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Frederick, Maryland: Where Craft Breweries and American History Make for the Perfect Getaway

Frederick Maryland, Frederick, Maryland: Where Craft Breweries and American History Make for the Perfect Getaway

Historic downtown Frederick: A blend of historic charm with a contemporary edge

“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”

Martin luther

With all our international traveling, sometimes we forget to learn about our country’s great history or to take the time to discover the wonderful local places the United States offers. You know you have found a gem when you can do both in one stop. Frederick, Maryland, checks those two boxes perfectly. It may seem like a typical mid-sized city center, but there is so much more. You will soon discover its charming ambiance, beautiful central canal, fantastic waterfront, friendly local shops, and top-notch restaurants, surrounded by an area rich in U.S. history. We came for the excellent craft beer, again and again, only to adore all that Historic Frederick, Maryland, has to offer. So let’s find a good place to park, put on some walking shoes, and prepare for an evening outside in this historic and vibrant place.  

Frederick Maryland, Frederick, Maryland: Where Craft Breweries and American History Make for the Perfect Getaway

Where is Frederick, Maryland?

Frederick, Maryland, is located in northern Maryland and just south of Pennsylvania. It has easy access to Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the D.C. area. The city is 1 hour 20 min from DC & Annapolis, Maryland, and 1 hour and 5 min from Baltimore. It is immediately off Highways 70 and 270.

First, something about Frederick, Maryland

Frederick Maryland, Frederick, Maryland: Where Craft Breweries and American History Make for the Perfect Getaway
Mt Olivet Cemetary

Frederick, Maryland, was founded sometime before 1730 and was an important crossroad during colonial times. The city was once the Maryland state capital. There are plenty of historical places to see, monuments, and museums throughout the city and the surrounding area.

One impressive historical stop is the National Park Service’s 1780s Thomas Farm, where you can learn about the people who lived and worked there, including free and enslaved blacks, French immigrants, farmers, and millers. The Hessian Barracks, built in the 1700s, is a popular place to visit. The Mt Olivet Cemetery in town is where the writer of the Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key, now rests in peace. The cemetery is in itself a poignant stop.

The Civil War played out in this area, and you can visit the Monocacy National Battlefield. One of the more notable events there during the war was when 8,000 wounded soldiers were brought to Federick after the Battle of Antietam in 1862. The National Museum of Civil War Medicine resides in Frederick as a result.

Plenty of fun and educational family activities make this area a great day or weekend trip.

This is a city that has invested in its future

Frederick Maryland, Frederick, Maryland: Where Craft Breweries and American History Make for the Perfect Getaway
Frederick Maryland

The Frederick, Maryland, city planners have done the city proud; with foresight and investment in its future, they have an award-winning destination. While preserving the past, they also brought a lively and contemporary scene to the area to the present. The elegant art galleries, live music, vibrant street murals, tons of specialty shops, great food options, small and large scale community events, live theater…….the list goes on and on. Now if we have filled your brain with background on Frederick, it’s time to tantalize your palate with some great beer and spirits, the real reason we stopped here.  

Historic Frederick, Maryland Beer Trail

Frederick Maryland, Frederick, Maryland: Where Craft Breweries and American History Make for the Perfect Getaway

The canal (Carroll Creek Park) walk starts at East Patrick Street and ends at West Patrick Street, about one mile away. This is the more built-up end that goes through the city by many breweries and restaurants. The lovely brick pathways line both sides of the canal, with multiple bridges, fountains, and artworks throughout this side.

The path continues west for pleasant walking or bike riding by many parks for another mile and a half. This may be a good idea after all the food and drinks you are about to sample. Do not worry; we won’t judge you. Start at the east side with a lovely cluster of breweries that will have something for every beer lover… and food lover, for that matter. Most breweries offered food from their kitchen or a food truck outside the brewery.

