As we continue to push through these gray and dreary days of perpetual slush, baseball junkies in search of escape roam the Internet in search of “Hot Stove” discussions about everything from their favorite team’s notable offseason acquisition (Brad Hand), and the National League’s best left-handed setup reliever (A.J. Minter), to grievances about deserving players who have been unfairly excluded from baseball’s Hall of Fame (and here’s to YOU, Al Oliver and Dave Concepcion!).
In those rare instances where this writer allows himself such unproductive indulgences (he says, whilst whistling and looking away), I am obligated, when discussions turn to the greatest players in our game’s history, to remind my fellow seamheads that one of the five greatest right-handed hitters in baseball history hails from my very own Eastern Shore.
I am, of course, referring to Jimmie Foxx. Double X. The most feared slugger of the post-Ruth era. One of the linchpins of those great Philadelphia A’s teams which won three consecutive American League pennants and the 1930 World Series.
The leading home run hitter of his decade and the man who collected four home run crowns, three MVP awards, two batting titles and a Triple Crown during that decade of Roosevelt, Garbo and Baltimore’s own Billie Holiday. Even in face of inevitable recency bias, the prodigious slugger frequently referred to as “The Beast” typically posts between #10 and #20 in the lists of all-time greatest players, as composed by the game’s eminent historians.
Jimmie Foxx. The Pride of Sudlersville, Maryland. A small, quiet town in the northern end of Queen Anne’s County, and the place where his image is forever immortalized in bronze.
Which offers you, dear readers, a fifth reason to plan a visit to Queen Anne’s County once the days get a bit warmer and drier. This uniquely eclectic county, which offers everything from the fast-growing commuter neighborhoods on Kent Island to the sparsely-populated agricultural expanses along the U.S. 301 corridor, has quietly and rapidly become one of Maryland’s craft beer meccas.
It wasn’t even four years ago that Queen Anne’s County had no breweries of which to boast. The first to arrive, in October 2017, was the Bull and Goat Brewery in Centreville. This was followed in seemingly rapid succession by the Patriot Acres Farm Brewery in Sudlersville and the Cult Classic Brewing Company on Kent Island.
The county’s emergence on the craft scene culminated, in the COVID-19 Summer of ’20, with the opening of Ten Eyck Brewing, located off U.S. Route 50 in Wye Mills. Where just recently there were none, there are now four working production breweries in Queen Anne’s County. “What I find most interesting is each of our local breweries brings a different vibe, that pairs well with their corner of the County,” said Queen Anne’s County Commissioner and resident craft beer enthusiast Chris Corchiarino. “From Patriot Acres exposition of rural Queen Anne’s County with open fields and livestock, to Cult Classic’s showcase of performances from local talent and local products at the farmers market.
“Bull and Goat provides the forum for small town meeting space, while Ten Eyck is almost like an art house, blending of intriguing ingredients to create exceptional variety of beer.”
Bull and Goat’s taproom is situated in an intimate and unassuming space in downtown Centreville, merely a block off North Commerce Street. Co-founders Jake Heimbuch and Jason Guest have made the effort to define Bull and Goat as a comfortable mainstay of life in the quaint county seat.
When in town, one would be well advised to sample one of Bull and Goat’s signature pours – Frank About Beer, a smooth and highly approachable amber ale with a clean, surprisingly floral finish. Those looking for something hoppier and more intense might go for the Baby Yaga – a dry-hopped double IPA that offers a balance of complementary notes.
Meanwhile, Patriot Acres – true to its agrarian surroundings – is situated on a fourth-generation, 103-acre family farm that is now owned by Brian and Shawna Truitt. A visit to their taproom, located on Millington Road’s “main drag,” will in all likelihood include “up and close and personal” interactions with various goats, sheep, alpacas and chickens.
Whilst on the farm, you might consider Brian’s Peanut Butter Delight – a nitro-infused stout that literally offers the sense of drinking a Reese’s peanut butter cup. While obviously a heavier pour than many other taproom offerings, this writer can personally attest that this beer- coupled with, say, a breezier wheat offering, is a surprisingly agreeable way to waste a languid summer afternoon.
