BRIDGEPORT — A small-scale "nanobrewery" with big plans is one step closer to opening on the South Side.
The federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau last week granted Marz Community Brewing a "Federal Brewer's Notice," considered among the first steps in a brewery's red tape-laden journey toward legally pouring its first beer.
"Right now we're like glorified home brewers. We can brew the damn stuff, but we can't sell it," said Mike Marszewski, co-owner of Maria's.
Marz will be a small-brewing operation housed in a Bridgeport storefront, where the six or so brewers will produce only about 16 barrels every two weeks — "all the flagship beers" like an India pale ales, plus a series of "big, interesting" beers and brews made with unique ingredients, like coconuts or gooseberries.
Marz also aims to become a business incubator for home brewers, who can use Marz's equipment to produce larger batches and bring them to market, including putting them up for sale at Maria's and other craft beer bars.
They'll also feature occasional “community brews” series and donate the proceeds from these specialty beers to neighborhood-specific causes in Bridgeport.
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.
The Brewer's Notice awarded by the federal government is just one of the first steps in navigating federal, state and local bureaucracies. Marszewski said the small brewery is about 95 percent complete — it's awaiting approval of a state license, then will approach the city for more permits and licenses.
For now, the group is playing the waiting game, keeping busy by experimenting with home brewing sessions at the brewery, housed in an undisclosed location in Bridgeport.
"We'll definitely be pushing our beers out there by spring," Marszewski said.