Progress: March

Sapwood Cellars is still on track for a summer opening, although our current timeline is looking more like July than June at this point. We’re still waiting on our federal license, and the Maryland license is on hold until we receive it.

In March we took the important step of hiring our first employee, who will be managing the tasting room! I realize that may seem early, but we needed a Howard County resident on staff to allow us to apply for a liquor license. We’ll introduce them in a month or so, but I’m amazed we found such a perfect fit (out of several fantastic candidates) given our limited geography! We’ve spent the last week working on the paperwork for the liquor license, getting fingerprinted, as well as pulling driving and criminal records.

Our mash tun getting a cleaning cycle and passivation before being shipped from Colorado!

The necessary changes to the brewery itself to allow us to brew are coming into focus, and we’re remedying a few outstanding issues (fire extinguishers, emergency exits). Most of the changes will be related to use, like having enough water, gas, and electricity to run the 10 bbl brewhouse. We’ll also be adding an on-demand hot water-heater to speed up preparing water to brew. The only other change of note is an extension and reconfiguration of the pad where all of the equipment will sit. Once that’s finished we’ll be able to seal the concrete with epoxy to make it resistant to the chemicals needed to keep our IPAs from turning sour.

In April we’re expecting to receive both our hot-side and cold-side equipment. Most of the cold-side is coming from Apex: two 10 bbl fermentors, a 20 bbl fermentor, and a 10 bbl bright tank. We also bought a 15 bbl DME fermentor from our friends at Sinistral Brewing in Manassas, VA. It’s a bit of an awkward size for our system being 1.5 brews, but the price was right, and it’ll give us some flexibility on the sours (diluting the wort for a Berliner weisse, double-batching a higher gravity base, diverting some of a double batch for primary in oak barrels, etc.) The tanks ship horizontal, so we’re hiring a rigging company to turn them upright when they arrive. From there we can position all of them once the pad is cured.

The tasting room is coming together too. Scott has been turning old table bases from a restaurant auction and fence wood (plus sanding, glue, nails, stain, and polyurethane) into these beautiful tables! We’ve got a few more beautification projects in the works as well, from a huge chunk of wood for a menu, to artwork!

On the beer front, we continue to dial in our recipes for the opening. Your next chance to try our test batches will be at the Maryland Craft Beer Festival in Frederick on May 12. Expect a fresh iteration of Cheater Hops: Citra-Galaxy, another Citra (with Amarillo) hazy IPA, and few other unique batches!