Touring Suspended Brewing Company’s New Facility in Pigtown

| January 11, 2018 | 2 Comments

Suspended Brewing Company is now brewing beer at its new, approximately 3,000 sq. ft. facility at 912 Washington Blvd. in Pigtown. Suspended spent the last 15 months renovating the former church into a brewery and tap room, and acquiring its Class 5M Production Brewery license.

Suspended is currently run by a small team of four including Josey Schwartz, Yasmin Karimian, Amir Karimian, and George Himonas. The Karimians grew up in Baltimore and the entire Suspended team attended UMBC for undergrad, giving each of them roots in the area. They originally leased a space in Rockville, MD where they hoped to set up a brewery, but were unable to get the licensing needed to operate from the City of Rockville authorities.

The team looked to return to Baltimore, specifically neighborhoods in District 40, which, at the time, permitted for a Class 7 brewery license that allows virtually unlimited on-site sales and self-distribution. After trying to secure two other places in Pigtown, they were turned on to 912 Washington Blvd. by a family friend of the Karimians, Leslie Lacy, who was at the time Pigtown Main Street’s Business District Specialist, and Pigtown Main Street’s Executive Director Ben Hyman. The team thanked Lacy and Hyman for bolstering connections with the Pigtown community, Pigtown business owners, and other helpful institutions like Baltimore Development Corporation, which helped finance the buildout.

Suspended is now brewing beer and currently open for tours, which include tastings and the opportunity to buy growlers, Crowlers®, and merchandise. However, Suspended’s tap room, where it will sell different beers by the glass, is not yet open. Suspended has a Board of Liquor License Commissioners’ hearing coming up in February for its Baltimore City Limited Class D Beer license. After that, Suspended’s tap room will be open Friday through Sunday, and it will likely soon add Thursdays to the schedule.

At the tap room, patrons will be able to order 16oz, 10oz, and 5oz glasses of beer, along with flights, 64oz growlers, and 32oz growlers and Crowlers®, which are cans that are tapped and capped behind the bar. Suspended’s in-house beers will be on tap.

Schwartz told SouthBMore.com they will produce many “new school” beers such as New England-style IPAs, kettle sours, hybrid beers, as well as some beers with a nod to the old world of brewing with beers on hybrid cask, and open fermented beers. Suspended has a forthcoming project this month using Sagamore Spirit barrels. “We love a good whiskey barrel aged beer, and that’s what we’ll initially use the barrels for,” said Schwartz.

Once the barrels are stripped of the whiskey flavor half of the barrels will be modified into open fermenters so that the next batches can go through 100% fermentation in wood. Specifically the beer will open-ferment in the modified open-top wood barrel, then be sent to another closed barrel for maturation and condition.

Suspended will also keep several different purees so that patrons can add a flavor to any of its beers. The staff will recommend their favorite combinations of beer and puree. “We partly look for what’s absent in the market and partly scratch our own brewing itches,” said Schwartz.

Also on tap at Suspended is cold brew coffee that Suspended brews with Vigilante Coffee Company beans, a company based in Hyattsville, MD and Wild Kombucha, which is a virtually non-alcoholic fermented tea beverage brewed in Timonium, MD.

Suspended will not prepare its own food, but plans to partner with caterers on food offerings. Patrons will also be able to bring their own food.

The brewery has a capacity of 105.

Suspended has five fermentation tanks for its brewing system, which was made in Michigan and is capable of producing up to 30 barrels of beer at a time. The team can produce one large batch and send it to a ten-barrel (310 gallons) open-top fermentor, a five-barrel run for its closed cylindroconical tanks, or make two different two barrel sized batches at once. Schwartz told SouthBMore.com the goal is to produce 500 barrels of beer in its first year and noted they have significant room to grow in the space.

Suspended wants to control the experience drinkers have with its beers. Most of its products will be consumed at the Pigtown brewery where the team will have control of the pour, cleanliness of draft lines, and glassware, and will be able to educate consumers firsthand on their brews. Schwartz said that customer service will be part of the experience at Suspended. “People will come here and get treated like family,” he said.

Suspended will not be distributing its beers at this time.

Schwartz has a background in engineering and sustainability and the company will be committed to “corporate social responsibility.” Schwartz highlighted the following aspects of Suspended Brewing Company:

  • All electricity the brewery uses comes from wind power.
  • The majority of the spent grain is sent to Whispering Rise Farm & Pig Sanctuary; the rest of the grain, the spent hops, and spent yeast is sent to the Pigtown Food for Thought Carroll Street Garden to be turned into compost for community members to use in their plots.
  • Suspended uses water injected with ozone (O3) for all surface sanitation which greatly reduces water use for cleaning and sanitizing equipment, and drastically cuts the use of acids in the brewhouse.
  • Suspended collects city water that is run through its heat exchanger for beer wort cooling and uses it post brew to clean in the brewhouse.
  • Suspended brews beer with mostly organic malts.
  • Suspended has a high diversion of waste from landfill by making green supply chain purchases; “we try to only by materials and products that can be reused, recycled, repurposed, or composted,” said Schwartz.
  • “Although we couldn’t afford to pay for the certification from USGBC, I’m a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified green building professional with a specialty in Building Design + Construction and used LEED principles and best practices to build the brewery,” said Schwartz.

The team at Suspended is also hoping the brewery can be used as a community gathering space on days when it is not open. The team is also hoping to host block cleanups that start at the brewery.

Suspended wants its space to be a gathering space for “beer geeks,” families, and the Pigtown community. Suspended is also looking into how it might be able to utilize an adjacent lot owned by neighbor Coastal Longleaf, as a beer garden.

After a long journey, Suspended is happy to finally be open. “We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from the community and look forward to serving it for a very long time,” the team told SouthBMore.com.

Photo courtesy of Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC

Photos courtesy of Sam Levin

About the Author:

Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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  • Bryce Walburn

    It’s interesting that they’re calling it a tavern but they don’t serve food

    • John Power

      Foreshadowing?