Monday, June 4, 2012

My Favorite Baltimore Bars: The Judge's Bench

A little over a month ago I wrote the first of what I dubbed "My Favorite Baltimore Bars". Today, I bring you the second edition to the least anticipated series in blogger history. This time we focus our attention on a bar that might have the coolest atmosphere in all the land. I'm talking about none other than The Judge's Bench.

No, technically it's not in Baltimore, but who cares? 78% of the posts I write are for businesses not technically in Baltimore so when I say My favorite Bars in Baltimore I guess I mean bars that you can drive to from Baltimore within a reasonable amount of time.

Before I get to the Judge's Bench, let me just focus on the fact that the street the bar is located on is probably my favorite street in Maryland. As a fan of Harry Potter I can't help but feel like I'm walking through Diagon Alley when I'm perusing up and down Main Street of Old Ellicott City. All of the shops are jammed up against one another and filled to the brim with whatever odds and ends the shop owners decided on. It's been awhile since I made it there during the day but there is a shop at the bottom of the hill owned by one of the coolest guys ever. Inside is a small beer/liquor store that is complete organized chaos. He opens the store when he wants and he closes it just the same. If you're lucky enough to walk by when he is outside on his stoop reading a book, be sure to stop in and buy something. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the shop, but if you know what I'm talking about and the guy still has his shop open please post some details in the comments so everyone can find this diamond in the rough.

But back to the bar at hand. I ended up in The Judges Bench on accident a few years ago. Main Street is a bit of a hill and by the time I made way up to the top I wasn't quite ready to venture back down. I saw a little bar across the way and decided it would be a good place to stop in and cool off for a bit. I was immediately in love with the place. The Judge's Bench is small, dimly lit by some vintage chandeliers, has a brick fire place and small brick bar. Typically, it's filled with a mixed crowd of anyone from their mid 20's all the way up to older couples in their 60's. It's always full but never wild and is a great place to get a beer in a live atmosphere but not one in which you're waiting for a fight to break out at any moment.

The beer selection is unexpectedly great for such a small place. They always have a rotating selection of 17 craft beers on tap and a bottle selection pushing 50 or 60 selections. For whatever reason, that's the place I seem to end up when I'm in the mood to drink a beer with a heavy alcohol content as the Dogfish Head Worldwide Stout I had last visit can attest to. In addition to beer, they are also the 3rd largest carrier of single malt whiskey in the state.

Quite possibly my favorite part of the bar is the always excellent live music they have. I'm not always in love with live music as it can get too loud to have a conversation, but even sitting right in front of the band I always find it easy to hear and be heard. One visit in particular they had a band performing that included a peddle steel guitar player. The fact that they get that type of musician in their doors probably sold me for life.

Really, this place is hitting on all cylinders. There isn't one thing I'd change about the bar and I implore anyone who comes across this post to make the trip to The Judge's Bench ASAP. You can thank me later.

  Judge's Bench on Urbanspoon

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