Hampden, pronounced HAM-den, is a small Baltimore neighborhood full of diversity and culture. From burritos and beers to bikes and skateboards, Hampden’s got it.
“We’re in an area where people who appreciate good beer come,” said Brian Arnold, owner of Nepenthe Homebrew.
Along with bars and restaurants, Hampden offers other activities such as learning how to brew beer at Nepenthe Homebrew on Clipper Mill Road.
“The word is still spreading,” Arnold said. “Our intention is to foster a sense of community.”
Nepenthe, which means an elixir that induces happiness, opened in February 2013 and will offer homebrew classes for local residents and visitors. In addition to classes, the store offers all the necessary equipment for customers to brew their own beer.
“Starting any business is a huge undertaking,” said Jill Antos, part-owner of Nepenthe Homebrew.
The building sat empty for nearly seven years before Arnold and Antos came along. Its layout has the feeling of a refurbished factory.
“Home-brewing is definitely an up and coming hobby but I think if you asked a random person on the street, hey can you make your own beer? They’d be like no of course not. But yeah, you can and a lot of people don’t know that,” Arnold said. “First batch, all-inclusive, equipment and ingredients, less than 200 bucks.”
Arnold recommended Golden West, Frazier’s on the Avenue and Holy Frijoles as great spots for drink or dinner. Holy Frijoles offers cheap happy hour deals on food and drinks. Frazier’s pours generous shots according to Arnold. The two establishments faceoff across The Avenue and attract similar crowds depending on the day.
“I guess on a weekday I would prefer happy hour over a show,” said Hampden resident Lindsay Logan. “I really like Holy Frijoles because of margarita Monday.”
The happy hour special is not called margarita Monday, but the bar offers half-price margaritas all day on Monday prompting Logan to call her weekly destination margarita Monday.
While Logan was speaking, two teens were running down the sidewalk using their strength, agility and creativity to parkour off steps and railings that others would simply walk over or past. The two held themselves completely horizontal on a metal railing using only their arms to brace their full weight. Before I could get a word with them, the youngsters ran off to their next obstacle.
Parkour is a body art wherein the participants use a standard object like a light post or railing as a training device.
Hampden is located north of the city-center. Hampden is right off Falls Road and Clipper Mill Road. Its convenient location is within the I-83 corridor.
“One of the strongest cultural aspects of Hampden is that people really get to know each other more than they do in other neighborhoods,” said Julie Reiser, five-year Hampden resident. “People walk everywhere and when they’re not walking, they sit on their porches and watch everyone else walk by.”
Reiser is the Director of the Professional Communication program at Johns Hopkins University and she enjoys walking her dog up The Avenue in Hampden. She also said that there is a lot to see in such a small neighborhood.
For business owners and those who work in Hampden, the sense of community is strong. The exposure they receive from the neighborhood’s walking culture is welcomed and embraced.
“I like Hampden because it’s a cool cross-section of people,” said Daniel Colburn, a web-developer and Hampden resident. “There’s this weird hipster influx of people but then there’s the people who have been here for years.”
Saturday afternoons in Hampden recently became a lot more friendly. Union Craft Brewery is located off Clipper Mill Road. The brewery offers a free tasting of all their craft brews every Saturday afternoon from one to four. The event is a great way to get the pallet warmed up before going to Golden West to see local bands perform.
The unique neighborhood offers a lot to look at. Wyman Park is a potential spot to take a stroll away from the cars and noise. Along The Avenue, there are enough shops and stores to keep a visitor happy all day.
“There are a lot of shops, clubs and the Atomic Bookstore,” Reiser said.