Ambition, your name is Ocean City Brewing. This upstart of a brewery only opened in June, as in after Memorial Day. And they opened big — a bar/restaurant as big as a hardware store (that’s what it used to be), with 18 of their own beers on tap. Yes, 18! And if that wasn’t optimistic enough, they included a gift shop with t-shirts, glasses and other stuff as big as at least one brewpub I’ve been in.
Here’s the best part. I liked it so much I already have been there twice.
OK, I’m a sucker for micro-breweries. The paint wasn’t dry the first time I stepped across the threshhold at Burley Oak. I went to Evolution when it was in a little building in Delmar — and I’ve been to 3rd Wave, who moved there when Evo grew up and moved to Salisbury. You get the picture.
Ocean City has turned into a craft brew destination. OC Brewing isn’t even the newest one. Assawoman Bay Brewing opened only a few weeks ago. How will I find the time to check them all out?
I’ve been waiting for Ocean City Brewing, watching the hardware store turn into this new endeavor. The wait, I must say, was worth it on several counts. They know what they’re doing in the brew house. Their brews range from a mild Route 50 American pale ale to a gorgeous Joshua’s Red Irish ale to a black and rich Lost Souls stout. A craft brewery without something quirky just isn’t right and they got it right. A watermelon brew called Alrighty Then! (They put in the !), a nutty Nuckin’ Futs that tastes like Thanksgiving. Devil’s Mistress bites back with a 12% ABV.
We sampled some food, too. I predict the restaurant will soon be famous for their eggrolls, stuffed with Philly cheesesteak or mahi mahi or Thai chicken or a dozen other intriguing possibilities. Salads are fresh. BBQ is savory. And everything I saw on the way to other tables looked like the kind of hearty grub that can stand up to the beers made here.
Then there is the tour. It’s short, maybe 10-15 minutes. This ain’t no Anheuser Busch after all — it’s not even Dogfish Head. (Now this is a fun tour with plenty of “off-center” brews.) But it’s enough to get introduced to OC Brewing before sampling their wares. Ticket holders get a pint glass, and a few coupons for discounts for dining and souvenirs.
Like I said, they’re ambitious here. And it looks to me like their ambitions are paying off.
© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman