City That Drinks
Fed Hill Thrills
A late-summer pub crawl before the interlopers swarm
Published: August 15, 2012
Determined to enjoy one of the last weekends before college kids and people in Ravens apparel return to our consciousness, we set out for a day-drinking session in Fed Hill. We laid a base in Brewer’s Cask (1236 Light St.), where the fair-haired bartender, Tony, was dead set on pouring a beer with just the right amount of head. After a sufficiently starch- and fat-laden meal, a (perfectly coiffed) New Belgium Hoptober ($5.50), a conversation with Tony about college lacrosse, and a viewing of Olympic race walking, we headed to Fort Avenue for something divey. Hogan’s Alley (1501 Covington St.) was a match: a dim, nearly empty bar/grill/package-goods store, Keno flashing on a tiny TV above the bar, a pregnant bartender with a green, tie-dyed T-shirt stretched tight over her stomach. She balked when we asked for Boh—the only logical choice out of four taps (Bud Light, Boh, Guinness, and Yuengling), two of which had plastic cups overturned on the tap handles. The keg of Boh, too, was kicked. We got a couple cans of Boh for $2 each and pondered the vast collection of flavored vodkas in Hogan’s Alley. There was cookie dough, Key Lime pie, and “Atomic Hots,” among others. After a shift change, we asked the new bartender if she had tried Atomic Hots, which she had, conveniently, just the previous day, while bored on her shift. She obligingly poured a shot for us and herself. With the taste of an alcoholic Red Hot lingering in our mouths, we headed down Fort Avenue, to Barfly’s (620 E. Fort Ave.). The owner, Mike Leeds, bought it about two years ago, when it was Rafters—a place where, he said, white-collar college kids could do shots with the bartenders. Sparsely decorated, but decidedly Baltimore, with its exposed Formstone wall, Barfly’s has that freshly renovated feel now. We ordered a La Fin Du Monde ($6) and chatted with Mike for an hour. He used to own Sean Bolan’s in Bel Air, where Martin O’Malley would post up frequently. Just before we paid our check, we asked how the Éphémère Apple, a Canadian beer by the same brewer as La Fin Du Monde, tasted. Mike popped open a bottle, lined up plastic shot cups for everyone at the bar, and we sampled together, comparing notes. We left happy and meandered around Fort Avenue with a pleasant afternoon buzz.
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