Sisson's: Maryland's Original Brewpub

© 2003, 2010 Thomas Cizauskas

Sisson's was opened by Baltimore native Al Sisson and his wife Annie in December 1979. It quickly achieved success as 'the' neighborhood bar of historic Federal Hill.

When brewing equipment was installed in 1989, Sisson's became Maryland's first brewpub to operate since Prohibition. Under the stewardship of Al's son Hugh Sisson, who was general manager and head brewer, the brewpub and its beers achieved renown. To name a few: Marble Golden Ale, Stockade Ale, Edgar Allan Porter, Prancer's Pride.

Bob Kittrel, Sisson's brewer, circa 1997 Shortly thereafter, the kitchen facilities were improved, the restaurant physically expanded, and the menu changed to that of Creole cuisine. With chefs Bill Aydlett and William Rothwell, the restaurant's food, in tandem with the beer, became highly regarded.

In 1995, preparing to open his new production brewery, Clipper City Brewing Company, Hugh Sisson sold his shares of the brewpub. Annie Sisson's son Jack Callanan was picked by the family to operate the restaurant and brewpub.

In November of 2002, the family sold their remaining interest in the brewpub

The new owners included Washington, D.C. restaurateur Paul Morrissey, past co-owner of British Brewing Company Craig Stuart-Paul and his wife Tracey, and local brewer Thomas Cizauskas. The partners promptly began extensive renovations. Among the changes were a new bar in the upstairs dining room, moving the downstairs bar to a more centralized location, and a general 'spiffing up' of the facilites.

Firkin MondayChef Rothwell was rehired and the menu was changed to that of a Baltimore Steakhouse. The 'new' Sisson's re-opened in the latter half of March 2001.

Initial press in Ale Street News .

Initial press in Baltimore Sun .

In August 2001, Cizauskas departed the partnership. In October 2002, the remaining partners sold their shares. The pub was renamed Ryleigh's Oyster. In 2005, the brewing equipment was removed and sold to Mountaineer Brewing of West Virginia.

Sisson's —the grand old lady of Maryland brewing— had ceased to exist.

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