South Baltimore is gaining a new brewery as Checkerspot Brewing Company is opening a 10,000 sq. ft. brewery and tap room at 175 W. Ostend St. adjacent to M&T Bank Stadium, the South Baltimore Neighborhood, and Sharp-Leadenhall. Checkerspot is taking over a vacant suite at the 65,000 sq. ft. office building owned by Himmelrich Associates.
Checkerspot, named after the official Maryland butterfly, is the creation of husband and wife Rob and Judy Neff, as well as their business partner Steve Marsh. Judy Neff, who has a PhD in microbiology form Johns Hopkins University, has been a home brewer for the past 12 years; Marsh started the cask program at Heavy Seas and has been a consultant with breweries in the area; and Rob Neff has a background in construction rehabs. Judy Neff joked to SouthBMore.com that it was time to take the leap and go pro.
Judy Neff and Marsh will be the brewing team, and Rob Neff will handle business, sales, and distribution.
Judy Neff told SouthBMore.com the team looked for a brewing space in East and South Baltimore, but were sold when they found this location. “We’re right by the South Baltimore neighborhoods and right by the stadiums so people can just walk right over, plus there’s easy access to I-95 and it’s an easy walk to Downtown. We’re pretty excited about the neighborhood and really could not ask for a better location,” said Judy Neff. She also noted excitement about the growing entertainment district just to the west with the casino and soon-to-open Hammerjacks, and the mixed-used development Stadium Square just to the east.
The brewery entrance will be on the 1300 block of Sharp St. facing The Parker Building, another Himmelrich property currently getting coverted to offices. The entire building is getting an exterior renovation that is more welcoming to Sharp St. Checkerspot will have parking available at the lot adjacent to The Parker Building.
Checkerspot will have a two-floor tap room looking into the 15-barrel brewery built by startup Craft Kettle out of New Orleans. Checkerspot will be open every day for lunch and dinner and will serve a wide variety of housemade beers and casual food incorporating flavors from its beers. Judy Neff noted its not a restaurant, but will have more extensive food options than most tap rooms.
Checkerspot is looking forward to Ravens and Orioles games, as well as hosting community fundraisers.
Checkerspot will first focus on running the tap room and then will look to distribute its beers soon after. The team signed the lease this week and hopes to start construction early next year. They are shooting for an August opening date and are currently moving through the state and federal licensing process. They plan to meet with the area neighborhood associations.
The team is funding Checkerspot through a mix of self-funding, loans, and investors. Judy Neff commented about how supportive other Baltimore breweries have been so far with with giving tips and allowing them to brew on their equipment. Checkerspot recently did a collaboration with Waverly Brewing Company.
Judy Neff told SouthBMore.com that Baltimore is a strong brewing town, but there is a lot of room for growth. Checkerspot will be the third brewery in South Baltimore joining Diamondback Brewing Company which opened in Locust Point in November, and Suspended Brewing Company which is coming soon to Pigtown.
Photo courtesy of the Checkerspot Brewing Company Facebook page