A tasting bar (no chairs) centers the room. A pinball machine sits in a back corner, near a small table with a vase of flowers.

Grist for the mill

In the warehouse next door sit large bags of malt that are ground into grist and then augured or piped into a mash kettle, part of a 20-barrel "brew house" process.


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The industrial-sized kettle is filled with 1,500 pounds of dry grist and boiling water, and the mixture is then piped into a "lauter tun," which separates the sugars. The sugary liquid is piped back into the kettle, to be boiled with hops.

The remaining wet grain is shoveled out and picked up at least once a week by a farmer, who feeds it to his cattle in Pennsylvania.

The hot liquid for beer is boiled for about 90 minutes, goes into a heat exchanger for cooling and is fed into a fermenting tank with yeast for 17 days, on average, before going into a "brite" tank.

"That is clean beer that's ready to go," Zerivitz said.

Kegs are hand-filled with beer and stored in a walk-in refrigerator, eight shrink-wrapped kegs to a pallet, for pickup by Legends Ltd., a distributor in Rosedale.

The brewery already has 40 to 50 accounts, including the restaurants Woodberry Kitchen, the Golden West Cafe in Hampden and the Belvedere Square wine bar Grand Cru, Zerivitz said.

Neighborhood brewery

Blodger and Zerivitz have modest ambitions for now.

With an estimated $100,000 a year in overhead costs, Zerivitz noted, "I don't think we'll be profitable for a couple of years."

There's been at least one unforeseen cost.

"In the first month I went through two pair of shoes," Zerivitz said, wearing rubber boots as he walked in puddles of water on the concrete floor.

He said they hope to brew 1,500 barrels the first year and to double that in 2013. They also plan to market cans of beer, and the Wine Source in Hampden has already agreed to sell them, he said.

Blodger and Zerivitz said they're not concerned with making the best beer in Baltimore, but what Blodger called "approachable beer, that people can drink."

"There are a lot great beers," Blodger said. "We want to be a neighborhood brewery. I don't think it's about being better. We want to make great beer and be part of the brewing community."

And they have no plans to add a restaurant.

"We are not a brew pub," Zerivitz declared.

The tasting room is the public face of the Union Craft Brewing Co. The front door opens into the room, and as customers come in for growlers and refills, "we'll know their names," Zerivitz said.