Brewing New Memories
STORY AND PHOTOS BY ANDREA HAINES | SOME TIME AGO, IN 1932, A BOYS’ CAMP IN MARYLAND BROUGHT FAMILIESTOGETHER ON A RURAL MONTGOMERY COUNTY FARM. YEARS LATER, THAT SAME FARM WOULD TURNINTO A PLACE WHERE FAMILIES AND FRIENDS COULD GATHER TO SHARE A BEVERAGE AND GAZE AT THEMAGNIFICENCE OF THE EQUINE SPLENDOR ACROSS ITS FIELDS.
Waredaca, deriving its name from the Washington Recreational Day Camp (WA-RE-DA-CA), has been a historic part of the Montgomery County community, established by R. Beecher Butts in Laytonsville, Maryland. The farm slowly transitioned into one of the area’s best equestrian barns and riding facilities. The descendants of Beecher’s family have continued this tradition by inviting youth, horses, and their community onto their property by combining the farm and the brewery, creating The Waredaca Brewing Company.
Robert and Gretchen Butts, the farm’s owners, oversee the equestrian programs and property management. Robert and Gretchen were recognized by the Maryland Farm Stewardship Certification and Assessment Program (FSCAP) as being one of 91 stewards in the state, and one of 20 horse facilities to earn this distinction. “The property is made up of 230 acres and is home to 80 horses,” explains Gretchen. “We are a nationally-sanctioned equine facility offering eventing competitions from less experienced amateur horse and riders to professionals riding their younger Olympic hopefuls.” Along with lessons and competitions, the farm also offers boarding, training, a pony club riding center, and a summer riding camp experience.
“Our daughter, Steph Butts Kohr, is our head trainer and can usually be seen riding a horse,” shares Gretchen. “She is part of the next generation who is transitioning to lead the business of Waredaca.” Steph is married to Keith Kohr, Waredaca’s chief brewer. Jessica Snyder, is also involved in the brewery as the brewery manager. Jessica’s husband, Brett, and Rob Lang, who has been part of the farm management at Waredaca for thirty years, round out the Waredaca Brewing Company LLC Group. The farm and brewery management teams began integrating some of the equine events and brewery appeal to attract more business. “We offer a few select activities to incorporate both sides of the Waredaca business,” Gretchen explains. “We have the equine-related competitions that allow visitors to watch from the tasting room or one of many picnic tables on our patio. We also offer ‘True Brew Trailrides’, it’s a unique experience that combines an escorted trail ride on the farm followed up with a flight of beers from the brewery.”
Of course, with all great ideas, there must be a plan set in place to ensure the proper tools for success. Cue Elizabeth Benitez, Farm Credit loan officer, a helpful representative with a job to ensure the next generation sets a plan in place for their future needs. “I was approached by the family four years ago,” shares Elizabeth. “They were looking to work on some improvements for the farm.” The next generation was also taxed with making the land sustainable if they were to remain open to the public. “Farm Credit was very sensitive about our needs,” shares Jessica. “Elizabeth worked with us to achieve our plan to incorporate a brewery. Becoming the first farm brewery in Montgomery County was a process of fully analyzing our needs in the beginning.”
Jessica shares that they had to do a lot of research before building. Keith, a math teacher turned brewer, worked at a nearby brewery and had many good ideas to start production. The goal for Waredaca is to source from other local agricultural resources to incorporate in their brew, while incorporating as many products from their own land. “We source our malted barley from Chesapeake Company,” Keith says. “The grain used is Maryland grown, too.” The farm also produces a small hops crop of 100 cascading plants, mostly to use as an educational tool for visitors. “We typically incorporate a few different flavors into our brewing with the use of herbs, pumpkin, jalapeno, lemon verbena, and honey, to name a few,” explains Keith.
As Keith became more experienced with brewing, Jessica dialed in on the marketing end of the business. “There is a ton of cross-marketing potential between the horses and the brewery,” shares Jessica. “They really go hand-in-hand as the visitors want to know about the farm and get to experience the environment.” Elizabeth felt good about the strong link to the farm and now, brewery is to the community. “They are less than 19 miles away from Capitol Hill,” explains Elizabeth. “There are so many ways they can advocate for agriculture while growing their business. Their story is quite unique.”
For the family of Waredaca Farm and Brewery, the venue is a place of cherished memories. It is their hope that many visitors will come to share the friendly atmosphere over a handcrafted drink.
WAREDACA BREWERY HAS 13 BEERS ON TAP THAT ROTATE ON A REGULAR BASIS. SINCE THEIR HANDCRAFTED BEVERAGES ARE A POPULAR ATTRACTION AT EQUINE COMPETITIONS AND OUTDOOR EVENTS, THEY HAVE TWO NOTABLE BEVERAGE VEHICLES: A HORSE TRAILER THAT’S BEEN CONVERTED INTO A PORTABLE BAR, AND A VINTAGE TRUCK NAMED THE “MARYLAND BEER TRUCK”. THE WAREDACA BRAND CAN ALSO BE FOUND AT CRAFT BEER FESTIVALS AROUND THE STATE OF MARYLAND. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WAREDACA BREWERY, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE AT WAREDACABREWING.COM AND FOR THE FARM AT WAREDACA.COM.