The food revolution in Baltimore brought with it other revolutions as well. As a result, there is an explosion of new restaurants and bars that are dedicated to their drink programs as much as they are devoted to high quality food preparation. Cocktail programs across the city abound and the abundance of impressive wine lists has been a welcome addition at many restaurants and bars. However, the emergence of the craft beer scene in Baltimore is definitely worth noting. Many bars have expanded their taps, and with newer local brewers like Full Tilt and Union Craft expanding their offerings, Baltimore beer lovers have many reasons to rejoice. One of the newest reasons is the recent addition to McHenry Row, World of Beer.
I’ll be blatantly honest and share that I would typically be reticent about going to what has become a chain bar because I most often prefer to frequent locally owned and operated establishments. But after hearing my brother rave about his visit to World of Beer in another state, I have to admit that I was jealous that Baltimore didn’t have a location. Then, when this beer-centric establishment announced its opening in Baltimore, I had to visit. And with my brother, of course.
Before even discussing the beer and the food, I will share that World of Beer completely overcame my expectations of a chain and has done a fantastic job of making this establishment feel like a locally owned and operated bar. Or maybe it has just morphed into that, thanks to the regulars and very competent bar staff. However, I absolutely cannot remember the last time I experienced such amazing service from bartenders that make you feel like this is your Cheers. Every bartender was warm, friendly and joking with the patrons. They actually greet all patrons, very warmly, as they enter, from their spot behind the bar. Furthermore, after being there for only a small amount of time, we already had a comaraderie with the staff. Others at the bar were laid back and social, but not overly so, and the social experience was as enjoyable as the food and beer.
We each ordered a beer of choice to start from the draught list. The draught list itself is fairly long with at least two dozen choices, many from local brewers. This, in and of itself, gives the vibe of being a more local establishment over some chain that doesn’t pay the necessary attention to local choices. In addition to the regular draught offerings, there are at least a half dozen customized mixes available. These are combined beers. Think half of one beer, half of another. While a beer purist may turn his nose up to this, I think it is one of the greatest new ideas in the beer world. For instance, I love DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus. But if you combine it with DuClaw’s Naked Fish? Amazing.
While enjoying our first pints, we perused the menu. Headed to a family dinner, we did not need to order a meal, but I will definitely being going back to try the Guinness bratwurst on a pretzel roll! The menu is brief but well planned with a decent selection of appetizers, salads and sandwiches. We couldn’t resist the pint of bacon. Served in a pint glass, this crisp bacon is cooked with brown sugar and served aside a cup of beer cheese. It is amazing on its own. With the beer cheese, it is certainly elevated to the status of “heavenly appetizer.”
After that, we decided to each enjoy a flight of beer. While there are four different flight options, there is also an option to choose your own flight at a similar price. A flight of beer is four pours (each of which is called a beer shot, though it is larger than a shot). We were pleased with each of the beers that we chose, and certainly found some new ones to add to our seasonal repertoire.
World of Beer also has an extensive bottled beer list that rivals nearly every other restaurant or bar in town. To make the list better, it has some educational material in the beginning of the quarter to half inch spiral bound beer menu that is useful for the newly aspiring beer connoisseur or anyone who needs a refresher. Also, there is a wine list that is wide enough, and of reasonable quality, to please any of your companions that may not love, or want, beer.
In addition to the incredible service, it should also be noted that this is one of the very cleanest bar/restaurants that I have frequented lately. From shiny tabletops to unsticky bars to an immaculate restroom, this place makes sure that your experience is not only pleasurable, but exceptionally clean. Their attention to detail reaches every level of the dining or drinking experience.
So, it can certainly be said that World of Beer has a cozy feel for the Saturday night reveler, the Friday night Happy Hour crowd, the Tuesday afternoon day drinker, or anyone who just wants to enjoy beer with a great selection of choices. But it also has the ability to be family friendly. While I would never advise taking a toddler to a beer joint on a Saturday night, if your family is seeking an afternoon beer for the adults, and some sandwiches, their menu and and tables are welcoming.