Owning and operating a brewery was not something initially in the plans for her family, says Terri McCagh. However, since the family opened 1812 Brewery less than a decade ago, they’ve experienced a lot of success and enjoyed the process, she says. Soon, they’ll expand with help from a $750,000 state grant.
Located outside of Cumberland’s city limits, 1812 Brewery sits off the beaten path on a historic farm owned by the McCagh family. Visitors can sample beer brewed in the converted barn — which was first built in 1812 and is the brewery’s namesake — while enjoying the farm’s views of the county’s sprawling green mountains.
Terri, who is a retired pediatric physical therapist, and her late husband, Dr. Sean McCagh, had owned the farm since 2008 when their sons Cory McCagh and Mike Lastig moved onto the property in 2015. Shortly after settling in, recalled Terri, Cory asked if he could grow hops on the land. In time, both Cory and Sean became passionate about turning the farm into a brewery.
"To think of where we started in 2015 or 2016 and how far we’ve come is amazing."
“Sean’s wheels were always turning. He was always getting into things, and he thought the barn would be perfect,” Terri recalled. “It needed a lot of work, and they decided to renovate it. It just evolved from there. To think of where we started in 2015 or 2016 and how far we’ve come is amazing.”
From the beginning, said Terri, the entire extended family has been supportive of the brewery and their efforts. Many have worked and volunteered in different capacities at the brewery, helping with bartending and events as needed. Terri’s youngest son Casey, who was finishing up at James Madison University when his brothers first moved onto the farm, earned his certification as a brewmaster last year and plans to eventually join the staff at the brewery full-time. While he currently works at a Frederick brewery, said Terri, Casey still regularly assists with brewing and has developed recipes for 1812.
Terri says she mostly helps out with assorted tasks around the brewery, like finding help for the website, booking catering and facility rentals, and ordering and stocking merchandise ranging from t-shirts to blankets. Following Sean’s passing, she has also helped Cory make big-picture decisions for operations.
Right now, says Terri, they are most focused on increasing distribution in Maryland. Their beer is mostly sold in Allegany County but is carried in some Garrett County stores and restaurants, and they hope to expand into more counties. All production and distribution are done in-house. Cory, along with Terri’s nephews Michael and Sean deliver their products.
"We saw that we have a lot of potential with our location being so close to places like Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Martinsburg, Winchester, and Morgantown."
After Casey completed his brewmaster training, the family began discussing the possibility of expanding.
“Casey wanted a bigger production line, and he talked to Cory and me about it,” Terri recalled. “We thought about it, and we all got on board. We saw that we have a lot of potential with our location being so close to places like Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Martinsburg, Winchester, and Morgantown. We’ve had a lot of out-of-town visitors, too, and felt encouraged to try.”
During the height of COVID-19, 1812 received state and local grant funding that allowed them to purchase a canning system, which Terri says was critical in helping them weather the pandemic. With the help of a recently-received $750,000 grant from the Senator George C. Edwards Fund, the brewery will soon be able to undergo a large expansion.
“Even before we knew about the Edwards Fund, we wanted to expand,” says Terri. “However, we were worried about the cost because not only are we building a brand-new building, but we’re adding more equipment. We met with the county's economic development staff, and they told us about the grant becoming available. They helped us think clearly about our business plan, and make it a reality.”
The grant funds will allow 1812 to add five more barrels for brewing, and construct a new 4,000-square-foot building to be used for brewing and canning. With the planned expansion comes the addition of more jobs, including bartenders and sales and marketing roles, Terri says. They plan to add around 10 new jobs. Cory is currently the brewery’s sole full-time employee, but they have around 11 part-time and contract employees. They’ve also recently appointed their first Board of Directors.
1812 frequently hosts fundraisers and doesn’t charge organizations to use their grounds for charitable purposes. Terri says they have been strongly embraced by the community, which has helped them flourish.
"When we started, we didn’t realize that 1812 would have such a big impact on the community.”
“The community and the county have been very supportive. They believe in us,” Terri says. “The award of this grant shows that the state believes in us, too. When we started, we didn’t realize that 1812 would have such a big impact on the community.”
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