A proposal to build a microbrewery beside the Ram's Head Tavern in downtown Annapolis drew some tough questions from the City Council, but no public opposition at a public hearing last night.
W. M. Enterprises, owner of the Ram's Head at 33 West St., is seeking approval to establish the microbrewery, which would produce about 3,000 barrels of lager and ale a year.
"This is very consistent with everything we've talked about for this block of West Street," said Eileen Fogarty, city planning director.
She assured the council that the brewery would not create any odors or have other adverse impacts on the downtown area.
"This is the kind of redevelopment activity we like to see," she said.
The proposal also received the support of local businesses, including the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce.
"We believe the contributions and risks taken by the Ram's Head will spur others to do the same," said G. Geoffrey Bridges, a chamber of commerce board member.
James Martin, a West Street business owner, also testified in support of the plan. "It brings vitality, it brings employment to our streets," he said. "It's not a dangerous precedent."
Some of the council members expressed concerns about permitting a manufacturing enterprise downtown and questioned whether the Ram's Head would have adequate off-street loading room.
"You can start something that seems so innocent, but you need to put restrictions on in the beginning," said Alderman Samuel Gilmer, a Ward 3 Democrat.
The council is expected to vote on the project later this month.
W. M. Enterprises still will need a state license to operate the microbrewery.
If all of the approvals are granted, the microbrewery should be operating by the first of the year, said Ram's Head owner William Muehlhauser.
Mr. Muehlhauser said he expects to offer four to six kinds of ales and lagers and probably one light beer. The beer would be sold by the glass to Ram's Head customers and available for takeout in containers called growlers.
The beer also would be sold wholesale.
Mr. Muehlhauser is negotiating with brewer Allen Young of Hoster Brewing Co. in Columbus, Ohio, to oversee the brewing operations at the Ram's Head.