Those who have been trying to keep an eye on the craft beer scene of Maryland’s Eastern Shore lately can hardly blink without missing something new.
More and more craft breweries and taprooms are popping up along the Shore, particularly in Maryland. Three breweries have recently opened or are opening soon in Queen Anne’s County alone, and in Ocean City, a totally new brewpub is taking the place of its well-known and somewhat-controversial predecessor.
The Delmarva beer trails are undoubtedly getting bigger, with all kinds of unique new stops along the way. Have a drink at the brewery inspired by its owners’ love of obscure movies, or stop by a working alpaca farm to get a beer while the kids take a barrel train ride; Sip on something new and gluten free, or try an ale that’s been decades in the making. Here’s what you can expect to find on the Eastern Shore of Maryland today and in the months to come.
Cult Classic Brewing Company • Stevensville, MD
Founded by brothers Jesse and Brooks McNew, Cult Classic Brewery had its soft opening in early August and has a grand opening slated for sometime this October. Also owners of independent home brew shop Annapolis Home Brew since 1997, Jesse and Brooks are using what they’ve learned from over 20 years in the home brew business to bring the people of Stevensville the beer that they want to drink.
“I always thought it would be great to open a brewery,” Brooks said. Because of Maryland’s restrictive taproom laws of the late 90s, however, a working brewery-and-taproom was nothing but a dream.
“Having visited other breweries in different states where they allowed taprooms, that always seemed like the ideal way to configure the whole thing. You could brew the beer, but you could also engage directly with the public, and that’s what we were doing with the homebrew shop.”
He considers it “20 years of market research.” At Annapolis Home Brew, they brew the beer, give out free samples and then provide customers with the tools and ingredients they need to then make that beer at home. Over the years they’ve taken note of what people like to drink, and have developed a collection of recipes along the way that they’ll put to use in the Cult Classic taproom.
The name “Cult Classic” comes from the brothers’ love for obscure old movies, which inspired the taproom thematically and decor-wise. They’ve found their “cult classic,” or most popular beers thus far, to be their hoppy and hazy IPAs, and were surprised that their strawberry blonde ale seems to be gaining a cult following of its own.
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Ironweed Ale Werks • Ocean City, MD
What was once OC Brewing Co. is no longer; drive past the old brewery on 55th Street Coastal Highway and you’ll see the street sign has been replaced with bold lettering that reads “Ironweed,” part of a logo featuring the purple flowers the new brewery was named for.
There are still remnants of OC Brewing inside, but after some off-season renovations are made, Ironweed will have its official opening next summer. Ironweed’s beers are available now, however, and they’re all gluten free. The current selection includes Sharksbreath, a flavorful session ale brewed with copious amounts of huell melon hops; Harlequin IPA, brewed with honey and Vienna malts to darken and sweeten the ale; and Sour Diesel, a raspberry sour with a dry wine-like complexity for a nice tart finish.
Ironweed Ale Werks is a far cry from its predecessor. Thanks to the quality of its beers, the brewery is already proving itself a worthy and much-needed addition to the Delmarva craft beer scene.
Patriot Acres Farm Brewery • Sudlersville, MD
Patriot Acres is a veteran-owned and operated brewery in Sudlersville, and while the taproom just opened in mid-January of 2018, the farm has been in owner Brian Truitt’s family for over 100 years.
The working farm is home to 23 alpacas, 150 chickens, ducks and geese, 21 goats, four sheep, three cats, bees and two farm dogs. In 2015, when Brian was brainstorming ways to increase foot traffic to the farm and its many alpacas, Maryland’s Class 8 farm brewery license came to mind, and the farm brewery was born.
“I had home brewed years prior, and after discussing the idea with my wife we thought it was something that would be a nice complement to the Alpaca farm,” he said.
Visitors may come to the farm expecting to drink a few beers, but they usually end up seeing and experiencing much more. In addition to all the animals that kids can meet and greet, there’s also activities like corn hole, giant Connect 4 and barrel train rides, not to mention spectacular views of the Eastern Shore farmland. But that’s not to say that the beer is just an afterthought; they’re all brewed with hops and other ingredients grown right on the farm. While the menu rotates, Patriot Acres’ three mainstay beers are a tribute to family and, you guessed it, alpacas.
The first beer they ever brewed, Stormy Stout, is an American stout named after one of the male alpacas, while Cole’s IPA is named after Brian’s son, who helped make the initial batch with his father. The third mainstay, Alpaca Pale Ale, “straddles the fence between the other two.” The family is currently filling their kegs with darker beers as the fall/winter season approaches.
Ten Eyck Brewing Company • Queenstown, MD
Ten Eyck (pronounced ten-ike) Brewing Co. is slated to open in Queenstown sometime before the year’s end.
“Coenraedt Ten Eyck moved his family from the Netherlands to New Amsterdam in the 1630s,” explains the brewery’s website. “The Ten Eyck family spread throughout New York, New Jersey, and beyond. One particular Ten Eyck came to Baltimore.” From the Netherlands to New Amsterdam to Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, it appears that the Ten Eyck family will soon be expanding their legacy to include the Eastern Shore.
The brewery will include a tap room, a beer garden and beers brewed with an abundance of freshly-harvested hops.
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