Newly formed microbrewery seeks a plant site in Baltimore

March 17, 1995|By Jay Hancock | Jay Hancock,Sun Staff Writer

Former Federal Hill brew-pub manager Hugh J. Sisson has raised $2 million to set up and operate a microbrewery in the Baltimore area, possibly in the former National Bohemian beer plant in Canton, Mr. Sisson said yesterday.

The newly formed Clipper City Brewing Co. is looking at several potential sites and aims to be making beer by August.

"My intention is to locate in Baltimore city unless we get a deal that's just too good to walk away from," Mr. Sisson said.

Clipper City would join hundreds of U.S. microbreweries producing small-batch suds that are known for passionately loyal customers as much as for higher prices. Maryland microbreweries include Wild Goose Brewery in Cambridge, Linthicum-based Oxford Brewing Co. and Frederick Brewing Co.

Until December, Mr. Sisson, 41, managed the brew-pub and restaurant that bears his family's name in Baltimore's Federal Hill section.

Now he wants to operate what he said would be the biggest microbrewery in Maryland, Virginia, Washington and Delaware.

Most microbreweries produce from 10 to 30 barrels of beer at a time. Sisson's, which sells its beer in the restaurant, does seven.

As now planned, Clipper City would make 50-barrel batches.

By contrast, the G. Heileman Brewing Co. plant in Halethorpe makes 700 barrels of beer at a time. A barrel is 31 gallons.

Clipper City would produce pale ale, pilsner and specialty beers in bottles and kegs, adhering to strict German purity laws, Mr. Sisson said. Kronheim Co. has agreed to distribute the brew.

Mr. Sisson and his partners have raised $1.8 million of primary capital, 60 percent of which is equity and 40 percent, debt.

The partnership also secured a $200,000 line of credit.

He declined to disclose his partners' identities but said all are individuals and "some of them are fairly well known" in Baltimore.

Clipper City's plant would require 20,000 square feet of space and would employ four or five people at first.

Plans call for brewery tours and possibly a gift shop, Mr. Sisson said.

"I think we could have 30 to 35 people on the payroll after five years if things go well," he said.

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