How a Former Mt. Vernon Firehouse Became Baltimore’s Newest Brew Pub

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photos by Stephen Babcock
photos by Stephen Babcock

After months of preparation and fermentation, the doors are set to open once again at the corner of Calvert and E. Read St. in Mt. Vernon. Brewhouse No. 16 will have small-batch beer made onsite, and a full menu including shared plates and charcuterie as well as entrees and desserts. Baltimore Fishbowl will get to how the food and beer tastes after the opening on Oct. 21, but first it’s worth laying out the mix of renewal and respect for traditions that helped the much-anticipated space get to this point.

The location, which is conveniently across from Iggie’s and just down the street from Center Stage, has generated considerable buzz. Baltimore Fishbowl columnist Marion Winik, who used to live on a neighboring farm to the owners in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, has also been helping get the word out in her role as VP of Marketing and Public Relations. We’ve glanced in the window to see what was happening a few times in recent months, as many likely have.

“Everyone comes in and welcomes us from the community. They want to see more businesses pop up, because that brings more people here,” said Ian Hummel.

The roots of the project can be traced to a variety of places. For brewmaster Ian Hummel, the project traces back to VLB Institute in Berlin, Germany, where he learned the science of making beer. For Ian, his father Harry Hummel and other family members involved in the operation, the origins each day lie in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, where they live and maintain orchards that already provide ingredients for some of the food.

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And then there’s the building. The former home of Baltimore City Fire Department engine No. 16 has all the trappings of an old-world firehouse, like a winding staircase to make sure the horses don’t get upstairs, fire poles and elegant tile on the walls. The Hummels wanted to keep the character of the firehouse’s former use.

“We’re not going to have our employees wearing fire hats or anything, but we do want to honor the place,” Ian Hummel said. Some firefighters have also been stopping through to make sure that’s the case.

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Ian Hummel holds an axe from Brewhouse No. 16’s past as a firehouse (Stephen Babcock)
The design by Harry Hummel, who is an architect, and resulting work represents an effort to add the right elements to maintain the look of the historic space. After the Hummels purchased the building about 18 months ago, Ian and Harry Hummel handled most of the renovation themselves. That included building the open kitchen and bar, installing an HVAC and flooring and plenty of other efforts. The dining room seats close to 90 people, and they will have outdoor seating for 30 more. Bob Machovec added old-world style art like a bicycle and fishing lures upstairs, the Hummels hope to turn a large space into a German-style beer hall that has common tables and room for entertainment.
“It was really the space that judged a lot of things that we did. It’s an industrial space that’s not trying too hard,” said Ian Hummel.
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Plus, there’s the brewing operation. A total of six brewing tanks behind the bar, where they’ll be an easy distance away to get piped to the taps. On the second floor of the building, Ian Hummel has a lab operation with a microscope and room for hop storage. Initially, the brewery will offer a Harvest Brown Ale, stout and IPA. Ian Hummel has enough room for about 400 barrels a year. Brewhouse will also be other local beers on tap, wines and a full bar.

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The food is under the direction of Adam Snyder, a former chef d’cuisine at Cunningham’s in Towson. He bonded with Ian and Harry Hummel when discussing the science of food. The two even went foraging for pawpaws that went into the IPA, as well as a dessert.

In the kitchen, Snyder is already using food from six farms within an hour away (just don’t call his food farm-to-table). Sticking with the fermentation that’s happening in the beer operation, he has also been canning to preserve seasonal produce. To remain seasonal, Snyder said the menu will probably change about five times a year.

“The chance that these guys gave me to create my menu is a chef’s dream. The only other way to do it is to finance it yourself,” he said.



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