BRIDGEPORT — An entrepreneurial group of self-professed beer nerds will make Bridgeport home to what they’re calling one of the country’s only collaborative “nanobreweries.”
Called Marz Brewing, it’s the project of brothers Ed and Mike Marszewski, co-owners of Maria’s Community Bar, 960 W. 31st St., along with a handful of “professional brewers, amateur brewers, artists and weirdos" who hang at the bar, Ed Marszewski said.
“Basically we want to bring fresh beer to the neighborhood,” he said.
For now, the operation is housed inside a secret storefront where the group tinkers with recipes and bottles up small-batch home brews for its buddies.
Soon, potentially by the year’s end, that clandestine location will be home to a legitimate brewery and tap room where Marz Brewing beers — "big, interesting" beers along with pale ales, India pale ales, ambers, stouts and porters — will flow freely.
Nanobreweries are a growing trend in the craft beer boom. Decidedly small operations, they're like amped-up home brewing systems: small enough for brewers to routinely experiment but big enough to be commercially regulated by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
The Marz group said it will produce only about 16 barrels every two weeks.
According to a list kept by the California-based Hess Brewing Co., there are 93 existing nanobreweries in America and 51 in the planning stages.
“What’s cool about [Ed and Mike] is that they’re in agreement that we’re not going to put s--- out there," said Pete Alvarado, 38, of McKinley Park, a member of the Chaos Home Brew Club who’s helping launch Marz.
But the Bridgeport space won’t just be for slugging suds.
The group aims to make Marz Brewing a business incubator for Chicago's home brewers.
One of its main projects will allow amateurs to use the space to brew larger batches "without the added expense of equipment," Ed Marszewski said.
"If a person has the chops, we'll help them. Maybe they'll find out they're crazy and it won't work," he said.
Under the program, Marz group would release certain beers under a qualified home brewer's brand name, then help bring it to market through tastings and its industry know-how.
“I’ve drank a lot of those home brews. Those guys can compete with the big boys,” said Mike Marszewski.
Marz Brewing also will feature an occasional “community brews” series — and donate the proceeds from these specialty beers to neighborhood-specific causes in Bridgeport — and a collaboration program in which it will swap recipes, and in some cases the brewers themselves, with international breweries.
“We’ll bring kick-ass American beers to Europe, and Europe will bring kick-ass beers to America,” Ed said.
Also planned is an "alchemy" series, in which Marz will release barrel-aged beers, sour ales and beers made with such ingredients as coconut, foraged dandelions and gooseberries.
The group said city permits are mostly squared away. It's cutting through some federal red tape and securing more equipment before publicizing a grand opening.
For now, the group's inviting beer lovers to its new website to sign up for its newsletter and follow social media pages, where it will send out updates and invites to exclusive tastings.