For Gypsy Brewing Co., beer sales are always hopping
Refreshing hobby becomes a new vocation
It was a hobby that turned into a business for owner Eric Christensen of Gypsy Brewing Co. in Calvert County.
Gypsy Brewing is a veteran-owned, home-based brewery that specializes in the production of craft beers made with locally grown and global ingredients. The company’s beers are offered by the pint or by the growler at festivals and retail outlets in Calvert and Anne Arundel counties, and is looking to expand soon into St. Mary’s and Charles.
Christensen is a retired 27-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard who said his career in the service focused on marine safety and ship inspection.
“Ultimately, I was in charge of all vessel compliance issues for the Coast Guard when I was chief of commercial vessels,” Christensen said. “Then I retired as the Coast Guard’s chief traveling inspector.”
Christensen said he was stationed on the West Coast in 1993 when he and his wife, Heather Christensen, took their first class that taught them about the basics of brewing beer.
“The rest is history, as far as that goes,” Eric Christensen said. “Every duty station that we have been assigned to, I set up a brewery.”
“When I was in New York, I set up a home-brew club with the other guys on base, and that worked out really well,” he said. “When I was in Annapolis, I was president of The Aleing Sailors, which was a local home-brew club there. Went to Chicago and was president for a little while with the Headhunters Homebrew Club out there.”
His passion for the craft also earned Christensen recognition at home-brew competition events held on local, regional and national levels.
“I competed quite a bit in the early days,” he said. “I took a gold medal at the national competition for my Steam Beer in 1997 … California Common is the style. At one point in time, I was ranked third in the Midwest for when we were stationed in Chicago.”
Christensen’s Scottish Export beer earned the best of show prize in 2012 at the Spirit of Free Beer home-brew competition. It was an accomplishment that he said opened some doors.
“That’s probably the biggest home-brew competition in the Mid-Atlantic, and it’s run by a home-brew club out of Northern Virginia,” Christensen said. “When I did that, one of the opportunities I had was to go and brew with a brewer and brew my winning recipe. So, I got an idea of what it took.”
Christensen said he also took home the bronze for his Tripel Barrel woodaged beer at last year’s Maryland Craft Beer Competition.
After years of honing his beer-brewing skills and upping his industry knowledge, Christensen launched Gypsy Brewing on May 1 of last year. Heather Christensen manages the company’s social media accounts.
“We came up with the name ‘ Gypsy Brewing’ because we would move and we would still brew,” he said. “Gypsy is certainly a nomadic kind of thing.”
Christensen said he set out by selling his beer on tap at the North Beach farmers market and local festivals in the area, then reached out to various retail locations that could offer his beers year round.
“The draft accounts all started around August when we started seeing on the horizon that the farmers market would eventually stop,” Christensen said. “So we started looking to where we could sell kegs. We’re on draft probably seven places between Annapolis and Solomons.”
Yo Mamma’s in Prince Frederick offers Gypsy Brewing’s beers to patrons of the restaurant. “It’s gone over so well that I keep one of his beers on tap pretty regularly now,” said Rachel Baker, co-owner of Yo Mamma’s. “People love it. It sells really well.”
Dunkirk Wine & Spirits offers growler sales of the brewing company’s beers. “When I first got it in, people that came in and saw it, they had heard of Gypsy,” said Paul Simms, the store’s assistant manager. “Every single beer that I sell from Gypsy goes pretty fast once people see that I have it.”
Going forward, Christensen said he looks to expand the sales of his beers throughout Southern Maryland, and deeper into Anne Arundel County as well.
“We’re always on the lookout for bars and restaurants that want to carry local beer,” Christensen said. “We like staying local. And we just want people to drink local and drink Gypsy beer.”
Owner Eric Christensen launched Gypsy Brewing Co. in Calvert County a year ago. The company specializes in the production of craft beers made with locally grown and global ingredients.