The University of Maryland Eastern Shore has one of the premier hospitality management programs in the region, but being the best means staying on top of trends. When it comes to food and beverage the rising trend is the brewpub, a return to a time when taverns made their own house beers. UMES may pick up on this trend as it experiments with the possibility of a new brewpub in the school’s M Street restaurant.

M Street Grille is a partnership between the university and Brandon Phillips, a UMES alum and restaurateur. Management students can learn hands on food and beverage skills at the off-campus restaurant as part of their education. This year, their education includes the ins and outs of the brewing industry.

As part of the senior project teams were challenged to put together a proposal for adding a brewery component to M Street. The challenge was to come up with a business plan and discover a way to make it happen for fewer than $20,000.

If you know about brewing, you know that that’s a tall order. Equipment can be expensive. But if you’re only brewing enough to serve in your restaurant with no plans to expand beyond that, the money part falls into place a little easier.

Each of the teams was charged with talking to industry professionals, but one team went right to the source. Team members who are representing a proposed brewery called “Hoppy Hawks” approached Xtreme Brewing Supplies in Laurel, the place where several local breweries got their start, to learn how to brew.

Hoppy Hawks members Peter Widmayer, Anna Hines Blair Coleman and Allegra Hicklin were at the homebrew shop this week to hand bottle the case of beer they made for the class.

Peter Widmayer, one of the group members, said the idea was not only to make a beer but also to have something to present at the proposal. The group designed a beer with the help of Doug Griffith and Shawn Hager. It’s a Honey IPA called the Bees Knees.

The group members took one of Xtreme Brewing’s beginning brewing classes to get a feel for the process. Many of them also got a bit of the brewing bug. Widmayer said that although he has a post-graduation job lined up already, he hopes to invest in a brewery once he gets established.

If the project is successful, M Street Grill could become the only restaurant in Somerset County that makes its own beer. It also would be among the few on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, joining Evolution Craft Brewing and Tall Tales in Wicomico and Ocean City Brewing Co. in Worcester.

Brewing the beer was as much an investigatory process as a marketing one. The students wanted to know if making super small batches was too labor intensive (it isn’t) but they had a second reason. They wanted to be able to hand out beers to the evaluation team. The idea was they could demonstrate that there was something concrete, and that the beer they had designed was really good (rather than just good on paper).

Whether their marketing plan is selected or not, if the brewery every becomes a reality, there is at least one original beer recipe already ready to go.

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