Eastport Brewery Launches Beer Charters (Yes, Please!)

Annapolis’ favorite micro brewery launches a new venture honoring the city’s maritime heritage.

For lifelong Annapolitan and Forward Brewery owner Cam Bowdren, opening up a brewery wasn’t just about being able to drink good beer.  

“The original vision was to bring a local product back to Annapolis,” he says. “Annapolis is full of burgers and crabcakes, but few of them are sourced from around here.” Bowdren and his wife, Claire, recognized the maritime heritage of the Eastport neighborhood and wanted to build a gathering space that recognized and celebrated that connection to the Bay.

Forward Brewing opened during the Covid-19 pandemic, operating out of a take-out window and utilizing their parking lot as a gathering space.

Forward Brewing opened its doors on May 16, 2020. Perhaps one could more accurately say that it opened its carryout window, considering the pandemic, but the fact remains that ever since that day, locals and out-of-towners alike have gathered at the brewery for good beer and food that is almost entirely sourced from the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Sustainable business practices are at the forefront of their business model, with a commitment to water conservation in brewing, composting waste, and local food sourcing front and center. Some of the proceeds from beer sales go directly to supporting the Chesapeake Bay. And with the undeniable popularity shown by the lines outside the window, Forward has become a case study in building a business around sustainable, locally sourced products.

But for many, it’s imperative to be out on the water to fully understand the significance of protecting the watershed as a resource. So Bowdren started looking for a way to strengthen that connection.

Claire Bowdren (left) entertains friends on an early spring cruise.

“I had an idea for eventually getting a boat for the brewery,” Bowdren says. “A boat would add to the overall experience that we’re trying to create, being close to the water. But I didn’t have a particular boat in mind, and I didn’t plan on doing it this soon.”

Perhaps boaters can relate to how it came about:

Bowdren wasn’t technically looking for a boat when he found the Evans 30 workboat Britney B on Facebook Marketplace. But one look at her distinguished lines, and he knew she was meant for Annapolis.   

Bowdren (center) on the Sally IVth with friends

“She was down in Exmore, Virginia, and she was just a beautiful boat,” he says. “She’d had some work done, so even though it was a 1985 build, she had new decks and was repowered with an outboard and a bracket. There was something about the boat that was just irresistible.”

The crab scrape had been put to good use in her time on the water. There were the standard battle scars from crab pots, work, and abuse on her hull, so Bowdren found a local to sand her down and repaint her. An outboard engine was installed, and he installed a small table fit to serve guests.

Her name changed from the Britney B to Sally IVth, a rallying cry that echoes Forward’s vision as a changemaker on the Bay. “’Forward’ became a mantra, or a war cry during the process of opening the brewery,” Bowdren says of opening during the pandemic. “Sometimes you just need to go out and do it, immerse yourself, and make it happen. That’s a personal thing for me, because my tendency is to be cautious and hesitant. So having a name like ‘Forward’ and ‘Sally IVth’ reminds me to push myself, just go do it, just try. And see where we can go with things.”

Today, the Sally IVth is available for 90-minute charter rides for up to six passengers. Forward beers and “snackle boxes” come along for rides into Back or Spa Creek, depending on the conditions. An oyster shucker can come along, providing fresh oysters on the water. “The boat is a blank canvas, or a platform,” Bowdren says, mentioning the various celebration, family outings, and photo shoots that have already happened on the boat. “The tours are just the launching point.”

Forward Brewing and now the Sally IVth are echoes of the Bowdrens’ passions for living a good life on the Bay. It’s a beautiful, sustainable endeavor.