Checkout our page on Pub, Breweries, and Bars

Historic Downtown Frederick, Maryland Breweries

Anyone who follows Wanderers Compass knows we love craft beers (especially dark brews) and seek them out during our worldwide travels. Having been to some of the top beer capitals in the world, such as Prague, Dublin, Mexico City, Bern, Brussels, Munich, Lisbon, Copenhagen, and Budapest, we think we have a discerning palate. We enjoy the breweries here, so we stop by Frederick often because of the craft beer quality, variety, and fantastic setting.

The U.S. has many great beer scenes, and Federick should be on the map. The breweries here are growing in popularity. Additionally, the area has much to do and see, especially for families. We saw many kids at the breweries, so after a day of fun with the kids, the parents can grab the kids a bite to eat while the grownups enjoy a cold craft brew. Oh, and bring that family dog too!

Most of the images used below are from our visits, but a few are from the respective websites of each location.

Idiom Brewing

First up is Idiom Brewing Co. This beautiful rustic brick building with large, exposed beams was a vibrant and happening place during our many visits. You will feel at home with a friendly and knowledgeable staff, live music, and dogs everywhere. Oh yeah, there is excellent beer here as well. Stop at the bar, order some of their amazing beer, place a food order at the food truck, then grab a seat. There is both indoor and outdoor seating offered. The outdoor patio is by the water and is great for people-watching while you enjoy your cold brew.

The founders of Idiom Brewing began craft brewing years ago while visiting friends who had moved to a small town outside Portland, Oregon. Things have paid off for them. It is one of our favorite stops in Frederick and is an expansive space with two distinct rooms, each with a bar. Their beer selection is extensive, diverse, and unique. If you love dark beers, you are in the right place; we have always enjoyed their offerings.

Steinhardt Brewing Co.

Directly attached next door to Idiom Brewing is Steinhardt Brewing Co.. With the same style of historic brick building and a large interior space. It has more of a modern touch as it is a new location for them. You have lovely views of the stainless steel tanks behind the large bar, where you will find a very impressive beer selection.

The Steinhardt namesake landed in America when John George Steinhardt immigrated from Munich, Germany, in 1927. Nearly 100 years later, his son Jim and his son’s wife Daria carry the tradition of old-world Bavarian and Belgian-style beer.

You are going to want to do more than one flight. There will be another food truck waiting for you in the parking lot on the side of their building. We enjoyed talking to the staff and joked with the new bartender in training as we learned about the beers. They also have a patio area by the water, and with Idiom Brewing right next door, it is easy to bounce back and forth to each if you choose. Bring your dogs so they can enjoy the canal and patio.

Smoketown Creekside

Walk across the pedestrian bridge, and you will find two more breweries ready to serve you. Right on the corner is Smoketown Creekside.

Here is a place with a warm and trendy interior that, of course, makes fantastic beers. Hang out on the patio or play cornhole inside. They won’t disappoint. Another family and dog-friendly place; you can’t go wrong here. This is the second location of the original Smoketown. It made its home in an old firehouse, which is so well done.. If you are in the area, it is only 20 minutes southwest, and we bet it is as good as Smoketown Creekside. We hope to pay a visit ourselves soon.

This is the largest of the breweries in the area. There is often entertainment on the schedule, and there can be a cover charge on some nights with big headliners. They have excellent beers and lots of great dark brews. We have brought some home more than once.

Attaboy Beer

In the same building as Smoketown Creekside is Attaboy Beer. This taproom has changing drafts, a beer garden, and rotating food trucks. A contrast in looks and style of the places across the creek, this place has a dark modern industrial feel. Dark paints and metal chairs give it that feel, but it has a warm environment. They love families and dogs, as they welcome both.

The taproom has a changing set of beers on tap. They have lots of creativity and experimentation here. Choose from  NEIPAS, IPAS, Pales, Belgians, seasonal beers with fruit, mixed fermentation, and barrel-aged to tame whatever mood you are in.

