Hugh Sisson at Heavy Seas brewery

Hugh Sisson at Heavy Seas brewery (Nicole Martyn)

So how did the new Heavy Seas Ale House happen? After all, Hugh Sisson, the Heavy Seas founder, had resisted businesses outside his brewery for years after he sold his shares in Sisson's, his first brewpub.

Well, the new restaurant, which is expected to open sometime this Spring, has a new venue to thank for its creation: Leinenkugel's Beer Garden.

Patrick Dahlgren, who'll be running the new pub, said that if out-of-state breweries, like Leinenkugel's, can license their name and open up a store-front in Baltimore, then it was time for a local like Heavy Seas to do the same.

Dahlgren and Hugh Sisson, founder of Heavy Seas, said plans for the new restaurant are still in the early stages - they haven't even settled on a beer menu. But one thing is certain, Sisson assured. For the brewery, retailers are the priority.

Just because the pub is around, "doesn't mean we won't be doing rollouts at Max's or Mahaffey's," Sisson said. "Those guys are gonna continue to get plenty of love."

Dahlgren said he and his stepfather Sisson have been talking about a restaurant for over a year.

"As the Heavy Seas brand has been building up, we just thought it was ready to have a spot of its own," Dahlgren said.

Sisson hadn't wanted to open a Heavy Seas brewpub - he said Maryland licensing regulations complicate such a move.

But, like Leinenkugel's, he came to the conclusion that by licensing the brand, the brewery wouldn't be intrinsically involved and yet benefit from the extra exposure.

"It's a great platform for our brand," he said.

Dahlgren signed the lease for the Old Tack Holland factory, which most recently housed the defunct restaurant Diablita, about ten days before last week's announcement.

Construction is set to begin this week, he said, but it will be on the light side, limited to an update of the space's look and a couple of new features - like a raw bar. The decor will also be changed to something nautically-themed, in a nod to the brewery's name.

The restaurant will sit 150 in the main room and have a backroom for 40. It will also have a beer garden for about 40 people, Dahlgren said.

The beer list has not been finalized. The plan now is to have between eight and ten drafts - not all Heavy Seas - as well as two rotating brews on casks.

As for the food, the restaurant will be open lunch and dinner, and serve New American cuisine. Expect lots of beer and food pairings and beer-infused meals.

"We're not trying to do a 450 flavor kind of joint," Sisson said. "The focus is on great food, and food and beer pairings."