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Evolution Craft Brewing to move, boost production

DELMAR — As Evolution Craft Brewing Co. prepares for its final days in Delmar, the owners and brewers are experiencing bittersweet emotions — one the one hand, they are excited to expand into a larger facility, but on the other will be leaving their first home.

“Delmar welcomed us with open arms and they were a great town to work with,” said Tom Knorr, owner of Evolution. “It was where we got our start, but there just isn’t another facility in the Delmar area that can handle the size we need.”

During the next month, the Evolution family of beers will leave the 3,500-square-foot reinvented grocery store they have worked out of for three years and move into the old Reddy Ice factory on U.S. 13 in Salisbury, which offers 20,000 square feet of space. The company also will open the doors to the Public House Restaurant and Evo tasting room.

While it is still unclear what impact the loss of a popular microbrewery will have on the town, Delmar, Md., Mayor Carl Anderton said it has been instrumental in attracting visitors from all around.

“I have noticed people coming from as far as Philadelphia, so it did bring people into town, and we’ll miss that,” Anderton said. “It’s a shame they are leaving.” Delmar, Del., Mayor Michael Houlihan agrees with Anderton that Evolution has helped to spread the word about Delmar’s assets and bring in people who otherwise may not have visited the town.

Houlihan said he hopes another company, perhaps even a newly created microbrewery, will move into the space.

The larger brewery will be instrumental in removing the ceiling the brewers have been bumping up against in Delmar for more than a year.

“Instead of 300 cases of beer a day, we are going to be able to produce 3,000 immediately,” Knorr said. “There is a lot of room for growth.” The new facility will also enable Evo to bottle its three seasonal beers and the big draft series. Once bottled, the increased capacity will allow Evolution to expand the number of bars that taps its beer and how many bottle shops carry six-packs.

Working on expansion into Washington

“Right now, we are expanding into D.C. really hard, so we will be able to sell probably 2,000 percent of what we are selling there now. … We are only in a handful of stores in the D.C. area, and we are going to be in the hundreds,” Knorr said. “We are also opening up into the Philadelphia market as soon as we get this production facility up.”

Brad Bellacicco, executive director of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, said he is glad to see Evolution expanding to the downtown area. He believes it will help boost awareness of Main Street, and said the jobs created by the expansion will give a much-needed boost to the regional economy.

“It’s not just a restaurant; these breweries have been very successful, and people travel some distance to go to them because they want their particular brews,” said Salisbury Councilwoman Laura Mitchell. “I think Evo will lead people to Salisbury, and maybe they won’t want to just do a day trip, maybe they will make a weekend out of it. But either way, they are coming to Salisbury and spending money and seeing what else we have to offer, which can entice them to come back.”

To pay tribute to its roots, the new restaurant and brewery is expected to feature photographs of the Delmar facility as a way to commemorate Evolution’s beginnings.

“We’ll definitely miss them,” Knorr said. “We’ll always know where we got our start.”