Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pinehust Wine Shoppe is a beer paradise

A guest post from my husband, Scott: 

The Pinehurst Wine Shoppe has quickly become my favorite place in the neighborhood to buy… not wine, but beer. The shop has a smaller beer selection than some other local stores, but it's very good stuff.

But the main attractions are the taps -- and the fun that comes with them. Pinehurst has sold nearly 1,000 refillable growlers to people in Rodgers Forge and the surrounding neighborhoods since August, and they have an ever-changing selection of high-quality and local tap beers to fill those growlers. The shop also holds tastings -- when a particular brewery will take over all the taps -- offering unusual and sometimes rare brews for customers to try and take home. The recent Langunitas day sold me on that California brewery. And the events always feel a bit like a little party.

Pinehurst has more fun things planned for the coming weeks. The shop will offer a special prize (not yet determined, the owners say) for the person who buys the 1,000th growler. They expect to sell it this weekend, or perhaps sooner. To celebrate the Ravens' Super Bowl bid, Pinehurst will have a special offer on Natty Boh: Refills of large-sized growlers will go for $4 this Saturday, and the mascot Mr. Boh will be hanging around at the store.

On February 9, Tröegs will take over the taps from 1 to 5 pm. The brewery's standard offerings like Tröegenator and Java Head will be available, along with some rarer brews from the great Pennsylvania beermaker.

If you love beer and haven't yet checked out Pinehurst, you should head down Bellona for a taste.

What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Enrollment projections for Baltimore County schools

Download the full report here:

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why we see so many chain restaurants in, and coming to, Towson

Yesterday brought the unveiling of the names of three of the eight restaurants that will be opening at Towson Square. They are all chains -- maybe pretty decent ones, I don't know -- and people have long lamented the shortage of good restaurants in the Towson area, a place one might think would attract a variety of offerings. The same could be said for the York Road strip where Harry Little Sub Shop and Stoneleigh Bakery just closed. People always say, "Why doesn't someone open a cute little wine bar there?"

Here's why: The county's insane process of distributing liquor licenses. From an April 2012 editorial in the Baltimore Sun: 

"If you would like to open a bar or restaurant that sells alcoholic beverages on the Liberty Road corridor in Baltimore County, a liquor license will run you $2,000. About a 20-minute drive away, Joe's Crab Shack, a chain restaurant that's moving into the Hunt Valley Towne Centre, just paid $225,000 for its liquor license. The reason? An antiquated system that allots licenses by population in districts drawn decades ago and allows those licenses to be bought and sold on the open market. In Randallstown, an inexplicable dead zone when it comes to dining options, there are plenty of licenses for the taking. In Timonium, Cockeysville and Hunt Valley [and Towson], those pieces of paper are worth far more than their weight in gold. Whatever purpose this once served has long since disappeared." (Read the full piece here. And here's a very comprehensive piece about the history of the law.)

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz was able to secure a few reforms in the last General Assembly session, but as the Baltimore Sun editorial notes, they won't do Towson any good. So if you're a wanna-be entrepreneur, you're probably going to be discouraged at the idea of spending upwards of $200K for a liquor license, and your profits aren't going to be as good if you can't sell alcohol, and your chance of success dims. If you're Applebee's or Chili's, that investment might not be such a big deal.

So, you can thank the liquor lobby, the businesses that support it, and the politicians who cave to it for the dearth of fun food venues in Towson.

What do you think? Post or read comments here: Comments