St. Michaels medaling
Eastern Shore Brewing takes home seven awards from craft beer show
ST. MICHAELS — You could say Adrian “Ace” Moritz is a “hoppy” man.
That’s because Moritz and his wife Lori, owners of Eastern Shore Brewing in St. Michaels, won more awards than any other competing brewer at the 2017 Mar yland Craft Beer Competition.
Besides the second-place best in show award in the form of a heavy, “straight-up wrestling belt,” Moritz said, the oldest Eastern Shore brewery won two gold and four bronze medals in six categories at the Sept. 9 competition in Upper Marlboro.
“It’s always fun winning an award. For us, it’s the icing on the cake,” Moritz said. “We’re not in this for the awards. It’s to brew a good product and make people happy and make a couple of dollars, too.”
“We cleaned up,” Moritz said, laughing. “We’ll be humble if people ask us, but were we in here doing cartwheels? Yeah, of course we were.”
“The awards are fun. It’s accolades, it’s pat-on-theback stuff,” Moritz said. “But for us, it’s the camaraderie, too. For a lot of those events, you’re hanging out with your friends, everyone’s brewing really good beer, and it’s fun to watch it all go down and see who’s getting the awards.”
“Evolution (in Salisbury) got the gold for the best in show, so you know it’s nice: We got the gold and silver on the Shore,” Moritz said. “It’s not like anyone is saying, ‘Oh darn, they got the gold and we didn’t.’ It was ‘All right, Evolution, good job.’”
“It’s a little bit of bragging rights, but there are an awful lot of good beers that don’t end up in the competition,” Moritz said.
“It’s awesome” to win the awards, brewmaster Zach Milash said. “I was pretty astonished.”
Milash has been with the company for seven years, “just after I turned 21,” he said.
“This has been, by far, our best showing we’ve had in the competition, and it was just amazing,” Milash said. “We’ve been working our (butts) off. It’s been two, two-and-a-half years trying to make this happen, so to get a little bit of validation is very exciting for us.”
“The competition in the state is very tough,” Milash said. “There’s a lot of breweries making some extremely good beers, and it’s always a moving target because everyone is always getting better. So any year we win an award, I’m thrilled about it.
To be a brewer, “you have to like to clean,” Moritz said, yelling to Milash in the office. “What is it, Zach — 75 percent cleaning and 25 percent brewing?”
“More like 99 percent cleaning,” Milash said.
“And you’re using yeast and all these little microscopic organisms and stuff,” Moritz added. “You gotta make sure they’re happy, their environment is what they like. We call them our minions. We go in there, and they’re bubbling away — there’s 10 million of our minions in that tank doing our bidding.”
The independently owned, family business is the oldest craft brewery on the Eastern Shore. Moritz said more than 45 different styles of beer have been brewed on site over the years, winning more than 25 awards in nine years.
Moritz and Milash credit the 2010 Waterfowl Festival for inspiring their huntingthemed beers. Their porter named Duck Duck Goose still is brewed as a fall-winter seasonal beer.
On Oct. 19, the brewery launched its first canned beers. River City Canning rolled into town with its mobile canning line and set up shop for the day in the brewery at 605 S. Talbot St.
“It was big stuff for us,” Moritz said. “We canned 10,000 that day, and 90 percent were sold prior to being canned. They will be available from Cambridge to Kent Island, all through Anne Arundel County and Washington, D.C., as well.”
The success of the brewery has attracted the attention of investors.
“I’ve been approached by numerous investors to really expand it, but we like not having investors. We like how we’re financially situated,” Moritz said. “We like being independent and making our own decisions.”
“For Zach to come up with an idea for a beer and being able to propose it to myself and Lori, and for us to able to make a decision right there is easier than making a proposal to a litany of investors,” Moritz said. “We can make changes really quickly. We can invest back into the company the way we see fit.”
“Growing the way we grow is a good base for us,” Moritz said. “We love St. Michaels. I love the school system here. I love the community.”
The future of the company already is on the mind of 11-year-old Joycelyn Moritz.
Moritz said during his daughter’s fifth-grade graduation ceremony at St. Michaels Elementary School, she announced to the audience, “I’m going to run Eastern Shore Brewing, my mommy and daddy’s business. I will inherit it.”
“We call her the ‘hops heiress,’” Moritz said, laughing yet again.
Eastern Shore Brewing co-owner Adrian “Ace” Moritz displays the silver “best in show” belt the St. Michaels craft brewery won recently at the Maryland Craft Beer Competition.
Still jubilant after winning six awards at the 2017 Maryland Craft Beer Competition, Eastern Shore Brewing co-owner Adrian “Ace” Moritz, left, and brewmaster Zach Milash pose in front of the fermenters that produce their craft beers in St. Michaels.