After two-and-a-half years of planning and a $750,000 investment, the owners of Victoria Gastro Pub will debut 11 new craft beers produced at the county's first farm brewery.
Randy and Mary Marriner, and their daughters Tori Marriner and Rachael Mull, will unveil Manor Hill Brewing's beers at a release party March 23 at their popular Columbia restaurant. The party is open to the public and among the events slated for Howard County Beer Week, March 21-29.
Head brewer Ben Little has concocted several IPAs, a Belgian-style beer, and a German beer with the Manor Hill IPA, Farm Fuzz Witbier, and the Persimmon Gose. In addition to 10 beers sold on tap, beer fans will get to taste a cask beer, Ordinary Bitter, which Tori describes as an English bitter with an American twist.
Located in a converted 30-year-old barn at Randy and Mary's Ellicott City farmhouse, Manor Hill Brewing will initially sell the beers on tap and in growlers at Victoria Gastro Pub. The family has partnered with Legends to distribute the beer to other restaurants by this summer.
"My dad has worked tirelessly to make this all come together. Between getting all the permits and approvals, it has been almost a full-time job," says Tori.
Randy was one of the champions of a state bill passed in 2012 that allows Maryland farms to operate a brewery on site that can brew up to 15,000 barrels per year. Manor Hill is also taking advantage of the public's burgeoning thirst for craft brews.
"We've caught the craft beer wave. Most craft brewers can't make enough" to fill demand, Randy says.
Craft brewers saw an 18-percent growth through June of last year, according to national trade group Brewers Association.
The brewery won't initially be open to the public since it's on a residential property, but the family might hold special events there down the road. Manor Hill Brewing will produce about 2,000 barrels a year to start and will steadily manufacture more beer until it reaches its capacity of 15,000 barrels.
The Marriners will also have another restaurant on their plate within a year. Food Plenty will break ground within a month in a new development in Clarksville and will focus on seasonal, local comfort food.
"We're all just thrilled. It's a lot happening at once," Tori says.