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Beer: More (or less) about nanobrewing

By Greg Kitsock

Cabot Boyd at his backyard brewery. (Nathan Zeender)

Baying Hound Aleworks in Rockville, which I wrote about in my most recent column, will soon have a rival for the title of smallest local brewery. My colleague Nathan Zeender, who blogs about small-batch brewing, tipped me off about a new nanobrewery percolating away in a quonset hut in the Washington suburbs.

Cabot Boyd, founder of Washingtonian’s Brewing Co., has a background in the housing industry: He ran an excavation business with his father, and later got involved in real estate. When that industry went south, Boyd looked around for a new line of work that would allow him to be a stay-at-home father to his two daughters, 5 and 2. A homebrewer for the past five years, he decided to turn his hobby into a money-making proposition.

Boyd fabricated a one-barrel brewhouse from a steel drum and welded a pair of 9.5-barrel fermenters, setting up shop on a 5-acre parcel of property he owns in Fort Washington. Here's the nitty-gritty on how he constructed a backyard brewery on the cheap (“I started out with pennies in an old mug,” he asserts).

Cabot Boyd's Monumental Triple. (Nathan Zeender)

He expects his first beer, Monumental Triple, to hit the market in February in 750-milliliter cork-and-cage bottles. A triple (also spelled “tripel”) is a strong, golden-colored Belgian abbey-style ale. Commercial examples include Chimay (white label), Westmalle and Gouden Carolus from Belgium, as well as Victory Brewing Co.’s Golden Monkey and Allagash Tripel from Allagash Brewing Co. here in the United States. Flavor profiles can differ significantly from one brand to another, but Boyd says his version will be sweet and fruity, with citrus notes and a light enough body that drinkers will scarcely suspect the beer measures a formidable 8 percent alcohol by volume.

He intends to age the unfiltered, unpasteurized beer for four months, an extravagant amount of time for the flagship beer of a startup brewery. “Aging allows the flavors to become less harsh, more subtle,” he says.

Boyd expects Monumental Triple to cost about $10 a bottle. “It’s not a daily drinker but more of a celebration beer,” he muses. He’ll self-distribute in Maryland, while allowing Hop & Wine Beverage to deliver his beer in the District and northern Virginia.

His projected output for his first year in business: 57 barrels.

Can he turn a hobby into a viable business? Boyd insists that he incurred no debt in constructing his brewery. Starting this small “allows you to see what the market is all about without taking on an epic risk,” he notes.

Meanwhile, Baying Hound Aleworks is already expanding beyond its home base in Montgomery County, Maryland. Jocelyn Cambier of J. Cambier Imports, who handles a variety of French and French Canadian microbrews as well as domestic craft beers from Coronado and Climax Brewing Companies, will distribute nanobrewer Paul Rinehart’s beers in the District and northern Virginia. Check out the brewery’s web site and click on “Where’s the Beer?” for a list of establishments carrying Baying Hound Pale Ale.

-- Greg Kitsock

By Greg Kitsock  | November 8, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Beer  | Tags:  Greg Kitsock, beer  
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Setting up the brewery is easy. I want to read about the legal hurdles. As I understand it, it is very difficult, costly, and time-consuming to get the proper licenses, and other permissions, to make and sell beer or any other alcoholic beverages.

Posted by: cjmark | November 8, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I'd love to read about how Cabot Boyd constructed his brewery...the "nitty-gritty" link doesn't work.

Posted by: jrz2 | November 8, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

There are a lot of legal hurdles, you need to make sure you have a property zoned for the brewery that the TTB will say okay to. Don't under estimate the amount of money you will need. Be sure to also calculate how much beer you will have to produce to be profitable. The licensing, parts of it are costly, bonds I payed $2000, licensing, with everything including local and state, $2000-$3000. Then of course there is rent, utilities, insurance, etc. Fun stuff. I hate the paperwork. - Paul Rinehart Baying Hound Aleworks

Posted by: ChicoPorter | November 9, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

That nitty-gritty link works now. Sorry!

Posted by: Joe Yonan | November 9, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I wonder what zoning his 5 acre plot of land has?

Posted by: homebrewer1 | November 12, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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