DuClaw Brewing Switches Focus

duclaw brewing

Although it meant selling its original location, DuClaw Brewing is doubling down on the production of beer vs. owning and operating brewpubs and restaurants.

The company announced recently it would be transferring ownership for two of its four Maryland locations to a pair of local restaurant-owning brothers. It’s pulling its front office staff back to the new headquarters in Rosedale, Maryland to focus on increasing production and adding territories to distribute the fast-growing brand.

“As the brand has grown very rapidly over the last five years, the demand from the markets has come on the brewing, administrative and directorial staffs and it’s been expounded,” said Duclaw marketing director Brian Walsh. “There is a lot more going on the brewing side than there previously was with all the new states of distribution and with the plan to move into a few more as well.”

A lot of the staff that was overseeing the day-to-day restaurant business can now focus on the distribution goals.

“That’s kind of where [owner Dave Benfield’s] passion has been,” Walsh said. “As the demand’s gotten bigger and serving our distribution partners, it’s good that we can take that focus and just get closer to the beer.”

duclaw brewing

The transition will take place over the next six months at the Bel Air and Bowie Town Center locations while retaining the staff that works there while the other two properties in Arundel Mills and at BWI Airport will remain licensed properties, but some changes, such as different beer choices on taps will be made.

The Bel Air location was the original site, the first Duclaw brewpub and keeping the staff was an important part of the transition. “There are a lot of memories there for us and the community … they know the bartenders and people that work there,” Walsh said. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but in the long run, it’s the best decision we could have made for our beer.”

It’s all a part of a transition as DuClaw, which opened in 1996, goes from a regional name in the Mid-Atlantic — starting with its first distribution outside of Maryland beginning in 2012 into northern Virginia and Pennsylvania — into a more national brand as Walsh said that the brewery plans to expand from 10 states now into 13 or more by the end of the year.

DuClaw is already scheduled for expansion into is New York City, Rhode Island and Connecticut in May with more on the way. “We are ready for the new challenge of widening our reach,” Walsh said. “People want to try our beer and get their hands on it. Or they have tried it when they have been in our territory and they have been asking their friends to bring some to them. The more we can fill in those gaps, that’s the goal.”

The company is getting ready for the surge, adding tanks to its new 60,000 square foot production facility along with adding a tasting room on site as Duclaw evolves from a brewpub to a beer producer.

“People [in Maryland] know us for the brewpub locations and there has been a shift the past  2-3 years in what Duclaw really is doing and focusing on and what our capabilities are,” Walsh explained. “Showing the new part of our story … has been exciting.”

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