Blake Edmunds has Studly Brewing Company on an early season winning streak
By Jeff Maisey
If you’re a baseball fan, chances are as good as the Astros winning another World Series you’re gonna love Chesapeake’s newest craft beer maker, Studly Brewing Company.
Since Studly’s opening day in mid-December, local residents have been streaming in for a beer as good as the Great American Pastime itself.
Everything inside and out of the brewery smacks of baseball. As you approach the opening gate (front door), you’ll notice a picnic table-like structure on the outdoor patio with three bases (1st, 2nd and 3rd), along with a home plate, serving as seats. The table top features a pitcher’s mound plate, balls and bats.
Once inside, you’ll notice a Locker Room setup for Studly Brewing merchandise such as shirts and caps. Directly ahead is an inning-by-inning scoreboard, plus a dugout section of seats and tables. Aesthetically speaking, its like being at a ballpark sports pub.
As for the beers, Studly’s starting lineup of brews includes its At The Wall Red Ale (which seems to be batting 1000 with locals so far, 6.4% ABV), Pinch Runner Pale Ale (6.4% ABV), Crow Hop IPA (4.8% ABV), Pitcher’s Big Butt Stout (6.5% ABV), Blondie Peffercorn Blonde Ale (5.1% ABV), and The Great Vanilla Bean-O Vanilla Porter (8.5% ABV).
Studly team owner Blake Edmunds wears most of the hats: he brews the beers, oversees all the operations from the concession kitchen, manages the service staff, and merchandise. He’s also in the “front office” as general manager and brand manager. And does he ever know brand management. Studly won a national Crushie Award for its logo/brand design before the brewery even served its first beer.
Following a 15-year career in college and minor league sports promotions, Edmunds opted for a trade during the pandemic, turning a homebrew hobby into a well-planned field of dreams in the beer business with his home field advantage being in Chesapeake, not too far from his Hickory High School alma mater.
Customer experience, for Blake Edmunds, is as important as the quality of the beer, pizza, and salads he serves.
“We’re all about selling the Studly experience,” he said. “When people, who have family coming to town and want to go out to dinner, we want the first place that pops into their head to be Studly Brewing Company. It’s all about the experience, the service, and the theme.”
Edmunds put in the work to up his game as a legit brewer, studying with Tom Hennessey in Montrose, Colorado. Hennessey taught Edmunds the dos and don’ts on the business side as well.
“Being with him and training in Colorado gave me the confidence to come back here and open a brewery in Chesapeake,” Edmunds said.
His work history in minor league sports instilled the value of giving fans a memorable time.
“In sports, I really focused on the experience of a fan coming to a game,” he said. “It starts from when they get out of their car and walk up to the stadium; the ticket-takers and concessioners; the bathroom experience. The only thing I couldn’t control as a marketer was the performance on the field.”
From the start, Edmunds wanted to operate as a brewpub and serve food — his own. As he previously stated regarding the control of a fan’s experience, Edmunds didn’t want rely on food trucks as his food service. What if a food truck couldn’t show up on a busy Saturday or if a food truck operator was having a bad day and cussed-out a loyal customer? That would have resulted in a negative experience, and that would not represent the Studly brand.
For food, Studly specializes in a delicious pizza and I was keen to try some.
On my visit, I enjoyed a zesty pepperoni made with whole milk mozzarella, organic tomato sauce from California, and lots of small spicy pepperonis. To add to the spice, a heated drizzle of honey is like icing on the pie, or a Cy Young winning pitcher in relief and the end of a game. I also like a crispy thin crust and crunchy outer/rim crust and this pizza was made perfectly to my preference.
Other pizza options include a cheese pizza and Margherita. From way out in Left Field try the Rundown (with olive oil, sliced dill pickles, bacon crumbles and ranch dressing) or Figley Field (goat cheese, red onion, bacon, prosciutto, and a tasty fig spread).
It wouldn’t be baseball without hotdogs and Studly prefers Nathan’s. You can also order a Bavarian pretzel served with mustard and beer cheese for dipping.
Salads include a classic Caesar and wedge version with veggie additions.
In his first at-bat, Blake Edmunds has hit a home run to give Team Studly an early lead, and the hometown crowd is cheering.