Woodberry’s Union Craft Brewing is planning a major move, and though the company won’t going be very far, the new space should allow the beer makers to spread their wings.
Union Craft’s co-founders announced this morning that they plan to vastly expand their operations in another warehouse at 1700 W. 41st Street, located adjacent to I-83 near the boundary of Medfield and Woodberry. The building will provide 43,000 square feet of space for brewing, fermentation and packaging, and will house a 7,500-square-foot taproom and private event space.
The expansion will initially let Union Craft triple its output, from 10,000 barrels to 30,000, with the potential to be “expandable to over 70,000 barrels, if needed,” according to a release.
Kevin Blodger, Adam Benesch and Jon Zerivitz founded Union Craft in 2011 in their present space at 1700 Union Avenue in Woodberry. The company now makes more than 40 craft beer varieties, from signatures like the Duckpin Pale Ale to special editions like the one made for the timeless documentary “Heavy Metal Parking Lot.”
On a given weekend, one can find dozens playing cornhole or eating and drinking at picnic tables outside, waiting in line at the taproom or taking tours of the space. But demand is high, and the company says it’s “grown at a record pace” since its inception.
“Our new space provides us the opportunity to develop a bigger and better Baltimore brewery,” said Zerivitz, the brewery’s marketing director, in a statement. “It will be a true destination experience for local beer lovers as well as those visiting our city from outside of Maryland.”
The new location will allow the company to expand its quality-control lab and switch from a 20-barrel system to a 60-barrel one. Blodger, Union’s head brewer, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the change will be particularly welcome at a time like this, when the brewery is in rapid production mode to meet demand during the summer months.
“We are kind of just stretched to the gills here right now,” he said. “The new spot, at least temporarily, will relieve a lot of that. We’ll be able to make more beer and get more beer out to the public.”
Perhaps even more vital to the Hampden-Medfield-Woodberry area will be Union’s plans to anchor a new locally focused retail space. Working with Seawall Development Co., Union Craft is building the Union Collective, described as “an interactive and collaborative assembly of several of Baltimore’s growing independent businesses.”
The retail complex will sit on 10.5 acres in about 138,000 square feet of warehouse space, with room for eight tenants, including local makers and nonprofits that can sell their goods on-site.
Benesch, Union’s director of operations, said in a statement that the retail idea came as they explored the city for a larger brewery space and spoke with owners of other homegrown businesses.
“When the opportunity arose to create a new space that could offer each of us room to grow in a functional and collaborative way it became apparent how meaningful this project could be—to us, our city, and the broader region,” he said.
Union’s co-founders expect to bring more than 100 new jobs to the area in the next decade with the new brewery alone. Blodger said they have about 25 employees presently, but are already hiring ahead of the planned expansion.
“We’re definitely gonna need more people, both on the production and the hospitality sides of the business,” he said.
Construction is set to begin on Union Collective on July 1, with tenants projected to move in by this fall. The brewery should open in spring of 2018, according to the announcement.
Union’s expansion move is yet another testament to Baltimore’s thriving craft beer scene. Just last week, the owners of Nepenthe Homebrew (also based in Woodberry) announced they’re planning to move up to Falls Road in Hampden and begin selling beer and food, in addition to still selling brewing supplies and offering space for homebrewers to make beer on-site.
Union’s co-founding trio is happy to be staying close by. Blodger noted that being so close in proximity to where they started, they can continue to serve their regulars, and that he’ll still be able to walk down to Artifact for a cup of coffee.
“We’ve been in the search now for at least two years,” he said. “To be able to find this location so close to where we are now was really just fantastic.”
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