For more than a year, Ray Tignall Jr. of Sykesville has been considering opening a brewery in Carroll County. He and his partner Billy Deavers now have their perfect location, on the main street of Mount Airy.
Liquidity Aleworks is set to open in May in a 5,500 square foot former bank building on the corner of North Main Street and Prospect Road in Mount Airy, rented by Tignall and Deavers, who have been friends for more than 20 years.
Renovations began this week on the three-level space. During March 9 testimony before Carroll County Board of Licensing Commissioners, Tignall said the basement would be used for brewing operations, cold storage, mechanical and electrical rooms, a bathroom for employees and a room for canning and dry storage. The main level will house the main dining area, where patrons can purchase beer to drink in or cans and growlers to take away.
The dining hall will run the full length of the building, Tignall said, and encompass about half the square footage. The former bank vault on the ground floor will be used for storage and multi-occupant bathrooms. On the top floor, a mezzanine will be used as additional dining space, primarily when the main level is fully occupied.
Tignall said there will be outdoor areas where customers can enjoy beers. The owner will build a patio on the south side of the building at street level, which will serve as a beer garden for special events.
Although the brewery does not sell its own food, it will host food trucks and allow food to be brought in from other businesses. Tignall said a partnership has been struck with Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe on South Main Street to allow on-site ordering and delivery to the brewery.
Tignall said he believes Mount Airy has a lot to offer, but needs a centerpiece, a place that can draw visitors to the town of about 9,600 people.
“We certainly hope to be that kind of draw and bring in more people from out of town,” Tignall said.
The First National Bank began doing business on the site in 1904 and remained there until 1960. Other financial institutions used the building in the early 2000s, but the building has been vacant for about two decades. In 2020, city officials and volunteers worked to clean up the exterior of the building and create a simple pop-up park in the abandoned building’s parking lot.
The name Liquidity Aleworks is a nod to the building’s banking past. Tignall said he’s been in love with the empty structure for years and would like to preserve its “bank-style vibe.”
“I’ve seen this building for a long time and thought it would be a cool location for a brewery – we love the historic look of it [and] the type of architecture that is used,” Tignall said.
Deavers, from Monrovia, will be the brewmaster. He said he planned for the brewery to host live music, trivial events, book clubs or beer bingo. Tignall said the city of Mount Airy also plans to hold a farmers’ market in the parking lot.
“We will also have a few larger events throughout the year [and] we will certainly have outdoor spaces if you prefer to be outside — we want to be aware [of health issues] for people who are still concerned about COVID,” Deavers said.
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Melissa Thorn, Head of Economic Development and Main Street for Mount Airy, said she was excited about the brewery’s plans and its potential to thrive among businesses already on Main Street.
“I’m a big believer in ‘if you build it they’ll come, but if you build it right they’ll come’ – we can’t wait to see what improvement plans they have for the building,” Thorn said. “We anticipate lots of new energy and people at the north end of historic Main Street regularly throughout the week. This project will continue the forward momentum of what we are already seeing here.
On March 9, Commissioners of the Licensing Board approved an application by Tignall and Deavers for a new Class D beer-only liquor license with off-site brewing privileges. A manufacturing license from the Maryland Class 5 Production Brewery was obtained earlier in March, Tignall said. There are no other Class D licenses approved in the city of Mount Airy, according to the council.
“It seems to me that you have a solid business plan. … I think you’ll create a great asset to the community,” Commissioner George Barnhart said before nodding to approve the license.
Liquidity Aleworks is looking to employ 15 full-time and part-time workers, Deavers said.
Plans must be open from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays; 3-9pm, Friday; 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday. It would be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
“Right now, renovations are starting this week…we’re pretty confident we’ll be able to at least partially open by May.” …Mount Airy is ready for this kind of attraction,” Deavers said.