The future storefront of Astrolabe Brewing Credit: Via Emma Whelan

The owners of the upcoming Astrolabe Brewing started on opposite sides of the world before coming together to open a brewery in downtown Silver Spring.

U.K.-born Emma Whelan said the brewery she’s opening with Matt Cronin, a native New Zealander, is a “real American story” of immigrants starting a business in the U.S. When they were looking to begin their own brewing company, they decided Silver Spring would be the place to do it.

“It’s a great location for a brewery just outside D.C.,” Whelan, who will manage the business side, said Monday morning. “With Denizens [Brewing Co.] as the only brewery in the Silver Spring area, we just see it as a great place to build a small brew scene.”

They plan to open Astrolabe Brewing in the winter, likely around January next year, Whelan said. It will occupy a 5,800-square-foot space on 8216 Georgia Ave. that formerly housed Joe’s Record Paradise, which moved earlier this year. A sign for Astrolabe is now at the property, Silver Spring resident David Murnan tweeted Monday.

Astrolabe Brewing will have a tap room and patio in the front with a production brewery in the back, said Cronin, who will oversee the brewing. He plans to brew about 1,000 barrels in the first year.

Astrolabe’s portfolio isn’t yet finalized as Cronin fine-tunes the selection of brews. He said he is a particular fan of IPAs, but also likes to make pilsners, saisons and lagers.


“I don’t discriminate,” he said Monday. “I’m always on the hunt to see how we can make this better and cater it to what our customers would like.”

The owners plan to make use of local ingredients while staying true to their international roots. The bar menu will include savory pies, a specialty in both Great Britain and New Zealand, and cheeses from their native countries as well as other appetizers and snacks, said Whelan, who has lived in Silver Spring for several years.

They expect to begin construction on the space soon after it passes county inspections.


Astrolabe joins a growing rank of breweries in the county, including the recently announced True Respite Brewing Co., which plans to open in Derwood in December. Astrolabe will be about half of a mile away from Denizens on East West Highway, and Cronin said he is looking forward to joining the existing breweries in the area.

“It should be a great place to enjoy beer; it’s a great kind of town,” he said. “We’re excited to be part of the mix.”