Krystal Mack visits Union Craft Brewing

Although I’m a foodie, I don’t know much about beer. In fact, until about two years ago, I wasn’t a beer drinker. Then one day I tried a can of Old Pro by Union Craft Brewing and it totally changed my mind about beer. Old Pro is a Gose, a unique style that the craft beer resurgence has brought to the forefront. It’s sour with a tinge of saltiness. Some people hate it, others love it.

I was one of the ‘others’ that fell so in love with it! I was even more pleased to learn it was made by a local brewery, based here in Baltimore. In just four years, Union Craft Brewing has made quite a name for itself in the region. Their beers are made at their brewery in Clipper Mill and sold throughout the entire state of Maryland. They’ve also expanded to DC and more recently into Northern Virginia.

Cans on cans on cans. Union brews and cans everything themselves at their Brewery in Clipper Mill.Tasting allllll of the deliciousness with Tap Room Manager Chris Attenborough

Since it’s summer (perfect beer drinking season) and almost time for Union’s big anniversary celebration on July 30, I invited the founders and owners of Union (Kevin Blodger, Adam Benesch, and Jon Zerivitz) to sit down with me for a beer. I wanted to discuss the past four years of business and how Baltimore is such a large part of who they are as a brand.

Even though I did my homework, when I met Blodger, Beseech, and Zerivitz I was a little hesitant to jump right in, but the more we talked the more naturally everything flowed. The more we talked, the more I realized why they are so successful. The love they have for the people (Adam’s grandpa helps with packaging and shipment) and creatives (they’ve worked with local design firm Gilah Press and a number of local artist for labels and graphics) in Baltimore was highly apparent to me in our conversation, as well as within their body of work.

Founders of UNION from left to right: Kevin Blodger, Adam Benesch, and Jon Zerivitz

“We actually look through MICA graduates’ portfolios throughout the year,” explained Zerivitz. “We look for illustrators and artists that we think would vibe well with our brand.”

Illustrator Alex Fine, and most recently Monica Amneus are just two of many local artists that Union has worked with. “The Baltimore arts community is such an important part of why Baltimore is such a great place to live,” said Zerivitz.

When I asked if they planned on expanding beyond the DMV region, Benesch replied, “Not in the foreseeable future. It’s nice being within 60-70 miles of where your beer is. You can hear feedback, and get to know the accounts and stores carrying your product.”

That made me really happy, that they place such high value on local relationships and products, and that they are finding success because their standards are high.

It also makes me happy that such a delicious product — that so many in the DC, MD, VA region really enjoy — is proudly made here in Baltimore, by Baltimore locals, supporting the local economy and arts community, with plans to continue to do so. Not only is Union Beer readily accessible, I feel good about buying the beer and all that it stands for.

If you were wondering if success has gotten to their heads, it hasn’t! They were all quite down to earth and supportive of the blossoming beer scene they have helped to found.

“The Baltimore beer scene is super collaborative and supportive of each other. There were Brewers that have been around for years that helped guide us along the way, so it only right we do the same,” said Benesch.

Personally speaking, the food industry can feel a bit like high school at times so it’s good to hear that there is a “community mentality” in the Baltimore brewing community. Their work has even inspired ice cream by former BmoreArt Contributor and Pastry Chef Katie Boyts to Margaritas at the soon-to-be-open Wet City in Mount Vernon.

Spent grain that remains from the brewing process is often pick up by local restaurants like La Cuchara for use in bread baking or by farmers like John Dimling of Whistle Pig Hollow as a treat for their pigs.

After chatting with the guys, Union tap room manager, local artist, and former BmoreArt contributor Chris Attenborough took me on a tour of the brewery and I got to taste every beer on the menu.

I am now officially proud to say that I’m a beer drinker.

Setting up for “Sensory.” Making sure that the carbonation, malt and hops are right.

Now that I am an official beer drinker, I’m super hype about the 4th Anniversary Party Union is throwing on July 30th!! They’ll have a cask bar of beers infused with all kinds of wild ingredients and they will also be bringing back limited run brews! You will also be able to taste seasonal favorites you typically can’t have year round.

The food line up looks delish as well. There will be a spread from La Cuchara for VIPs and food for all ticket holders from Gypsy Queen, Pizza De Joey, and The Local Oyster. Chef John Carroll of Smoking Bowls will be doing spin off pop-up called Smoking Buns, Chef Tim Dyson will be serving up his Pork Lord Tacos, and Righteous Felon will have a Jerky Bar!

This all sounds like delicious food to snack on while getting down to some Fela Kuti tunes by the Baltimore Afrobeat Society. This sold out event is sure to go down in the books as one the most exciting celebrations in the history of the brewery. If you missed out on tickets you can still show support for our hometown heroes by buying a can or six-pack wherever fine craft beer in Baltimore is sold.

Artsy Hungry Takeaways — Restaurants the UNION Guys Are Digging These Days:
Jon: Mi & Yu Noodle Bar
Adam: La Cuchara
Kevin: The Food Market
Chris: Blue Pitt BBQ

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Author Krystal Mack is a native Baltimorean who grew up splitting time between Baltimore City and County. She is the owner and operator of The PieCycle, Baltimore’s 1st food vending tricycle and KarmaPop an ice pop company with a menu focused on Mid-Atlantic seasonality. Krystal is the writer of Artsy < Hungry, a series focused on the food trends, culture, and history of Baltimore. You can see Krystal’s food finds and meme obsessions on Instagram at @KrystalCMack or by searching the hashtag #ArtsyHungry.”

Photos by Krystal Mack