New Brewery Opening Spring or Summer 2024
The Berlin Beer Company, Worcester County’s newest brewery is anticipated to be open in late Spring or early Summer of this year. This brewery will be located in Maryland’s “Coolest Small Town” – Berlin at 115 Broad Street, in the former Southern States Feed and Grain Store, at the intersection of Broad Street and Harrison Avenue extension. The Feed and Grain store operated for several decades, and, prior to that, this building served as a freight train station dating back to the 1930’s. Adjacent to a rail line that was the Delaware – Maryland Railroad, which ran south to Snow Hill,it is this connection and its previous uses and features that the Davis Family plans to emphasize as much as possible.
The Davis Family
The driving force for this new brewery is owner, Adam Davis. Davis brings over 18 years of experience to this entrepreneurial project, based upon his craft beer background as Head Brewer and Chief of Operations at several nearby locations. Prior to relocating to the Shore close to 11 years ago, Davis worked at another brewery near Rockville, Maryland. Currently, Adam and his immediate family reside in Berlin. It is with their support that will make this new venture a success.
New Use for a Repurposed Building: The Project
The entire project will be larger than the former Feed and Grain building itself. The primary building of forty five hundred square feet (4,500 sq. ft.), will contain a taproom/bar area and restaurant with a seating capacity of at least seventy people. The taproom/ bar will allow sales of his brewery products, as well as wine, and other alcohol drinks. The bar will accommodate up to twenty five additional seats. For this new endeavor, Adam has teamed up with The Street Kitchen, a local food and catering company that uses fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Chef Jeff Faille brings his extensive food experience to this new partnership. The Street Kitchen also operates its highly popular food truck (Food to Street) in various events throughout the local area for many years. A five hundred square foot (500 sq. ft.) kitchen will be accommodated into this renovated building. The Street Kitchen will provide an expanded menu for this new facility. Within this same building will be restrooms and offices. The newly enclosed portion, the original freight train station’s loading dock, on the east side will be used for additional seating as well as special event space.
“When we started to work on the design for the renovations to the taphouse, it was important to Adam that we maintain as much of the charm and character of the old farm supply building as possible. Some of the original elements we simply kept in place include many of the sliding barn doors, exposed timber framing and, probably one of the coolest features, the grain silo. In addition, any new or replacement windows, doors, and siding were designed in such a way that they would mimic the existing style, proportions, and materials that could be found in the original building. It is such an exciting project with so many unique features that make it truly one-of-a-kind.”
Daniele Haley, AIA
A new twenty-one hundred (2,100) square foot building addition is being constructed behind the taproom/bar/restaurant space. This will be the production location for the beer and other products that will be crafted on site. A variety of anticipated beers such as Indian Pale Ales (IPAs), lager, porters, stouts, sours and more will be created. In addition, Davis expects to produce seltzers and even sodas for these customers. Davis says he also intends to use local farm ingredients in his brewing operations. To recognize its historical use for the storage and distribution of peaches, Davis would like to create a craft beer that includes them; if only for a seasonal offering or special events in Berlin. Berlin holds its annual Peach Festival each August at the Calvin B. Taylor Museum. This popular event commemorates the days when the Berlin area was known for having a major peach producing industry.
Large windows will be installed, on the interior walls, to allow customers to view the brewing and fermentation process. This area will also house refrigeration and dry storage for the operation. A canning line is also planned to be on site for off-premise beverage sales.
The Beer Garden
While the bar/restaurant will be used for interior service, the beer garden will afford outdoor seating. The beer garden will be about three thousand square feet (3,000 sq. ft.) in size. Addressing the sensitivity of adjacent residential uses, Adam states a privacy fence and landscaping will be provided on this eastside of the building. Other adjacent uses are commercial in nature.
Besides providing twenty-eight parking spaces for its customers, the approved site plan by the Town of Berlin will provide a bike rack and ample landscaping. Many of its future customers are expected to walk or bike to this new brewery.
