Mifflinburg (PA) Brew Pub is Right on Track!

It looks like things are starting to roll for the much-anticipated Rusty Rail Brewing Company (a.k.a. Rusty Rail Brew Haus) in Mifflinburg, PA. A logo has been released and the job of Executive Chef has been posted. But the thing I really want to know about is the beer! RustyRail

I’m here to tell you I still know nothing, but thought I’d spread the word anyway. Feel free to comment on this post if you have insight to the brewer, the brewing styles or any other plans related to the brewhouse and brewing process.

The location is a spacious three-story brick factory lined with windows and featuring exposed wood beams inside. It is located off 8th Street adjacent to the new Buffalo Valley Rail Trail on property owned by Ritz-Craft Corporation. The building was constructed in the late 1800’s and once used as a wooden truck body manufacturing facility. It looks perfect for a multi-story brewing facility and restaurant complex!

Mifflinburg has a great transportation history. In 1825, Mifflinburg served as a major point on a Turnpike spanning from Bellefonte to Northumberland. But Mifflinburg, also known as “Buggytown, USA”, is most famous for the buggy manufacturing that boomed between 1840 and the early 1900’s. In 1899, multiple buggy works made more than 2,000 buggies, carriages and sleighs, which were sold all across the United States.

The first railroad between Mifflinburg and Lewisburg was built in 1871. Elaine Wintjen of the Union County Historical Society reports that by 1885, the Lewisburg Center and Spruce Railroad Company ran to Laurelton, Spring Mills and Lemont, where it connected with the Bellefonte and Tyrone Railroad. Using the “cow catcher” of an old steam locomotive in the logo, Rusty Rail Brewing Company celebrates this often overlooked piece of Mifflinburg’s history.

With all of this in mind, the operators indicate the theme of Rusty Rail is “turn of the century, industrial revolution, with a craft beer, eclectic feel.” They state that the restaurant will include quality craft beer and scratch-made food with entertainment in a fun, unique atmosphere. They have been in communication with Borough Council to review plans since at least July 2013, and locals tell me it will be at least a full year from then – maybe more – until it opens.

I’m looking forward to learning more, and hoping Rusty Rail will prove to be another Susquehanna Valley destination brewery and pub!

Much Joy over Terry’s Division with Farmer’s Cabinet

Very exciting news for residents of the Harrisburg, PA area is finally “out of the bag”! The already-fabulous Al’s of Hampden, home of Pizza Boy Brewing Company, has signed on our beloved Terry Hawbaker to begin brewing late this summer. I couldn’t be more thrilled about this one! Last February, when Terry left Bullfrog and Williamsport for Philadelphia and Farmer’s Cabinet, I lamented that his beers would be harder for us to get – such small batches being brewed so far away. Pizza Boy was just getting started, but too late to get Terry. I predicted the situation may not be as ideal as it originally seemed, and was over the moon with joy when I learned a few weeks ago that Terry will be leaving Philadelphia.

Pizza Boy had the consultation of Scott Morrison for a short time after opening, but owner/brewer Albert Kominski has been handling the reigns from the start (and doing very well, I must add!) However, he will surely feel the weight of so many working hours lifted by hiring a full-time brewer.

Clearly area residents and visitors from afar cannot resist the best pizza (and soups and sandwiches, and occasional specials like perogies!) paired with the best beer selection in the region. Al’s of Hampden is always packed, and due to township regulations recently had to eliminate outside seating and reduce indoor seating. This resulted in a building project announced in May 2012, with expanded everything, including a new 20-hectolitre BrauKon system (currently Al uses a 5-hectolitre BrauKon brewing system.)

With a full-time brewer in house, Al can concentrate on his new building and running the expanding business. Surely he must feel relief knowing the beer is being crafted with the most gifted of hands and the passionate heart and soul Terry brings to the industry. I have a feeling I may see my husband less than ever (Pizza Boy fan-boy that he is, and tight with Terry), but that’s okay with me as long as I get my fair share of the beer, too!

Changing Taps: River House and Bullfrog

“Bart doesn’t brew here anymore.”

River House Beer List (July 21, 2011)

River House Beer List (July 21, 2011)

It’s a little bit third hand, but three independent (and reliable) patrons of River House Brew Pub chatted with me this evening and said they were told this today while patronizing River House, and I see someone also posted a comment to support it. Funny. I just saw Bart at the Selinsgrove Hops, Vines and Wines Festival last weekend, and there wasn’t a hint that anything was amiss.

