By: Julekha Dash
Boozy and Bucolic
A CRAFTY COMBINATION OF COUNTRY RETREATS AND LOCAL TASTINGS
Some of Maryland’s best spots to sip beer, wine, and spirits are tucked away in the hinterlands, where the journey through backroads is part of the adventure. And when drinkers have finished sampling local IPAs, cabernets, and whiskeys, they can spend the night at a rural bed and breakfast and soak up the scenery. We’ve highlighted three historic inns in Montgomery County’s Laytonsville, Kent County’s Chestertown, and Frederick County’s Thurmont where visitors can combine sipping their favorite elixirs with enjoying the bucolic surroundings.
TUSCULUM FARM, LAYTONSVILLE
As you drive past grazing horses and acres of farmland on the one-lane road that leads to Tusculum Farm, you’ll feel the stresses of your daily life disappear.
The historic B&B, located just 30 miles from D.C. and Baltimore, dates to 1747, and was the private residence of the Freeman family—major real estate developers—until four years ago when the owners turned it into a farm retreat. Nature lovers can wander along trails on more than 500 acres strolling past 13 outdoor sculptures and a garden dedicated to Gertrude Stein. Animal lovers can look forward to horseback riding and getting up close to alpacas, chickens, and lambs.
While you’re there, take a hayride from the inn to Tusculum Farm’s next-door neighbor, Waredaca Brewing Company. Try the farm brewing company’s pale ale, IPA, and coffee stout inside the cozy tasting room or outside on the 230-acre farm grounds. Two miles from Tusculum you’ll find Elder Pine Brewing and Blending Co., a dog-friendly brewery with 10 rotating brews. You’ll find a selection of lagers, amber, and Belgian suds at Brookeville Beer Farm, about a 10-minute drive from Tusculum.
BRAMPTON BED AND BREAKFAST INN, CHESTERTOWN
Chestertown, on the Eastern Shore, provides a quiet refuge for vacationers looking for a taste of rural life, art, and history. The Brampton Bed and Breakfast Inn sits on a wooded 20-acre property that includes a manor house dating back to 1860, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Enjoy the view while sipping afternoon tea and nibbling on delicious snacks as you relax on a patio rocking chair.
When you’re ready to explore historic Chestertown, walk or drive the two miles to downtown where you’ll find numerous art galleries, antique dealers, and thrift shops. After shopping, stop at Bad Alfred’s, a downtown brewpub and distillery that produces whiskey, vodka, gin, grappa, moonshine, and brandy. Wine lovers will enjoy a visit to the Casa Carmen Wine House, a Spanish-style tasting room serving tapas and wines from the boutique winery, also located in downtown Chestertown. Crow Vineyard and Winery is a short drive north of Chestertown.
INN AT SPRINGFIELD MANOR, THURMONT
Located on 135 acres at the base of the Catoctin Mountains, Springfield Manor offers a true country estate experience. Enjoy hiking and biking on the manor built in 1765 by James Johnson, the brother of Maryland’s first governor. Guests can explore the trails and the dazzling lavender fields, and if you happen to be visiting in June, check out their lavender festival.
You won’t have to go far to enjoy local wine, beer, and spirits as the inn houses a craft brewery, distillery, and winery complete with a tasting room and terrace. The distillery infuses its gin with lavender grown on the property to produce an award-winning lavender gin. You can also sample whiskey, bourbon, rum, vodka, brand, and grappa. The winery, which produces a range of reds and whites, offers frozen sangria and frosé in warmer weather and hot mulled wine in the winter. Enjoy live music and food trucks on the weekends.
Visitors who want to explore more wineries can head just seven miles north to Catoctin Breeze Vineyard, whose Cabernet Franc won the 2018 Maryland Governor’s Cup. Enjoy a view of the countryside at Red Heifer, which produces nearly two dozen varieties of dry and sweet wines. Beer lovers will find several options 12 miles south in Frederick, including Maryland’s largest brewery, Flying Dog. Visit the town’s small-batch distilleries including McClintock, Tenth Ward, and Dragon distilleries. You can head back to the inn at Thurmont or stay at its sister property, the Inn at Stone Manor in Middletown.
Bad Alfred’s Chestertown, badalfreds.com This brewery and distillery is a popular spot for regulars and visitors alike and features wood-fired pizza and fresh salads on its locally sourced pub menu. Don’t be surprised when Bad Al and his friendly staff step up to greet you.
Casa Carmen Wine House Chestertown, casacarmenwines.com This boutique winery, the closest to Chestertown, is a part of the Chesapeake Wine Trail. The founders are siblings from Ecuador who have lived in various corners of the world and now share their experience and winemaking skills at Casa Carmen.
▲ Elder Pine Brewing and Blending Co. Gaithersburg, elderpine.com George, Paul, David, and Andrew (Ringo and John—just kidding) built Elder Pine on their family farm (two brothers, two friends), where they serve up to 10 brews on tap at any given time. Bring your own food or see the food truck schedule on the website.
Red Heifer Smithsburg, redheiferwinery.com Located on 56 acres of what was once the Naylor Peach Orchard, Red Heifer enjoys the perfect situation for grape growing: a sloping hillside with a southeast orientation, warm summer days, cool summer nights, and a constant breeze. Feel free to breeze right in with your picnic basket and blanket.