The Restoration Process
Improvements of the existing building to repurpose it into a brewery and restaurant space have been extensive. According to Davis, “We want to retain as much of the historic character as we can.” The original support beams and woodwork have been retained and only replaced when necessary. Davis states he wishes to incorporate reminders of the past, including keeping an existing silo, which extends from the floor through the roof; this existed from the days when the building was for a feed and grain operation. The silo has also been incorporated into the artwork for the brewery’s logo.
New plumbing and electric fixtures have been installed as well as life safety fixtures; including a sprinkler system. In addition, all new utilities, as well as wall and ceiling insulation are being installed. The original floor and roofline of the feed and grain store has been leveled, as well. That was a major undertaking.
Other architectural elements being highlighted in the renovation project reflect its history as a freight train station. Such as the restoration of a fireplace, utilizing the original nails, which held fresh garlic from its feed and grain use, and other minor elements. Davis adds, “We want to provide some nods to the historic transition of the ownership of the property.”
The former metal sheathing, which covered the exterior walls, has been removed; revealing the original wood. To update the exterior, painted fiber cement siding and board and batten siding has been installed on the walls. Additional exterior attributes include parged foundation walls, custom wood gable brackets, 42” high cable railing on the front porch, signage and terraced planters on the front façade. All new windows and doors have been installed and the building will adhere to ADA requirements; including the addition of an ADA ramp.
In regards to the challenges of this project, the owner states that going through the design and permitting process was cumbersome at times, but “It is what it is and it has been an educational process.” The Town’s Planning and Zoning Commission members strongly endorsed this project site plan at its public meeting in 2023.
Project Partners and Contractors
Besides The Street Kitchen food service other partners and contractors on this project include:
- Haley Architecture, LLC which is owned by Ocean City resident, Daniele Haley, AIA. Haley Architecture was instrumental in working with the owner and receiving site plan approval from the Town of Berlin in 2023. The firm also submitted and obtained approval of the building permit.
- Burley Building Company of Berlin, Maryland is the general contractor on this project. Founded in 2015, Burley Building Company has quickly generated a reputation for creativity, ingenuity and the ability to seamlessly accomplish new construction and historic renovation projects.
- Tracks and Yaks – railbikes excursions – is located immediately adjacent to this new brewery. This business started last year; from Berlin, through farmland and coastal forests following the historic rail line. This recreational and fun activity should be very complementary to the new brewery.
Projected Customer Base and Operations
This new facility will primarily cater to the immediate community. As production increases, Davis hopes to provide his products to area restaurants and bars. As evidenced in many new breweries, the canning process will be key to its retail growth. In the interim, Berlin Beer Co. has partnered with Burnish Beer Coof Salisbury to produce small batches of craft beer for select events, including the Love On Tap Shorecraft Beer Fest at Seacrets in Ocean City on February 24th. Davis plans to feature his IPA beer, “Green Suede Shoes” at this event.
Davis added, in regards to operating the business, “My family will help with the front of the house, but I will be responsible for the back of house operations, including the making of the beer.” “We intend to keep labor to a minimum in the beginning, while still supplying jobs for local residents as the business grows.”
According to Ivy Wells, Town of Berlin Economic and Community Development Director, “Very happy for Adam Davis and excited for a new brewery to open in Berlin. It’s wonderful for a member of our community to open a new business here in Berlin.”
Davis will be pursuing the all-important liquor license that he will need from the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners. In the future, Davis states he would like to have live music at this venue, but this will need to be approved by Worcester County. He recognizes the sensitivity of neighbors. He would like to initially propose acoustic music, limited to day time hours.
Berlin Beer Company will start small and grow the merchandise segment of the business as it matures.
Follow the Project on Social Media
Upon visiting the project, it is very easy to view the amount of planning, construction, and financial investment that has gone into this new project. New construction is one thing, but the prospects of restoration and repurposing an underutilized building can be daunting. However, the craft beer experience and passion of this project brought by its owner, and with the support of his family, have gone a long way in bringing about a new and exciting business to America’s “Coolest Small Town.”