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!


You Call That a “Beer Week”?

Three of the best beer weeks are on the horizon!

May 25 – June 1 is Asheville Beer Week. This annual event “celebrating a vital (and delicious) business (and pleasure) sector in WNC—craft beer; supported by main sponsor, Asheville Brewers Alliance – an all-volunteer committee of regional beer industry people” will be amazing. It is held in the town also known as Beer City, USA. And the week will include seminars, tastings, dinners, and special events with “beer celebrities” from around the country and the world.

May 31 – June 9 is Philly Beer Week. This is the largest beer celebration of its kind in America, “featuring hundreds of festivals, dinners, tours, pub crawls, tastings and meet-the-brewer nights to area bars, restaurants and other locations throughout Greater Philadelphia.” It is organized and operated by Philly Beer Week Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(6) organization overseen by a board composed of brewery owners, distributors, restaurant owners and others, to promote Philadelphia’s beer and hospitality industries. It is the grand-daddy of all beer weeks.

June 6 – June 16 is Portland Beer Week. Held in the city with more breweries per capita than any other in the US, Portland Beer Week “aims to celebrate and expand that culture, not just by promoting Portland brewers and breweries, but tap houses, restaurants, food, and underexplored beer styles. Craft beer culture is not just about the beer itself but about the people, food, camaraderie, and education that comes along with this art form.”

Harrisburg Beer Week, you say?

And now a Facebook ad tells me there is one coming to my area! But when I looked at the web site, I turned to my Best Beer Buddy and said, “You call THAT a Beer Week?”

June 10 – June 15 is Downtown Harrisburg Beer Week. On the web site, it is described as “a week of beer sampling and entertainment…Enjoy great beer, food, promotions and entertainment all week at different bars in Downtown Harrisburg.”

Really. Kamionka Entertainment Group?

I hate to be negative about a Beer Week in my own backyard, but promoting nightly events at four establishments that you own, serving sample glasses of beer that are imported to the Harrisburg area does NOT make it a “Harrisburg Beer Week”. In naming it such, you have already tarnished future efforts of any reputable group of beer lovers that may be interested in promoting local breweries and beer culture to the area under the label “Harrisburg Beer Week.”

Distributor(s) may be involved by association because they supply the beer, but I suspect the breweries themselves have never heard of Harrisburg Beer Week and are unknowing participants. I’d be curious to learn if any of them were involved in the planning or promotion of their beers for this “event”. Kamionka Entertainment Group attempts to give this “event” credibility by including an annual Tröeg’s Brewing Company event without any collaboration or credit to Tröeg’s see Improper Recognition of Efforts below.)

5 Reasons I won’t be at HBW

Here are just five of the many reasons, in no particular order, that I will not be attending the series of events I will now refer to as Kamionka Beer Week in Downtown Harrisburg.

Local Breweries Are Not Featured

Beer people in the Harrisburg area are proud to have nationally recognized award winning beers and brewers, yet none of them are part of Kamionka Beer Week.

Stoudts and Yards, while great PA breweries, are the only Pennsylvania breweries being featured. Kamionka Entertainment Group choose to feature Sierra Nevada (CA), Lagunitas (CA) and Leinenkugel (born in WI, but a wholly owned subsidiary of Miller Brewing Company), as well as serving samples of the Coors products Batch 19, Blue Moon, and Third Shift at a location that proclaims to carry 70 craft beers.

We’ve got Appalachian, Lancaster, Millbock, Pizza Boy and Tröegs, all right here in our backyard. Market Cross isn’t too far away in Carlisle. Liquid Hero and Mudhook are in York, and both Iron Hill and Spring House are in Lancaster County. Those are just the best known breweries nearby – there are certainly more!

Seriously, think about serving local beers – ones that can be obtained without an EZ Pass – when you are planning a Beer Week! I’m pretty sure any given night at Al’s of Hampden would trump the local selection presented during Kamionka Beer Week.

Improper Recognition of Efforts

Dating this “Beer Week” through June 15 to include Tröegs 10th Annual Harrisburg Brewers Fest® is a cheap trick. I’ve poked around, and it doesn’t sound like Tröegs Brewing Company was even asked to be involved in this little “Harrisburg Beer Week”. The link on the Kamionka Beer Week page doesn’t even go to the Harrisburg Brewers Fest® event – it is bookmarked to take the user back to the top of their own promotions. This Fest isn’t the culminating event to HBW, like Asheville’s 4th Annual Beer City Festival is to the ABW. It is an event that Tröegs Brewing Company and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Central Pennsylvania have worked 10 years to make into a don’t-miss event, and Kamionka Entertainment Group knew it was the only thing that would draw in true beer culture to the Week.

