Ratings: 215 | Reviews: 161 | Display Reviews Only:
4.58/5 rDev +2.5%
I think it was (like) 2 years ago that Handsome Ed started with his "We should do a weekend in Baltimore" talk; a terribly good idea implemented never. It was always something with him, you know? "We're trying to move to Pennsylvania and buy a place" or "I have to work 83 days straight to finish this highway project". I might have considered it him just talking smack and let the whole thing go but I'd developed a want for crab smashing so I had to put it away in the back of my head and wait and wait and wait. Eventually they moved to PA and the highway project got done. He finally got a breather and I moved on it, no rest for the wicked (me, not him). Get your shoes on, Ed, we're going to Baltimore...
Easily parked and all metered up, we backtracked up and around the block to Max's. Taking up residency at the bar, we had some good attention this early Saturday afternoon. Seating 2 dozen and then some, this long straight wood bar with an "L" on the end runs the length of the whole place. A copper foot rail below and the bar top done up slat wood with beer labels and then varnished over, plus inlayed "chill discs", of which Phil says "They are an abomination".
72 unique tap selections spread over everywhere. 24 taps in a row on the middle of the bar, a 5 tower tap at each end, and then 2 rows of taps (9 atop 14 below) to both sides of center on the barback wall. Also, down on our end, I think I saw a single Delirium pink elephant tap, and there were definitely 2 hand pumps as well.
A center wide counter on the bar back holds booze 5 tiers high, and a pair of flatscreens above with a neon "prescriptions" sign there. To each side, rows of taps and 2 or 3 coolers with flatscreens and a row of TV's above. A cooler with vintage selections and a cigar display case at the end of the bar. Pressed tin ceiling with fans, well worn wood floors, brick walls and windows looking over Broadway, mounted lighting and sunken spots, pillars here and there, and an adjacent bar counter. A shelf above and behind you holds glassware, steins and old beer cans. The walls done up with brewery pub signs, mirrors, neons, metal signage, a blackboard on the far wall with bottle beer specials, and a giant 5' X 8' framed mirror on the back wall. Shirts, hats, kids bibs and wing sauces displayed here, and 10 tables in a slightly raised pen near the staircase leading to the upstairs cigar bar/lounge, with a bar holding 2 dozen taps.
Access to a rear room just past the looking glass. The "L" shaped bar seats a dozen, glassware and booze hanging upside down above, and shelved on the bar back. 2 dozen taps in a single row on the barback. English pubby bar with an airplane propeller mounted on its overhang and lined with coasters. An adjacent bar counter with space for a dozen below stucco walls, a blackboard listing the tap selections, a De Dolle Randy Oer Bier portrait, and Sam Smith prints. Lighting on the ceiling fans on the old pressed tin ceiling above. And out the back side to a rear rear room. 5 dart boards in a row on the far wall running its length. Faux bindings packing bookshelves below and on the opposite wall, a mounted Yak's head, a wooden Indian, a cigar display, animal skulls, and "Max's" barrel heads above.
A side room holds a single pool table and Phil's golf game (complete). A bar counter runs the far wall, a showcase on the opposite wall displays 8 years of Gales Prize Old Ale & JW Lees Harvest Ale vintages, and a nice collection of tap handles wrapping around the border above on 3 walls.
An absurd selection of taps, roughly half of them micros, local and Mid Atlantic/NorthEast regional (Brewer's Art, Heavy Seas, Wild Goose, DogFishHead, Southern Tier, Ommegang, Brooklyn, Blue Point, Southampton, Magic Hat, Smuttynose, Cape Ann, Harpoon, Sam Adams, Troegs, Victory, Weyerbacher) and beyond (Oskar Blues, Avery, Flying Dog, Great Divide, Rogue, Sierra Nevada). The remainder being imports, some interesting (Samichlaus, Liefman's Kriek, Peche Mortel, Hoblon Chouffe, Witkap Pater Single), and some of the usual import suspects, and even a handful of macros.
And an equally ridiculous bottled collection. The list holds 200 and change, roughly 1/3 of them US micro, another 1/3 Belgian and German, and the rest English, various beers of the world, maltos, meads and Champagne Bieres. Also another 40 big bottles (mostly Belgian and US), and 2 dozen special reserve selections, primarily vintage JW Lees, Gales, A. Les Coq, Thomas Hardy, Fullers, Sinebrychoff, etc.