Returning from the agrarian North County to heavily-trafficked Kent Island, one can find – in a repurposed ACME grocery store building – the Cult Classic Brewing Company. Those who only remember the building original usage could hardly imagine what co-owners Jesse and Brooks McNew have done to the place.
With movie posters true to the brewery’s name (Ed Wood’s “Plan Nine From Outer Space!”), a performance stage, drapes and stage curtains, and the smell of popcorn that welcomes the visitor almost instantly, Cult Classic intends to capture the feel of the grand theaters of our recent past. Like a successful multiplex that offers a blend of choices for different tastes, Cult Classic is able to appeal to both the most advanced beerhead or the casual guest who just wants something that “tastes like beer.”
This writer’s advice? Start with The IPA When The Earth Stood Still (yeah, I have no idea how these guys come up with these names). A New England IPA might be a relatively easy beer to make once; however, it is an exceedingly difficult beer to produce successfully AND consistently. Jesse and Brooks have managed to do just that.
Bursting with Mosaic hops and double dry-hopped, it offers that wonderful, citrus smell, a smooth mouthfeel and a finish with detectable notes of tangerine and grapefruit. While you’re there, be sure to eat something! Cult Classic now has a full-service kitchen that offers a solid complement of pizza, burgers, wings and apps.
Our final stop on the Queen Anne’s County beer tour ends at the crossroads of U.S. 50 and Md. Route 213, nestled within a modest commercial cluster that includes the Mid-Atlantic Cat Hospital and Dickie Potter’s VW service and repair shop. There, one can find a woman-owned brewery that was meticulously designed and built from the ground up to offer a truly special sipping and social experience.
Ten Eyck Brewing – founder Nicki Sener’s ancestral family name that means “at the oak.” A stroke of branding fortuity, given the close proximity of the brewery and taproom to the legendary Wye Oak that stood for centuries until its untimely demise in 2002. The woodsy theme is prevalent throughout the public space. The massive bar top and most of the tables are custom made by Wood Ingenuity from an oak tree that used to be at Camp Wright. The aesthetic is both stylish and deeply welcoming to the guest.
Any discussion of Ten Eyck’s line of beers must begin with its inaugural product and the very first beer it produced for off-premise consumption – Side Dish. A less adventurous and confident brewer might have been reluctant to announce their presence with an imperial brown ale, brewed with sweet potatoes, maple syrup and vanilla, lest there be a segment of the marketplace that didn’t relish the thought of reliving their Thanksgiving dinner for months on end. That is precisely what Nicki and her team did, however, and the result has, from the start, been overwhelmingly positive.
And deservedly so – it is a truly extraordinary beer. Side Dish’s 10 percent ABV provides the warm, boozy finish to balance the smooth mouthfeel and complementary notes of sweetness, and in so doing offers a beer that can be enjoyed for as long as Nicki and her colleagues choose to make it.
The understanding and attentiveness that each of these breweries have demonstrated to the vibe of their respective communities has been integral to their success, suggests Clay Mitchell, a prominent Queen Anne’s County attorney and son of the late House Speaker, R. Clayton Mitchell. “Because the breweries’ owners instinctively and purposefully oriented their businesses towards local tastes, customs, and values, they quickly attracted a strong following of patrons and supporters,” he said. “These breweries are not cookie-cutter franchises. They are the locally owned, community-centric coffee houses of the twenty-first century. This is the paramount factor in their success.”
These amazing breweries – the faces, collectively, of Queen Anne’s improbable rise to the forefront of Maryland’s craft beer scene, and who represent the very best characteristics of our small business sector – are worth the visit. As is a pilgrimage to “downtown Sudlersville” to see the statue of an Eastern Shore boy who gave so much joy to so many baseball fans in another seemingly hopeless age.
Len Foxwell serves as principal of Tred Avon Strategies, a political and communications consulting firm based in Easton. As Chief of Staff to the Comptroller of Maryland, Foxwell regulated the state’s alcohol industry for 13 years. In 2017, he led the Reform on Tap Task Force to modernize Maryland’s craft beer laws.