National Bohemian: A Close Study

I am in the soaking in phase of my visit to Baltimore, and it will take some rest and reflection to wring it out into proper blog posts. Last night, after a day at the newly-forming Guinness brewery, I stopped into the Water Street Tavern in the Inner Harbor, which was a half a notch up from dive bar on the scale of ritz. Nevertheless, it was getting surprisingly high marks for its crab cakes (entirely warranted, it turned out), and so fit my particular bill. 


The beer came in plastic Corona Light glasses that—well, let’s just say they didn’t pre-wash them before pouring. I started with the only reasonable local choice, a Flying Dog IPA. Upon seeing the condition of the glassware, I decided it was time for a different Baltimore experience and shifted gears. Below are my tasting notes on the city’s iconic beer—rumor has it that Natty Boh moves 60,000 barrels in Baltimore—which is best enjoyed in establishments like the one in which I was sitting. 


Natty Boh is not bad; it is nonexistent. It is carbonated water flavored by the subtlest essence of toasty malt. One has to muster all one’s focus to locate any flavor at all. It is elusive. Five Natties In is no time to begin a close study. Mostly, the lightly alcoholic sparkling water is entirely inoffensive. It distracts one only at the moment of its absence, when an entirely unreflective thought passes: “time for another Natty.” Thus passes an evening, where the focus of one’s attention might properly be placed elsewhere: the extensive catalogue of Led Zep on the jukebox, the level of doom befalling the Orioles, the question of which golden girl was the hottest (an actual debate that broke out among the gents to my right). If you’re thinking about Natty Boh at all, in other words, you’re thinking about it too much.