Beer Guy: Meet the New Boss

Same as the old boss…

Nah, not really trying to channel The Who, but I do want to talk a bit about is our local growth. What it really means, and where Frederick is going. And Frederick is, in my humble opinion, going the way of Asheville, Portland, Denver, and many other great craft beer destinations.

116Sure, you can call it tooting Frederick’s horn, but it’s not false pride about our brewing scene when you take into account how it has grown and what’s still on the docket.

To Wit:

When I started writing for the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News a good seven years ago, there were four beers in Frederick – Flying Dog had just moved into town, they owned the one-time Frederick Brewing Company which was also then home to Wild Goose, and then there were the brewpubs; Brewer’s Alley, and Barley and Hops. That was it.

Since then? Wild Goose has been sold off to a concern in southern Maryland (which has never actually utilized the property), but we have seen the addition of Monocacy, Frey’s, and Milkhouse to the local brewing scene, not to mention the Distillery Lane Ciderworks and Orchid Cellars, a producer of mead. Throw on top of that the impending opening of Mad Science Brewing this summer in Adamstown, and the long range plans of Brew’d Pub on Braddock Heights to convert to a brewpub, and the Aellen Brothers at Linganore Cellars (they planted hops last year) to install a brewery on the premises of the state’s oldest winery, and we’re potentially looking at eleven different businesses that fall under the scope of brewing.

Let me recap that, in alphabetical order for you. Sometime within the next one to three years, we could be looking at all of this within twenty minutes of downtown Frederick:

  1. Barley and Hops
  2. Brew’d Pub
  3. Brewer’s Alley
  4. Distillery Lane Ciderworks
  5. Flying Dog
  6. Frey’s Brewing Company
  7. Linganore Cellars
  8. Mad Science Brewing Company
  9. The Milkhouse Brewery at Stillpoint Farm
  10. Monocacy Brewing Company
  11. Orchid Cellars

And all of that doesn’t take into account Amber Waves, the collaborative project between Monocacy/Brewer’s Alley capo-de-brewing-capo Tom Flores and farmer Greg Clabaugh. Amber Waves, a company dedicating to growing local barley and malting it, has…or at least had long term plans to become another of the county’s farm breweries. If this is still the case, then that brings Frederick’s brewing scene to a dozen breweries within the next couple of years (Hell, it’s responsible for five hop farms popping up around the county).

That’s some pretty damn aggressive growth, doubling what we currently have.

And that doesn’t even account for what is happening at the local dining establishments.

Look around town – The Roasthouse, JoJo’s, and Madrones came into town with the express purpose of catering to the beer geek. Those three bars alone account for somewhere in the neighborhood of 65 taps. Bushwaller’s is serving more craft on tap than they did a decade ago; Firestones has a better selection than they used to; And even a small place like Cafe Nola is focused on serving craft, despite having only three taps (they have hosted events with both Flying Dog and DuClaw).

The Lodge is a recent addition to this scene, as is BJ’s down by the FSK Mall. Then there’s the Buffalo Wild Wings which also has a fairly decent selection.

Why, one might ask, are all these restaurants jumping on the craft beer bus? It’s pretty simple. Beer has lost two percent of total marketshare in the last year. It was the second straight year that beer has lost marketshare. Craft beer, in spite of this, has seen double digit growth. That means that in the last couple of years, while craft has grown, the big boys of brewing have lost significant marketshare – likely, if you do the math, somewhere in the neighborhood of six to eight percent of the market for companies like SABMiller, InBev, etc.

Beyond that, for restaurants, there is a greater profit margin on craft brews, in spite of the fact that the kegs are also more expensive. It creates a atmosphere in which it behooves restaurants to not only cater to the beer geek, but also push craft.

Make a better product, and people will buy it. And right now, Frederick is building around a better product.

Tapped and Uncapped

I’m going to keep it brief – Flying Dog has decided to make the Bloodlines blood-orange IPA part of its regular line-up. If you didn’t have an opportunity to get this beer when it was a special edition way back when, then go out and find this one. If you like citrussy IPAs, this one is definitely worth your time.

Until next week, be well and drink good beer.

Slainte.