13 September 2011

Happy Anniversary to The Brewer's Art

The Brewer's Art, now a landmark brewpub in the Northeastern microbrewery scene, turns fifteen today.

As co-founder Volker Stewart likes to observe, it opened for business on a Friday the Thirteenth, September 1996.

As recounted by Lew Bryson in his book Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Breweries (an excellent and underrated, if now slightly outdated, book),

Stewart was a librarian at the University of Baltimore, where he met founding partners Tom Creegan and Johey Verfaille through homebrewing, and they decided to open The Brewer's Art.  "It was almost a lemonade stand kind of idea," said Volker.  The :lemonade stand" came together over the next year and a half.
"It's hard to find brewpub space in Baltimore," Stewart said, noting the expense of Inner Harbor locations and the reluctance of Fells Point residents to allow yet another liquor license in their neighborhood.  But there are no residences on the block of Charles Street where the partners finally located, in the northern end of the city's Mount Vernon section, and the building, originally the "city house" for a wealthy banker, with a proud, column-framed entrance, turned out to be perfect for The Brewer's Art.
May we be lucky enough to have you all around for fifteen more years, Volker, Tom, Steve, and Rob.

I am told that the brewpub has tapped a 15th Anniversary ale, Bag Man, a Belgian porter.  More on this after sampling in the next day or so.

For the record, here are some other things that were happening around that time period in Mid-Atlantic brewing in mid-1996
  • Brewpubs starting in that time period: Church Brew Works and The Strip Brewery and Alehouse in Pittsburgh; Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, Pa.; Appalachian Brewing and Troegs in Harrisburg; Champion Billiards Cafe & Brewery in Parkville (initially supervised by the brewer at Bardo Rodeo in Arlington, Virginia); Brimstone Brewing's new bottling line was set to start up July 4th; Brewers Alley in Frederick, Rock Bottom in Bethesda, Washington Brewing Co in D.C. (maker of Monument Ale by contract, first in Iowa and then at Steamship Brewing in Norfolk, Va.); Roanoke Brewing in Roanoke, Va.; Worcester Street Brewing in Ocean City (first opened in 1993, but not brewing until 1996); Cedar Creek Brewery in Egg Harbor City, NJ; Breakers Brewing in Ashbury Park, NJ; and others.  
  • Dogfish Head celebrated its first anniversary that June, and Victory was less than a year old.. 
  • Remember Blue Ridge Beer?  The Last Chance Saloon?  Oxford Brewing?  Mount Airy Brewing?  Patwomack Pale Ale?  Wild Goose in Cambridge?  Maryland Homebrew just moving into their new home that they would occupy for fifteen years?  Belgian ale dinners at The Wild Mushroom on Montford Avenue? 

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