My advice? To run a successful Beew Week, take the time to build beer partnerships, and give those partners the recognition they deserve.

Tröegs, by the way, just completed the brewing of a collaboration beer for Philly Beer Week called Brotherly Suds 4 (as in “year #4” of making it) with Yards, Nodding Head, Flying Fish, Stoudts, Victory and Sly Fox. If Kamionka Entertainment Group can get a glass of THAT in my hand during HBW at any location in Dauphin County, I will rescind this entire post.

Does not Demonstrate Knowledge of Beer and Breweries

Knowing beer people, breweries and beer are key aspects to organizing a successful beer week. As I read about the sample glasses of beer that will be featured each night of Kamionka Beer Week (that’s right – between 3 and 5 sample glasses each night instead of pints from various kegs and firkins of rare, limited or special release beers), I was particularly stuck by the generic descriptions, clearly pulled straight from the brewery’s marketing materials.

One friend’s response, when discussing the beers being served, made me giggle in agreement:

I laugh at their description of Lagunitas as ‘A battle tested brewery that honors old world traditions’. WTF?! Lagunitas Brewing consists a bunch of California weed-lovin’ ass-kickers who stuff as many hops as possible into a beer! The only thing ‘battle tested’ was their ability to survive a Federal imposed shut down. And as far as honoring traditions? I think the good people of Lagunitas would say, ‘F#*& tradition, I got a nice big fatty and a 150 ibu IPA right here’!

In full disclosure, Lagunitas actually self-describes the brewery as “battle- tested”, but not in the noble way presented on the HBW site. Lagunitas says:

From our earliest days of striving to make consistently good beer, and instead making beer that ranged from vile, to barely drinkable, to wonderful, to elegant, to questionable-at-best. From being castigated by our West Marin neighbors to finally suffering an ‘eviction’ by our West Marin septic system. From landing in the welcoming arms of Petaluma, and actually getting our beer into bottles, onto the streets, and into the hands of sympathetic beer geeks, to steadily losing less money each month. From all this and more, Lagunitas Brewing Company is emerging as a battle-tested brewery capable of making great beer out of goat’s milk, brambles, and asphalt on the surface of the Moon, if need be.

Having been to the Lagunitas pub many a time myself, I get this. They are not about “old world traditions”.  They are about making amazing, creative and flavorful beers. I haven’t had any made with the “asphalt on the surface of the moon” yet, but I have had Imperial Stout that was brewed with cacao nibs and white peppercorns, then aged in used oak whiskey barrels distillery, with brettanomyces and Sonoma County cherries added before being drawn from a firkin at 4:20 PM. I guess the firkin part was “old word tradition”.

By the way, if Kamionka Entertainment Group can get a glass of anything like that in my hand during HBW at any location in Dauphin County, I will again rescind every word I’ve said.

Lack of Diversity

By planning a “Beer Week” only involving the establishments he owns, Mr. Kamionka has limited the places and pints that could be game-changers in the success of a beer week.

  • A beer week should increase the visibility of local beers through programs, events, and consumer education.
  • A beer week should involve the area’s breweries, restaurants, pubs, caterers, retailers, entertainers, and other businesses with ties to the craft beer community.
  • A beer week should be a collection of curated events spanning multiple days and whose primary purpose is the promotion and celebration of independent craft beer.
  • A beer week should not be a single corporation doing a sub par job of holding nightly events, and then slapping the label “Beer Week” on it.

How much more fun would this week have been if just a few of the partnerships listed above had been asked to be involved?

HBW Events Do Not Promote Craft Beer

Essentially, we have a Blackjack tournament, a stuff-your-face crab leg dinner, a turkey leg dinner, a concert, a Burlesque show and a chili buffet, each with sample glasses of beer being handed out. In discussing the nightly “events”, one friend said,

I think the Burlesque show is particularly distasteful, and yet not surprising at all. I guess we should be glad he didn’t schedule the Little People Circus again or ask for people to bring panties to string across Second Street.

