About six months ago a microbrewery opened in Hernando County called Marker 48 Brewing, since that time they have held a wide variety of events. They range from a local homebrewing club, ballot petition signing parties, Hernando County Photographers Club meetings, to Theology on Tap. Theology on Tap is where a group from St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church gets together to discuss religion and drink beer. It has become a popular place for people to gather. Along with a number of craft beers they also have a variety of food trucks on site.
Marker 48 brewery is located on the north side of Highway 50 just east of High Point in a former Oil Change Service Center. At first this might not make sense, but it is one of the few buildings in Florida that has a basement which can accommodate the ageing of beer in freshly emptied barrels. They made use of the service bays by covering them with plexiglass, so you can see into the basement.
Marker 48 has a large American Flag decorating one wall that is made of pallets. They have veterans sign the flag and it is almost completely covered with signatures. They have another wall where select local artists display their works.
The Brewery was founded by Maurice and Tina Ryman. In addition to Marker 48 the Rymans also founded Complete Technology Solutions (CTS) in 1995. The success of CTS as a technology company is what enabled the Rymans to open Marker 48. Currently, CTS has 18 employees and provides services nationwide.
You might not think that a technology company and a brewery have a lot in common, but brewing is highly technical. They have a computerized system that monitors the brewing and monitors a number of data points. The mixtures and timing has to be exact for the beer to be its best.
They are constructing a new building for CTS and the back office activities of Marker 48. The new building will be located on Balm Street off of US 19 behind Harold's Auto Center in the Dinosaur. The new building will be around 5000 square feet. They have almost 3 acres on the site and plan to build two additional buildings.
Maurice and Tina were highschool sweethearts. Maurice graduated from Central High in 1993 and Tina graduated in 1994. Tina successfully challenged the state Certified Nurses Assistant (CNA) test when she was 16 and for a few years worked as a CNA. They took a route less traveled, rather than go to college they started a business. Although Tina would have liked to go to vet school, they decided to start their own business.
Starting a business rather than going to college has been an option that has gained popularity as of late. In 2012, billionaire co-founder of paypal Peter Thiel set up a program to pay students with promising ideas to start their business rather than going to college. He felt that the university system is largely ineffective and the cost outweighs the benefits. His program The 20 Under 20 Fellowship paid $100,000 each to at least 20 students to start a business rather than going to college.
CTS happened to to be early adopters of the Internet. For several years they hosted the Hernando Chamber of Commerce web site. They had a business, Kiosk Pros, that provided kiosks around the nation. They folded Kiosk Pros back into CTS. CTS still provides kiosks for the Department of Labor and the Early Learning Coalition. Most of CTS clients are out of the county, they only have a few local businesses that are long term clients.
One of the complaints of the Hernando area is the lack of activities for young adults. I asked the Rymans if by opening the brewery they were trying to fill this need. Maurice said jokingly that, they were having trouble retaining programmers, since the programmers would move to Tampa where there were more activities for young adults. So the brewery is an attempt to retain the talent that they have at CTS. On a more serious note, Maurice said that while taking vacations in their RV with their children around the United States, they found a common link between the places that they enjoyed. Those places seemed to have breweries which are a community gathering spot. These breweries were not bars, since they were a place where the entire family could go. These breweries put on events for diverse groups of people to meet. Maurice was not sure which came first the brewery or the feeling of community, but he noticed the two seemed to go together.
People thank them everyday for opening Marker 48. They have 28 staff most of which are part time. Over the 6 months they have been open, they have brought in new tanks and have tripled their capacity to brew beer.
The Rymans are not afraid of competition. I asked them what else they would like to see in the county. Maurice answered another Brewery. In addition, to another Brewery they would also like to see additional access to the Gulf of Mexico with more parks and walking trails along the coast.