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City That Drinks

A Name That Fits the Bill

The sound of chatter floated out to the street

Photo: Jenn Ladd, License: N/A

Jenn Ladd


When we approached Canton’s newly opened Smaltimore (2522 Fait Ave.) on a recent night, the walls of glowing flat-screens, 16 in total, prompted us to assume we’d drink one beer, loiter just long enough to take some notes and get a basic sense of the place, then take off. The bar used to be Lager’s Pub which, we heard, was consistently dead, and that was decidedly not the case at Smaltimore. The sound of chatter floated out to the street, not much contained by the many floor-to-ceiling windows. We were intrigued by the beer-pricing system, a stock market-style setup on a TV screen (pictured) which displays the rising and falling prices of drafts—Smaltimore has 36—determined by their minute-to-minute popularity. (A friendly bartender, Mark, explained every beer starts at $5 at the day’s opening bell and that nothing goes out of the $3-$8 range.) After we bought an Evolution Irish Red going for $4, we surveyed the late 20s/early 30s crowd and noticed that the beer TV was the only one anyone was paying attention to; in every part of the bar, people were talking. And when several affable members of a kickball team clad in orange T-shirts engaged us in conversation, we were genuinely surprised by how much we enjoyed ourselves. We learned the history of the particular kickball team: They were “the singles team” six years ago, composed of recent transplants to Baltimore; they changed their name after a season together—“It made me think of spinsters!” one player commented—and now, team members have married each other, started having kids, integrated into the city. Later on, we discovered that one member of the squad was a co-worker of a neighbor. By night’s end (we nursed two beers), Smaltimore had made Baltimore a little smaller.

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