South Baltimore’s Checkerspot Brewing Company debuted a new beer on Friday, but unlike the brewery’s many other drinks, it wasn’t made in Charm City.
The Inspiration Rye IPA was made in Massachusetts as part of a collaboration with Samuel Adams. Every year since 2012, the beer company has chosen a craft brewer for an “experienceship” to travel to Boston, work with the experts there, and produce a special collaboration ale that is also sold at Samuel Adams Boston Brewery.
“Talk about an amazing opportunity,” said Checkerspot co-owner Judy Neff, who runs the Baltimore brewery with her husband, Rob Neff.
The beer itself is rye-based, with rye sourced from a Maryland farm. And since Checkerspot already has a rye lager on tap, Judy Neff said, they wanted to try something “totally different” so they developed an IPA. It’s 7.5% ABV, so enjoy it carefully.
The Neffs say the relationship with Samuel Adams extends beyond a one-day thing. The Checkerspot brewers have been able to hop on calls with folks from Samuel Adams to ask questions and get advice, including guidance on setting up Checkerspot’s new location at 1421 Ridgely St., scheduled to open later this year, likely in August.
The Neffs opened Checkerspot at its current location at 1399 S. Sharp St. in 2018, after about 13 years of home-brewing. Their new location in the Carroll-Camden Industrial Area will allow them to increase production — they’d be happy with a 50% increase in the first year.
They’ll also have a lot more space: The new taproom will be about 9,000 square feet, 1 1/2 times bigger than the current, two-floor space at Checkerspot. The Neffs said the bigger taproom will give them a dedicated events space.
The “most valuable” part of the partnership has been “working with the engineers on the [new] brewery layout and the practical aspects of the brewery,” according to Judy.
Jennifer Glanville, director of partnerships at The Boston Beer Company and a brewer at Samuel Adams, said the company is proud to have Checkerspot in its “Hall of Fame” as an experienceship winner.
“The core of the Experienceship takes place in that first year, centering this collaboration brew, but we take pride in supporting our winners well beyond that timeframe with advice, coaching and partnership, as they continue to develop and thrive,” she said in an email.
Check out Inspiration Rye IPA on Friday at Checkerspot Brewing Company from noon to 9 p.m. You’ll have to act fast if you want to try it: With just 11 kegs, the Neffs expect to serve about 1,320 pints total at the taproom.