Local entrepreneurs plan brewery, beer garden in Silver Spring

Parallel World Brewing Co. will transform portions of this plaza into a beer garden. Photo by Mike Diegel.

Two local entrepreneurs have signed a letter of intent to lease 10,000 square feet of space for a brewery in downtown Silver Spring at 8401 Colesville Rd.

Christian Layke and Brett A. Robison plan to open Parallel World Brewing Co., which will include a taproom, production facilities and an outdoor beer garden on the plaza level of the building.

Both men have been inspired by their experiences drinking in Europe and have adopted the taglines “Explore your World/Experience Gemütlichkeit” for their brewery.

“Gemütlichkeit is this German term for this nebulous sense of coziness, camaraderie and belonging,” said Layke. “There’s no English equivalent in terms of a word, but it’s really that that we’re trying to achieve with our taproom.

“It’s meant to be family friendly,” he continued. “We’ll have a ping pong table and games for families to be able to bring their kids in a relaxed atmosphere. We’ll have televisions, but they won’t be ubiquitous so that people who want to come for conversation can focus on conversation.”

“The meaning behind [Gemütlichkeit] is so valuable and it’s such a unique term, in terms of the feeling that it is attached to,” said Robison. “It’s something that is really just not often times what you get when you go to a lot of places.

“One thing that we were adamant about is defining ourselves on some level by defining ourselves as what we’re not,” he added.

Both men emphasized that they wanted everyone to feel welcome in their establishment.

“We want to share craft beer with people,” Robison said. “We don’t want to make it some highly exclusive, super-limited, if-you-don’t-know-then-you-don’t-know kind of thing.”

In terms of experience, Layke most recently has been the head brewer at Gordon Biersch in Rockville and began his brewing career as an intern at District Chophouse. Robison left a job in private equity in 2011. He eventually began learning about both brewing and working in the front of the house at Vintage 50 in Leesburg. He’s also worked as a bar manager at Tryst in the District of Columbia and then Republic in Takoma Park, where he’s been for four years, working his way up to general manager.

During that time, Robison continued his beer education and is now an advanced cicerone (similar to a sommelier for beer), the only one in the area, as far as he knows.

Layke will be the head of brewing operations (officially, the chief executive officer), and Robison will run the taproom and have the title of chief operating officer.

Parallel Brewing Co. chose not have a conventional kitchen, but will rely on food trucks and Silver Spring purveyors for food service.

“Our focus is really directed around the experience and the beer, and that’s what we really want to put our energy into right now,” Robison said.

The next step for the company as they plan for a fall 2018 opening is to move from the LOI to a lease.

“We’re hopeful that we’ve gotten through the most the big-picture questions [in the LOI],” said Layke, “and are now just needing to translate those into some of the nitty-gritty details that find their way into a lease.”

Those interested in their progress can sign up for an email list on the company’s website. They’re also on Twitter @ParallelWorldUS.

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