When the new 12,000-square-foot brewery opens in early Spring 2019, CEO and founder Emily Bruno wants to ensure that people from all kinds of backgrounds feel welcome finding a beer to their liking.
In addition to organizing regular community events, Denizens takes seriously its mission of making beer accessible, something Bruno attributes to its status as the only woman- and minority-owned brewery in Maryland.
“We truly think there is a beer for everyone, and we make a broad range of styles to ensure we can meet all of our customer needs,” she told the Hyattsville Wire.
The Wire spoke recently with Bruno about the new brewery and taproom.
Do you have an opening date yet?
Not just yet. We are beginning construction now and are aiming to open in early Spring 2019. It’s a big project with a lot of variables, but our team is working extremely hard to open as soon as possible.
How did you first hear about the space in Riverdale Park? Were you already looking to expand or did the owners come to you?
The Riverdale Park Station folks approached us in 2017 to introduce the space, and we happened to be in the process of evaluating expansion opportunities, so it was great timing. After a few months of visits and getting to know one another, it became clear to both sides that this was a great fit. As a company, we are incredibly invested in the community around us in Silver Spring — hosting non-profit fundraisers and happy hours, birthday parties and celebrations of important life milestones, and many public events that we host throughout the year. We plan to extend that same outreach to the neighborhoods surrounding Riverdale Park Station, and it’s clear that the owners of the development share our interest in creating the exact same kind of community.
What do you think of the Route 1 corridor’s growing microbrewery/distillery/
It’s great! The more craft manufacturers there are in an area, the better, as it brings more folks in to visit multiple spots on any given day. We have so much respect for Mike Franklin and Franklin’s Brewery and their position within the community over the last decades, and we are grateful to be joining this group of entrepreneurs along Route 1. Locally made, craft products are clearly taking off in the DMV, so I think lots of folks are seeing opportunities to join the market, although it is very competitive because unfortunately so many bars, restaurants, and retail stores still carry international and national brands over local brands. When folks shop from local manufacturers, the vast majority of their money is going back into the local economy, so it’s a win for everyone. So next time you are out, ask for what is local!
How does being a woman-owned brewery change your perspective?
Denizens is owned and operated by myself, Julie Verratti, and Jeff Ramirez, and we are Maryland’s only women and minority-owned brewery. We have a great staff of men and women who work really hard to make great beer and serve and sell it well. That said, I do think the fact that Julie and I are on the leadership team changes the way we do some things. At a basic level, I’m usually the only woman or one of only a handful of women in meetings related to construction and finance, so there’s the daily effort to show men who are used to working with only men that women can manage large-scale projects. Fortunately, I have not had too many instances of overt discrimination. However, I do deal with the daily reality that all strong female leaders face, which is a consistent confusion of our assertiveness and expertise as aggression and hostility. I think this is something that is changing culturally, but we still have a ways to go.
More broadly, Denizens thinks critically about ensuring we are serving and marketing to everyone — not just white guys with beards who are obsessed with IPAs — and our taproom in Silver Spring reflects that. On any given evening you can see folks from every socioeconomic background and age range enjoying the beer garden or taproom, and that’s the thing I love best about our brand. We truly think there is a beer for everyone, and we make a broad range of styles to ensure we can meet all of our customer needs. For us, everyone is a craft beer fan or fan-in-waiting — we simply start with a basic conversation of what flavors folks like and then offer something aligned to their palate preferences. You’d be surprised how many folks discover they like beer once they realize there is more to independent craft beer than just IPAs.
Denizens is known for your events. What kinds of events are you planning on Route 1?
We do love to throw a party! We host all kinds of events from weekly trivia to annual beer festivals, and we will continue to have a robust events schedule in Riverdale Park Station. We understand that not every community is the same, so we’ll be experimenting in the beginning to see what folks like, and we’d love your suggestions!