Annapolis Waterworks & Forward Brewing

Annapolis, MD

J and I are super lucky to have an awesome hike and brew combo right in our backyard! It’s so nice to do a quick hike after work instead of having to wait for the weekend for a big excursion. The Waterworks trail is perfect for any length of hike. We usually do between 3-4 miles but the full loop is over 10 miles! Once you’ve gotten enough outdoors time on the trails, warm up at Forward Brewing, a small nanobrewery in the Eastport neighborhood. Come ready for a delicious menu and thirst-quenching brews! 

THE HIKE: Annapolis Waterworks Trail

Length: 10.3 miles full loop (We did ~4 miles)
Elevation Gain: 1000 ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time:  4.5-5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets, mountain biking
Parking: Park off Housley road, can fill up
H&H: 4/5

It took us a few months of living in Annapolis to finally venture out to the Waterworks trail. I was a bit intimidated at first because there wasn’t a lot of information online about it and it seemed pretty confusing. Well I’m going to dispel some of the misleading info out there so you can enjoy these trails! So first of all, the Waterworks park is a specific park in Annapolis that requires a permit to use. BUT you do not need a permit to hike the trails! I repeat, you do not need a permit! These trails run near the Waterworks park but they don’t actually go into the facility. However, there are parking areas that are permit only. The best place to park is on Housley road. There is a pull off for about 20 cars on the side of the road. Or you can park in the large shopping center lot and walk over. But you didn’t hear that from me! Be aware that the parking lot off Defense Highway is permit-only so don’t park there! The section of trail accessible from Housley is the southern section. If you want to access the northern section, the only way I know of is to get dropped off or bike ride to the trailhead on Honeysuckle Lane. Do not park here as I’ve heard the residents won’t hesitate to have you towed. So really, your best bet is to park at Housley Road. 

Okay so now that we know where to park, let’s chat a bit about the trails themselves. These trails were built by MORE (Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts) and are maintained by their volunteers. Since MORE is an organization of mountain bikers, these trails are more geared toward that activity, although they are open to hikers as well. Just don’t be surprised if you encounter cyclists on the trail. Remember to share the trail! The full trail system comprises several different trails that all interconnect (Housley, Missing Link, Solar Park, Silopanna, Honeysuckle, and Duke of Gloucester). For our hike, we took the Housley trail and used the Missing Link connector to take us to the Solar Park Loop. Overall, we did about 4.3 miles! I’m so used to hiking on the weekend that I almost forgot to turn around with enough time to get back to our car before dark. We were definitely hoofing it at the end! 

I really like these trails and I definitely enjoyed my experience of a winter hike. During the warm months, these trails can get very busy. But we hardly saw anyone on a Friday afternoon! Be aware that sometimes these trails can get muddy. Check the trail monitor at the trailhead to see if walking on the trails is recommended that day and use your discretion. We only encountered a few muddy spots, most of the trail was still frozen when we went! The only section I didn’t enjoy of this hike was the first half of the solar loop. It circled through an open field full of solar panels and while not exactly the nature I was looking for, it was actually the wind whipping by that I hated. Thankfully the later half of the loop took us back in the woods. This was surprisingly beautiful landscape for being smack in the middle of a town. I hope that eventually more parking is added to make these trails more accessible.

THE BEER: Forward Brewery

Address: 418 Fourth St, Annapolis, MD 21403
Distance from Trail Head:  5.3 miles, 15 mins 
Food?: Full Menu
H&H Rating:  5/5

Guys I love Forward Brewing so much. There I said it! Despite the setback and challenges of opening during a pandemic, they’ve been killing it! Every time we visit, they are hopping and putting out consistently delicious beers. And just recently they’ve finally opened their indoor seating so we’ve finally been able to enjoy their cozy space. 

Forward was started by two Annapolis natives and is very focused on their local neighborhood.  I love how much of a local vibe this place has. In my hometown, nearly every neighborhood has their local brewery and I love to see that spreading! Unlike a lot of Maryland breweries that are in business/ industrial parks, Forward is tucked into the Eastport neighborhood in a converted house that has been in the owner’s family for over 30 years. There’s only street parking nearby so it’s pretty common to see people walking over to the brewery from their homes (or boats!). Be warned, Forward is pretty small on the inside so don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a table. Sometimes they have outdoor seating too but it varies. 

On this visit, we were excited to sample some of the new winter offerings. Dark beers reigned supreme with our favorites being the Chupez Stout and the Chaleur De Lenore Belgian Quad. The Chupez had just the barest hint of spice with a very smooth chocolatey finish. It was so satisfying after a chilly hike in the woods! We were also really impressed with the Belgian Quad and were happy to see that it was a collab with another of our favorite breweries, True Repite. We don’t often get out to Rockville so it was great to see our local pairing up with them. Honorable mention to the 2 Birds 1 Scone which was a cherry rhubarb sour with vanilla and spices which made it perfect for the chilly weather. 

