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Black-Eyed Susan Brewery Finds Home in Columbia

The new brewery that plans to open next year will be capable of producing millions of pints of beer, according to its owner.

Black-Eyed Susan Brewing Co. logo.
Black-Eyed Susan Brewing Co. logo.

A new craft brewery capable of producing 30,000 barrels per year, about 7 million pints of beer, is moving into a warehouse in Columbia.

"We're going to be the first packaging brewery in Columbia and one of the first in Howard County," said the owner of Black-Eyed Susan Brewing Company, Matthew Levine.

Black-Eyed Susan recently signed a 15-year lease for a 22,500-square-foot warehouse on Berger Road, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

Levine said they should receive the brewery equipment in January and plan to start full-scale brewing in the spring. That's when they'll also open the tasting room; a 3,000-square-foot space that will serve their beers, sell growlers, and on the weekends offer food from local food trucks and restaurants, according to Levine.

Levine said he and his wife, Susan, who are Columbia residents, came up with the idea to open the brewery after touring craft breweries on the West Coast. 

"We noticed how packed all the breweries out there were and kind of realized there were no large breweries in this area," said Levine. "We said, you know what, let's do a brewery."

Levine has a background in business and sales, while Susan is a lawyer and chemical engineer who has experience in fermentation and chemical engineering. They started brewing with equipment bought at a local home-brew store last year, and after getting positive feedback from family and friends decided to enter the business.

However, they won't be brewing the beer at the new brewery themselves. Levine said they've signed a "really good" brewer, but declined to release his name.

"We're going to release his name at the end of the year," said Levine.

The brewery will offer five year-round beers and three seasonal brews. They'll sell year-round an American wheat, a Belgian-inspired Saison, a coffee stout in partnership with Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company and a pale ale. Seasonally they plan to offer a summer hefeweizen, a fall pumpkin ale, and in the winter, a Scottish ale.

At the tasting room limited production beers will be on tap as well as soda like root beer or ginger ale, Levine said.

"It's very important for us to stay local," said Levine. The tagline for the company is 'From Grain to Glass, Choose Local Beer', but he said they'd like to expand nationally.

"As a business we want to grow and grow as we can," said Levine.

The company is waiting to receive its license to sell the beer, which Levine hopes they'll receive by mid-January, after that he said they plan to begin sales at local restaurants before the brewery officially opens. They're currently brewing on a much smaller setup.

"Many restaurants have reached out to us to have [our beer] there first," said Levine. "As soon as we have locations where it's being sold we'll put them out on our Facebook."

Before this year, brewery operations weren't allowed in Howard County, due to zoning restrictions. Only brewpubs like Ellicott Mills Brewing Company and Frisco Taphouse were able to operate. But that changed when the County Council passed the Comprehensive Zoning Bill in July, which allows breweries that produce up to 22,500 barrels per year to operate in manufacturing zones.

Levine helped make the change, encouraging the Council to change the zoning and raise the maximum production amount from the initial plan of 10,000 barrels to 22,500. He said they had already picked out the location in Columbia before they even realized there was no zoning to open a brewery.

"We knew where we wanted to be," said Levine. "We knew we wanted to be in the center of Columbia. We wanted to make Columbia a beer destination."
 

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