Over a round of beers one day, Earl Holman, Alex Josephs and Dan Messeca — three Maryland natives and longtime friends — discussed their dream-job, opening a brewery. Like so many craft-beer enthusiasts before them, it was a topic they kept coming back to over time. So in 2015, they decided to make a business plan for fun.
"And if at any point we think this idea is ridiculous, we can abandon it," Messeca recalled saying at the time. "It just slowly and slowly became a reality."
Along with head-brewer Andrew Wilkes, the founders just signed a lease to open Crooked Crab Brewing Company's first brewery in a single-story warehouse building in Odenton. They hope to have the production facility and taproom fully operational by the end of December, Messeca said.
Construction is underway while the company goes through the federal and state permitting procedures, the Rockville native said. The 6,100-square-foot brewery at 8251 Telegraph Road will be located within the Telegraph Commerce Center.
Crooked Crab beers have yet to be released to the public, and the team is currently refining recipes through homebrewing, according to Messeca. The initial lineup has six planned beers so far, including the light summer beer Crooked Cream Ale and Motley Zü Coffee Stout, made with coffee roasted by Annapolis' Zü Coffee.
Crooked Crab will have its versions of popular pale ales, but Messeca is also "excited to be offering some of the other styles and focusing on them," he said.
The brand's production system will be capable of producing 3,500 barrels per year — a number Crooked Crab will have to work up to over the first couple years, Messeca said. Crooked Crab will produce beer in kegs with the intention of serving its taproom and nearby bars.
"Our hope is to grow organically over time, so if people like our stuff and there's a demand for getting it in different formats, we'll look into canning or bottling down the road," he said.
The hyper-local approach reflects Crooked Crab's ambitions. They aim to serve Odenton and Anne Arundel County first and foremost, and will consider expansion if opportunities arise.
"There's a really strong community [in Odenton] that we'd love to be a part of," Messeca said. "I don't think we have ambitions to become a big nationwide brand. … If we can get distribution across the state, we'd be pretty thrilled."