The First Chesapeake Bay Beer Crossing

      It takes an Irish boat and crew to ferry beer across the Chesapeake. They won’t be dying the Chesapeake green — as the Irish of Chicago dyed the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day — but they’ll be transforming the Bay into an Irish Channel to bring Galway Bay its special 20th anniversary brew. 

      In December of 1998, Irish-born Michael Galway and Anthony Clarke revived the warm and friendly nostalgia of Galway Bay’s predecessor, Little Campus Inn. By doing so, they created the best of both worlds — authentic Irish pub and neighborhood watering hole.

      If you’ve been to the cozy, red-bricked bar, you’ll know it’s jam-packed with life. The bar, built on Irish hospitality, has no TVs by design, to perpetuate conversation. Simply put, the pub has personality. The food, music, brews and lively atmosphere have drawn Chesapeake neighbors and international travelers to Galway Bay again and again for two decades.

      Commemorating its double-decade milestone, the Irish pub launches a cross-Chesapeake voyage. From the Eastern Shore, the Annapolis Irish Rowing Club crosses the Bay powering an authentic Irish currach, a boat made of a wooden frame and cowhide. The vessel, dubbed The Galway Bay, concludes its voyage at City Dock at noon Sunday, December 9. 

      “The currach is an important piece of Irish history,” Clarke says. “Many years ago, Guinness kegs were rowed in boats to the islands of the U.K. People would wait in anticipation on the shores for the keg to land. Once it did, they’d carry it to the pub, hook it up and have a pint.”

      This is the first known time a crew will row across the Bay to ferry beer. Brewer RAR Brewing Co. of Cambridge has named “a cream ale with hints of bread pudding” Galway Bay 20. The special brew launches at 10am on December 15 in Galway’s bar.

        “This is a highly anticipated release and is sure to be well attended,” says Clarke. “We expect a line outside the door early that morning.”

        A portion of the keg’s sales returns to the Irish Rowing Club.

      The celebrations won’t end with beer and boats. On Tuesday, December 11, Galway Bay hosts a pub quiz focused on the history of the Irish pub.

      Pub quizzes began in Galway Bay’s inaugural year. Since that first quiz in 1998, teams have donated more than $213,000 to local charities. 

      “To celebrate our good fortune of being in business for 20 years,” Clarke adds, “We’ll match the money raised by the contestants of this special anniversary quiz and donate to the winner’s charity of choice.”

      It wouldn’t be an Irish celebration without music. On Wednesday, December 12, Peter Brice and the Trad Band play alongside Irish dancers.

       There are more celebrations to come. After ringing in the New Year, the pub plans an even larger party. 

      “Sometimes it feels like 20 years, and sometimes it feels much shorter,” Clarke says. “We are so grateful for those in Annapolis that have helped us. Michael and I want the celebrations to really reflect our appreciation for how truly settled we feel in Annapolis two decades later.”