After more than two years of development, Waverly Brewing Company (1625-C Union Ave., waverlybrewingcompany.com) is set to open its doors in mid-November in a non-descript warehouse building near the Woodberry neighborhood.
Non-descript, that is, until you walk into its taproom, which comes across more as a fully realized bar than the minimal rooms prevalent in most breweries. The design of the 2,000-square-foot space (the brewing area is another 2,000 square feet) is an amalgamation of design elements—think hunting lodge meets a more modern take on your Dad's man cave. The warm repurposed wood walls, old Orioles pennants, large vintage American flag, various retro couches, dramatic antler chandelier, and taxidermy felt more like a place we'd happily linger rather than simply sample a couple of beers and move on.
And as co-founder John Marsh (full disclosure: brother of CP's former General Manager Jennifer Marsh) says, that's their strategy for the brewery as a whole.
"What differentiates us is that we're not just looking at the product alone, but also everything from a 360-degree angle of what people's experience is [with us], both inside our taproom and outside of the taproom," he says. "We want you to drink beer in a place that has soul and a place you want to hang out with your friends."
Included in that experience is food. Although the space won't have a full kitchen, the current plan is to have Clementine's cater the taproom regularly with the occasional food truck and pop-up to swing by to help satiate all the beer drinkers. The founders also have created a quaint beer garden outdoors (although it's covered) in their loading dock area, replete with long strands of light bulbs, picnic tables, and its own, smaller wooded bar (we're told in the cooler months it'll have heaters).
The idea itself grew out of a brainstorming session that was held after part of the group had collaborated on a successful pop-up gallery in Hampden. After realizing they should be working toward a more permanent business concept, Marsh explained, drinking the homebrew of a friend, Roy Fisher, during a brainstorming session made the light bulb go off.
"It definitely didn't taste anything like what we thought of as homebrew," says Marsh, "and we just came up with the idea that brewing would be great and also a way to give Roy [Fisher] his dream. And everyone came on board because we'd all worked together before and we knew we were a good team."
After adding in fellow brewer Greg Lee—whose previous experience at larger brewpubs such as the (now defunct) Degroens, The Brewer's Art, and Red Brick Station added more knowledge on the use of commercial brewing equipment—Waverly Brewing thinks it has found the perfect mix handling larger brews while still being able to have creative recipes.
And the brewery has already been producing some of those recipes for the past couple of months in anticipation of the opening and will have six beers on tap including (we had to sample, of course) a wonderfully yeasty-but-bright 5 percent ABV festival Belgian pale ale, a gently sweet-but-tart 5 percent ABV honey hibiscus red ale dry-hopped with citra hops, and a pale ale hopped with flowery American cascade and amarillo hops.
Waverly plans on supplying kegs to community bars by early next year through its ability to self-distribute.
While the initial goal is to get their base beers perfected first, they will occassionally add wild experimental beer from their pilot system. Marsh also mentioned the possibility of pairing up with local homebrew clubs to help in the process.
And while the owners acknowledge that they're not actually in the Waverly neighborhood, Marsh explains that the name—inspired by the "blue collar and lunch pail" mentality that Waverly is known for, as well as Baltimore as a whole—came before the space was found, and they wanted to keep that idea to serve as their overall guiding character.
In that vein, despite all involved having full-time jobs, Marsh says everything has been done in-house with their own hands when their normal jobs allowed it—most often well into the evening.
"We consider ourselves small town, small batch, but a big experience, and the road that I've taken to get from homebrew to this bigger stage, I'm in awe of it," says Fisher.