I prepared myself for the short ride from White Marsh to Baltimore as earlier as I could, which ended up not be early at all. I left at 12 but was confident I could arrive before 3 and certainly before dark. There were stops I wanted to make on the way into town (and thru to Catonsville), but as I got closer I decided it was best not to leave all my gear on my bike in downtown Baltimore and then go drinking. Eventually I found out Baltimore is the second most violent city in the US, preceded by Detroit.
I was routed down some fairly major roads; they had six foot shoulders but a speed limit of 50mph with entrance and exit ramps to I-95. Those suck, and make me super nervous. Not to mention the route was up and down pointlessly. When I entered the city proper, I entered a ghetto. A serious ghetto. Run down houses, pot holed roads, foreclosed blocks (seriously whole blocks foreclosed). No longer did I follow the rules of the road; stop signs- ran them; red lights -slowed but kept moving. At one point I had a crack whore solicit me. She pointed at me as I came to a stop and yelled (belligerently), “Hey, you. Come over here.” Ran that stop light. Hoped to not blow a tube and get a flat. That would make life real interesting.
Two blocks later and I was out of the ghetto. It was night and day. Ghetto on one block; highly gentrified dining on the next. But I wasn’t done with the ghetto. Apparently the city is surrounded by one huge ghetto. The ride to Catonsville, and my new friends house, was supposed to take me 2.5 hours. I did it in 1.75 hours. It seems as though ghettos and threatening traffic make me go faster.
I arrived in Catonsville at the house of Ed and Bridget Johnson, a friend from Louisville’s aunt and uncle. They graciously took me in and offered to help me see the sights I wanted to visit. After some great conversation (I think they were feeling me out to make sure I wasn’t a murderer and/or weirdo), we headed out. First stop was Brewer’s Art, a masterfully designed brewery and bar with a casual bar upstairs at the entrance, fine dining in the rear, and super casual, almost catacomb-esque bar downstairs. Their beers are Belgian inspired: golden, dubbel, saison, tripel. All were excellent and the food available outside the fine dining area was exceptional.
Next we headed to Wharf Rat in Fells Point. I was told I had to go to a Fells Point bar and this one made the most sense. It wasn’t as much of a tourist trap as the surrounding bars; and, I didn’t realize this before we arrived, they had several casks available. After crushing a cask conditioned beer called Raven Tell Tale Heart Firkin, we left for Of Love and Regret, the Stillwater Artisanal bar (and I guess taproom).
Several weeks before I left for this journey, I hosted the 1st Annual Stillwater Classique Classic, a 32 person, single elimination, beer shotgunning tournament. I had good hope that Brian from Stillwater wouldn’t be upset about this blatant beer abuse so I contacted him. He was stoked, and asked if we intended to document it. It was documented, heavily. Afterwards, a good friend put together an amazing trailer and then video. Too much fun was had. It was amazing.
I had been told to introduce myself when we arrived. Turns out my welcoming was to shotgun a beer with the staff, which was amazing. A true Brontidian welcome. I talked with the staff and have hopefully convinced them to attend the Fall Classique Classic. The food was fantastic, the beers were even better. My only regret was being so full and fairly intoxicated that I couldn’t try more beers. To sleep and DC the next day.