They let us try a little of this and that, service was attentive, beers were clean and fresh. Simply outstanding. I believe it was EyeDrinkAleOutOfASmallRefidgeratorInTheBackOfMyCar who said "Yeah, I think Max's is the best beer bar in the North East, definitely one of my top 5 in America". Second time he's been right about something in a month's time.
12-17-2007 23:45:35 | More by slander
4.85/5 rDev +8.5%
Max's Taphouse, Baltimore. 102 beers on tap!! And 102 beers of quality, mind you. No bull here. No Guinness and Bud fillers. Not even Victory Pils filler! :-) This is serious stuff.
Max's is an expansive but cozy bar in the cool Fells Point area of Baltimore. Old school, with lots of wood and charm.
Super friendly bartender! Her name is Jessica and she is a doll. Will make you feel like a local in your first visit. She knows her beer too! All the other employees are really friendly too, specially Bob the morning bartender. Also The Ass Master and everyone around. Great people.
Selection and quality... absolutely top-notch. I mean, 102 taps! And all of them REAL! Five casks to boot...
Many rarities, like five Bruery beers on tap, Italian crafts from Del Borgo and Del Ducato, micros from New Zealand and Canada... Eight Maryland beers too. Lots of oak-aged stuff and big beers.
All of them are, according to the knowledgeable and super-friendly bartender, cleaned and cleared periodically to make room for new taps (even daily). All beers tasted very fresh.
I tried Flying Dog Double Dog Nitro (my first time on nitro), Harviestoun Ola 18, Dogfish Burton Baton, Sierra Bigfoot 1999, Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog, Flying Dog Fresh Hop... serious stuff!!!
I feel like I've said this before, but this is the most interesting selection EVER! I have seen large selections of draft beer before, but with a lot of boring handles. Nobody approaches the depth and expertise of Max's.
Food is good but not great. Efficient Mexicans cook average pub grub that sometimes rises. Their crab dip is delicious, served in a bread bowl. Also their baked-potato soup. They've got a yummy chorizo quesadilla. Their burger is also very tasty. But I mean, don't come here expecting fancy fare. Pricey too.
As for beer prices... I have to rate them reasonable. Sometimes I think they're pricey, but they really are not. I mean, most beers are $5-$6, even the rare ones. Then some extra-special ones like Harviestoun 40, Dogfish Bitches Brew or Dogfish Burton Baton will run you $7-$8, but still, not bad! Big samples are about $2.5 a piece.
I wish they had a regular happy hour, but they do have a really cool special: $6 for a 32-oz fishbowl of most beers (including big stuff like Hebrew Lenny and Southern Tier Unearthly) during game nights. Wow!
This is definitely, absolutely, forever and ever my favorite bar on Earth. I want to move to B'more just to be near Max's.
10-26-2010 21:08:11 | More by DoubleSimcoe
3.7/5 rDev -17.2%
Max's on Broadway is a cool little bar in Fell's Point (possibly the coolest area in all of Maryland) which has a huge multi-tap setup that turns over quickly and remains fresh... although tends to be a little mainstream (for seasoned beer drinkers) at times. If you're a late night person, Max's sometimes has GREAT bands. If you're a cigar person, this is also a place for you although one of my problems is that it can get a bit smoky (and I usually try to get in between lunch and dinner!) There's a little food window kitchen which is very cool when you've had one too many and decide that a greasy burger might hit the spot. It is, however, very college oriented - so if that's a problem for you stop in during lunchtime. Even on weekends it's fairly relaxed.
08-02-2002 20:14:25 | More by NeroFiddled
4.88/5 rDev +9.2%
I have visited Max's in the past, but my visit during the 72 Hours of Belgium were quite memorable. Easily accessable from the Inner Harbor by a short cab ride. Hit the bar early afternoon and we took up residence at the bar. The bartender was extremely friendly, and was quick to ask where we were from (based on the Jersey accents I guess). He handed us a Belgian menu and touted a few beers to try. Plenty of breweriana to look at, like tap handle collection and glassware. Pool table adorns the back room area. You got to love the "Prescriptions" neon sign just over the bar.
The tap selection was tremendous because of the Belgian fest, but they still offered plenty of the mid-Atlantic's finest beers such as Victory, Brewer's Art, Clipper City, Oliver's, etc. My visits in the past never disappointed from a beer selection point either. Hundreds of bottles from many micro breweries are clearly visible in the large glass refridgerators. Simply put a great selection that included west coast beers like Great Divide. We did not try the food but it looked quite good, especially the wings.
