Put a big red circle around Oct. 21, because that's when the long-awaited Brew House No. 16 (831 N Calvert St.,  659-4084, brewhouseno16.com) is set to open its doors in Mount Vernon.
Located in the stunningly detailed old Firehouse No. 16 at the corner of Calvert and Read streets, the family-owned and operated brewery/restaurant will feature five beers brewed on premises, local craft beers, a full Chesapeake-inspired menu, and outdoor seating. After entering the large arched front door adorned with a newly installed iron bee logo, we sat down and talked to brewmaster Ian Hummel (Hummel is German for bumble bee, thus the logo), who along with his father, Harry Hummel, has been working on the project feverishly since we first reported on the space more than a year ago.
New gas and water lines were the cause of the major delay, the younger Hummel said. The father and son spent that time constructing the rest of the space entirely themselves. Everything from the large, open stainless-steel kitchen, to the long 16-person marble bar, to the 80-seat dining room was constructed and finished by the family.
"I laid every tile [on the floor] that you see, we built the bar, and all of the construction was us," Ian Hummel said.
Large Edison lights hang down throughout the space, lighting up the gorgeous original tile work on the walls and three shiny firefighters poles. But while the building certainly has the charm of a previous era, the six large stainless steel fermenters and serving tanks lining the far end of the wall behind the bar leave no doubt about the space's future in beer.
And, as Ian Hummel said, that was the impetus for Brew House No. 16: as a way to brew and serve his own beer in Baltimore. After spending time in Germany attending the VLB Institute for Fermentation and Biotechnology in Berlin, Hummel was inspired to open his own business, and after finding the Mount Vernon location, dove headfirst into the project with his family. Although he studied in Germany, he assured us his focus is on producing American styles, with his first beers consisting of a citrus-y pale ale, a 5.5 percent malty amber ale, a 7 percent IPA brewed with locally foraged pawpaw fruit, a chocolate wheat porter, and an American brown ale.
In addition to the in-house beers, the bar will also feature a rotating selection of local drafts (nine total), a list of wines, an extensive bottle menu with a focus on European sour beers, and an ingredient-driven cocktail program (we have our eye on the October Shipwreck, a mix of Kraken rum, pumpkin syrup, butterscotch liqueur, crème, and clove).
In addition to the 80-seat dining room inside, patrons will also notice seating for up to 30 people outside, where customers may be able to squeak in some outdoor dining in those last warm days before the thermometer drops.
The Hummels have tapped Adam Snyder (former chef d'cuisine at Cunningham's) to create a menu of local, New American-style food. We got a sneak peek at the menu, and if such dishes as the bacon and oyster pie, Indian River black bass with steamed clams and habanero rum butter (whoa), duck fat smashed potatoes, and smoked heritage pork tacos turn out as good as they sound, then Brew House No. 16 will become a popular destination. As Hummel explained it, they want to be as local as possible, and will even be baking their own bread, with a full bakery in the works in the basement.
In Chef Snyder, Hummel said he found a perfect fit.
"My knowledge and ideology behind beer comes from a science point of view, and when I asked [Snyder] about that in terms of food—because beer and food are the same thing, beer is food—he couldn't stop talking about it, so I knew we had a match," he said with a grin.
The menu will also include an in-house charcuterie program, house-made selections of pickles, and a full dessert and coffee program.
Eventually, the Hummels hope to turn the upstairs into a large German-style beer hall, but Ian was quick to say that plan is a while off, and their focus now is to make sure the downstairs is well honed before thinking about expanding. They've been so humbled by the outreach of the neighborhood, he said, that they want to get that right first. "Everyone who's stopped in from the neighborhood to check in on us has been so welcoming and I don't think we could be luckier with the place."
Brew House No. 16 will be open Monday–Friday 3 p.m.-2 a.m. (with a happy hour 3-6 p.m.) and Saturday-Sunday 4 p.m.-2 a.m.