Contrary to report, DuClaw Brewing continues talks for new brewery site in Harford

Broker and brewer are 'confident' a deal can be reached

  • DuClaw is hoping to buy this Harford warehouse for a future brewery
DuClaw is hoping to buy this Harford warehouse for a future brewery (Aegis staff )
May 01, 2012|By Erik Maza | The Baltimore Sun

DuClaw Brewing Company is still negotiating to purchase a 167,000-square-foot warehouse in Harford County for a future brewery, the company's president and the site's broker said Tuesday, a project that could make the brewer a major player in the regional craft beer market.

Though an original deal fell through, Dave Benfield, the craft brewer's president, is bullish on the project, contrary to an early published report in a local trade.

"I'm extremely confident we'll be producing beer starting in 2013 out of the new facility," he said.

DuClaw and broker NAI KLNB had struck a deal last December for the former Collins and Aikman Auto Plastics plant in Harford County; financial terms have not been publicly discussed. The facility, abandoned for three years, was "critical" for DuClaw, as the company hit capacity last October at its longtime Abingdon brewery, which has been open since 2004.

"We're at 100 percent capacity. We're in six counties and that's about all I can do because of the space situation," Benfield said. "We can't make any more beer and there's a lot more demand." The company produces a little over 7,000 barrels a year.

The new facility would have been a financial boon for the budding company, allowing it to vastly expand annual production for itself - 60,000 barrels by 2015, according to Benfield. And also build up its contract-brewing business to make beer for other upstart craft brewers in the Mid-Atlantic.

But the deal between DuClaw and NAI KLNB - financial terms of which both sides again declined to discuss Tuesday - expired in early April.

Benfield said the original contract called for a a limited time period of due diligence that would have allowed his company to conduct building inspections, discuss the building's capacity needs with vendors, and an appraisal by their bank. That process took them beyond the allotted time frame in the contract.

DuClaw wanted an extension, but it couldn't come to an agreement on the terms of the extension with NAI KLNB, confirmed Peter Dudley, one of two brokers handling the sale.

The two sides then agreed to continue negotiating while the broker re-listed the property.

For now, negotiations have returned to a careful dance between the broker and the company. Both Benfield and Dudley said negotiations are ongoing, if tenuous. Benfield is looking at lease options in Baltimore and Harford County. And Dudley said they're entertaining offers for the site.

But they both expressed interest in reaching a deal.

"We would love to get them in there," Dudley said. "We hope to put the deal back together."

Update 2:23 p.m.: Meghan Simmons, Havre de Grace's manager of economic development, also added the city was "hopeful" a deal will come together. 

An early version of this story implied that more than one media outlet reported the Harford deal had fallen through. In fact, only one outlet reported as much.

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