Washington brewery takes delivery of microbrew tanks

Michael Bradwell

Things are beginning to brew at Washington’s first microbrewery.

The first batch of 18 stainless steel tanks related to the launch of Washington Brewing Co. at 28 E. Maiden St. arrived around 9 a.m. Thursday.

A crew from Chapman Corp., using a forklift and a crane, began unloading one of two semi-trailers at the rear of the building, whose parking lot borders Railroad Street. A second, smaller delivery was expected Friday.

Washington Brewing is a partnership between John and Angela Burgess, owners of Washington Winery/A&M Wine and Beer Supplies, and John and Michele DeFede, owners of Upper Crust Italian Bistro.

Burgess said Thursday the enterprise is on schedule for a late summer opening.

“We should be brewing beer by the end of this month, and open in late August or early September,” he said.

But as Burgess gave a brief tour of the former Studebaker dealership – the building retains the long-defunct automaker’s logo on the front of the freshly painted exterior – it was apparent that there were many more ingredients going into the launch of the microbrewery.

“We probably spent more on the building than we did on the brewing equipment,” Burgess said, noting the structure, which received environmental clearances, now has a new roof and upgraded electrical system. On Thursday, a crew was working on a new heating and cooling system.

The 6,500-square-foot first floor will include the working brewery, whose fermenting tanks will be seen from the street through the building’s new two-story windows.

The first floor will also feature the full-service restaurant the DeFedes will operate, along with a seating area.

The building’s basement space, which mirrors the first-floor square-footage, will provide overflow seating for “Studebaker’s Lounge,” in recognition of the building’s origin.

Burgess, who will brew the beer with Brandon Kolljeski of Cecil, said Washington Brewery will be a 15-barrel brewhouse, designed with spare capacity for growth.

“It made sense to go a little bigger,” he said, adding the brewery could turn out 2,000 barrels a year “without straining ourselves.”

That, of course, will depend upon demand, he added.

Burgess said initially the brewery will offer six different brews, but will quickly ramp up to feature eight to 10 microbrews a week.

DeFede, who witnessed the tank deliveries with his wife and Burgess, said the business will open with both the microbrewery and the restaurant up and running.

“We’ll open it all at once, it will be one big deal,” he said, adding that the original Upper Crust space at 201 S. Main St. will not be left vacant.

“We have another plan for that location,” he said, declining to elaborate.