Frederick, Maryland, has become a true craft beer destination located just an hour from both D.C. and Baltimore.
This weekend, the historic town will be “hopping” even more as RAK Brewing Co. opens this Friday, Dec. 15.
“Frederick is a huge destination,” co-owner Steve McIntyre told WTOP. “We have the most breweries per capita in all of Maryland. Right now we have eight breweries, technically nine in this city — one has two locations. We’ve got a lot of distilleries. We’ve got a lot of farm brews. There’s tons of wineries out here. … This is a great spot to come to; we’ve got a cute little historic downtown, it’s more than walkable, so there’s a lot to offer here.”
The idea was fermented by McIntyre and his TGP Homes real estate colleague Joe Gatewood, who launched the nonprofit TGP Gives in 2020 and also chaired United Way’s “Unity Campaign” supporting 33 local nonprofits.
“RAK is an acronym for ‘Random Acts of Kindness,'” McIntyre said. “Our mission is to get out there into the community. We do everything from [paying] for people’s lunches just to give them a little joy in the day, all the way down to … one of our clients couldn’t move a relative who had passed, so we cleaned the entire house out in just a few hours. … When we approached the name to this business, our core values brought us back to this name.”
The RAK theme is reflected in the beer menu, including a New England IPA called “Kindness Kills.” There’s also a West Coast IPA called “Manifest,” a pseudo lager called “Breaking Traditions,” a sour called “Passion Project,” and two drinks labeled “Party Starter Seltzers” — one a citrus punch and the other a cranberry pomegranate.
“We’ve got a couple of different hazy IPAs, a lager for people that are more of your typical beer drinker … We’ve got a great sour coming out,” McIntyre said. “I’ve got a local brewer that comes from Sapwood Brewers out in Columbia. They’re really well-renowned for their low-gluten products. … As a beer drinker, I like to go out and enjoy the process, I don’t like feeling full when I’m done or I have one beer and feel like I have to find an Uber!”
The walkable location will help in that regard. Located at 400 Sagner Ave. across the street from McCutcheon’s Apple Products, visitors can easily access historic Downtown Frederick by walking along picturesque Carroll Creek. In fact, the brewery features beautiful framed photos of the creek, photographed by McIntyre himself.
“Carroll Creek is a little over a mile walkway that transcends from one side of the city to the other and goes right through our downtown,” McIntyre said. “A lot of people start at Baker Park, which is a huge park in Frederick, then make their way down past some of the shops on Market Street. We’ve got the boats in there right now [decorated for the holidays by local businesses paired with local charities] and a lot of great things to bring you along that pathway.”
Now, those boats symbolize a “rising tide raises all boats” philosophy toward the town’s other breweries, including Brewer’s Alley, Olde Mother, Rockwell and Monocacy. RAK takes over the former space of Smoketown, which closed in the spring along with Flying Dog. The newly redesigned 2,500-square-foot space seats up to 120 people.
“We’re actually located within a couple hundred feet of three additional breweries: Idiom, Steinhardt and Attaboy, all in a little tiny cluster,” McIntyre said. “We obviously want to be great neighbors, we want to support the other businesses around us. This isn’t about coming into a scene and taking over. Sure, at the end of the day we’re competitors, but there’s enough space in our community and our economy to allow for different breweries.”