Monday, September 23, 2013

Baltimore, Maryland's Oliver Ales announces major expansion

In case you hadn't heard the news announced via Twitter over the weekend: Baltimore, Maryland's venerable Oliver Ales will be opening a new, much larger, production facility elsewhere in its home-city, in 2014. The original, successful, Pratt Street Alehouse —at present the home-site of Oliver Ales, located across Pratt Street from the Baltimore Convention Center— will remain open as a non-brewing restaurant, featuring, of course, the brewery's English-styled ales and cask-ales.

Oliver's Brewhouse (02)

There are many details still to be worked out, but here's what Brewmaster Steve Jones had to say:
The ink is still wet on the lease but it is signed on a 12,000 sq ft building in the Clifton Park area of Baltimore: 4216 Shannon Drive. We have hired a brewery consultant and are wading through a number of system quotes. We are looking at a 20-barrel system with a mix of 20-barrel and 40-barrel tanks, predominantly open fermentation but some closed. Initially we will be kegging [and casking], but will be looking to add packaging in the second year. We're leaving the basement, and hoping to be brewing Spring '14!

New home for Oliver Ales, in 2014.
Before build-out: the back view at the new location.

This is a lot of expansion for Baltimore's oldest continuously-operating brewpub.

Opened originally by Baltimore 'craft' beer pioneer Bill Oliver in 1994 as the Wharf Rat, the brewpub was purchased in 2008 by a team headed by local businessman Justin Dvorkin, and re-named the Pratt Street Alehouse.

The restaurant was (and is) spacious, but the basement brewing facilities are not. Jones brews with a small 8-bbl kit into open fermenters, and heads must be ducked when walking through his subterranean brewery. Despite that, the beers are sold not only at the brewpub but elsewhere in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, the move will increase production capacity from a current maximum of 2,000 barrels to nearly 10,000.

Jones & Dvorkin
Brewmaster Steve Jones (l); owner Justin Dvorkin (r)

In December 2012, Dvorkin opened a second non-brewing location, the Alehouse at Columbia, in Columbia, Maryland. And, now, he has plans for this much larger brewery. These are heady times indeed for good beer in Maryland (and Virginia and the District of Columbia). Congratulations to Dvorkin, Jones, assistant brewer J. Derick Davis, and the entire Oliver Ales gang.

  • More on the expansion, via Baltimore Business Journal.
  • Open fermentation is a traditional method of ale production not often seen in modern American 'craft' breweries.
  • A barrel is not an actual container. It is a measure of volume of beer: 31 U.S. gallons.
  • Caveat lector: As a representative for Select Wines, Inc. —a wine and beer wholesaler in northern Virginia— I sell the beers of Oliver Ales.

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