Rich Mak hopes to make something big for Baltimore County’s beer lovers by keeping things small.
“We want to move our beer one pint at a time, not one keg at a time,” he says.
The Parkton-based entrepreneur and Jim Wagner, formerly brewmaster for Rosedale’s DuClaw Brewing, are busily prepping their new venture, Balt County Brewing, for a February opening. The brewery will be based in a warehouse in Hunt Valley, housed in a business park warehouse that sits feet from the MTA’s Gilroy light rail stop.
They’re planning to produce small batches using three brewing systems: a seven-barrel one, a two-barrel one and a 20-gallon one. (For scale, a barrel of beer is 31.5 gallons.) They’ll also have a canning line to sell their beer to-go to customers, but otherwise won’t be distributing.
“The whole idea is to keep the system smaller, be able to have many beers on tap” – as many as 24 at once, Mak said. “We’re trying to become the destination for this area.”
Mak decided to enter the beer game after selling his company in October 2016. He and his wife moved from Chatanooga, Tenn., to Mays Chapel in Baltimore County the year before after she took a new job in the city.
As he settled in, he quickly noticed something was missing. Chatanooga has a thriving beer scene, and in his last neighborhood he was able to walk to several different craft breweries to grab a pint. Cockeysville and Hunt Valley were comparatively dry for local options, he found.
After selling his company, Mak got into homebrewing and did some market research by visiting other breweries in and around Baltimore. He saw there was plenty of demand. During a weeknight evening spent at Independent Brewing in Bel Air, he noticed the place was packed.
“If Bel Air can support this brewery on a Tuesday night, I was like, surely we can do this in Hunt Valley or Cockeysville,” he said.
He and Wagner teamed up earlier this year, and have since been busily prepping their space in a business park off of Gilroy Road in Hunt Valley. Mak said the finished product will have indoor bocce ball and corn hole year-round, with space to add more games and activities over time as they see fit.
A key goal for Balt County Brewing is to get their recipes right with help from customers. An advantage to serving all their beer right from the taproom, rather than distributing to bars, restaurants and stores, is that they’ll be able to tweak their products with firsthand customer feedback, Mak said.
“I’ll tell you, when you serve beer one pint at a time, you get a lot of feedback.”
While a traditional business goal is to get bigger, perhaps becoming the next Dogfish Head, Flying Dog or Union Craft, Mak’s ambition for Balt County Brewing is to keep it all in Hunt Valley.
“For me it’s all about the actual brewery,” Mak said. “Not getting out of my brewery.”
Balt County Brewing will be located at 10900 Gilroy Road in Hunt Valley. Visit the company’s website to keep track of its progress and planned opening.