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The Taste: Rams Head Tavern’s Fordham Brats and Mash Recipe and More

Mar 07, 2016 09:00AM ● By Cate Reynolds

Rams Head Tavern

33 West Street, Annapolis // 410-268-4545 //

By Rita Calvert // Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.

An Annapolis institution since 1989, Rams Head Tavern has expanded in our region to include locations from Savage in Howard County to Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Not only do the taverns serve casual fun food and offer first-class musical acts, they take part in many of our area’s philanthropic programs. We recently spoke with President of the Rams Head Group, Erin McNaboe.

Tell us about your commitment to craft beers and the history of these famous suds of yours. How did that begin?

Rams Head Tavern Annapolis was purchased by Bill and Paula Muehlhauser in December of 1989. At that time, there were 100 beers in-house and the Muehlhausers opted to keep all of them, but added a new twist—The World Beer Club.

Soon after purchasing, Bill and Paula began traveling the country from West to East Coast, sampling beers along the way. They disliked many of the beers they tried until they landed in Columbus, Ohio. In discussions with the local brewer, they asked him what kind of beers he brewed. His response, “Beers people like to drink.” The brewer’s name was Allen Young.

In 1995, the Muehlhauser family opened a showcase brewery, named Fordham Brewing Company, on West Street in Annapolis. The head brewer in charge? Allen Young of course! He had been hired in 1994 on the promise that Rams Head would one day build a brewery. Young was instrumental in guiding the German beer influence, as well as the introducing Beraplan Brewing equipment from Munich, Germany.

Fordham outgrew the walls in Annapolis and demand increased. The brewery was moved to Alexandria, Virginia for a period of time before finding its permanent home in Dover, Delaware. In 2007, Fordham joined forces with Old Dominion Brewing Company. Today, their beers are distributed in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Internationally, the beers are found in the UK and Denmark.

Since 1995, Fordham has been committed to quality, consistent, and drinkable craft beers. Fordham and Dominion welcome you to stop in for a tour, a tasting, or one of their many special events throughout the year in Dover, Delaware.

Hoffman's Meats of Hagerstown supplies your bratwursts. What is Rams Head’s relationship with them? Do you work with other local farmers or producers?

Hoffman’s Meats is owned by Jason Trippett of Severna Park. He has been a longtime friend of the Rams Head. A few years back, we worked with Hoffman’s to make a bratwurst made with Fordham Beer...Hoffman’s Fordham Bier Bratwurst. After learning more about Hoffman’s meats, we introduced more of his local products to our menu including the bier bratwurst, sirloin steak, pork, bone-in ribeye, and New York strip.

Some of our produce comes locally from Farmer John’s and we purchase many local oysters, rockfish, and blue catfish.

You book 600-plus concerts per year, and have a tremendous commitment to local music—tell us more about that. I’ve heard, “You don’t get a better venue than Rams Head On Stage.”

The Rams Head Promotions arm of the company booked more than 630 concerts last year. More than 560 of those concerts took place in Anne Arundel County through Rams Head On Stage, Rams Head Center Stage, and Maryland Hall.

Additionally, we have five nights of local, free music at all four of our restaurants. That’s more than 1,000 nights of local music a year. So yes, I would say we have a huge commitment to music—both local and national!

How did the Rams Head Roadhouse in Crownsville come to be? Is that a chip off the old block? What is your property like in Savage?

Bill Muehlhauser frequented the local watering hole, called Rudy’s Tavern, before Rams Head purchased it in 2004. On the border of Annapolis and Crownsville, Rams Head Roadhouse is a community staple, serving up fun, sammies, subs, pizza, and beer in a casual atmosphere.

Rams Head Tavern Savage Mill opened at the historic 1820 cotton mill location in 1999 and is the largest Rams Head restaurant. Four floors of dining options, including a deck overlooking the Little Patuxent River.

Just over the Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the Rams Head Group purchased the Island Inn in October of 2006. With breakfast seven days a week, as well as separate dining and bar options, Rams Head Shore House is known for friendly service.

What philanthropic programs do you support?

Since 2007, Rams Head has worked with Special Olympics of Maryland, raising more than $300,000 under the Rams Head Ice Lodge concept at the annual Polar Bear Plunge. Rams Head employees and friends donate more than 200 hours of volunteer time and work with our year-round partners to donate product so that 100 percent of all spending in the Rams Head Ice Lodge tent goes directly to Special Olympics of Maryland.

Last year, we also planted grasses in Baltimore in partnership with the National Aquarium. We just completed a long term relationship with them, donating more than $100,000 to their [causes of] protecting and preserving the ocean and its inhabitants.

In the summer, we booked the Bacon Brothers in support of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Tenth Bands in the Sands event. It was great to see our booking arm of the company, bringing music to a sandy beach.

In August, Dick Franyo [Owner, Boatyard Bar & Grill], Barbara McMahon [GM, Loews Hotel], and myself joined forces to raise funds for the Centro de Ayuda through a Noche Latina night at Rams Head On Stage. We raised more than $15,000 for [Centro], the area’s only nonprofit charitable organization to help families successfully assimilate into U.S. culture.

Additionally, through annual events, we support AMFM, a nonprofit organization created to provide temporary financial relief to professional Annapolis area musicians who cannot work due to sickness, injury, or any other circumstance leaving them unable to perform.


Fordham Brats and Mash

Serves 1

2 Fordham Bratwursts
8 ounces mashed potatoes (recipe follows)
4 ounces sauerkraut
3 ounces pickled red cabbage
Garnish: 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard gravy (mustard + gravy) 
pinch minced fresh parsley

Grill the bratwursts. Sauté sauerkraut and pickled cabbage until hot. Put mashed potatoes in bowl, top with sauerkraut, pickled cabbage, and bratwursts. Ladle mustard gravy over the top and garnish with a pinch of minced parsley.

Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

2 pounds Russet potatoes
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup milk, hot
1/4 cup heavy cream, hot
1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt plus freshly ground black pepper

Scrub, peel, and cut potatoes into large pieces. Steam until tender enough to mash easily. Drain and dry them on a sheet pan in the oven until no more steam rises from them. While the potatoes are still hot, whip them in a mixer.

Add the butter and mix into the potatoes until just incorporated. Add the milk and cream (small amounts at a time), salt, and pepper and whip until smooth and light. Taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.