If there is one place to hit on a visit to Baltimore - it is this place. You can still get the Brewer's Art and Oliver's beers here along with everthing else in the region. Every time I have visited Max's I have experienced friendly service. You will get the college kids wanting large 32 oz lite macro beers to get drunk on Friday and Saturday nights, but be here in the afternoon for a relaxing and pleasurable bar visit with great beer selection.
02-19-2006 20:19:04 | More by Gavage
4.58/5 rDev +2.5%
10/20/08 Update. It still annoys me that Max's doesn't use actual pint glasses, and this place will never win any awards for atmosphere... but the beer selection just gets better and better, with one of the best Belgian draft selections on the planet. Not only that, Casey (the cellar master) continuously gets in rare/hard to find beers that blow me away. Also, the annual 72 hours of Belgium festival, and now a Fall German beer festival.... what can I say? Max's is simply one of THEE best beer bars, bar none. Also, Max's is now smoke free. End of update.
When I lived in Baltimore, Max's was a staple of mine. The beer selection is one of the best I've seen and is easily the best (by a wide margin) in Baltimore. That was almost two years ago and my visit this past weekend was the first visit back in nearly a year.
Little has changed at Max's, with the beer selection as excellent as ever. However, aside from the excellent beer, and the multiple TV sets for sporting events, Max's is hardly anything special.
Let's start with the food. Baltimore is a great city for wings; pretty much every place that has them available seems to prepare them very well. Max's is no exception. Their wings are quite good and during sporting events they often run specials on the price. That being said, the food here is nothing special. That's not a knock on Max's, beer is the primary focus here, which the website makes very clear. There's nothing wrong with the pub grub available (consisting primarily of burgers, fries, chili, and the like), but it's hardly what I would call great. I saw that Max's has now added a cheese plate, hummus, and a meat/cheese plate, which is nice to see. While a positive addition, there was nothing particularly wonderful or special about these dishes. They were fine for what they were, but hardly the makings of anything close to a fine dining experience. On the other hand, as others have noted the service here is generally excellent, and you won't find yourself waiting all day for your fries or a steaming basket of wings.
As for the atmosphere, I'll try to be kind. The owners have done a great job sprucing up the dining area and it's a lot lighter inside then it used to be. The guys who run the place are funny, knowledgeable, and just great guys. If you can find a spot there, I highly recommend that you sit at the bar and enjoy the show. All that being said, it's hard to get around the fact that Max's is still, at least on most days, a loud, crowded, smoke filled bar. This is Baltimore after all, so you learn to overlook a little smoke and a few loud, out of town yahoos (on more then one Sunday during football season I've seen the bartenders have to break up a fight or give some ill-mannered New Yorker the boot). Also, on most days the restroom is the kind of place where one holds one's breath upon entering, takes care of one's business as quickly as possible, and gets the hell out. The owners do their best to keep the place clean, but sometimes the small restrooms are just overwhelmed by the number of folks using them. In short, good intentions aside, it's very hard not to overlook the fact that "atmosphere" is not exactly one of the things one goes looking for at Max's.
As for quality, Max's has an outstanding selection of beers, many of them very hard to find. They usually have at least 15 or 20 Belgium's on tap, as well as a number of cask conditioned ales and aged English ales. The price for these beers runs the gamut, starting at $5.00 a glass for beers like Victory Prima Pils, Dominion's Hop Pocket and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I say a glass, because anyone who's spent any time at Max's quickly realizes that, for the most part, they do not use true pint glasses. The glassware is shaped like a pint glass, but if you buy a bottle of something and pour it in the glass you'll see that a 12 oz. beer COMPLETELY fills the glass. (Oddly, if you order a glass of cask conditioned English ale, that will be served in a true pint glass, and for no more money. Why other beers are not served in the same glassware is beyond me.) Belgium's are served in a 10 oz. goblet and can run anywhere between $6 and $8 (beers like Samiclaus or the world wide stout, when available, are of course even more expensive). I never really know what I'm going to get charged beer-wise when I go to Max's, as the price seems to vary depending on how over-worked the bartenders are and who serves me. Again, this is no knock on Max's. They serve so many different beers at so many different price points, it would be a shock if they didn't occasionally get things mixed up from time to time. If any of this bothered me I'd stop going, but obviously it doesn't. I think Max's is a great place and it's always on my list of places to visit when travel takes me to Baltimore. I'd recommend it to anyone visiting the area for a few days.
