A toast to a new brewery and days gone by

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On Saturday, The Maryland Beer Co. will mark its grand opening on Bridge Street in Elkton, MD.

The craft brewery, which had a quiet opening late last month, is located in a building that houses the Cecil Whig.

In addition to the downsized Whig,the building also includes the offices of Quantum, an electrical controls company that moved from nearby Newark.

To those who may remember the drinking days of the newspaper business, the addition of the brewery seems appropriate.

The Whig has a colorful 175-year historywith its founder standing trial for themurder of a rival editor. It was ruled self-defense.

Maryland comes with a history of beer lovers and journalists, most notably, Baltimore author, social critic and newspaper legend H.L. Menken. Menken enduredprohibition with the help of home brewing.

Stories circulated around the Whig about days goneby and a beer or two consumed along the way. By the ‘90s, the Whig and most newspapers for that matter were sedated places.

Meanwhile, Whig parent Chesapeake Publishing’s entrepreneurial management took a chance and launcheda business journal.

We spent a couple of days a month in the composition department of the Whig whilethe Business Ledger was assembled. The fun part came when the first copies rolled off that noisy press.

The words craft and beer were never used together in those days, although I had done a Ledgerrewrite or two on a tiny brewing startup and brewpub in Rehoboth, Dogfish Head.

As Dogfish and other craft brewers grew, things were changing at the Ledger.Technology allowed more of the “front end” work to be done from our office in Newark. Our visits became fewer.

The Whig itself changed too as the digital revolution rolled over print.

Chesapeake was sold in a debt-laden transaction to an Australian company and struggled mightily as employment shrunk from 100 to a dozen or so.

It is now owned by a Minnesota company with holdings that include recreational vehicle dealerships, billboard companies and radio stations.

The Ledger folded, and I spent the last six months of my newspaper career running the online news side of the Whigand the Newark Post.

During that time, the Whigpress that printed theLedger was dismantled and trucked to the flagship plant in Easton, MD.

The good news is the Whig and sister paper, Newark Post, which is now based in Elkton, stuck around to fight another day.

And yes, I plan to stop by Maryland Beer and raise a glass to days gone by.

Enjoy your day. The newsletter returns tomorrow with another view on Monday’s column on seismic testing off the Delaware coast. – Doug Rainey, publisher

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