I heard a bit of the story on what happened, but since it is all rumor, I’ll just let the image back up the fact that he’s gone. I’ll disagree with the poster who said, “Crap on tap is back,” – these are some very nice taps – but it’s disappointing to see that things didn’t work out.

On the other hand, things didn’t work out back in April at Bullfrog with Nick Micio, but by May, it was all straightened out.  Although I haven’t had time to write about the fabulousness I discovered there in June, brewer Nate Saar has stepped in and stepped right up, brewing tasty treats like Somnus Viduata (coffe saison brewed with a variety of specialty malt and aged on 9 lbs of Colombian Magdalena coffee), Peche Panache (saison with bret, brewed with wheat and oats plus 80 lbs of peach puree), Stark Weiss (a German wheat with hints of chocolate covered banana), and Captain Drinkable (Czech-style unfiltered pilsner.)

If things really come in 3’s, I’m really hoping that the news out of Berwick is the other story of change for our Susquehanna River based breweries.

Without change, there would be no butterflies. ~ Anonymous

Scott Morrison and Al’s of Hampden

If you’ve been drinking craft beer in Pennsylvania for a couple of years, then you know the name Scott Morrison. He is a highly respected brewer with four GABF medals under his belt from 2003 to 2006, and well known for his strong ales. He put McKenzies on the map, but left in 2006 after management pressured him to concentrate on more mainstream brews. Scott Morrison groupies have observed that he hasn’t dropped out of the brewing scene, rather has had his hands in happenings all over the east coast. Morrison’s name is associated with influence in places like Dock Street, Sly Fox and many other fine breweries, and rumors continue to fly about where and when he may open a brewery of his own.

If you’ve been watching the beer scene in the Harrisburg (PA) area over the last couple of years, then you know the name Albert Kominski, who opened Al’s of Hampden in 2002, which has been exploding since he obtained his liquor license in 2008. On the surface, it may seem that Al is running a simple pizza shop. Get him talking about food and you’ll get an earful Al's of Hampdenabout his fresh and perfected recipes: his outstanding dough is made fresh every day and combine with signature sauces and toppings for remarkable pizza; the deli meats and cheeses are sliced and grated in-house and combine with freshly baked bread for amazing subs; the soups are started from scratch with hearty vegetables; the meatballs are made fresh from of a mix of ground veal, pork and Angus chuck, two styles of bread crumbs and eggs – no salt needed; the wings have outstanding sauces for a variety of palates.

But get Al talking about beer, and your head might explode! At the moment, Al’s has up to 27 fresh-pour beers available – 3 beer engines, four nitro-taps and 20 CO2 draft lines which can be consumed at Al’s or taken out in growlers (which he can sell you in 64-ounce or 32-ounce sizes!) In addition to the taps, his four doors of coolers house approximately 350 varieties of single bottles, and you can take them home for a mix-a-six price. And it’s not just that he carries beer, but his passion for beer, that draws in such crowds. Al is absolutely a beer geek, and his concentration is on making sure the beers on tap are as fresh as possible and represent a bold spectrum of styles.

So it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that Al is taking this whole beer thing one step further – opening a brewery operation on premises! If it isn’t clear already, Al strives for no less than perfection, and doesn’t enter into this brewing venture lightly. He sought out an experienced and creative brewer for this project, and came up with a winning answer.

Scott Morrison and Al Kominski will partner in the brewing operation at what will soon be known as Pizza Boy Brewing. Scott’s expertise is sure to bring success to the brewing operation, and fulfill to the beer appetites of south-central Pennsylvania beer enthusiasts. We can expect high quality, pleasurable house beers, sure to have high ratings in the “overall balls” category!

Al has been working with BrauKon of Truchtlaching, Germany to design and manufacture a 5 hectolitre brewing system (as a Getting started on the brewery!measurement reference, 1 barrel = 1.17 hectolitres = 117 litres = 244 U.S. pints), and in fact, will be returning to Germany in a few weeks to brew the test batch on his new system. The Braukon system will include everything from the malt mill to the storage tanks, using an energy saving boiling system (BrauKon EcoBoil) and a semi-automated brewing system.

Just when I didn’t think things could get any better…  Keep your ears and eyes open, or better yet, follow Al’s of Hampden on Twitter or Facebook to follow the whole story!

Beer Humor

Tomme Arthur VS the World

A great little set of satirical comics about Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey/Port Brewing were recently released (announced by the author/cartoonist himself on Beer Advocate) and it seems that Lost Abbey is appropriately amused – so much that they reposed it on their Facebook page!

