THE MAKER'S STORY
The story of a master woodworker who took up brewing as a hobby and couldn't leave well enough alone.
Craft Brewery Craftsmanship
Rick Mariani didn't grow up with the dream of owning a brewery. In fact, to this day he sometimes still says "I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up." What can be said is that everything in his life started with a hobby and love of the craft.
He started his professional journey with woodworking in a garage, with his grandfather's handed down woodworking tools. He was an artist with pieces that could be found in places such as the Mayor Museum at Randolph Macon University. When he discovered the market for high-end Hotel Furniture Manufacturing, with its exacting standards and exciting designs, it seemed like a perfect fit for the exacting standards he had set for himself. From here Sorrentino Mariani & Co. was born in 1996 in Norfolk, VA after selling his original woodworking shop and moving home from Lynchburg, VA. With the help of his wife, Felicia Mariani, and her sales expertise the company grew and flourished.
Not one to be satisfied, Rick took up a new hobby of racing late 80's BMW 3-Series cars that he modified to a standard specification between 2004 and 2017. It was during the later years of racing that he took up home brewing as a second hobby, since age was catching up with him and he couldn't seem to keep a car on the track anymore.
Staying true to form, what started with a small brew-it-yourself kit he received as a Christmas present quickly came a complete stainless steel 1/2 barrel brewing system with stainless steel fermenters. He even cobbled together a system for lagering his home-brews out of an old window air conditioner and made himself a 4 tap kegerator with custom wooden tap handles and wood trim.
From the friends at the race track, to family and friends back in Norfolk, everyone seemed to love what he brewed. Stopping at Rick's truck at track to grab a pint or his garage for a brew back home became commonplace. Rick saw an opportunity in the praise his beer was receiving and, as he puts it, "I'm too stupid to retire." There was only one direction he could go.
The leap from home-brewing to full production brewery he knew would be a huge step and he knew he couldn't do it himself. After more than a year of searching for a building the Mariani Clan eventually closed on the building at 23rd and Church Street. Searching for a Master brewer was next on the agenda. With a lot of luck Michele Lowney of New York happened to be looking for a new Head Brewer position when the posting was made. They decided to meet when looking at a used brewing system in Pennsylvania. They shared the goals of making high quality, drinkable beer using only the best ingredients so the match was made.
Michele's experience brewing in Colorado, Canada, Maine, Scotland, and more was a boon for Maker's Craft Brewery. She had been in the industry for 20 years and was going on 16 years of judging experience at the Great American Beer Festival and the Craft Brewer's Conference. She fit Maker's needs perfectly.
Today Rick, Michele, and the rest of the team at Maker's Craft continue with the goals we originally set out to meet. Make nothing but high quality beer with the best ingredients to meet Rick, Michele, and the Maker's Craft Team's exacting standards.
Supporting our community isn't about philanthropy. It's about American craftsmanship.
A percentage of every sale at our merch store goes to Guardian Angel Pug Rescue.
The Maker's System
Maker's Craft Brewery brews all beer in house on our 20 barrel capacity brewing system which is readily visible from the taproom floor. The beer ferments in one of 7, 15-20 barrel capacity, conical fermenters before making its way to the bright tank for filtering and carbonation. Our taps pour beer from a mix of kegs and serving tanks located in our walk-in fridge directly behind the bar to ensure all beer is served cold.
Currently we are in the very early stages of our barrel aging program with only 4 barrels in house. Our first release, scheduled for the end of 2019, will be a very limited release. We intend to expand our barrel aging program quickly after our initial release.
A souring program is currently being discussed but has no set date for release.