Bel Air's Independent Brewing Company gets liquor license for Friday opening

Bel Air's first brewery is now formally open for business

Bel Air's Independent Brewing Company is officially open for business, having received its liquor license from Harford County earlier this week.

The county's liquor control board gave the green light for the craft brewery, on North Main Street, to open Friday, despite a rare bifurcation of approval for its floor plan.

The brewery owners announced on their Facebook page the business would be open Friday.

"After 2 1/2 years of seemingly endless hard work, blood, sweat and tears, yesterday was the culmination of all our efforts as we were graciously granted a Harford County liquor license to sell beer by the glass for on premise consumption," the Facebook statement says.

At the liquor board meeting Wednesday, board members seemed mostly eager to let the brewery open. Thomas Fidler was absent and Vernon Gauss was alone in voting against granting the license.

Independent's lawyer Joseph Snee said the license request was unique because the county license was preceded by state approval of a manufacturer's license as a brewery and a wholesaler's license for beer sales.

The floor plan is bifurcated, as the brewery operation had state approval and the restaurant area was approved by the county.

Independent Brewing, designed by Fallston resident Phillip Rhudy, is especially eager to cater to users of the Ma & Pa Trail. Rhudy is partnering with WOLO food truck to provide food, at least this weekend.

Rhudy said his vision is to have a different food truck each day of the week.

"One of the things my guys and I have been focused on is good, healthy food," he said, explaining he prefers to focus on the beer aspect.

He said more than a dozen breweries in the state have similar shared operations with a food truck.

"It's a proven successful model," Rhudy said. "We make beer, we don't make food."

Snee added: "We have been working with the town [of Bel Air]. They consider this a very nice re-use of an existing facility."

The brewery is on the site of a former auto shop at 418 North Main.

It will be pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly, Snee said. When he toured the facility earlier on Wednesday, three people had to be turned away because they thought the business was already open.

"That was the big problem, of people from the Ma & Pa Trail, driving by," Snee said.

"I truly respect and appreciate your perseverance," liquor board chairman Michael Thomson said. "As a member of the community, the place looks great."

He disagreed, however, with Snee's request to waive a five-day waiting period, which would have allowed the brewery to be open Wednesday, rather than Friday.

According to Rhudy, the brewery will have 22 taps, with 72 seats in its tap room. It will feature nine tanks of beer, which could be available for tours, and be decorated with local art available for sale.

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