Mark S. "Abe" Abernathy, a master carpenter and award-winning brewer, was found dead Wednesday in the water alongside his sailboat, the Sandpiper, which he lived on and kept berthed at Center Dock Marina in Fells Point. He was 32.
Until recently joining Old Dominion Brewery in Leesburg, Va., Mr. Abernathy had been head brewer at Capitol City Brewing Co. restaurant at Harborplace for three years. His interest in brewing began in the mid-1990s, when he set up a microbrewery in the basement of his Hampden home.
"People came and tasted it and liked it. He'd brew it and give it away at Christmastime," said his sister, Karen Abernathy of Hampden.
In 1998, Mr. Abernathy joined Capitol City Brewing Co. as brewer.
Early last year, at the annual Maryland Craft Beer Dinner in South Baltimore, his small-batch winter beer, Fuel, a 12 percent alcohol creation that includes Sumatran coffee, won plaudits from critics.
Last Christmas, Fuel took more honors as the best Maryland Christmas Beer at Racers Cafe's annual beer tasting.
"What made Fuel so different was the Sumatra coffee," said Richard S. Osenburg, owner of the Parkville establishment.
"He had quite a following," said Donna Preisenger, who manages Racers.
Mr. Abernathy also was a genial teacher who enjoyed sharing the secrets of the brewer's art.
"He taught me everything I know," said William E. Seibold, who succeeded him at Capitol City Brewing.
"He was patient and took his time. No matter how many times I asked a question, he carefully answered it. He loved his beer, and he loved making it," he said.
Mr. Abernathy also brewed three other popular beers.
"He brewed a Heffweizen, Queze, a Belgian-style beer, and Abernathy Scotch Ale, which had a real malty taste," Mr. Seibold said.
The Hampden native was a 1987 graduate of Arlington Baptist High School and attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Earlier, Mr. Abernathy worked for LCM Associates, a South Baltimore architectural woodworking company. He also worked briefly as a carpenter in Montpelier, Vt.
He gained popularity as a Fells Point bartender, having worked at Bertha's, the Admiral Fell Inn, Peter's Inn and Obrycki's.
"He was just a wonderful, debonair guy who truly touched so many lives," said Laura Norris, owner of Bertha's.
"He had such a way with him and was a magnet for people. He also was one of the top brewers in the country. He was so full of promise," she said.
Mr. Abernathy played guitar and was a blues aficionado.
"He used to say, `Listening to the blues makes me happy,'" said his sister.
He also was an accomplished sailor. He participated in the Clipper City Schooner Race, and sailed from the Inner Harbor to Norfolk, Va., and Key West, Fla., to Baltimore.
Mr. Abernathy also worked occasionally as a deckhand aboard the Athena, the last privately owned tug operated in Baltimore until its sale last year to new owners in Philadelphia.
He attended the Salvation Army Church in Hampden.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Living Classrooms Foundation, 802 S. Caroline St.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Burgee-Henss-Seitz Funeral Home, 3631 Falls Road.
In addition to his sister, he is survived by his parents, James L. Abernathy and Audrey J. Abernathy of Hampden; and his longtime companion, Georgia Glattley of Fells Point.