Another plug for why I love this place so much: they are highly invested in the health and future of the Chesapeake Bay. They’ve launched a campaign called the Momentum Initiative in conjunction with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in which they plant enough oysters to filter the equivalent of the water used to brew their beer. Fun Fact, oysters are key to clean water in the Bay because a single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day! I think it’s so important to give back to your community and I love that Forward is doing just that! If you’re ever in the Annapolis area, be sure to check them out! 

Our Beer:

  • Chupez Beer – Mole Oatmeal Stout – 6.8%
  • Eastport Wassail – Winter Warmer – 7.5%
  • 2 Birds 1 Scone – Sour – 6.5%
  • Silent is the Night – Imperial Black IPA – 8.6%
  • Doppelbock – German Dark Lager – 8%
  • Chaleur De Lenore – Belgian Quad – 9.2% (Collab with True Respite)

SUM UP: Annapolis Waterworks is a large trail system in the Annapolis area for mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners. All together it is about 10.5 miles but there are plenty of smaller loops to do. The best place to park is off Housley Road but it is a popular area and can fill up. The natural trail is full of ups and downs that keep it interesting but not too difficult. Keep an eye on the weather and don’t risk hiking on a wet trail! After your outing, head into the Eastport neighborhood to check out Forward Brewing. This cozy brewpub sits in a converted home and offers a full menu alongside carefully made brews. Keep an eye on the ABV, some of their taps pack a punch in the best way.

Beer Byte – October

Yeast: Operation Fermentation

Fermentation may have been a better invention than fire

David Wallace

So we’ve already talked about hops and malt, but we’re still missing a key ingredient in the beer making recipe. Yeast is the third main component of beer and it’s extra important since it gives beer it’s booze! Making beer is one big science experiment and that’s most evident in the fermentation process. Things can get a little technical here, but we’re gonna try to simplify it for everyone!

Yeast is one of the last ingredients added in the beer making process (aside from final flavoring hops). We’re gonna dig into this a bit more in another post, but briefly the beer making process starts with adding hot water to malt which yields a sugary liquid called wort. Then the wort is boiled and hops may be added at this stage. At this point, there is no alcohol yet in the beer! That’s where the yeast comes in. The mixture is transferred to the fermenter and brewer’s yeast is added. The yeast then feeds on the sugars from the malt, resulting in alcohol and CO2. Still with me? Cool.

So what exactly is yeast? Yeast is a microscopic, single-celled organism that’s part of the fungus kingdom. Feeling thirsty yet? Yeast cells feed on carbohydrates (which are made of sugars) and convert them to alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process is called fermentation.

Is there yeast in other alcohols too? Of course! Since fermentation occurs with yeast, it’s a primary ingredient in all alcohol. In wine, the yeast feeds on fruit sugars and in clear spirits, it feeds on starches like potatoes. And remember that whiskey also uses grains! Fermentation isn’t just in the drink world either. Lots of foods are made using this process, including bread, soy sauce, vinegar and more!

What a minute, why isn’t bread alcoholic then? Well actually it is! Yeast used in brewing and baking undergoes the same process of converting sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide. The CO2 is what causes bread to rise! But when bread bakes, the alcohol cooks off. But bread does in fact have traces of alcohol even after baking. You’d get stuffed long before getting tipsy from bread though!

Are there different types of brewer’s yeast? – Definitely and it completely depends on what you’re making. Some yeast strains have specifically been cultivated for certain flavors. Generally, there are two types of yeast in brewing: top-fermenting and bottom-fermenting. Top-fermenting yeasts react best in warm water and are generally used to make ales. Bottom-fermenting yeasts do better in cold temperatures and are used to make lagers. But within these two categories, there are thousands of strains of yeast to choose from. Definitely gives me a new appreciation for some of my favorite beers. 

My dad’s homebrew ready for fermentation.

How long does fermentation take? Like most things with beermaking, it depends. Lagers take much longer to ferment than ales. Also a high alcohol beer will need a longer conditioning (also called secondary fermentation) time. And the darker the beer, the longer the fermentation process. Brewers really need to know their stuff to make sure their product has had adequate time to bubble.

So there you have it! Hops, malt, yeast and water, what more could you need??


Beer Byte – August

MALT: The Backbone of Beer

Barley is one of the main grains used in beermaking

So we’ve already talked about hops, let’s get to the next main ingredient in beer: MALT! Okay so we need to clear something up first. Malt is actually a verb and a process but in the brew world it’s generally understood as the grain used in beer. It’s better to understand malt as “grain that has been malted” 

Malted Barley

What is malt? – Malt is one of the four main ingredients of beer (the other are hops, water, and yeast). It refers to the roasted grain in a beer recipe

What is it for?  – Malt adds flavor, sweetness, and color to beer. It’s what adds carbs to beer, giving it the classic “liquid bread” nickname. 

