Right now, I feel like I’m dying, for which I blame Oprah, and Oprah alone. But two days ago was a different story.
After Hercules blew through on Thursday night, Friday turned into an adult snow day where I got to do work from home while sitting at the dining room table, wearing these socks and watching reruns of Murder She Wrote. It was awesome.
But by the time 1 p.m. rolled around, I was feeling antsy to get outside —even though the roads looked like a big, compacted-snow-and-ice death trap. So I bundled myself up in two jackets, my trusty hat and chucks, and ventured into the frozen tundra.
I had two stops on my agenda:
- Ram’s Head Tavern Annapolis for the Fordham Scotch Ale snow day special.
- I was already itching to try Main Street’s newest addition, Dry 85, and The Beer Spy’s post only confirmed it. (P.S. Read his stuff. You will like it and learn something.)
Fordham Scotch Ale review
The thing I dig about Fordham is they make beers that are big and bold, but accessible to those who might not typically like them — and they don’t shy away from big ABV counts. (This one clocks in at 8 percent.) Is it the best scotch ale out there? No. That said, it’s got a great, bright malt character that’s paired with a rich, medium body that’s effervescent and refreshing. My only gripes are that the aroma is barely there to nonexistent — with only a small hint of caramel to speak of if you shove your nose in the glass — and given the ABV, I would have loved a bit more complexity.
But again, it’s a very tasty beer. I’d absolutely order it again, and I’d offer it to friends who were willing to step out of the beer baby pool once in awhile to try something that could expand their horizons. Great gateway beer for the masses that, with a little tweaking, could be fantastic.
DRY 85 review
Let’s castoff any illusions here, beer folks. DRY 85 is a bourbon and whiskey bar first, and it kills at that. With that bit of business out of the way, let’s move along.
As I came off the blustery, icy sidewalk of Main Street and opened the door, I was pleasantly surprised by another galvanized metal door with no windows — a fun, obviously speakeasy-derivative touch that made me smile, as I pulled it open. It was the middle of the afternoon, so the cozy, metal-and-wood adorned industrial space was fairly quiet. I hopped up on a stool and the friendly bartender brought me my menus. I will say here that this is not a place for a cheap date, but it’s priced fairly.
When it comes to beer, DRY 85 boasts 12 taps and a small bottle/can list. The bottle/can list is nothing special to speak of, with five pretty basic options: Natty Boh, Lagunitas IPA, Miller Lite, Amstel Light and Guinness.
Where DRY 85 really gets it right for us craft beer lovers, however, is their tap list. Obviously, the list is subject to change — which is why you cannot find their current draft list on their website or their menu — but here is what they had when I went:
- Shiner Holiday Cheer (Texas)
Seen this one bouncing around Annapolis a bit. Nice to see a little bit of, well, holiday cheer still left in town. Especially with the snow.
- Troegs Trogenator (Pennsylvania)
I have a bottle of it in the fridge just waiting for me to try it., but I got a very positive response to this particular beer when I posted this list on Twitter on Friday.
- Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager (Virginia)
I was very pleased to see DB here in Annapolis on tap. It’s a great brewery that’s getting some traction in the Free State. I haven’t had this — because I admit I don’t generally order lagers when I’m out — but I’m a fan of their Kilt Flasher Scotch ale.
- Schlafly Pale Ale (Missouri)
I’ve seen the Schlafly Oatmeal Stout around town quite a bit, so I like that they’re showcasing a different offering from this brewery.
- Dogfish Head American Beauty (Delaware)
What the WHAT? This was quite the coup by Dry 85. I have only ever seen this in retail stores in a large format bottle for around $15. Also, it’s nice to see Dogfish in draft format instead of bottle, which is what I usually see in bars and restaurants.
- Stone Ruination IPA (California)
It’s awesome to see Stone on tap in Annapolis. This is a solid IPA, but I want to see a more creative offering chosen from Stone. Maybe the Arrogant Bastard Ale? Something different other than another IPA.
- Terrapin Rye (Georgia)
Straight up, I have not had this. But I personally have not seen this before locally. So again, another unique selection.
- Port City Optimal Wit (Virginia)
I really like Port City — a lot. So to see it close to home makes me really happy. Optimial Wit (a refreshing, fun Belgian Wit) is a great choice that is almost universally liked. Heck, I love it. But I hope one day to see their Porter on tap — it’s so good, but often overlooked.
- Tuppers Hop Pocket (Maryland)
This is a beer out of Bethesda. And I love the name. That’s all I know about it. But I dig how Dry 85 picked a much lesser-known Maryland brewery to showcase in their opening lineup.
- Oskar Blues Momma Lil Yella Pils (Colorado)
I love the Oskar Blues lineup, and this definitely one of my favorite Pilsers out there. It takes a style that has been debased by mass-market breweries to a sad, tasteless nothing and elevates back to something that’s bold and fun to drink. Also nice to see it out of a can.
- Breckenridge Vanilla Porter (Colorado)
I know a lot of my friends love this, so they’ll be happy to see it on yet another tap around town. Unfortunately, it falls a bit flat for me. I don’t hate it, but it doesn’t really do anything for me.
- Brewer’s Art Resurrection (Maryland)
This is what I ordered. It didn’t take long for me to see why this self-proclaimed “abbey brown ale” is their flagship, year-round brew. It’s malty, it’s rich, it’s sweet — but not too sweet. I will order this again, and I will go out of my way to try and buy it.
DRY 85 has set the bar for themselves pretty high with an interesting, well-curated tap list — balancing some usual suspects with the offbeat nicely, with a few surprises thrown in for us craft beer lovers.
And although I’m not usually the girl who goes out and orders a salad with no dressing and ice cubes for dinner at a steakhouse, I had their quinoa and black bean burger for lunch. I wasn’t feeling terribly hungry. It was super good, so don’t you judge me.
Overall it was a really fun, albeit short adventure out into the snow. And can we talk about how beautiful Annapolis is in the snow? It’s stupidly gorgeous.
EDITED TO ADD: Apparently there is a custom beer tower at DRY 85, and I missed it. Obviously I’ll report back on it after my next trip.