Frederick’s already thriving craft beer scene will get a splash of new life Saturday, when the Monocacy Brewing Co. hops into the mix with its grand opening.
The brewery will hold an open house from 2 to 5 p.m. at 1781 N. Market St., including brewery tours, a question-and-answer session with brewers and a sampling of Riot Rye Pale Ale, the first beer to be sold under the Monocacy label.
Phil Bowers, the managing member of Monocacy Brewing and president of Brewer’s Alley Inc., said the expansion to a new brewhouse was fueled by the success of Brewer’s Alley’s beers and customer demand.
“The bottom line is we’re trying to grow,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of success selling our beer and with limited retail offerings. We’re trying to make our product more available. We have the ability to introduce a whole other line. That’s the direction we want to head.”
The North Market Street site, which was purchased last year, has been used to brew the beers sold at Brewery’s Alley Restaurant and in retail locations since fall 2011, according to Jim Bauckman, the marketing and sales manager for the restaurant and the brewery.
Bauckman said the brewery will be open for tours after the grand opening, but that a regular schedule hasn’t been set yet. He said the plan was to use social media — the brewery has a page on Facebook and is on Twitter — to let its fans know about upcoming hours for tours.
Samples will be available at the brewery, but patrons will not be able to buy beer there, Bauckman said.
Beer for Brewer’s Alley had previously been brewed under contract for the restaurant by the Flying Dog Brewery and the former Frederick Beer Co., but the increased demand for the restaurant’s beers necessitated a larger in-house brewing operation, he said.
Tom Flores, the brewmaster for both the restaurant and the new brewery, said the process of brewing on a larger scale is fundamentally the same process, but includes additional challenges, such as not being in control of how beer is handled during shipping.
The new space has seven times more fermentation capacity than was available at the restaurant, and there’s additional space to expand even more, if the demand continues to increase, Flores said.
It also includes a bottling line, which can allow for a more regular schedule for limited release beers, such as the annual Scotch ale, which Flores said customers have been begging to see in bottles for years.
Plans also include reinstalling some brewing equipment in the restaurant, although Flores wasn’t sure when it would be back. The small brewing system will be used to make test batches, which can be sold in the restaurant to gauge customer reaction.
“If we make a small batch of six kegs, and it flops, oh well,” Flores said. “But we can experiment with ideas on a smaller scale.”