A maltster raking grains to dry out before kilning

What is the malting process? – Let’s keep it simple. First, grain is picked and allowed to dry. Water is then added so the kernels sprout. Then heat is added to stop germination and finish drying out the grain. The temperature and time used in the roasting process creates different malt. This whole process allows for the starches in the grain kernels to begin to convert to sugar but stops them before they can grow into new plants. This sugar is key to the brewing process since it’s what the yeast will feed on! (Spoiler alert: yeast is my next Beer Byte!)

What type of grains are malted? – Most brewers use malted barley in their brews. Wheat or rye are also common but barley is definitely the king. But any grain can undergo this process. Over 90% of malted grains processed around the world end up in beer! Some beer are even made with unmalted grains

Beermaking Term: Grain bill refers to all the grains used in a specific beer recipe

Is malt used for anything else? – There are plenty of other things that use malt! Whiskey also uses malt (think a blended vs a single malt scotch). Malted grains can also be used in baking, either as the ground up grain or as an extract that takes the form of a sweet syrup. Malt is also found in treats like malted milk balls, malted milkshakes and Ovaltine. Malts are more common than I thought!

Are there different kinds of malt?  – Just like hops, there’s a huge variety in the types of malt used in brewing. The type of malt used is really determined by the type of beer one is making. The majority of the malts used in a recipe are called base malts which make up 60-100% of the grain bill. But their flavor can vary wildly based on type of grain used, where its grown, and how it is malted. These base malts also effect the color of the beer! Pale Malt is the most commonly used variety which gives the resulting beer a nice golden color. Malt that is roasted (kilned) for longer are darker and are used in dark beers like stouts. Some of these darker grains are called specialty malts and are used in lesser quantities than base malts. The biggest difference between base and specialty malts is that base malts must undergo the mashing process to add fermentable sugars to the beer. Specialty malts add color, aroma, and flavor and only need to be steeped in hot water to add their deliciousness to the beer. Science!

What about non-barley beers? – until the early 2000s, beer needed to have at least 25% barley to be considered a beer. But with increasing interest in gluten-free beer, that definition has changed to include any cereal grains. Now, brewers make beer using sorghum, millet, buckwheat, corn, rice and more! In fact, some breweries are completely gluten-free! I’ve personally been to Aurochs Brewery a completely gluten-free brewery in Pittsburgh and had the Session IPA made with millet and quinoa. Fascinating, right?

All of these beers have a different grain bill that gives them all unique colors and flavors!

I’m already learning so much about beer! I can’t wait to dive into yeast next month! Cheers!


Beer Byte – July 16

Hops Lightning Round – Beer’s Misunderstood Ingredient

What are hops? – they are the flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant, which needs a lot of sun and a moist environment to thrive. That’s why most American hops come from the Pacific Northwest

Why add them to beer? – hops add flavor (often balancing out the sweetness of the malts) to a beer, but most of all they stabilize it! Back in ye olde days, beer was made from a herb mix and was very prone to spoiling. Hops actually helped preserve it, plus were much cheaper then those herbal concoctions. Fun Fact: Beer made without hops is called a gruit. Not too many people make them anymore but I’m now determined to track one down someday!

All of these beers have hops!

Hops are only in “hoppy” beers, right? – NO. All beers have hops. Along with water, yeast, and malt, they make up the four main ingredients of beer. If someone tells you they don’t like hops, I give you permission to set them straight!

When are hops added? – Hops are generally separated into two main categories: bittering and aromatic. Bittering hops are added earlier in the beer making process but lose much of their flavor during the boiling. Aromatic hops are added later in the process and are more what we think of as “hoppy”. And of course, it can get a lot more complicated with things like dry-hopping, wet- hopping, hopback…honestly I think we’ll save all that for another time!

Can I grow hops? – It depends. Although you might see a small hop plant at your local brewery, the best environments for growing hops are temperate and moist. Today about 75% of the American hop market is grown in the Yakima Valley area of Washington State.

Hop Farm in Washington State (Source: Creative Commons)

Hoppy and bitter are the same thing right? – Yes and No. So hops do add bitterness which helps to balance the sweetness of the malts. But bitterness in beer can also come from other things like fruit or herbs (think spruce tips). And remember, all beers have hops but not every beer is bitter! I think people think this because IPAs and hop-forward styles have just flooded the market. If you don’t like bitterness, try a malty beer like an Oktoberfest, or a nice thick stout. Or if its summer go for a refreshing Gose! There’s plenty of beers out there without the bitterness!

But wait, why do hops in a brewery look like rabbit food? – okay yes, this was my first thought when I saw pelletized hops for the first time. I wasn’t entirely convinced the brewer hadn’t just gone to Petsmart. In order to preserve the fresh hops, they are dried, ground up and made into pellets. This is the most common form of hops on the commercial market.

Pelletized vs fresh hops (Source: Creative Commons)

Thanks for reading all about hops! It’s so fun learning more about my favorite beverage as I grow this blog. Got any fun beer facts for me? Or resources I’ve got to check out? Let me know!