They also have another location called The Barrel House which specializes in small-batch barrel-aged beers. It is their dedicated space for Barrel Aging & Blending in downtown Frederick. The area is 6500 sq. ft. for the taproom and production. Vaulted wood ceilings and polished cement floors make it a great place to book for parties, weddings, private events, and hourly rentals. They also have a private fenced-in beer garden and a dance floor. Another place we plan to pay a visit to soon to add to our Frederick experiences.

Brewer’s Alley 

On the west end of the canal area and three blocks north is Brewer’s Alley. With a long and rich history, the building is an attraction in its own right. For over 153 years, Brewer’s Alley has been a fixture in Frederick’s social and economic landscape. They have seen the Civil War, including the ransoming of the city by the Confederate army. It has seen a farmers’ market, an opera house, and a theatre. Many local historical events have happened here as well. Some of the old opera house features have been restored to give a unique style to this establishment.

With so much history, it is no surprise Brewer’s Alley continues the rich history with this brewery. Their beer is delicious, and they do offer flights. The location has two parts inside: the boisterous and busy bar and the restaurant seating, where you can enjoy their food in a quieter setting. There are two outside areas as well: sit on the beautiful front patio or go to the rooftop deck with a covered area. Brewers Alley has the whole package, in our opinion. Since 1996 they have been making locals happy with their craft beer, and we don’t think they are going anywhere.

Olde Mother Brewing

Home brewing was a passion for Nick & Keith, and we can still see that passion today. After 17 years, they reunited and created Olde Mother Brewing; they didn’t skip a beat. Olde Mother has many beer styles, which are great for washing down a meal or quenching your thirst. Speaking of style, they have no shortage of that inside the unassuming storefront. It is warm, colorful, and has incredible energy.

Opened in October 2015, they quickly outgrew their brewing system and upgraded to a larger brewhouse; we can see why. This is a fun establishment that won’t disappoint. There is even a meat market attached in the back. Don’t worry about the location. They are still in the historic district and are only a short three-block walk north of Brewer’s Alley, six blocks from the canal. Street parking seemed easy to get at the time of our visits.

Rockwell Brewery

Rockwell Brewing is farther from the main tourist area in the city’s northeast corner. After years of being home-brewing buddies, co-owners Paul Tinney and Matt Thrasher opened this establishment in March 2017. They were inspired by the beers they made and Frederick’s craft brewery scene. They put the inspiration to good use. Combine that with Head Brewer Scott McKernon, and his home brewing and chemistry background; you know they make delicious beer. Who can resist a beer called Bitchin Comaro? You will find stouts, porters, reds, IPAs, blondes, occasional barrel-aged, and more here.

Relax on the front patio or get comfortable in their inviting inside with a style you expect from a modern craft brewery. They told us they would open a second location in Frederick in late Spring of 2023. We have not paid it a visit yet but hope to on our next visit.

Midnight Run Brewing

Across the street and one building up from Rockwell is a smaller, low-key brewery in a strip mall that will surprise you. It doesn’t seem like much outside but has a nice styling and a more intimate hometown feel. Dog and family-friendly, as always. They do not have food or food trucks, but you can bring your own, which makes it a nice place to plan a get-together or small party.

Now the beers surprised us. They have nine on tap and can compete with any larger brewery. Midnight Run was started in a garage more than ten years ago by Rich & Brent. Home-brewing alchemists with degrees in both culinary arts & mechanical engineering. This helps you understand why their beers are so good; we wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Monocacy Brewing Company 

Farthest from the canal in the northeast corner sits Monocacy Brewing Company. Brewmaster Tom Flores and his talented brewers use their combined 50 years of brewing experience, formal education, and internationally recognized credentials to create unique beer.

In 2012, Monocarcy opened in a former Ice Cream plant, and that beautiful brick building is put to good use. They have a rotating selection of year-round and limited-release beers, and you will want to stop to try them all. Grab a flight, get something from one of the rotating food trucks, and sit outside. Their outdoor space is shaded with large trees, is fenced in, and has a small fountain to relax by. Don’t forget to bring your dogs. They also have a nice seating area to gather inside, so don’t miss out.

