Growing up in Germany, it was only natural that Volker Stewart would fall in love with beer. By college, he moved to California, where the romance only intensified, arriving in 1982 as a vibrant craft beer scene was just beginning to brew. One sip of Anchor Steam and he knew he was hooked.
Eventually, Stewart followed a friend to Baltimore and landed a job as a reference librarian at the University of Baltimore. In Charm City, brewers Hugh Sisson (of Heavy Seas) and Bill Oliver (of Oliver Brewing) were leading the charge, and before long, Stewart hopped aboard the beer bandwagon, turning a then-91-year-old former antique store in Mt. Vernon into Baltimore’s first Belgian-style brewpub.
“It was a lemonade stand idea,” he says, “and the rest is history.”
Beneath the building’s high ceilings, marble columns, and timeworn elegance, he started with four beers: a pale ale, a rotating seasonal, the Ozzy (now named Beazly after a cease-and-desist from its namesake rock star, Ozzy Osbourne), and the best-selling Resurrection. Within no time, fans were flocking for creative concoctions, candlelit conversation, and the cavernous basement bar.
Twenty years later, even in Baltimore’s exceedingly hot beer climate, The Brewer’s Art continues to serve some of the best suds in town.
“I still feel like the new kid on the block,” says Stewart, who will be releasing a new ale to commemorate the occasion this fall and hosting an anniversary party at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on October 6. “Baltimore has always been loyal to us. I’m really grateful after all these years.”