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Can a Baltimore beer save the Chesapeake Bay?

Sales of Full Tilt Brewing's The Bay IPA will benefit the Chesapeake Bay Trust

From left, Peabody Heights brewmaster Ernie L. Igot, brewer Eli Breitburg-Smith and co-owner Dan Baumiller stand in front of the machine responsible for distilling beer flavors before the beer enters its fermentation stage. (Capital News Service photo by Katelyn Newman)

From left, Peabody Heights brewmaster Ernie L. Igot, brewer Eli Breitburg-Smith and co-owner Dan Baumiller stand in front of the machine responsible for distilling beer flavors before the beer enters its fermentation stage. (Capital News Service photo by Katelyn Newman)

Mixing beer with the Chesapeake Bay may seem counterintuitive to cleaning it up, but Full Tilt Brewing co-owners and cousins Nick Fertig and Dan Baumiller created a new beer to help do just that.

The Bay IPA, new to the collection of craft beers from Baltimore’s Full Tilt, will donate about 10 percent of its profits to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Baumiller said.

While the company usually crafts its flavors to fit Baltimore themes like its Berger Cookie Chocolate Stout, Fertig and Baumiller said, they wanted to support a local organization and were inspired by the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s “Treasure the Chesapeake” license plates.

The label for the Bay IPA features the image found on the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s “Treasure the Chesapeake” license plates. The license plates, and the organization’s outreach, served as an inspiration for the beer, Full Tilt Brewing co-owner Nick Fertig said. (Capital News Service photo by Katelyn Newman)

The label for the Bay IPA features the image found on the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s “Treasure the Chesapeake” license plates. The license plates, and the organization’s outreach, served as an inspiration for the beer, Full Tilt Brewing co-owner Nick Fertig said. (Capital News Service photo by Katelyn Newman)

“We branched out a little from the Baltimore focus, but still stayed local with the Bay theme,” Fertig said. “We thought it’d be a great match.”

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is a nonprofit grant-making organization that collects money that it then redistributes to local communities toward cleanup and water quality improvement projects, said Molly Alton Mullins, director of communications for the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

“These two guys–they’re awesome. They love what they do: They both have full-time jobs and this is something they built because they wanted to do it,” Mullins said. “We couldn’t be happier to work with them.“

The label for the new citrus-flavored beer has the Full Tilt logo on top of the image from the license plate. In return for using the image, Full Tilt plans to supply Chesapeake Bay Trust with beer for its events and donate money throughout the year, Baumiller said.

“There’s no minimal donation–it depends on how much beer we make (or) sell,” Baumiller said. “The yearly donation from us is only likely to be a few thousand dollars…but the (Chesapeake Bay Trust) sees the greatest value in getting the word out.”

Baumiller said the Bay IPA is sold for the same $10 per six-pack price as other Full Tilt beers, reeling in less money for the company itself in order to donate and attach their name to the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s cause.

Jason Zink, owner of the Smaltimore bar in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore, said that so far the beer has received a “great reaction” from patrons.

“It’s an easy sell to the customers because it’s a local beer made by people who live in the neighborhood, so it does real well,” Zink said.

Zink said he has not heard of other beers designed primarily for a nonprofit organization, and believes the Bay IPA will do well in its market as it gives back to the local community.

The Start of the Full Tilt Brewery

After Fertig spent six years serving in the U.S. Navy, Baumiller approached him with the idea of creating their own craft beer as a new hobby.

“We just started exploring and trying new things, new beers, and just found a love for craft beer,” Baumiller said. “You just get a curiosity of how is this done, how can I do this, and it kind of helps explain why you like one beer more than another by looking at the ingredients that go into it.”

“When we (first) did it, we just absolutely loved it. The smells you get from brewing a batch of beers is amazing–it’s like you’re in a bread factory or something,” Baumiller said.

In 2008 the two bought a $100 beer-making kit off eBay, and Baumiller said they still brew new test batches with the original home brewing kit out of his garage in Sykesville, Maryland. Full Tilt Brewing officially began in December 2012, and the Bay IPA marks their eighth beer.

Both 31 and Maryland natives, Baumiller said he and Fertig make a party out of the brewing process by having friends over to drink while they experiment with different flavors.

“Nick had a nickname donned on him by one of my friends as ‘Full Tilt Fertig’ due to his ‘pedal to the metal’ ways of doing things for the original genesis of the name,” Baumiller said. “But we just liked the sound of the name and it kind of embodied the way that we did things–we made strong and full flavored beers and went big with everything.”

Set for an official release date onboard the Spirit of Baltimore cruise on Feb. 21, Fertig said, cold temperatures and a frozen Baltimore Harbor delayed the formal release of the Bay IPA to March 21.

The beer is manufactured at the Peabody Heights Brewery in Baltimore. Baumiller and Fertig said that they are working on expanding their company into its own brewery location, as well as developing a new beer to be released Memorial Day weekend.

Empty bottles wait on a conveyor belt to be labeled, filled and packaged for sale. Full Tilt’s Bay IPA stickers hang off the machine’s side. (Capital News Service photo by Katelyn Newman)

Empty bottles wait on a conveyor belt to be labeled, filled and packaged for sale. Full Tilt’s Bay IPA stickers hang off the machine’s side. (Capital News Service photo by Katelyn Newman)

Baumiller works for the U.S. Department of Defense for acquisitions in Columbia, and Fertig works as a power plant operator for the Brandon Shores Generating Station outside Baltimore City, but, Baumiller said, they both plan to make brewing beer a full-time commitment.

“I think we want to be ready to devote ourselves fully, or totally into the brewery, but when that’s ready to happen–if we got the investment dollars tomorrow and were ready to break ground, we’d probably be pretty quick to making that our full-time job,” Baumiller said.

Besides the Bay IPA and Berger Cookie Chocolate Stout, Full Tilt Brewing also brews Baltimore Pale Ale, Fleet Street Raspberry Wheat, Patterson Pumpkin, Camden Cream, Hop Harbor and the Fully Tilted Baltimore Pale Ale. The Bay IPA is a part of Full Tilt Brewing’s permanent collection.

2 comments

  1. Great, informative article. Cannot wait to try this new beer!

  2. I want to help assemble the brewery!

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