Hyattsville’s newest brewery is gaining a lot of attention.
The Hyattsville Wire caught up with the three co-owners, Jonathan Cetrano, Sam Costner and Mark Burke, for an interview about their plans.
When did you first begin brewing beer? How did you learn?
Cetrano: Around 2007-8 I was watching my brother become a mad homebrewer. He started growing his own hops and making these awesome beers. I really started to get hooked on the possibility of making my own beers when my brother made a spectacular pumpkin ale using the pumpkins he grew in his garden. I started to realize then that beer really was like cooking, and was much more than what I was seeing in stores. Then when I moved to D.C. and met Mark, I started brewing seriously on my own in 2010 and joined Mark on brew days. We’ve been brewing together ever since.
Burke: I first started in 2008 through a connection with a friend who had been brewing for a while. I became curious and started borrowing his equipment. At first it was the cool factor of bringing my own beer to parties. I really loved seeing people drink my beer and enjoying it. Then I got my first homebrew equipment kit from my in-laws for Christmas. I started out making beers from a kit, then challenged myself and started brewing beers from scratch. It started as just a weekend diversion and grew into a serious hobby.
Costner: I’ve never really been interested in beer. When I moved to D.C. and reconnected with Mark and met Jon; I was strictly a bourbon enthusiast. Mark kept telling me that there is a beer for every person. Then I had Mark’s Belgian dark strong ale and realized that Mark was right; there really is a beer for everyone. But to answer your question, I’ve never brewed beer on my own. I enjoy the business side of things and seeing the potential to invest in a community with something I’ve learned to enjoy.
How did you guys decide to go into business?
Cetrano: Really, like it says on our website we were at Mark’s “bar” in his house sampling different beers and we started talking about brewing beer and opening a small brewery. The idea appealed to all of us. We went home after that night and the idea really stuck with us. So we did our research and figured out the costs and after a LOT of discussion with our wives we decided to go ahead and do it.
Burke: The idea of owning a business had always appealed to me. So when we discussed the idea of a small local brewery, I became really excited. I wanted to bring a small brewery to Hyattsville. Prior to this, I worked with Sam and Jon and I trusted these guys. Deciding to go into partnership with them was easy.
Costner: The business numbers made sense, so I said “Yeah, I’m in.” All kidding aside, I really like the idea and the challenge of setting up a small business. It is exciting and I like the idea of contributing to the vibrant atmosphere of Hyattsville.
What made you choose Hyattsville? What made this specific part of town or building attractive?
Costner: It was Mark that really brought us into Hyattsville. I was open to other places but it was Mark’s insistence that Hyattsville was a community that would support us and welcome us that brought our focus here. In the past year and a half, I’ve seen Hyattsville grow tremendously, and have felt very welcome here. I joined Arrow Bicycle’s ice hockey team, played with Chris Militello and Chris Davidson, and have met many Hyattsville residents through Mark. It has really been a very nice town that has welcomed us with open arms. Hyattsville has also made an impression on my wife too. She loves the area!
Burke: I like to say that I am a Hyattsville man! We’re right in the D.C. metro area but at the same time Hyattsville gives us that small town/community feel that we can connect to. It feels like everyone in town knows each other. Hyattsville has been going through a revitalization over the past several years, it has been nice seeing it grow. We want to be involved with that growth and become a part of the community.
Costner: Same as Jon, Mark convinced me that Hyattsville was the place to be as well. I like how welcoming Hyattsville is to creative enterprises, and how there is such a diversity of businesses along Route 1. I come from a small town in North Carolina and Hyattsville reminds me of my childhood town’s Main Street. The fabric of the community is there and it sustains and encourages local small businesses which I really appreciate.
Is there anything Hyattsville could do to encourage the local beer scene? Do you know the other brewers in town?
Cetrano: When we became serious about setting up a brewery in Hyattsville we met with Mike Franklin at Franklin’s to chat about our plans. Not many people would be thrilled about another brewery setting up shop down the street. But Mike was supportive and offered his thoughts and opinions about setting up a brewery. Since then we’ve met up with several other brewers locally and nationally. Stuart Eisenberg and Justin Fair at Hyattsville CDC have been great supporters of us and have encouraged the development of the local beer scene in Hyattsville. We look forward to continuing to work with Hyattsville CDC and the city of Hyattsville.
Burke: We do recognize that Hyattsville and the neighboring towns want more places to go to for some good beers and hang out. Town Center Market, Franklin’s, Pizzeria Paradiso and the soon to be open Maryland Meadworks do provide that craft beers/mead scene that people are are looking for. I’ve chatted with Mike Roy (Franklin’s), Matt Humbard (Handsome Beer Co.) and Ken Carter (Maryland Meadworks) They’ve been very supportive and have been enthusiastic about us joining their community. Waredaca Brewing in Gaithersburg has been a great resource for us as well. We would also love to do a collaboration brew with our brewery neighbors someday.
Costner: Hyattsville is very encouraging and supportive of our brewery and other creative/business pursuits in town. If that support keeps up then I can see downtown Hyattsville becoming even more vibrant and a popular destination. To encourage the local beer scene, Hyattsville could ensure that the Trolley Trail bike extension is complete and make downtown more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. The towns I’ve seen with vibrant beer scenes are often walkable and bikeable downtown spaces and encourage that type of flow.
Will people be able to stop in to try beer or will you just be using the shop to make the beer? Where will it be sold?
Cetrano: We will be a production brewery and plan to operate a tap room. In our taproom we will sell tasters, flights, and pints. For to go orders we will sell growlers, crowlers, as well as kegs. Out front, we will have a patio with seating for people to relax, enjoy the beer, and chat with passersby. We will encourage people to bring food or order from neighboring restaurants to eat on site and hope to attract food trucks on the weekends.
Costner: Our first year’s focus will be on selling through our tap room. As we start establishing ourselves, we we plan to distribute our beer to area restaurants and as growth permits, can our beer to sell at retail spots.
Burke: I’d like to add, we’ve been testing and tweaking our recipes in preparation for opening day. We’re always testing new recipes. Here are a few examples of what we have: Belgian Blonde Ale with locally sourced honey from Hope Honey Farm, Belgian IPA, Belgian Dark Strong, Saison with orange peel, and a chocolate stout brewed with cocoa nibs.
What kind of support do you expect from the deaf community? Any special outreach or events planned?
Cetrano: We are fortunate because we already have a lot of support from the deaf community. We will incorporate some sign language within the brewery itself. Our outreach will be focused on the Hyattsville community, bringing the neighborhood together.
Burke: That’s right, Jon. We see ourselves as a potential bridge to bring the community together. For example, maybe having an ASL-Beer class focusing on the natural social interaction people have around beer.
Costner: Like for example, the ASL App focuses on teaching users ASL for the purpose of daily interaction. Our space will be a place where that interaction and exchange happens–meeting and chatting with your neighbors. That is what Hyattsville is all about, right? But ultimately our space is really all about beer. The backs of our t-shirts says it all, “In pursuit of good beers!”