JoJos Restaurant and Tap Works

The exposed brick and floor-to-ceiling windows make for a bright and warm setting to dine and watch the activity on East Patrick Street. Some of the smaller breweries in the area do not have tasting rooms, but often, you can find the beers here on JoJo’s menu.

If you’re looking for more of a laid-back but lively atmosphere with a broad and excellent craft beer menu, JoJo’s has you covered at the Tap House. During our visit, they had 20 brews or cider on draft. They also offer many bottled brews, wine, and cocktails. They also feature a Daily Happy Hour, rotating specials, and a late-night light menu. It is the perfect evening out with friends, but remember, it is a popular place for dinner.

We only have pictures from the website but will get our own soon.

Roasthouse Pub Craft Beer Dispensary & Eatery

This was one of the first stops we made when exploring Frederick, Maryland while looking for a place for a sit-down dinner. The reviews were positive, and they had a reputation for having a nice beer collection. From the moment we walked in, we were impressed. It has an intimate community feel. The bar was buzzing, and the list of drafts on tap was long. The electronic boards present all their options and show how much is left in the keg. They serve many local brews but also have some excellent international options.

The food is delicious and is reflective of a gastro pub. The place is small and can get very busy. Getting a table at peak weekend dinner times could be challenging, so call ahead.

For those who prefer spirits

McClintock Distilling 

McClintock Distillery is home to great and unique liquors. We were wowed the moment we saw it and loved every moment of our visit. Established in an old brick auto shop, the owner painstakingly restored this structure to its natural beauty. Also natural are the ingredients to make their products. The building is in a lovely nook on the canal near most of the great breweries and shops. They use local ingredients and help reduce the impact of transportation. We were surprised by everything we tried; it was hard to pick a favorite. Ultimately, we spent a pretty penny on the bottles to take home.

McClintock opened their Back Bar to utilize the high-quality local ingredients and make fantastic cocktails. Both of their areas are beautiful and relaxing. This isn’t the only distillery in Frederick; however, you can’t go wrong when you combine a perfect location, a beautifully restored stylish building, and fantastic spirits.

Outside of downtown Frederick, Maryland

Frederick Maryland, Frederick, Maryland: Where Craft Breweries and American History Make for the Perfect Getaway
From Visit Frederick Website Orchid Cellar Meadery and Winery in West Frederick County

Frederick County has a vast collection of wineries, breweries, meaderies, and distilleries for those wishing to wander out more. There are many unique tasting room experiences in the tranquil countryside. Drink in the view while sampling locally-produced wine, hard cider, mead, beer, and spirits from 21 different locations. Check this link with a map to learn more about Federick County craft beverage options.

Are you interested in exploring more historical landmarks in Frederick County? Check out this link.

For those Irish Beer Lovers, did you know that the only Guinness location in the United States is in Baltimore, Maryland, just an hour away from Frederick? We loved our visit to the Guinness Open Gate Brewery.

Where to stay when visiting

Frederick Maryland, Frederick, Maryland: Where Craft Breweries and American History Make for the Perfect Getaway
Frederick Maryland

There are many hotels, inns, and BnBs to stay the night near Frederick, Maryland. The two times we stayed in the area, we stayed in the Hampton Inn.

We believe it is important to price out properties on various sites. Expedia is a US-based company, whereas Booking.com is Europe based. Not all properties appear on both. Check places to stay out on the links below. If the establishment has a website, check pricing there as well.




Final Thoughts

Frederick Maryland, Frederick, Maryland: Where Craft Breweries and American History Make for the Perfect Getaway
Frederick, Maryland

Frederick is the perfect place to take a day trip or stay a weekend with the family. Get outside, and learn some American history. Take your time to discover your favorite part of the city. Take in all the fantastic local beer and food scene this charming town offers, then try some more.

Enjoy the canal and local shopping while appreciating the old architecture in the center of the historic district. If traveling in the area or internationally, take the time to enjoy a quieter and more personal space in Maryland and the tri-state area. We love coming back every time.

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Check out the official tourism site for Frederick Maryland

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