The Brewer's Art Explores 'Anything Goes' Belgian-Styled Beers

By Cathy Adams

     Friday the 13th might not seem to be an auspicious date to open a restaurant, but Volker Stewart and Johey Verfaille, partners in The Brewer's Art, are not superstitious. Besides it was Verfaille's birthday. Two and a half years later, The Brewer's Art has not suffered from bad luck.

     The Brewer's Art specialty is its Belgian-styled beers brewed on the premises. "We thought the Belgian-style beers weren't well explored in this part of the country. Belgium has an anything goes brewing tradition. In a country about the size of Maryland, there are hundreds of breweries and almost as many styles of beer," said Stewart.

     Resurrection Ale, the strongest beer they make, has surprised Stewart with its popularity. In addition to the four house beers, they carry a large selection of bottled beers from all over the world.

     The Brewer's Art occupies the winter townhouse of an investment banker built around the turn of the century. It was later an antique store with extensive storage space downstairs. Stewart explored locations all over the city, but, with zoning and licensing restrictions, non of the spaces were suitable until they found the North Charles Street site.

     The dining rooms are paneled in dark wood, with many of the original moldings and details still in place.

     Stewart said that the dining rooms were more formal looking than they had initially envisioned, but the atmosphere suits an eclectic crowd. "A table dressed for the opera is next to a group in jeans and sweaters and everyone is comfortable with it."

     The first floor bar features an ornate fireplace that looks like a period piece, but isn't, and genteelly shabby chairs and a couch. The lounge is dominated by the huge marble working fireplace and is a cozy place to sit during the winter.

     The copper brew kettles are off the rear dining room behind French glass doors. They hold about 260 gallons each, which is about a week's consumption.

     The seasonal menu is wide-ranging and imaginative. "We're committed to using fresh ingredients," said Verfaille. She focuses on a European style with a small excursion into North Africa with a Moroccan Chicken Tanjine (Grilled chicken served with couscous, spicy vegetables and garnished with preserved lemons). Steak-Frites, described as the national dish of Belgium, is a New York Strip served with rosemary and garlic fries. Grilled Fennel is the garnish for Pyllor-wrapped salmon served with a saffron sauce.

     Appetizers include a Smoked Salmon Rillette, a new twist on the traditional pork rillette (a semi-smooth spread), Smoked Mussel Salad with roasted red potatoes, garlic croutons and pancetta served over frisee (baby endive) and Bacon-wrapped Monkfish with Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce and Red Pepper Coulis. A popular appetizer is the Tapas Platter, a selection of appetizers that changes daily. Verfaille has a good library of cookbooks, which inspire her staff to come up with interesting choices for the Tapas.

     The light fare menu includes sandwiches, appetizers and two kinds of pizza for those who want something more casual.

     Desserts are made in-house, and are "not super-fancy, more homey," said Verfaille. The homemade ice cream and sorbets are popular choices. The crusty loaves in the bread baskets are made by an outside baker using beer and the "spent" grains (used to brew the beer).

     This is Stewart's first experience in the restaurant business. He was previously a reference librarian for the University of Baltimore. In some ways he said there are similarities between the two careers. "There are always customer service issues. It (the restaurant) is a crazy business. It's been a roller coaster ride. And we're still here."

The Brewer's Art Smoked Salmon Rillette (serves 6-8 as an appetizer)

     To achieve the right texture, 1/2 of the smoked salmon is flaked by hand, and the other 1/2 is pureed in the food processor.



  1. Flake 1 pound of the smoked salmon and place in a mixing bowl along with the chives.
  2. Combine the other pound of smoked salmon, sour cream, shallots, capers, lemon zest and juice, green peppercorns and horseradish in the bowl of the food processor. Puree until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Stir the puree into the the flaked salmon and chive mixture.
  4. Pack into serving bowl. Garnish serving platter with leaf lettuce and lemon slices. Sprinkle lemon zest and parsley on top of rillette.
  5. Lightly toast or grill baguette slices and serve with rillette.

The Brewer's Art
1106 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD
(410) 547-6925
Appetizers and Salads: $4.00-8.00
Sandwiches: $7.50-9.00
Entrees: $13.50-17.25
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 4 pm-2 am

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