A little slice of Belgium will soon open in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Since I live here, well, I thought I’d tell you about it.
Just because I like beer. Belgian beer, especially. If you’re reading this article, you probably do too. (If you don’t, maybe I can convince you.)
The much-anticipated De Kleine Duivel (“The Little Devil”) will open later today in Baltimore’s hip Hampden neighborhood, three miles north of downtown. “I’ve been trying to open a bar in Baltimore since 2010, and tomorrow, it finally will happen,” said owner Paul Kopchinski, during my visit on Thursday, December 19.
“The third location will finally be the charm,” Paul told me as we sat at the beautiful, handmade wood and steel bar at 3602 Hickory Avenue. The locale is the former Red Men’s Hall, which was previously owned by the national fraternal organization, The Improved Order of Red Men.
This is just a stone’s throw from 36th Street, where bars, restaurants and shops line Hampden’s main street. The Wine Source, one of Baltimore’s great beer retail shops, is a scant few blocks away. There is also a light rail stop, Woodberry, about two-thirds of a mile distant.
“Let me tell you about how things stand now, and about my future plans,” Paul remarked. “We will only be selling authentic Belgian beer here. Nothing Belgian-style, or Belgian-inspired. We have eight taps right now, and I may increase that to a dozen at some point. We also will have around 35 bottled beers to start, but that number will steadily increase over time.”
I noted brews from Achouffe, Bavik, Boon, Bosteels, De Koninck, Duvel, Liefmans, Lindemans, Maredsous, Orval, Rochefort, Rodenbach, Silly, St. Bernardus, Strubbe, and Westmalle in bottles.
Having visited all of these breweries before, some multiple times, I can attest that they are brew some of the best beers in Belgium.
This includes Boon Oude Geuze and Lindemans Cuvee Renee Oude Gueuze. “We’ll try and serve all the beers in their proper glassware, as much as we can, as they do in Belgium,” Paul remarked.
“I want to try and offer most of the different styles of beer brewed in Belgium, so the tap list will be fairly varied. On draft, we’ll start today with Bavik Premium Pils, which I think is one of the best pilsners in Belgium. We’ll also have Corsendonk Christmas, Avec les Bons Voeux de la Brasserie Dupont, Lindemans Framboise, Monk’s Café Flemish Sour Ale, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Troubador Westkust Belgian IPA, and Dilewyns Vicaris Winter,” Paul added. “I have a keg of Duvel Single ready as well,” he mentioned.
The Vicaris Winter is brewed by the youngest female brewer in Belgium, 26-year-old Anne-Cathérine Dilewyns. Anne-Cathérine paid a visit to Baltimore this summer, and I had the pleasure of taking her to some of the top beer spots in the city. I’m sure De Kleine Duivel will be on her “to visit” list when she returns to Charm City.
“As far as food is concerned, we will be serving charcuterie, cheese, and chocolate to start,” Paul commented. “Sometime next year, hopefully in January, we’ll get the kitchen open and offer classic Belgian dishes. These will include mussels and frites, Vlaamse Karbonade (Flemish Beef stew) Coq à la Bière (chicken cooked with beer) and more. In fact, nearly all the dishes will be cooked with beer,” he added.
As far as entertainment: “De Kleine Duivel is going to be place where you come to have good conversation with friends and socialize. There will be no loud music. We do have a stage here, and in the future I hope to have low-key live entertainment at times. Not full bands, but acoustical music and the like. Chill and relaxing.”
As far as TV’s: “Two of the reasons I love Belgium are cycling and soccer. These are big passions for me. So, we may have one large projection TV in the future and show things like the Tour de Flanders (Belgium’s top cycling race, like Tour de France) and the World Cup. But, this won’t be a sports bar. We’ll only show big events like this. Mostly, the television won’t even be turned on.”
Paul’s family is from Antwerp, and he travels to Belgium every year to watch the Tour de Flanders-and to do some cycling himself. Not to mention, taste some beers. Which explains two of his current bottled brews: “I usually visit Westmalle’s Café Trappisten every trip to Belgium, and have a Dubbel and a Tripel. I just love those beers.”
During his travels, he has brought back some unique Belgian emphemera, from old road signs to enamel beer plates. These will soon decorate the walls of “The Little Devil.”
The bar will accommodate about 15 to 20 seats, and there are normal tables and high top tables that can seat around 40 or so at the moment, with some room to add more. There’s also a good bit of standing room.
As far as to the opening days and hours, Paul stated: “We will be open every day. I think most likely we will open around 4 pm from Monday to Thursday, and likely at 3 pm on Fridays. On Saturdays and Sundays, I envision a noon opening time. We can stay open till 2 am every night, if business warrants it.”
“Friday, December 20th will be our first day. We will open at 5 pm,” Paul told me.
De Kleine Duivel does have a carry out license, so you can buy bottled beers to take home. Very convenient, that. There will be no growler sales for now, but who knows what the future holds.
See you at The Little Devil.