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Eleven Local Breweries Release C&O Canal-Themed Beers to Kick Off Libations Trail in Celebration of the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s 50th Anniversary

The Canal Towns Partnership and the C&O Canal Trust announce the launch of seven C&O Canal-themed beers by eleven local breweries as part of a new C&O Canal Libations Trail created to celebrate the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park’s 50th anniversary as a part of the National Park Service. The trail will also include wineries, distilleries, and specialty cocktails to be released later in the year.

The trail is the result of a multi-agency tourism effort to promote the “C&O Canal Experience” to both local and out-of-state visitors during the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s 50th anniversary year. The C&O Canal Experience includes the entire C&O Canal and the counties it passes through – Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, and Allegany Counties in Maryland, and Jefferson County in West Virginia.

The C&O Canal Libations Trail will encourage visitors to explore the communities adjacent to the C&O Canal while sampling craft beer, wine, and spirits and supporting local small businesses, many of whom are in Canal Towns lining the C&O Canal National Historical Park, only a short walk or bike ride away from the towpath, the main trail that traverses the entire park.


Montgomery County, MD

7 Locks Brewing, Rockville, MD (11 mile drive from C&O Canal)
Along the Towpath: Barrel Aged Sour
Release Date: February 3, 2021
“Along the Towpath” references the beloved trail mules used to pull canal boats when the canal was operational, which is now a biking/hiking trail that runs from Georgetown, Washington, DC, to Cumberland, MD.

True Respite Brewing Company, Rockville, MD (10 mile drive from C&O Canal)
Lock Keeper: Hazy IPA
Release Date: February 10, 2021
“Lock Keeper” pays tribute to the men and women responsible for the daily operations of the lock gates lining the C&O Canal. When the canal horn blew, they were on duty, morning or night.


Frederick County, MD

Smoketown Brewing Station, Brunswick, MD (0.3 mile walk/bike from C&O Canal)

Smoketown Creekside, Frederick, MD (14 mile drive from C&O Canal)

Fog Holler: Hazy Pale Ale
Release Date: February 10, 2021
“Fog Holler” is named for the early morning fog that gathers in the hollow along the C&O Canal.


Washington County, MD

Cushwa Brewing, Williamsport, MD (2.5 mile walk/bike from C&O Canal)
Lock 44 Lager: Kellerbier Style Lager
Release Date: February 24, 2021
“Lock 44” is a tribute to the many wonderful sights that are within a short walk of each other in Williamsport: the Cushwa Basin Warehouse, Conococheague Aqueduct, and Lock 44 and its lockhouse.

Homaide Brewing, Williamsport, MD (2.5 mile walk/bike from C&O Canal)
Captain Myers: Red Rye IPA
Release Date: February 14, 2021

“Captain Myers” is named for the canal boat captain that accidentally hit and destroyed the stone wall at the nearby Conococheague Aqueduct in 1920. This aqueduct was restored in 2018 and is one of the showpieces of the C&O Canal in this section of the park.


Allegany County, MD

Four breweries in Allegany County have teamed up to offer Douglas’ Ditch, a lager that combines the names of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, who played a role in preventing the canal from being turned into a parkway in the 1950s, and the “Grand Ole’ Ditch,” a nickname for the C&O Canal since it opened for business in 1850.

1812 Brewery, Cumberland, MD (6 mile drive from C&O Canal)
Douglas’ Ditch: Lager
Release Date: March 1, 2021

Dig Deep Brewing Company, Cumberland, MD (0.2 mile walk/bike from C&O Canal)
Douglas’ Ditch: Lager
Release Date: March 1, 2021

Locust Post Brewery, Little Orleans, MD (7 mile drive from C&O Canal)
Douglas’ Ditch: Lager
Release Date: March 1, 2021

Route 40 Brewing & Distilling Company, Frostburg, MD (0.5 mile walk/bike from GAP Trail; 12.5 mile drive from C&O Canal)
Douglas’ Ditch: Lager
Release Date: March 1, 2021


Jefferson County, WV

Bavarian Brothers Brewing, Shepherdstown, WV (0.7 mile walk/bike from the C&O Canal)
Carefree 73 “Pale ale for the Trail”: New England Style IPA
Release date: February 1, 2021

73 is the mile marker where you will find Shepherdstown and the Bavarian Inn. Our New England style IPA is perfect after a carefree, cruisy ride or hike on the trail.


The C&O Canal Experience is a marketing campaign that launched at the start of 2021 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the C&O Canal becoming a unit of the National Park Service. The canal itself dates back to 1828, when ground was broken on what was then an engineering marvel that would transport goods from the Ohio River valley to eastern markets. It paralleled the Potomac River, which was not navigable by ship, and saw mules pulling canal boats both east and west between Georgetown and Cumberland, where the canal terminated. Due to competition from railroads and a series of floods, the canal closed to boat traffic in 1924 and sat relatively abandoned until the 1950s, when a group of interested citizens, including Justice Douglas, brought attention to the canal’s plight. It was named a National Monument in 1961 before becoming a National Historical Park in 1971.

Today, the Park welcomes approximately 5 million visitors each year and is a major economic driver for the area. In 2019, Park visitors spent an estimated $98.4 million in local gateway regions, which supported 1,330 jobs. The Park draws its visitors from its surrounding communities and from around the world who come to ride the 184.5-mile towpath from Georgetown to Cumberland, MD, and the adjoining Great Allegheny Passage (GAP Trail), which stretches from Cumberland to Pittsburgh, PA. The 332-mile trek from the Steel City to the nation’s capital is a bucket list item for many long-distance hikers and bikers. The Park also preserves over 1,000 historic structures and conserves habitat for 113 rare and threatened plants and animals, while offering interpretive tours, hiking trails, overnight lockhouse accommodations, and a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities.

“The C&O Canal Libations Trail presents wonderful opportunities to visitors and residents alike to travel along the C&O Canal Scenic Byway and to explore Maryland’s C&O Canal region,” said Maryland Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary Tom Riford. “The region is filled with an abundance of outdoor recreation, family-friendly attractions, a diverse culinary scene, world-class arts and culture, and a wealth of history. The trail’s libations will include dozens of nearby wineries, distilleries, and breweries.”

“The Canal Towns Partnership, whose members represent the towns adjacent to the canal, is excited to partner with local organizations and businesses to create a memorable, authentic visitor experience during the celebration of the 50th anniversary in 2021 and beyond,” said Abbie Ricketts, Chair of the Canal Towns Partnership. “We are proud that this trail includes some of the very best breweries in the region.”

“The towns and communities that surround the C&O Canal are vital resources for the approximately 5 million people who visit the Park each year, providing food and drink, a place to sleep, and a unique opportunity to soak in the unique history and charm that grew up around the C&O Canal during its heyday,” stated C&O Canal Trust President Robin Zanotti. “The C&O Canal Trust is the keystone in the bridge between the C&O Canal National Historical Park and the community, and we provide ways for canal lovers to preserve the Park we cherish today for future generations. We see the C&O Canal Libations Trail playing a vital role in drawing Park visitors into the surrounding community. This is all the more important as local businesses struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Partners in the C&O Canal Libations Trail include the Canal Towns Partnership; the C&O Canal Trust; the Maryland Department of Commerce Office of Tourism; Visit Montgomery; Visit Frederick; Visit Hagerstown; Allegany County, the Mountain Side of Maryland; and the Brewers Association of Maryland.

The full list of participating breweries can be accessed at www.CanalLibations.com. Information about the year-long C&O Canal anniversary celebration can be found at www.canaltrust.org/50th.