The atmosphere in Frederick’s newest brewery is relaxed. There’s a soft buzz of music playing on the speakers as people crowd around the bar or around tables.
There are 14 beers on tap, although that number will rise. And the selection includes IPAs, darker beers and a cider.
That calm, relaxed atmosphere is what owner Dave Blackmon wanted for Smoketown Creekside, his second brewery in Frederick County.
In bringing Smoketown to Frederick, Blackmon brought a bit of Brunswick. The wall hangings are similar to the ones found at Smoketown Brewing Station. In the back, there is a wall hanging made from the doors of the fire bay in the Brunswick fire hall. Those were originally rail cars.
More notable are the tables and the bar. They are made of bowling lanes from the Brunswick bowling alley.
“It is our roots,” Blackmon said. “It’s where we started. [Without] Brunswick and our experience, we wouldn’t be here.”
Tapping into live music
One of the defining features of Creekside is something yet to come. Tucked away in the back of the taproom by the brewhouse is a black stage. That’s where Blackmon plans to have live music.
Frederick has a healthy music scene, Blackmon said, something into which he hopes to tap.
But live music is still in question. The Frederick Board of Aldermen will look at legislation that would allow smaller breweries, wineries and distilleries to hold live music and entertainment without zoning board approval, as long as events are kept indoors and run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., along with a few other stipulations.
Under current regulations, live music and entertainment can be regularly held at breweries, wineries and distilleries that are 10,000 square feet or larger, according to previous News-Post reporting.
Smoketown Creekside is about 4,000 square feet, Blackmon said.
Bringing music to a brewery makes it more like a neighborhood establishment, said Jim Bauckman, spokesman for the Brewers Association of Maryland. He also sits on the work group convened by the Downtown Frederick Partnership to look at live entertainment at smaller breweries.
“So I would like to say on behalf of the association, we think that entertainment is hand in hand with operating ... A brewery is a neighborhood destination, a place where people are coming to be entertained, hang out with friends, relatives, neighbors, and it's a place where people are going to network,” Bauckman said.
So Blackmon will have to wait for the aldermen to consider the law before bringing regular live music. But the stage is ready for its first guest, if the law were to pass.
‘Unique and creative way’
A brewery as a neighborhood place that Bauckman proposed likely will come true at the industrial park that is now home to Creekside. The new Smoketown location neighbors Attaboy Beer. Idiom Brewery is nearby, along Carroll Creek in the old Union Knitting Mills building. Another brewer, Jim Steinhardt, is opening a taproom along the creek near Idiom.
Alcohol tourism is great for the state, said Sen. Michael Hough (R-Carroll and Frederick). That applies to Frederick as well.
There’s a good chance that a few more breweries might open in the coming year, Bauckman said.
"That part of the city, I think is ripe for more development, and the industry side offers industrial spaces, which work really well for production. They offer walkability along the park that makes it easy for consumers to get to them,” he said.
It creates a sort of critical mass, said Richard Griffin, Frederick’s director of economic development. People stay longer. They get a drink, have a bite to eat from a food truck. Then they might walk along the creek to the rest of downtown.
That’s good for the city’s economy, Griffin said.
It’s a “unique and creative way” to mix in the industrial park, he said.
That, as well as the continued improvements to Carroll Creek Linear Park, will help make it a destination, whether people come from other parts of the county or state, he said.
Neighbor Carly Ogden, who co-owns Attaboy with her husband, said the industrial park and Frederick remind her of Portland, Oregon, where she is from.
“And so there's just a fun little vibe when you see people up and about going from place to place,” Ogden said.
It has a community feel as well, she said. People can stop at Smoketown Creekside or Attaboy, and try the different beers and offerings from the food trucks. Odgen said she is excited to have another brewery neighboring hers.
Multiple breweries in one location might sound like competition to some business owners, but those in the brewing industry seem to embrace it. Going to a brewery is an experience, Bauckman said, meaning that when someone has a beer, they get to learn more from the owner and hear the brewery’s story.