written by: Zanne Lamb-Hunt
Keith Marcoux is “a Frederick County boy” who grew up in Green Valley. He graduated from Urbana in 2001 and signed up for the Air Force in 2002. He served his time as an airline mechanic.
“I had the fortunate experience of living overseas for about nine years.” A few of those years were spent in Japan and he was then based in England for another five years. “That was a pretty rewarding experience.”
He returned to the States in 2011 and decided to settle down in Frederick. He was employed as an HVAC technician for four years before a chance reunion with an old buddy set them both on the path to a business partnership.
Keith often thought about owning his own business. Nick had always wanted to open his own brewery. On October 31, 2015, they officially opened the doors to Olde Mother Brewing in Downtown Frederick. Cheers to dreams coming true!
What It Takes To Be A Brewer At Olde Mother Brewing
“We’re handy. We make something from out of nothing. Things break all the time so we’ve got to make things work.”
* Problem Solving
“We’re problem solvers. We’ve got to do what it takes to achieve the goal that we set out to accomplish. However we need to do that, we’ll figure it out.”
“We’re sanitary. If we’re not clean, you’re not drinking good beer — there’s going to be something wrong with it. We follow standard operating procedures to ensure that everything is of good quality and clean.”
* Outside The Box Thinking
“A brewer’s mind never stops. We’re always thinking about a way to do something different or better. Our minds really never rest.”
The Journey From HVAC Tech To Brew Master And Entrepreneur
Keith says, “It was an interesting way that we got back in touch with each other. Nick had worked in a laboratory for several years. I was actually doing a service call at his place of work. I hadn’t seen him for about seventeen years.”
Within minutes of meeting up again, their conversation turned to craft beer. They discovered they shared the same interest in home brewing. “We brewed in his garage a couple of times.
‘We started putting together a business plan,” he adds. Eighteen months later, when the plan was complete, they signed a lease for the location for the brewery.
“Nick and I, friends and family — we spent so many nights there until two or three in the morning, just tearing down walls. We took up three layers of tile on the floor. It was a big ol’ mess. We pretty much worked for about three months.
“We put all new dry wall in and had to modify the bathrooms a bit for ADA compliance. It was quite a journey but we got it done.” In a little more than five months, they were ready to open to the public.
“We had everything going. Before we opened in October, we were brewing a lot of beer.” They brew on a 55-gallon custom built brewing system. “When we opened, our goal was to have eight beers on tap. We opened with six, which was a great accomplishment.”
What Was Keith’s Biggest Entrepreneurial Challenge?
“Sticking with the original business plan that Nick and I developed. That is, to grow organically and small — just natural growth. Whatever comes our way, just embrace it and grow with it.”
Keith continues, “Our first year far exceeded what we expected, which is a great thing. Its been a wonderfully stressful journey. There’s rapid growth. There’s a lot of things happening around us in Frederick.
“When we opened our doors, we were pretty much the new kids on the block. There are four more breweries in planning in the city. I believe two have opened up.
“Craft beer is growing all around the country and it’s growing really quickly in Frederick, as well. You’ve kind of got to keep your feet on the ground and be aware of what’s going on around you.”
Keith candidly admits, “That can be kind of intimidating at times because some of these breweries are coming in with bigger systems and new ideas. It keeps things fresh but we still have to go back to our base of doing what we set out to do.”
Advice Keith Would Hand To Himself If He Could Start Over
“Execute your vision and don’t look back. Stick with what you’ve got. Don’t be looped in to what’s going on around you.
“If you have a clear vision of what you want to do, stick with it and keep going.”
Making A Difference At Olde Mother Brewery
After being open for about fifteen months, Courtney (Keith’s fiancée) returned to the brewery with a couple of Salvation Army Angels that she picked from a Christmas tree at the mall. “You buy clothes, shoes and things for less fortunate kids in the area.”
Keith was inspired. “I had the idea that the brewery would adopt 50 of these Angels from the Salvation Army and I would challenge the regulars to adopt these Angels and help support kids in the area that were in need.”
They met that goal within four days of putting the Angels out there in the Brewery. “All of them were adopted. We had an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party where everybody came back with the gifts.”
Keith’s Greatest Resource Is Social Media
“Social Media — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter — all of those have been invaluable resources for us.
“I think Social Media nowadays, especially for small grass-roots businesses like Olde Mother, Tenth Ward — all these small businesses that are opening up in the area, is really the backbone of the gorilla marketing scheme that we’re doing.
“We’re not paying for newspaper articles or advertising. Social Media is FREE advertising and it’s a great way to touch a wide-spread population. It’s been invaluable!”
Keith Shares A Quote That Works!
[“Team work makes a dream work.”]
“Nick and I — we’re the visionaries of the brewery. But, we wouldn’t be successful…we wouldn’t be fifteen months into business without the family and friends that stood behind us before we opened. We’re so thankful for that.
“Right now, we have five staff. Rattlesnake Jake, he’s our brewer. We rely on him heavily to get the brew house work done while we’re getting out, meeting people and just doing a lot of networking stuff.
“We have wonderful barstaff. It’s all team work. We’re just all in the machine together. If somebody’s not there, it can’t run. We really appreciate having all those people behind us.”
Come Meet Barley — The Brewhouse Dog!
And, meet Keith, Nick and the incredible brewhouse crew, too! They’ll make you feel right at home as they serve your familiar craft beers or some eclectic flavors that you’ll only find here.
There’s no food served at the brewery but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your appetite with you. Bring your own food or order from the local take-out menus.
Keith coaxes, “”No great story in my life has ever been formed without having a beer in my hand.” Cheers to enjoying life, great stories and craft brews at Olde Mother Brewers!
Olde Mother Brewers
911 E. Patrick St, Frederick, MD (Near the Fairgrounds — across from Brown’s Liquor Store)
Contents Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Podcast #090: Eric Verdi Interviews Keith Marcoux