Terp Brewed & Engineered
The story of Diamondback Brewing begins a short stroll from the University of Maryland campus, in an apartment on Harvard Road. There, two friends—Francis Smith (B.S. ’14, mechanical engineering) and Tom Foster (B.S. ’13, economics)—took their love of beer and steeped, boiled, fermented, and bottled it into the homebrew venture that would eventually become a Baltimore-based business.
Smith was a Clark School student when he began brewing his own beer. To him, the parallels between the engineering curriculum and homebrewing are self-evident.
“In one class, we broke down the motor of an electric screwdriver, analyzed the ergonomics of the machine, and looked for ways to improve its overall performance,” Smith explained. “It taught me how to increase the efficiency of a complex tool by breaking it down into smaller parts and individual processes. Just like brewing: understanding each part and process is vital to a great beer, from the size of your tanks to the gravity of your wort and everything in between.”
Though it was only a few short years before the friends began contract brewing with Eastern Shore Brewing Company in St. Michaels, Md., and Beltway Brewing Company in Sterling, Va., beer wasn’t yet their full-time vocation. After graduating from UMD, Francis worked as a project engineer for the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, an experience that would lay the foundation for Diamondback Brewing’s own construction.
“The majority of my work at Whiting-Turner involved pre-construction planning and estimating. For young guys launching a business on limited resources, understanding our costs and keeping an accurate budget has been key,” he said.
Soon, though, Smith and Foster decided to hang up their 9–5s and take a risk. Along with friend and co-founder Colin Marshall, they opened the doors to Diamondback Brewing’s permanent 7,000-square-foot facility in Baltimore’s Locust Point neighborhood in fall 2016. So far, they have six releases and hope to produce approximately 2,000 barrels of beer annually at their new facility.
“You know, the difference between having a pipe dream and achieving a pipe dream is persistence,” noted Foster. “That’s been our guiding principle—hitting the streets, getting it down, and doing (and drinking) what we love.”
Published October 6, 2016