We may be more than three weeks out until it's "officially" the start of summer, but if the heat index, humidity, and number of outdoor food and drink events popping up are any indication, it's already in full swing in Baltimore. Below are some events happening around town in the next of couple weeks that we thought were worthy of your attention and the meat sweats that will inevitably ensue.
Union Craft Brewing
Union, as always, is packed to the fermenters (see what we did there?) with events. It's starting off the season with a beer brunch at Canton BBQ joint Jokers 'n Thieves (3000 O'Donnell St.,  675-4029, jokersnthievesbaltimore.com, formerly JD's Smokehouse) this Sunday, May 31st. Starting at 11 a.m., guests will enjoy a five-course menu, each course paired with a different Union beer. We're talking combinations like its AM Gold Cream Ale brewed with coffee and paired with coffee-rubbed brisket, a glazed doughnut, and a six-minute egg, as well as the Steady Eddie IPA paired with crispy pig ears, scrambled eggs, and jalapeno salsa.
Later that same afternoon, Union will be teaming up with various chefs around the city to host The Urban BBQ, an event that benefits The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and will run from noon-4 p.m. at the brewery (1700 Union Ave.,  467-0290, unioncraftbrewing.com). Food will be prepared by chefs from Apropoe's, 13.5% Wine Bar, Roy's, Wit & Wisdom, The Food Market, Aldo's, Fleet Street Kitchen, Dooby's, and Schola. The event—an extension of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's swankier Passion For Food & Wine fundraiser held every fall at the Four Seasons—will feature unique chef-driven BBQ menu items such as grilled Cunningham Farms lamb tacos, grilled porchetta, pulled pork sliders, and ice cream from The Charmery, to name a few. Tickets are $45 per person and include all-you-can-eat grub and your first Union beer.
On June 5, Union will hold its second Black Friday of the season. Dubbed "the return of hogs and hops," this beer-and-pork event starts at 5 p.m. with the opening of the taproom followed by the unleashing of Black Sauce Kitchen's whole hog BBQ at 6 p.m. in Union's parking lot and semi-new mini beer garden. Enjoy shoving your face full of pork butt, loin, jowl (for the adventurous types), and the like while listening to tunes spun by DJ BohFunk. Admission is free with beer and food pay-as-you-go.
Parts & Labor
If you'd like to dig a bit deeper into preparing and cooking BBQ, you'll want to stop by one of two pig-butchering demos being held at Parts & Labor (2600 N. Howard St.,  873-8887, partsandlaborbutchery.com). On June 1 and June 15, food lovers and cooks can grab a seat for $65 and learn from the P&L team as they methodically break down a half-hog into various off-cuts and major muscle groups and then demonstrate techniques to cook said cuts appropriately. Tickets, which include the demo as well as "salty pork snacks and plenty of beer," can be reserved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're one of the many who've become increasingly intrigued with cider—be it for dietary restrictions or just because local ciders are becoming more and more kick ass—you'll be happy to see that Millstone Cellars and Oxbow Beer (out of Newcastle, Maine) will be at Parts & Labor on Saturday, June 6, for an Oxbow & Millstone Hoopla. From open to close the cidery and brewery will be serving their ciders, meads, and beers as they unveil their collaboration beer, Millhouse, a 8.5 percent dark farmhouse ale brewed with raspberries and aged in Millstone cider barrels. Parts & Labor will be outside grilling up hot dogs and sausages to accompany your drink of choice while the brewers and cider masters will be on hand to answer any and all questions about brewing with honey, apples, and barley. Entry is free and beer and food are pay-as-you-go.
Monument City Brewing Company American IPA Release Party
After putting out two killer beers this fall and winter—the 51 Rye and Brown Ale—the guys behind Monument City are ready to unveil their fresh-out-of-the-fermenter American IPA on June 4 at Metro Gallery (1700 N. Charles St.,  244-0899, themetrogallery.net). Named Battle IPA, this beer weighs in at a not-fooling-around 7.5 percent ABV and, as brewer Ken Praay says, "has an abundance of floral hop aroma and with pine and subtle citrus notes." We're all for more great beers coming out of Baltimore, so we earmarked this event because you can enjoy $5 Monument drafts all night while taking in some live rockabilly from Arty Hill and country-folk tunes by D.T. Huber. Tickets are $5 and the first 200 people get a free Monument City pint glass.
The Park West Bazaar
Mount Vernon may not have First Thursdays anymore (grumble) but, in what we hope will become a monthly thing, 520 Park Ave. will host its Park West Bazaar just down the street from Monument Park at the corner of Park Avenue and Cathedral Street on Friday, June 5 (City Paper is also a sponsor). From 4-8 p.m., people can unwind from the work week as they enjoy beer from Flying Dog (The Truth, Bloodline, Numero Uno, Dead Rise, and Easy IPA will be available), grub from a slew of food trucks such as The Smoking Swine, Kooper's Chowhound, The Green Bowl, Crab Lab, and Slainte (to name a few), and live music from E.L.M. and Brooks Long & The Mad Dog No Good.
Summer Swish at Birroteca
Birroteca (1520 Clipper Road,  708-1935, bmorebirroteca.com) has recently started a pretty sweet culinary craft series called Swish, and on June 6, from noon-4 p.m., it'll be putting on the second installment—the first event, earlier in the spring, focused on American whiskey and rye and barrel-aged beers. The Summer Swish goes for a lighter approach when Birroteca spends the afternoon highlighting craft gin and the cocktails you can make with them along with local cask-conditioned beers. It'll set you back $40 in advance and $45 at the door and also includes snacks from Birroteca's kitchen to help soak up all the booze.
The Big Lebowski Party at B&O American Brasserie
There won't be any bowling, Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, or rugs "that really tied the room together," but we have to imagine at B&O's Big Lebowski Party there might be a couple of variations on the white Russian (or, a Caucasian, if you prefer that nomenclature). On June 7, from 7-11 p.m. (because of course the Dude would party on a Sunday), the bar team at B&O American Brasserie (2 N. Charles St.,  692-6172, bandorestaurant.com) will be joining forces with Shaher Misif from Boston's Highball Lounge to create an evening of special Lebowski-themed cocktails, shots, and beers along with chef Michael Ransom's take on bowling-alley grub. All drinks are $7 and Lebowski attire and bad movie puns are encouraged.