03-21-2006 21:18:55 | More by John_M
4.14/5 rDev -7.4%
Second stop on our Baltimore pub crawl. After a great crab dinner near Litte Italy, we made our way over to Fell's Point. This was where I wanted to start the evening. Very comfortable feeling inside. Looks like a great beer bar, but also has a laid back dive-bar vibe to it. Loved sitting at the bar and having all the beers displayed in front of you in the coolers. We were served as soon as we sat down, and checked on regularly. Bartender even took the time to explain to us Northerners who "Natty Boh" was. Nice. Selection was crazy. Tons of beers on tap and in bottles. I found an Allagash beer that I haven't even seen on tap in New England. The smoked Burnham Road was served in a fat goblet glass. Very tasty. I can see why this bar is a must-see if visiting Baltimore.
08-07-2009 19:21:15 | More by morebeergood
4.68/5 rDev +4.7%
A killer bar in the Fells Point section of Baltimore.
The bar has a very good atmosphere, a bit of a sports bar vibe but still very welcoming.
Quality and selection in this place are beyond amazing! 50, 60, 70 tap? I could not count that high by the end of the night. Little or no crap in the tap list either. Local taps, national craft beers from across the country. The bottle list was similarly insane. Easily a couple of hundred bottles, again all high quality.
Bartenders are outgoing and knowledgeable. You don't need to be a regular to feel right at home.
Food was good.
Can't wait to go back.
08-10-2008 21:38:21 | More by sholland119
4.68/5 rDev +4.7%
Stopped in for two beers on the way to the airport.
64 beers on tap with the only ones I wouldn't consider being Bud, Guiness, and Woodchuck. Everything else, I would call world class.
Ellezelloise Hercule Stout on draft? Lots of other Belgians, probably 2/3 of the menu devoted to Belgians. Cazeau, Contreras, De Dochter, De Regenboog, Lefebvre all had multiple offerings on the list.
We went with Burton Baton and oak aged Ten Fidy. Three chalices of Burten Baton came in at $24 (and this was around 2:30 on a Tuesday.
A spectacular bottle list that included the first time I've seen a focus on vintage offerings. Anchor 1.5 liter holiday back to '95 ($70) and SN Bigfoot back to '99 ($20).
I'm sure that if a beer is available in Maryland, Max's has or had it.
03-01-2010 02:17:01 | More by Yetiman420
4.4/5 rDev -1.6%
Max's Belgian Beer Festival, what a great time to belly up to the bar. My observations are based on the goings-on during the festival and may not be indicative of a normal day at Max's.
Atmosphere: A crowd of 20-25 people greeted my wife and I at 10:45 on Friday morning. All beer geeks jazzed up for some awesome Belgians. The bar itself was long and wooden, immeasurable tap handles dotted it and the wall behind the bar. Great place. And did I mention that it is smoke-free?
Quality: The 4 hours spent at the bar were met with nothing less than great service, good food, and great beer.
Service: The bartenders were quite attentive (they had to be, the place was jampacked at 3PM when we left), fast to refill either samplers or full chalices. They get kudos for having to tend to so many of us.
Selection: 100 taps! That is not a type, 100 taps adorned the bar and wall. All Belgian, some of which I've never seen or heard of before. Coolers full of bottles were present, stocked with a nice array of Belgian and American offerings. The big winners of the day were Ommegang's Saison de Gewurz and Les 3 Fourquet's La Fourquette.
Food: Belgian-inspired offerings abounded. We went through a cheese plate, jambon and chicken sandwiches and lots of frites. Delicious.
We spent a nice chunk of change but the experience was well worth it.
02-20-2008 14:17:02 | More by akorsak
4.8/5 rDev +7.4%
Went to Baltimore for a conference and I said to my buddy, we must go to Max's Taphouse. Let me tell you, after hearing so much about this place, it lived up to all the hype. I never saw so much beer in one place. DFH 120 on tap, are you kidding me! They had to have close to 200 bottles of brew in the refrigerators behind the bar, maybe 40-50 taps? We arrived around 1:30 in the afternoon, so we had the place much to ourselves, and we started drinking. Allagash,Duvel Red,Green on tap, Stone 13 Anny on tap, Ruination, I could go on and on. Had a big plate of mussels which were awesome. Five hours later we left, totally beered out. Good thing we took a cab.. I'm kicking myself in the ass for leaving the tap and bottle list on the bar when we left, so I can't remember everything the two of us drank. All I can say, if you go to Baltimore, this is a must stop if you love beer.
11-08-2009 13:32:06 | More by InspectorBob
Max's Taphouse in Baltimore, MD
99 out of 100 based on 215 ratings.