If you have any sense of the awesome beers and beer-geek-dramas associated with this place, you’ll enjoy the humor too.

View them all on Flickr!

Subscribe to the feed if you like it.

Turkey Hill is Hiring!

It’s no secret that The Inn at Turkey Hill in Bloomsburg, PA is opening Turkey Hill Brewing Company Pub & Grille – it’s all just a matter of when. They started taking applications for line cooks in mid-February and announced that Tuesday and Wednesday of this week will be a job fair for servers, bar keeps, and dishwashers (interviews will take place from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm), and according to their Facebook page, they are hoping to open in just a few weeks.

I first tasted their beers at the 2009 Hops, Vines & Wines festival in Selinsgrove. I thought the variety of saisons were interesting, and by all means, ready for prime time. At that festival, they were saying it would likely open in the spring of 2010, and renovation photos on the red, wooden barn dating back to the late 1700s started showing up in April.

I don’t know how far into renovations workers were on May 8, 2010 when the barn crumpled to the ground under the force of wind gusts ranging from 30 – 50 miles per hour, but it was terribly disappointing news.

Owner Andrew Pruden, however, did not give up, and work began on the new facility July 12, 2010 with a barn raising announced the morning of October 29. Pieces of wood from the old barn were saved and are being incorporated into the new structure. It’s a beautiful barn (see photos on Facebook!) which will feature the brewery, a brew pub and a casual dining restaurant at the entrance to the Inn with pub-style food emphasising local ingredients. Brewer Donny Abraczinskas will be brewing up to ten different be beers which will be on tap at two different bars. There will be brew house tours, beer and food pairings, and overnight Brewer’s Room packages.

At Taming of the Brew 2010, they offered Barndance Blonde , Reminiscent of Raspberry, Urban Abbey Apricot Wheat, St. Abban’s Irish Red Ale, Doonie’s Dubbel, Winter’s Solstice Saison, Rolling Fog Barleywine and a cask conditioned ale called Best Bitters. A few weeks later at the 2010 Hops, Vines and Wines festival, they served up Barndance Blonde, Token to Hoboken Hefeweizen, Iron Street Cherry Porter and A Mid-Summer’s Night Saison. They’ve announced in the past week the brewing of a Pale Ale and a Belgian Blonde.

The opening of  Turkey Hill Brewing Company Pub & Grille is really exciting news for Bloomsburg and the Inn!

Farmers’ Cabinet – Is that Your Final Answer?

We had a wonderful time tonight at Terry’s “going away”, and the welcome to Nick and Nate. A nice mix of Terry’s beers were on – Edgar IPA, Apricot Wheat, Double Coffee Cream Stout, Houblonium P-38, Houblonius Maximus (on cask!), Liquid Sunshine Gone Wild (on cask), Gothika, Citradelic, Frantastique – and a nice mix of people came out, despite the stormy weather!

Outside the Bullfrog, March 6, 2011

One interesting little tidbit of information… The place where Terry is headed – first known as the The Farmers' CabinetGrainery, then announced at the end of February as Philadelphia Grain Exchange  – has now been labeled “The Farmers’ Cabinet”.

Sam and Terry are getting ready to move, and beers created by Terry’s assistant, Nate, are getting ready to go (I believe he said a Dark Mild is on the way?) 

I look forward to checking out the literary reference for the new place where Terry will be brewing, and hope the name doesn’t make any more changes. I kinda’ like this one! And I look forward to watching Nick and Nate grow the business at Bullfrog. Congratulations to everyone!

Taproom – Spring House (Lancaster, PA)

We made it to the Taproom at Spring House for the grand opening – a little late, but it sounded like the actualSpring House Tap Room - King St opening was delayed by a bit anyway.  And we were glad so many friends, and future friends, were able to be there too – that place was PACKED!

Today isn’t a good day to put in a whole story of our adventure, but I wanted to share a few photos, and simply state that everything was going smoothly!  There were 5 taps on last night – they seemed to change as the night went on. We had the G2 (a sorachi ace hopped version of Seven Gates Pale Ale) and Kerplunk! (a chocolate imperial stout), Spring House - approach from Central Marketwhile our friend who showed up much later was able to have Robot Bastard (Belgian IPA) on nitro.

The staff were handling things really well, especially considering that it was opening night and there was barely space to stand after 5:30 PM. We foundSpring House - Taps seats at the bar, where we could observe all the fun!

They are doing pints and half-pints, as well as growler fills, and I have yet to try the food.

My only disappointment…no purse hooks (bar fail!) Maybe they come later?Zoltar at Spring House

Great job, Matt!