BY BILL BROWN
Great news for Silver Spring – Denizens brewpub is open.
Great news for Montgomery County beer drinkers and brewers – microbreweries can now sell pints over the counter. They can also sell kegs directly to restaurants.
Great news for restaurants – they no longer have to pay the DLC’s marked-up price when they buy directly from the brewer.
That was not possible just a year ago. Under the old laws breweries had to distribute beer through the county Department of Liquor Control.
Denizens beer garden. Photo by Bill Brown.
It is no coincidence that Silver Spring brewpub Denizens opened just after the laws changed. The brewpub’s owners worked on changing them.
It was almost the first step in their business plan. After researching how to start a brewpub – and discovering the local legal restrictions – they met with with Montgomery County councilmember at-large Hans Riemer last year.
He introduced them to county Department of Liquor Control division chief Kathie Durbin, who was a big help, said the owners. They credited state delegates Tom Hucker and Sam Arora, as well as other brewers and the Brewers Association of Maryland.
An inter-species crowd attended the opening. Photo by Bill Brown.
All concerned saw that micro-breweries and brew-pubs are good for the local economy, said co-owner Emily Bruno.
Denizens, for example, will bring a failed nightclub back to economic life in Silver Spring’s south end. On the fringes of new high-rise, mixed residential/commercial development, it aims to attract the area’s young professionals. It opens up new ground for local residents and the consumers thronging the restaurant, shopping, and movie-theater district half a mile away at the northern side of downtown Silver Spring.
The brewpub will provide service, sales, manufacturing (brewing) and professional jobs for between 20 – 40 people.
Denizen’s owners: Jeff Ramirez, Julie Verratti and Emily Bruno. Photo by Bill Brown.
Business, especially women’s business, has been the business of two of the three owners. Bruno, the brewpub’s business operations director, is with the National Women’s Business Council, specializing in women’s entrepreneurship. Co-owner Julie Verratti, Denizens business development director, works for the Small Business Administration.
Co-owner and head brewer Jeff Ramirez pours a beer at Denizens’ opening. Photo by Bill Brown.
Co-owner Emily Bruno ensures the customers are hydrated. Photo by Bill Brown
Co-owner Julie Verratti pours brew in the upstairs bar. The downstairs bar/brewery/kitchen will open later. Photo by Bill Brown
The third owner is head brewer Jeff Ramirez. Beer operations director Ramirez learned his trade at several breweries from New Jersey to Colorado: Tap Rock, Iron Hill, and Mountain Sun.
His South Side Rye IPA beer is on tap at Republic restaurant in Takoma Park, and at Pacci’s in Silver Spring. Named for the brewpub’s Silver Spring “south side” location, it has a strong citrus flavor, followed by gentler but bitter hop flavor. It has an of ABV 7.2. They plan to initially offer three other brews: an English-style extra-special bitter, a Czech-style Bohemian pilsner, and a Belgian-style tripel ale.
South Side Rye IPA. Photo by Bill Brown.
Remirez also has several small tanks to brew beer varieties such as “sour” beers, saison beers, and goza, a malty regional German beer made with salt and coriander. Someday he hopes to have cask conditioned ales,
They fill growlers as well as sell pints. Growlers are glass jugs sold by most brewers. Filled and sealed at the beer tap, they keep beer fresh and bubbly for up to a week.
Head brewer Jeff Ramirez and co-owner Julie Verratti with brewing apparatus on pub’s lower floor. Photo by Bill Brown.
Denizen’s beer garden opened Wednesday, July 16 with a “Picnic In The Beer Garden.” Opening day customers brought own food. When the kitchen opens, it will be operated by food-truck BBQ Bus, featuring “comfort food classic” dishes: ribs, macaroni and cheese, pulled pork, and baked beans, according to Taylor Barnes, Denizens Director of Marketing and Events.
Silver Spring’s high-rises, new office structures and old brick buildings create a dramatic urban vista for Denizens’ beer garden terrace, which seats 150. When the pub’s inside and downstairs bars open, there will be seating for 240. They expect to have live entertainment.
Denizens is at 1115 East-West Hwy, Silver Spring, MD 20910.