I’ve got no problem with Blackjack or Burlesque, but these are the sorts of events that would be planned by an Entertainment Group, rather than craft beer enthusiasts. Philly Beer Week has so much going on that they just run the web site year round. There are so many events that, when one pub is too crowded, you can just walk down to the next one to find a comparable event. And they have an app for that!

The Bottom Line

“Harrisburg Beer Week” has a commercial web site listing a single corporation’s events for the week, which I purposely did not link to during this posting, because it really is just about profits for one corporation and not for the love of beer.

I realize that Harrisburg is no Philadelphia, but there are so many people and resources that could be drawn upon. Breweries, pubs, homebrew clubs (like ReHAB), distributors, restaurants, public transit companies and beer enthusiasts (such as the Hummelstown Beer Nutz) throughout the area could have, and should have, been called upon to participate before this HBW label was so nonchalantly applied.

Maybe next year we can try again?

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!

You HAVE Come a Long Way!

Now if only the rest of us could catch up!Asheville Beer Week Logo

My friend James posted this entry to kick off Asheville Beer Week, and in it, he reflects how far they have come in such a short time.

North Carolina finally popped the cap on its archaic beer laws, and the scene was set for what we have today. This past year has seen Asheville and Western North Carolina land three major craft breweries that saw what was going on in our little ol’ town and liked it. It is a testament to the brewers, beer store owners, and beer drinkers of Western North Carolina that allowed this to happen. One of the many endearing qualities that Asheville has is an emphasis on locally made and grown products, and supporting your neighbors business.

Events begin on May 24 (although I might argue that ANY day in Asheville is an event!), and wind down (again, as much as anything winds down in Asheville!) on June 3. During this 11-day event, one of the highlights is the Third Annual Beer City Festival, hosted by Asheville Brewers Alliance and showcasing the best beers brewed in the Carolinas.

If you have the opportunity, drop everything and get your mug to Asheville! If you’re already there, have a few for me, and congratulations!

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

You Got Peanut Butter in my Chocolate (Stout)!

Mmmm…Chocolate!   Mmmm…Peanut Butter! 

Two great tastes that taste GREAT together – we’ve known that for a long time. But how often do you find them in a beer?  I have, a couple of times, but last night I had one that drove it right out of the ballpark! Spring House Brewing Co. was serving up Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout on nitro at the Taproom in Lancaster, PA, and it was outstanding!

Beer List at the Taproom

Photo Credit: Taproom by Spring House Brewing Co. Facebook

Served in an Imperial pint glass, this beer was pitch black with a dense and creamy, thick tan head. It’s made with local Wilbur chocolate and what was described as a peanut butter powder (perhaps dehydrated peanut butter?), and the aroma off the glass was like splitting open a fresh peanut butter egg.

The flavor was so well balanced – like the darkest chocolate cake blended with a savory peanut butter frosting. It has lingering chocolate flavor, blended with a light hop bitterness and subtle peanut butter sweetness that masks the 8% ABV, making for a perfectly drinkable pint (so good I could drink it again and again!)

I did a little searching, and learned of another beer with this profile on tap this month. BandWagon Brew Pub inChocolate Peanut Butter Stout Ithaca, NY currently has a Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout that is coming in at 6.8% ABV. Another one that is also currently obtainable is Peanut Butter Coffee Porter at 5.5% ABV from Willoughby Brewing Co. in Ohio. It would be fun to add these to my portfolio of consumed peanut butter beers.

I’m pretty sure I had the Peanut Butter Porter (5% ABV) while visiting Boston Beer Works in 2006, and I know I drank an Über Goober Oatmeal Stout (6.5% ABV) in 2009 at Short’s Brewing in Bellaire, MI. These were both pretty good, but the Porter went way too light on the peanut butter flavor, and Uber Goober had sour untertones of stale legumes.

In other peanut butter beer news, has anyone seen or had the Blue Moon Peanut Butter Blonde? Did they make it outside GABF? A beer blogger there made me laugh with her quote, “I only tried this because it had peanut butter in it. It had a huge peanut butter nose, which was super interesting. Then I made the mistake and tasted it: wheat, peanut butter lager-y grossness…”, but since she also didn’t like New Glarus Raspberry Tart, I’m not sure we’d have similar opinions.

If you’ve ever doubted that peanut butter and chocolate belong together in a beer, get yourself to Lancaster and try this out. If you’re feeling really adventurous, blend it with Planet Bean Coffee Stout (can you say cake and coffee?) I’ve been waiting for someone to brew a Peanut Butter Whoopie Pie Stout and name it “Carolyn’s Obsession”, but this may just fill that need without the personalization.

