You may not be familiar with the term ‘shorebilly’. To many of you, it’s a foreign word you don’t use in your everyday conversation, or ever, but it’s definition embodies the spirit of Ocean City, Maryland. A ‘Shorebilly’ is best described “an existence unaffected by time or authority. Days and nights blend together, signaled by sunrises over the ocean and sunsets in the bay. Their hearts become gorged with rebellion and pride, inherent in all Americans but enjoyed by few.” It is also the name and inspiration for Ocean City’s first craft beer brewery, a project over a year and a half in the making that instantly took the town by storm.
Danny Robinson has been the owner of Hammerheads on the boardwalk for years. Having lived in Ocean City and been an active member of the community for over half his adult life, it’s safe to say he has his finger on the town’s pulse as much as anyone. Over the past few years, he couldn’t help but notice the ever-growing national craft beer trend and sensed the need for Ocean City to have a brewery of its own. Knowing someone else would fill the void sooner rather than later if he didn’t, Robinson began conceptualizing plans for a brewery and searching for the perfect location for his hobby turned profession.
Concerns and challenges surrounding construction notwithstanding, Robinson knew the only appropriate place for the home an Ocean City brewery was on the boardwalk, with a view of the Atlantic Ocean. When the long-time ice cream shop next to his already successful bar became available in 2012, Robinson knew he’d struck gold. As soon as the summer season wound down, construction on his newest property began and the Shorebilly Brewing Company went from a dream to a reality.
Breweries tend to be community based and Robinson is thrilled the town has been solidly behind his newest philanthropic vision since day 1, in real life and on social media. Shorebilly embraces its role as ambassador to both the town and the world of craft beer, and Robinson will do whatever it takes to maintain and grow trust in his brand. The entire Shorebilly concept was designed to represent the culture of Ocean City while offering tourists a taste of local flavors and lifestyle.
Shorebilly is quickly becoming a tourist hotspot for craft beer lovers, but make no mistake about it, the brewery is as local as it gets. From its distinctive logo that combines the Ocean City and Maryland flags to the fresh ingredients sourced from local farms, but it doesn’t end there. The building itself was designed with local sustainability in mind. The tasting room bar top is constructed of planks from the old boardwalk that was recently replaced and much of the wood paneling around the building came from from an abandoned barn in Snow Hill that Robinson repurposed before it was destroyed.
As Ocean City’s first brewery, Robinson realizes Shorebilly will be many people’s first experience with craft beer. His approach is to create mild, highly drinkable beers that act as an easy gateway into an unfamiliar world that even the most reluctant of light beer drinkers will try, and enjoy. Shorebilly offers two flagship brews that are always on tap, a Kolsch named ‘Four Ten’, after the local area code, and a brown ale called ‘Downtown Sugar Brown’, as well as a variety of other beers on any given day.
Some may see Shorebilly’s ‘nano’ size as a disadvantage, but Robinson sees the (pint) glass half full rather than half empty. Brewing beer in small batches gives Shorebilly the ability to experiment with unique styles and flavor profiles that larger breweries do not have the luxury to try. “You can’t come up with anything fun without taking risks,” says Robinson, and, as should be perfectly evident by the soon to be iconic VW bus located in front of the tasting room along the boards, the Shorebilly brand is all about fun, so experimentation is always worth the risk. More times than not, the results are delicious.
Shorebilly may only be in it’s first season, but it is quickly becoming a staple of Ocean City vacations and there are already plans to grow the brand in the near future. The tasting room offers take home growlers and its beers will be on local taps beginning the summer of 2014. There are also plans in place to distribute it’s one-of-a-kind brews around the mid-Atlantic soon after. Do yourself a favor and don’t wait for Shorebilly to come to you, head to 10th Street and the boardwalk today and experience a true taste of Ocean City and the beach lifestyle.