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Meet Judy Neff of Checkerspot Brewing

Today we’d like to introduce you to Judy Neff.

Hi Judy, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I started homebrewing about 13 years before we opened, after visiting Anchor Brewing in San Francisco. I got my Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins and what started as a hobby turned into a passion and a brewery. After spending a lot of time with other brewers in the area, who were so instrumental in helping me scale up to our 15 barrel system, we were ready to open! We wanted to stay in Baltimore City and love the South Baltimore area, so here we are.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Opening was a mad dash, but we had so much support from friends and family to get through it and open up. Like everyone, the COVID pandemic threw us a curveball that we have navigated. We got a canning line early in the pandemic and started canning our beers because kegged beer was no longer a viable option with bars and restaurants closed, but liquor stores were booming. We pivoted to outdoor seating under the 395 overpass in our parking lot and continued to operate in a safe manner. Now that things are returning to pre-pandemic levels, we’re happy to start seeing people again, enjoying each other and our beer.

We’ve been impressed with Checkerspot Brewing, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We are a brewery with a taproom where people can enjoy the beers made right here. We have an open and accepting atmosphere where people can come meet, from neighbors to people visiting from out of town to sports fans getting a beer before a Ravens or Orioles game. We have a wide selection of beer and gluten-free alternatives, including seltzer and cider. All of our beer is treated to reduce gluten below detectable limits without affecting the quality and flavor. As the brewer, my favorite beer and the one I am most proud of is our Juniperus IPA! Come visit the taproom for awesome beer and food.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
My husband, Rob Neff, is my partner in the brewery and in life. He runs all of the sales and distribution of our beers. Our partner, Steve Marsh, started the brewery with us. Our friends and family who took a chance and invested with us as part of Checkerspot Brewing. My brewery mentors have been so amazing and are part of why I wanted to enter this collaborative industry of craft beer, with a special shout-out to Greg McGrath, the brewer at Inverness Brewing.

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