The craft brewing scene in the District of Columbia just got a little bit more crowded with the announcement that Hellbender Brewing Company will open sometime in the first half of 2012.
Co-founder Ben Evans told DCBeer.com via an email, "We'll be opening a 30 bbl brewery in [northeast] DC. Our primary focus will be on supplying DC bars with kegs, but we plan to expand into liquor stores with a canning line within our first year of operation."
Evans, a long-time homebrewer, has a background in molecular biology, neurobiology, and molecular regeneration, has apprenticed with Iron Hill Brewery in Wilmington, Delaware and also received advice from a senior brewer at Dogfish Head. He's joined by former Hill staffer, cook, and homebrewer Patrick Mullane, who is both business partner and assistant brewer.
The duo is in the process of searching for a location for their brewery somewhere in northeast. Evans noted via email, "We are closing in on a few [locations], and we will start the TTB process shortly thereafter." This is all in preparation for hitting the market next year. Evans mentioned that they "hope to start brewing in the next five months," but admitted, "we're not likely to roll out our first kegs until late next spring" with the "worst case scenario [being] next Summer." The TTB process can't get started until a physical location is secured, so that's Hellbender's next step.
The recently launched website reveals that Hellbender will have three flagship beers: a Kolsch, a red ale, and an IPA. An FAQ mentions seasonals, specialties and one-offs, and a barrel program that will be started "right away."
The brewery is named after the hellbender, the largest salamander in North America and the third largest in the world. The brewery will use this salamander as a symbol of its "environmentally safe brewing practices and waste disposal." Hellbender has a "plan to raise awareness about the Hellbender, its habitat and the environment, and bring this unique animal back into our neighboring rivers. Our primary focus in the D.C. community will be to work with local business and residents to make our home in NE DC, and the surrounding area, a better place for everyone."
More on Hellbender as we have it. Ben and Patrick will be featured in an upcoming Have a Beer With... interview to talk more about their plans, their beers, and craft brewing in the District. In the meantime, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.