DuClaw Brewing Company in Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, MD is the best chain microbrewery in the area. They have a total of four locations in Maryland: Bowie, Fell’s Point, and Bel Air (currently under repairs due to a fire) are the other locations in the state. The thing that is great about this place is that they have good reasonably priced food to go along with their beers. This review will touch on the food first to give everyone an idea of what they offer and will finish with a review of some of their beers.
As far as appetizers, DuClaw does have a lot of the typical bar food, but they do it very well. Their crab dip has a lot of crab meat in it and has a nice spicy touch to it. If you like the dip, try the parmesan shrimp and crab toast, it has the same crab dip but includes shrimp in it on a nice crusty french bread along with a generous topping of mozzarella cheese. For those of you that want a twist on a bar favorite, try the mesquite chicken rolls. These are similar to variations many restaurants have but include a nice smokey chicken flavor. Of course if you want the standards they have quesadillas, wings, onion rings, coconut shrimp and loaded nachos. These are all decent, but nothing to write home about.
Duclaw offers a wide variety of salads. My best suggestions for these would be the buffalo chicken salad, the strawberry salad, and the sesame grilled chicken salad. The buffalo chicken salad has a nice spicy breaded chicken breast combined with cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and other greens along with pepper jack cheese. I will admit the salad is a little plain, but the buffalo chicken brings it to life. If you want something lighter give the strawberry salad a try. It includes grapes, strawberries and almonds with bleu cheese crumbles on top of romaine letter. It comes with a creamy poppy seed dressing, but I highly recommend trying the honey lemon dressing as a substitute. Finally, the sesame grilled chicken salad is one that is popular now. It fits the asian style chicken salads many restaurants have. The salad again is not very fancy with greens, scallions, and crunchy noodles to go along with the chicken. These are all tossed in a delicious toasted sesame dressing though. If salads are not your thing, I strongly suggest giving the Bad Moon Chili a try, the chili isn’t overly spicy but has a nice rich flavor and the bread boule it is served in is very good as well.
To me, sandwiches and burgers are where a microbrewery should shine considering that is a very common accompaniment to a nice draft beer. DuClaw will not let you down they have a great variety of sandwiches. I will make one recommendation up front, request any sandwich you order on one of their pretzel rolls. They can do this with most sandwiches and it is a unique roll I’m sure you’ll be happy with. They have assorted chicken sandwiches but my favorite is the Cajun chicken sandwich. This comes with a large butterflied grilled chicken breast seasoned perfectly with cajun spices. I always get that one on the pretzel roll. The pork bbq sandwich is good with a tangier barbecue sauce than others I have tried which is very good. The turkey melt is another good option as it comes on the pretzel roll and with a nice sweet mustard sauce to put on top. For those wanting something different they have a cuban sandwich, a buffalo chicken panini, a smoked club sandwich and a nice tuna sandwich with their own spicy flavoring. That same spice makes an appearance on their Arizona burger which also includes smoked gouda cheese and is my favorite burger there. For the less adventurous they have a standard hamburger, cheeseburger and bbq bacon cheeseburger. All of their burgers are large 10 ounce pieces of meat.
For those of you that would like to try the entrees here you won’t be disappointed. I’ll be honest and say I have not had a lot of these because my preference when I go out for beer and dinner is a sandwich or burger and maybe a small order of chili. The two entrees I have personally had are their smokehouse ribs and their jambalaya. If you get the ribs you must try the strawberry jalapeno bbq sauce on them. It is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy. Speaking of spicy, their jambalaya has a nice spice that slowly builds up on you for a perfect winter meal. I have also had friends tell me the chipotle lime tilapia is very good as is the penne and mozzarella marinara. If you want something unique give the Great Potato a try. It is a baked potato filled with chicken, mushrooms, onions, peppers, broccoli and carrots along with a cream sauce made with their Bad Moon Porter beer. The other entrees I did not mention include a large variety of chicken, beef, pasta, and seafood selections. Their entree list has 20 items on it for those of you that have room for an entree at a microbrewery.
As I said though, this is a microbrewery, that means most people will come hoping to try some of the beers. One of the great things about DuClaw is approximately once a month they have a two day special where they release a new seasonal beer. The beer is not sold at a discount price, but if you join their beer club you can get an email you print out and get a free glass or t-shirt if you go to the beer release party. Some of their seasonal beers that are annual traditions include the Devil’s Milk (a barley wine with an alcohol level above 11%) in November, Black Jack Stout in December, Naked Fish (a chocolate raspberry stout) in February, and Celtic Fury (an Irish stout) in March just to name a few. Others rotate in some years, and are skipped others. One of the more interesting ones that rotates is 13 Degrees which has flavors of banana and clove in it. Of course there are also staple beers they have through out the year. My favorite of these is Bad Moon Porter it is a robust porter which has a smooth feel on the tongue but a strong coffee/cocoa flavor as you drink it. The also have a blonde ale (I can’t list the name here as it’s name isn’t suitable for print) which is rather bland; Misfit Red (an amber ale) that is similar to Killian’s; Venom which is an American style pale ale and finally Kangaroo Love which is an Australian lager. They are all decent beers but none compare to Bad Moon Porter. For happy hour all these beers are only $2 a pint, the seasonal beer is usually $4 or $4.50 regardless of the time of day.
DuClaw Brewing Company is a great restaurant to visit for a happy hour, a meal with a beer or two to go along with it, or just a night out for dinner. Whatever the reason you decide to stop at DuClaw you will leave satisfied.