Denizens Brewing Co. steps into local brewing scene -- Gazette.Net


This story was corrected at 5 p.m. on May 5, 2014. An explanation follows the story.

View more photos of the brewery.

Emily Bruno has evaluated aid programs for the U.S. State Department, consulted with federal clients for accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers and directed research for the National Women’s Business Council.

Now she has a new wrinkle: co-founder and operations director of Denizens Brewing Co., which plans to open a brewery and seasonal beer garden in downtown Silver Spring this summer.

Denizens will be the largest production brewery in Montgomery County, Bruno said. The business will brew 15 barrels of beer at a time and employ some 40 people, she said.

“We plan to have a major production facility,” said Bruno, who oversaw the moving of barrels and other equipment into a 7,500-square-foot building last week.

By contrast, the nanobrewery Baying Hound Aleworks in east Rockville typically brews one to five barrels at a time in producing small-batch beers. Other brew pubs in the county work with fewer barrels or are part of national chains that manufacture beer off-site.

The brewery will open as county officials have struggled to find new nightlife venues for the younger crowd. Bruno and co-founder Julie Verratti — an adviser with the U.S. Small Business Administration, an attorney, and Denizens’ business development director — live in Silver Spring and noted the limited nightlife firsthand.

“We were looking for more in nightlife and entertainment options, and decided we could provide a place where we would want to go,” Bruno said.

Denizens will brew European-style lagers, American-style ales, Belgian-inspired beers, and sour and barrel-aged beers, selling them on-site and distributing them directly to other local restaurants and pubs. The latter would be allowed by a recent bill that was passed by the legislature and is awaiting Gov. Martin O’Malley’s signature. Otherwise, a brewer is forced to sell its beer to other venues through the county Department of Liquor Control.

Jeff Ramirez, another co-founder, recently moved to the area to be the business’ brewing director after similar positions in Boulder, Colo., and Philadelphia.

The state backed Denizens’ $500,000 loan from EagleBank with a guarantee through the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority. “It’s particularly encouraging to see new enterprises coming from homegrown talent,” Dominick Murray, secretary of the state Department of Business and Economic Development, said in a statement.

Denizens’ founders originally wanted to call their enterprise Citizens Brewing Co., but agreed to a change after Washington, D.C., brewery DC Brau cited potential confusion with a beer it makes called The Citizen.

“Denizens is actually a great name for Silver Spring,” Bruno said. “It ties in with our philosophy of being a place where people familiar with craft beer can talk to other people with knowledge about the practice.”

An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Verratti’s position with the U.S. Small Business Administration.