, this location pours everything from house brews to red, white, rosé and sparkling wines, and craft cocktails.

Full Tilt Brewing

5604 York Road
Govans

This neighborhood brewery is all about live music, tasty drinks and providing a fun social atmosphere. Hosting everything from yoga classes to live acts and comedy shows, the brewery offers a full event calendar throughout the year. They often cater parties and sponsor fundraisers such as partnerships with Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS) and Art with a Heart. The taproom is known for two famous brews: Hops the Cat American IPA and Dan’s Jams, a Swedish Fish sour ale. Complement your brew with spicy wings, honey sriracha-glazed Brussels sprouts or a juicy Full Tilt burger.

BALTIMORE COUNTY 

RavenBeer

8901 Yellow Brick Road, Suite B
Rosedale

As Baltimore icon Edgar Allan Poe was known for frequenting local city bars, this brewery pays homage to the writer with its own spin on classic American and German-style beer. Founder Stephen Demczuk began brewing when he was in Europe. Inspired by Poe’s writings, Demczuk named his concoctions after the famous literature. Variations include Annabel Lee White, a Belgian-style white beer with citrus, The Raven Special Lager, The Tell Tale Heart IPA and The Cask, a Bavarian double style IPA.

Heavy Seas Brewery

4615 Hollins Ferry Road
Halethorpe

Maryland breweries wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for Heavy Seas founder Hugh Sisson. He pioneered the state’s first brewpub and helped pass laws allowing them to operate. This southwest Baltimore County location began as Clipper City Brewing in 1995, then later rebranded as Heavy Seas. Hang out at the bar, grab a burger from Koopers food truck or play cornhole in the game room. On Saturdays, listen for the bell ringing in the taproom for free tours. They also hold charity fundraisers and work with local artists who design the unique beer can graphics. The brewery has big plans this season to redesign the outdoor space with new landscaping and a patio area.

Guinness Open Gate Brewery | Photo by Alexa Zizzi

Guinness Open Gate Brewery

5101 Washington Boulevard
Halethorpe

As the first-ever Guinness brewery in the United States, this historic site was home to a distillery before the Dublin-based brewer arrived in 2017. Experience traditional and seasonal flavors made with hops from all over the world, as well as locally sourced ingredients. Most brews are made with Legacy Ale Yeast, used by Guinness for 100 years. Be sure to try the signature Baltimore Blonde, brewed here exclusively. Enjoy the three-acre outdoor beer garden, outdoor kitchen, taproom, restaurant, events such as summer movie nights, 30-minute tastings of four different beers, and free tours.

Farmacy Brewing

3100 Black Rock Road
Reisterstown

Deep within Baltimore County’s horse country, this working farm raises horses and cattle, and grows hay, fruits, vegetables and row crops. This family-run brewery resides at the gorgeous Willowdale Farm, where a 3.5-barrel brewhouse is open for tours. Surrounded by horse pastures, barns and acres of farmland, a nine-stall horse stable was converted into a tasting room. Guests can picnic and enjoy the day strolling through a beautiful orchard.

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