If brewer Matt Keasey doesn’t keep this on as a regular, I don’t know what I’ll do – I’m in love with this beer – and if he doesn’t enter it in GABF, he’s crazy!  It is by far the best peanut butter beer ever.

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!

Taproom at Spring House – Updates!

There have been a few changes at the Taproom at Spring House in Lancaster, PA (located at 25 West King St., (717) 399-4009).  It is now open at 11:00 am Monday through Saturday for lunch (stays open until 10:00 pm Monday through Thursday, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday), and menu items are now all freshly prepared by Carr’s Restaurant.

Happy hours, with $1.00 off all house beer pints, are 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm Monday through Friday with daily specials.

  • Monday: Steamed Clam Night – featuring one-dozen clam specials
  • Tuesday: Steamed Shrimp Night – featuring ½ and 1 pound shrimp specials
  • Wednesday: $1 off brick oven pizza and $2 off all growler fills
  • Thursday: $1 off pork wings
  • Friday: $1 off your choice of Brewery Dips

The Saturday special is Shrimp, Clams and Mussels (all day) and $1 off Crab Cake Sandwich.

The menu we saw when we stopped in this week for for Mango IPA (which was SUPERB!) included:

  • a crock of Old Bay Corn and Crab Bisque
  • chili with or without “the works”
  • Three Crab Cake Minis
  • a meat and cheese stromboli
  • Pulled Pork Quesadilla with black beans, tomato salsa, avocado, cheddar cheese, and fresh cilantro – sour cream and guacamole are served on the side
  • variety of “Brewery Dips” served with crackers, pita and veggies (dips included Crab, Artichoke and Spinach Dip; Buffalo Chicken Dip; Roasted Red Pepper Hummus; and Curried Edamame.)

I also saw on Facebook and the website that the Taproom will be starting a mug club (April 24th is the first day for to sign-up!)

This is all great news for a place that seems to be doing really well from the start!

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!

Bullfrog: Change is Brewing

In the recent invitation to the “Say Goodbye to Terry Hawbaker” party, it was announced that Nick Micio has been named the brewer to succeed Terry at Bullfrog Brewery. He comes to us from Fegley’s Brew Works (Allentown), and from what I’ve scoured off the Internet, he has a pretty nice resume.

Micio is a graduate of the American Brewer’s Guild and apprenticed at Russian River Brewing Co. Prior to his stint with Brew Works (September 2009-present), he brewed at Moat Mountain Brewing Co. in North Conway, NH.  Some of the beers in his portfolio include Moat Rauch n’ Rye (a German-inspired lager) and Lefty’s India Brown Ale (a deep brown beer with citrus hops and dark malts.)

He’s got big shoes to fill, following in the steps of some terrific Bullfrog brewers: 

  • Charlie Schnabel (1996-2001, owner of Otto’s Pub & Brewery in State College, PA)
  • Carl Melissas (2001-2004, who crafts such fabulous beers that we followed him to Green Man, and now Wedge Brewing Co. in the River Arts District of Asheville, NC)
  • Terry Hawbaker (2004-2011, moving on to brew for a new place at 1113 Walnut St. in Philadelphia, PA – first known as “The Grainery” but just last week announced as “Philadelphia Grain Exchange” now known as “The Farmers’ Cabinet” – where he will brew small batch artisan sour, wild fermented, barrel aged and saison style beers for 4 of the planned 24 taps.)

When Bob Koch, his late wife Harriet (1943-2010) and their son, Steve, opened the doors of Bullfrog Brewery in 1996, there was nothing else like it in the area. An explosion of brewpubs and breweries has cropped up in the area over these 15 years, and Bullfrog has kept a stronghold on the attentions of the eager public and beer enthusiasts across the country.

Despite the fact that I live 90 miles away, Bullfrog played a part in bringing my husband and I together, and served as a place where my family congregated to celebrate both life, and the ending of life, many times over.  People who know how much we love Terry and his extraordinary wife, Sam, have asked if this will be the end of our allegiance to Bullfrog. Alas, I view it as an opportunity for a the Koch’s to embrace change, for a new brewer to shine, and  for our dear friends thrive in their innovative Philly venture.

I can’t wait to hug Terry (and give kisses to Sam), shake hands with Nick (and possibly meet his wife Dorienne?), and celebrate with all of the Kochs on Sunday night!