Liam Flynn’s Ale House – Authentic Baltimore pub

When you think of an authentic Irish Pub, what comes to mind? I think the picture many have is something more akin to a TGI Friday’s than an actual Irish pub. Writing about this also makes me thing of an old joke. What do they call Chinese food in China? Food.

That is where I am going with this. If you look up authentic in Merriam Webster’s dictionary one definition states, “conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features.” This doesn’t really seem to fit Liam Flynn’s, but it so happens that another definition does, “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.”

Local Musicians Jamming at Liam Flynn's
Local Musicians Jamming at Liam Flynn’s

Staying true to one’s own character, is something a little more common in this part of Baltimore than others. Station North or Charles North is a neighborhood that is raw, artistic, and authentic. Its home to the original Joe² and to Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). MICA brings a lot of strong personalities, and personalities that are very good about sniffing out what is fake. This might be one of the reasons that Liam Flynn’s Ale House needs to be true to themselves, but I like to think it’s just because its who they are.

Liam Flynn’s isn’t spattered with Irish lineage posters or find your family’s tartan. But what you will find are humble decorations done by a pub owner, not a decorator, celebrating Baltimore history more than Irish or Scottish. The layout is simple. There are tables, and there is a bar. Sit, drink, eat. If the televisions are on, it’s likely that you will see soccer (or football if you want to be more European about it). But a pub’s primary duty is serving a pint to the neighborhood. And that is something they do well, and with their own style.

When people talk about the best beer bars in Baltimore, Max’s Taphouse is always the first mentioned. Then the next few are other usual suspects. But from time to time you will hear Liam Flynn’s mentioned. I think there’s pretty good reason for this. Liam Flynn’s is dedicated to local. For the most part their beers come from Maryland or Scotland, with a few other interesting choices too. But their Maryland selections are from brewers that aren’t featured on a regular basis anywhere else in town.

Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm and Frey’s Brewing Company were the first two farm breweries in the state of Maryland. In case you aren’t familiar with what a farm brewery is I’ll tell you. It’s a pretty simple concept, it’s a brewery that’s on a farm. The farm also needs to produce some of the ingredients for the beers produced. Then there are a lot of intricate details about licensing and distribution that we don’t need to go into today. But the bottom line is it’s a cool, local way to produce beer.

Meat smoking for tonight's service
Meat smoking for tonight’s service

Their menu comes from this same brand of coolness. Many of the selections feature locally sourced meats, vegetables, and beer. From a locally sourced beef jerky flavored with Monocacy Riot Rye Pale Ale to a Steak & Ale Pie made with Full Tilt’s Berger Cookie Stout and beef from Mt. Airy, MD. In fact most of the menu items have at least one ingredient that is locally sourced. And beyond the local sourcing there are also a good number of house smoked meats to enjoy. These are the things that in my opinion makes an authentic pub. Using the local community for your foods and drinks.

There is a dedication to community here, as Liam Flynn’s is part of The Open Plough Project. This is a Baltimore-based coalition of farmers, entrepreneurs, educators, and chefs. This project is dedicated to bringing fresh produced and locally sourced foods to this part of Baltimore City. Part of the project or possibly this pinnacle of the project is to restore the North Avenue market to a vital hub of the community.

Liam Flynn’s is also host to many local artisans. Obviously their customer base has strong roots in the art community, but the Ale House also hosts music sessions. Twice monthly they host the Baltimore Old Time Jam. A group of up to 35 musicians gather to play Appalachian and other traditional music. Every Wednesday they host Traditional Celtic Music Sessions. Open to all musicians that would like to participate.

While you might want to check out Liam Flynn’s because of some good local beer, or maybe because you want farm to table casual dining, you will find it’s the dedication to community that gets you back in that door again and again. Or maybe that’s just me, because I am a sucker for that stuff. Hey, who cares why you come. It’s a cool place and they do cool things.

Liam Flynn’s is also hosting a Baltimore Post-Examiner event coming up next Thursday, April 3 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. This is a fundraiser to help out the website, we will be featuring live music, poetry, and of course beer. Come check it out!

One last thing. I want to tell you a little secret, while Liam Flynn’s is often mentioned as one of the best Irish Pub in Baltimore. In a hushed voice – it’s not an Irish Pub. It’s Scottish. As an Irishmen, I am willing to let this go, because more than Scottish, it’s Baltimore.