Rounding out Frederick’s restaurant and cheese offerings is something a bit more “spirited,” pardon the pun. Craft distilleries are emerging as the newest players on the city’s beverage scene. Tenth Ward Distilling Company, which I visited prior to its April opening, has the distinction of being the first distiller in the downtown area.
I was immediately struck by the aroma of spirits produced by the fermenting grain during my visit to the soon-to-be establishment. Co-founders Monica Pearce and Kyle Pfalzer were inspired to open Tenth Ward by the craft distilling boom. “Frederick used to be districted into wards during the Prohibition era, so that’s where the name comes from,” said Pearce. The distillery’s grain is locally sourced from a farmer in nearby West Virginia, who malts it in-house. “We are going to be distilling whisky and apple brandy using McCutcheon’s Cider, a local brand. We are calling the product ‘Apple Jack’ after the traditional American name for apple brandy.” Pearce mentioned adding that the distillery will first sell its products out of the tasting room, and then hopes to supply local bars and liquor stores.
The distillery will have a retail area in addition to a front bar. “We’ll sell our spirits and tee shirts, along with a variety of wood chips and small and large jars to age white rye whisky or white corn whisky. That way, the customers can be creative and be their own distillers.” Pearce added that in the future, Tenth Ward might expand to a larger space. “Right now, we just want to have fun with our product,” she said.
With an inherent need to bring things full circle before my Frederick sojourn comes to a close, I felt it only appropriate to honor the place that initially drew me to Frederick, Hood College. Like Frederick, the school has undergone many changes – the most prominent was its transition from an all-women’s school, as it was when I attended, to a coed institution. Despite this and other changes, Mt. Hood has managed to keep its traditions and heritage. The president of the school, Andrea Chapdelaine, PhD, is a newcomer to Frederick, and has been captivated by its charm. She gave me some perspective on the special relationship between this up-and-coming city and Hood, a Frederick mainstay.
“We want to feature Frederick when reaching out to students,” she told me. “It has a rich history and an old-fashioned charm but it really also is a young person’s town, and a lot of our students stay here after they graduate,” she said. “This isn’t only because it’s near Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. but because it has a lot to offer on its own.” Chapdelaine said that she has delighted in discovering local eateries. Ayse Meze and Brewer’s Alley are among her go-to stops. “There are also incredible coffee shops and so many other restaurants that I want to try,” she said. “It’s great that our students have access to downtown and that many of the restaurants are affordable, so they have a variety to choose from.”
Each time I visit, I appreciate how successfully Frederick has blended its historic roots with a growing worldly edge. With each day giving rise to growth and opportunity, I’ve come to rely on the fact that while certain things change, others remain the same; and that I can always count on each visit being slightly different than the one before.