New Farm Brewery Taps Into History, Horses and Hops
By Katie Borazzo and Susan Able, Photography by Hannah Hudson
Situated amid a 230-acre farm in Laytonsville, MD—a 40-minute drive from Bethesda—Waredaca Brewing Company is the newest addition to a family-owned and -operated horse farm. Jessica Snyder, brewing manager and a third-generation member of the Butts family, the original owners, calls Waredaca “a very unique agri-tourism destination brewery experience.”
Unique it is. Waredaca may be the only craft brewery that holds a nationally sanctioned equestrian competition for Eventing, a three-part Olympic sport that includes dressage, show jumping and endurance cross-country components, which will take place this fall. In addition to being a sanctioned eventing center, it’s a full-service equine operation with summer riding camps, lessons, boarding and training. And now beer.
Quite naturally, the local hunt club—who ride through the farm—often stop by, enjoying a cold draft and giving their hounds and horses a break before continuing their chase.
Waredaca takes its name from the Washington Recreational Day Camp, founded by R. Beecher Butts in 1932. While the summer camp ended some time ago, the farm and eventing center’s family-friendly focus remains: Pony rides, scenic picnicking spots and homemade sodas are just a few things that round out the Waredaca experience.
Now in the hands of the third Butts generation, the family was determined to keep the land as a farm rather than turn it over to commercial use. After considering various options, they opened Waredaca Brewing Company in 2015. It seemed a predestined opportunity with the chance to repurpose an old barn, the ability to grow hops right on the farm and—not insignificant to the mix—the fact that there was an experienced craft brewer in the family. All of these factors, combined with a passion for the idea and state regulations that made farm brewery operations possible, made starting a farm brewery the obvious choice.
As the family set about building the brewery, they kept environmental considerations in mind. In converting the underused farm building into the brewery operations center, they upcycled reclaimed lumber from the original structure to become tasting trays, tables and the bar. In addition, the wastewater generated from the brewing process irrigates the hops yard and pastures. Similarly, spent grain is provided to local farms for use as feed, and can also be composted.
Keith Kohr, the brewer in the family by marriage, worked for Flying Dog—Maryland’s largest brewery—before joining Waredaca. However, Waredaca operates at a much smaller scale, using a 10-barrel brewing system. Kohr keeps a strong focus on using local ingredients at Waredaca. The hops used to flavor the brews are grown onsite, the wheat comes from a neighboring farm and, this summer, two of the beers incorporated produce from nearby Butler’s Orchard and Larriland Farm.
The names of the brews have personal significance to the farm, melding history and heart, a nod to the farm’s past. There are always seven beers on tap, some of which are permanent fixtures and others which change seasonally. A few of their year-round offerings include the Beecher—named for the founding patriarch—an IPA flavored with lemon verbena grown on the farm. The Bunkhouse, named for one of the summer camp’s buildings, uses farm-grown hops, and the Reveille, named for the morning bugle wake-up call to the hunt, is a coffee stout.
What does Snyder envision for Waredaca’s future? She would love for it to continue to grow as a destination brewery—a “country getaway close to the city”—sharing the family’s passion with an ever-widening audience.
Get your country getaway this fall and you can do your best Mr. Ed impression while visiting the tasting room at Waredaca in the afternoons, Thursday to Sunday. Check the hours on their website, where upcoming events are also listed. Small plates and snacks are available for purchase in the tasting room and outside food is welcome; there is a patio for picnicking and beer tasting. Currently glass 64-ounce growlers are available as well as “Crowlers,” which are 32-ounce cans filled by tap and sealed closed right behind the bar. Trail rides and horseback riding lessons are also available, although they probably prefer you drink the beer after the lesson.