In the current craft-beer climate, it seems like breweries are opening left and right these days, but the latest example plans to do things a bit differently.
Suspended Brewing Company—which was founded by UMBC classmates Josey Schwartz, Yasmin Karimian, Amir Karimian, and Stevo Karolenko—aims to rely on a model of self-distribution, brew unique and funky beer styles, and have everything in the brewery come from clean, renewable sources.
"A big thing for us is making sure we keep our waste and energy to a minimum," explains Yasmin. "We want to combine our love for craft beer and the idea that businesses don't need to be just concerned about the bottom line, but also it's impact on people."
The new brewery will open in a 3,000-square-foot space at 912 Washington Boulevard in Pigtown, a former church two doors down from the mixed-use apartment complex that will include Milk & Honey Market. As a Baltimore native, Karimian says the neighborhood fit right in with the company's ethos.
"Walking down Washington, it's just a good representation of the charm of Baltimore," she said. "There's a picturesque, beautiful community with all kinds of culture and history. We know it's not Fells Point or Federal Hill, but we wanted to be part of a developing neighborhood. The first day we visited, we walked into every store and talked with business owners. They were all so in love with where they live."
Another upside to Pigtown was the availability of the a Class 7 brewery license that allows for more on-site sales and self-distribution, plus the taproom isn't limited to 10-percent of the space like other area breweries. Suspended's system will be able to brew 20 kegs of beer at a time with the goal of producing 500 barrels of beer a year.
"We’re trying to create a community space and be able to serve our own beer," Yasmin said. "This way, we can get real feedback from people and have those conversations over a drink. Hopefully, we'll eventually find other bars with our same mindset and maybe they’ll want to have those conversations, too."
Originally, Suspended was going to set up shop down in Rockville, but decided Baltimore was a better fit. Currently, they are brewing out of Rockville's 7 Locks Brewery while the Pigtown space is under construction. Their first beer is a New England-style IPA called Dirty Wishes, and a spin off of that called Grit & Greatness: An Honors Ale will debut this Saturday at UMBC's 50th anniversary celebration. Yasmin said they're looking to brew more unique styles, like kettle sours and beer-mead hybrids.
"We love Baltimore beer culture as it is, but we’re hoping to bring some funkier beer to the scene," she said. "This New England-style IPA is a little juicier and more drinkable than your typical IPA."
To coincide with its model of sustainability, all of the brewery's furniture will be repurposed and a lot of it will be built by Schwartz, who has a background in engineering and sustainability. Eventually, the brewery wants to install solar panels and hot water technologies, as well as encourage the use of growlers and crowlers over cans and bottles. Suspended wants to open its doors within the next six months.
"We are hoping to keep the historic character of the building," Yasmin said. "We love how well it fits into the neighborhood. But we also want to add our own little Suspended charm."