Friday, July 2–Microbrewer Plans To Open Berlin Operation In Fall

BERLIN – Fans of craft
brewed beer will be able to get their favorite beverage closer to home when
Bryan Brushmiller opens his Burley Oak microbrewery on Old Ocean City Blvd. this

Brushmiller plans to
translate his home brewing hobby to a full-fledged professional operation in
the old restaurant supply warehouse on Old Ocean City Blvd.

When asked if it was a
risk to begin a new business during a recession, Brushmiller, who has run
successful businesses in the past, dismissed the idea.

Brushmiller said he is
just too positive to worry about it.

“People drink whether
the economy’s good or bad,” he said.

Brushmiller began
brewing beer at home after losing his management position at a construction
company when the company folded.

“I started making beer
in my garage. I just became so passionate about it I started doing it almost
all the time,” Brushmiller said. “I was giving it away and making people really

Brushmiller’s idea for a
microbrewery grew as he started researching brewing in late 2009. He traveled
around the country to observe beer making and attend brewing conferences where
he found fellow brewers very supportive and generous with their knowledge.

Delmar’s Evolution Craft
Brewing owner Tom Knorr has been one of his strongest supporters, Brushmiller

“We all want to spread
the word of good craft beer. You don’t have to drink boring yellow fizzy beer,”
Brushmiller said.

Brushmiller plans to
begin brewing in the fall.

For the first six to
nine months, he will provide kegs of his craft beer to local bars and
restaurants, and then he hopes to start bottling Burley Oak beer for retail
sale. He expects to produce a modest amount of beer the first year, expanding as
demand grows.

“We’ll make as much as
the market wants,” Brushmiller said.

The brewery will also
provide jobs in town, about six to start, he said.

While he researched the
concept of a brewpub, Brushmiller decided to go with just a microbrewery. He
will offer tours, followed by beer sampling in the taproom, and a growler of
beer to go.

Brushmiller and the town
expect the brewery to become a tourist draw for Berlin.

“It’s one more exciting
reason, one more great reason, people will have to come to the town of Berlin,”
said Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said. “It will obviously provide jobs and become
a mainstay here.”

Not only will the beer
be produced in Berlin and sold locally, but Brushmiller will buy hops from a
local farmer.

“As I grow and become
successful, so will he,” Brushmiller said.

He also plans to recycle
wood from blown down barns for the brewery, and sell spent grain, from which
all the sugars have been extracted, for livestock feed to local farmers.

“We’re trying to have
nothing that’s wasted,” said Brushmiller.

Brushmiller named the
brewery after Berlin’s beginnings, choosing Burley in reference to Burley Inn,
the beginning of the current town, which is named after the inn.

Burley Oak beer will
resemble Belgian beers, Brushmiller said. The oak maturing will give his beer a
unique taste.

Town staffers and
elected officials have been talking about a microbrewery in town for months.
The town, Williams said, is excited to have Brushmiller.

A lot of people worked
to make it happen.

“It was a team effort to
get the legislative clearance,” Williams said.

Michael Day, Berlin’s
economic development director, floated the idea online after finding out that
the microbrew industry is growing 8 percent a year, even during the recession.
After a strong response, and getting the state legislation in place, three
potential brewers remained interested in Berlin.

“He’s putting a lot of
money trying to do this. It’s not going to be a shoe string operation…I’m not
worried at all about him succeeding with this,” said Day. “If he follows his
business plan I think he’s going to be very successful.”

While many seemed to
expect the Tyson plant to be the perfect space for a brewing operation,
prospective business owners found it just too big, Day said.

Although the Tyson Plant
did not suit Brushmiller’s needs, he stuck with the town and found a building
that did less than a block away.

“I’ve really fallen in
love with Berlin,” said Brushmiller. “It’s really a great town.

He is even trying to
convince his wife to move to the town, Brushmiller said, adding that he’d love
to raise his two children there.

The town is a great
location, with Ocean City as a local partner, and the beach just 10 minutes
away, he noted.

“I’d really like to
commend the council and town of Berlin for being so business friendly. It’s the
reason I’m here…everyone’s been so helpful. It was a no brainer coming to
Berlin,” Brushmiller said at Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting.

The new microbrewery
will be good for all the businesses in town, Williams said, adding that
restaurants and bars in Ocean City are excited about the new venture.

“It’ll be a great
business as a marketing tool to attract other business,” said Day. “It’s a
great quality of life type thing to market the town with…even though it’s
small, it’s sexy.”