Dun­dalk na­tive cel­e­brates two decades of brew­ing craft beer

The Dundalk Eagle - - BY THE PEOPLE - By CHAR­LENE MAYO cmayo@ches­pub.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Char_DEa­gle

Last week, Dun­dalk na­tive Stephen Dem­czuk held a 20th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion for RavenBeer, a craft beer he created in Europe.

After grad­u­at­ing from Pat­ap­sco High School and Cen­ter for the Arts, Dem­czuk re­ceived his bach­e­lor’s de­gree from the Univer­sity of Mary­land, then earned a master’s de­gree at Long Is­land Univer­sity.

Dem­czuk’s went on to ob­tain his Ph. D from the Univer­sity of Ok­la­homa be­fore de­cid­ing to study abroad in Switzer­land.

Once in Europe, Dem­czuk grew fond of beer.

After tak­ing gigs in the U.S. and Europe, Dem­czuk met a beer dis­trib­u­tor from Ger­many, who as­sisted him with brew­ing his own Ger­man beer.

He would go on to mar­ket and sell that beer in the U.S.

RavenBeer is a trib­ute to Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven.”

Now 20 years later, RavenBeer is still sell­ing and do­ing well.

“We’re hop­ing that it’ll be the next “Natty Boh” of Bal­ti­more,” Dem­czuk said.

To cel­e­brate 20 years in busi­ness, Dem­czuk threw a huge party at the DuClaw fa­cil­ity in Rosedale, where RavenBeer is brewed, and re­leased the 20th An­niver­sary Raven Spe­cial Lager Pre­mium Edi­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Dem­czuk, the lager is a bit fruity, with a 6.5 per­cent al­co­hol by vol­ume level (ABV).

The brew­ers added Ger­man No­ble and Colum­bus hops that pro­vide a spicy and herbal aroma. Un­like the Raven Spe­cial Lager, the pre­mium edi­tion is lighter be­cause much of the darker malts were re­moved.

In ad­di­tion to re­veal­ing his new lager, Dem­czuk put on the Cap­i­tal’s hockey game, gave tours of the brew­ery, showed a slide show of the his­tory of RavenBeer from the late 1990s un­til now and had a table show­ing the evo­lu­tion of pack­ag­ing, sim­i­lar to a mu­seum.

Mau­reen O’Prey, au­thor of “Beer in Mary­land: A His­tory of Brew­eries Since Colo­nial Times”, at­tended the party to sign and hand out her book.

Ed­i­to­rial car­toon­ist for the Bal­ti­more Sun, Kevin Kal­laugher, showed up to give away one of his books.

“It was a good time,” Dem­czuk said.

For the first seven years, RavenBeer didn’t sell well due to a plum­met­ing beer craze, but since 2005 busi­ness has grown, ac­cord­ing to Dem­czuk.

In Septem­ber, Dem­czuk will roll out his sea­sonal Ok­to­ber­fest beer called the “Poe­to­ber.”

“Poe­to­ber” will come in a bot­tle, with a clas­sic, Ger­man-style taste that’s dark in color.

Two months later, Dem­czuk plans on re­leas­ing his “Int and Mad­house Oys­ter Style” beer, served with real oys­ters in it.

“It’s more of a win­ter beer,” Dem­czuk noted.

Mov­ing for­ward, Dem­czuk wants to fo­cus on lo­cal growth.

“There are a lot of peo­ple in Mary­land that don’t know about my beer,” Dem­czuk said.

As Dem­czuk fo­cuses on grow­ing lo­cally, he noted, he plans on main­tain­ing tra­di­tional styles and high qual­ity.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Table set up at the 20 year an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion, show­ing the evo­lu­tion of the RavenBeer pack­ag­ing from 1998 to 2018.

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