The greater DC area’s beer scene seems to be growing by the day, with new breweries, bars, and events coming in at a breakneck pace. But one area that hasn’t seen a lot of growth is brew-on-premise (BOP). Since the closure of Shenandoah Brewing in Alexandria, the region has been without a dedicated commercial venue in which amateur brewers could make their own beer – until now.
As we noted, Frederick’s Flying Barrel recently debuted homebrew classes; now, Baltimore’s Nepenthe Homebrew is offering BOP amenities alongside its homebrew supplies and expertise. I spoke with Nepenthe’s Brian Arnold about the shop’s new service.
The decision to offer BOP was not a spur-of-the-moment call. Brian says it was "always part of the plan" for the shop, an "educational component" meant to complement homebrewing. In fact, the only reason that Nepenthe didn’t have BOP up and running from day one is the lengthy permitting process, the bane of so many other beer ventures in the region. Because they were embarking on something new for Baltimore, it took six additional months of working with regulators before the service was launched. Brian stresses that clients must adhere to the regulations: everyone involved must be 21 or older, the end product cannot be sold, and you must consume the beer within Maryland. You can walk it right up to the MD-DC line, but don’t even think about taking that final step.
Nepenthe uses a tiered pricing structure based on the level of the brewer’s expertise. All options include the materials, use of equipment, clean-up, and fermentation time, but beyond that, the choice is yours. First timers receive hands-on instruction from Brian or expert homebrewers from local clubs, while experts who prefer to bring their beer home to keg are free to do so.
The shop is home to four 20-gallon systems, so there can be multiple batches going at once. However, appointments are staggered for the moment because there’s just one wort chiller. Reservations have been strong since Nepenthe debuted the service last week, with the first brew day coming last weekend.
So the next time you’re up in Baltimore’s Woodberry neighborhood – perhaps visiting the eponymous Kitchen or grabbing some Union beer – stop by Nepenthe and see what BOP is all about.
What do you think of BOP? Would you be interested in trying it out? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!