Mid Atlantic Brewing News April/May 2012 : Page 1
PA By Jack Curtin Will Beer KeepThem Down on the Farm? EXP ANSION: Bracing for a Craft Beer Deluge BREWERY By Kevin Smith ILLUSTRATION BY: HANS GRANHEIM T he Keystone State seems to have a powerful thirst. Evidence for that consists of three popular production breweries in east-central Pennsylvania that have already completed or recently announced major expansions: Tröegs, Sly Fox and Weyerbacher. Their stories are part of a larger tale about the impressive growth that’s unfolding here. And just before we went to press, Victory Brewing Co. made it four, announcing on March 21 that it will open a second brewery in Parkesburg, Penna., stating that the current brewery in Downingtown will reach its capacity sometime this year. The location was chosen because of its similarities to current site, according to a company press release. Brewing at a second site will cause “some growing pains," reads a statement from Ron Barchet, Victory CEO and co-founder, "but once we are up and running, it will allow us endless opportunities to experiment with new flavors and recreate old favorites." The most ambitious buildout is the new 90,000 sq ft facility that Tröegs Brewing See Expansion p. 3 B y a unanimous vote, the Maryland legislature has passed legislation designed to assist the dwindling number of family farms in the state and reward beer drinkers with a bumper crop of new breweries. House Bill HB 1126 and Senate Bill SB 579 establish a Class 8 Farm Brewing License that will grant farmhouse breweries See Farmhouse p 6 Hop farmer Tom Barse will be pouring his beers for visitors to his Milkhouse Brewery before year’s end. He has been a major proponent for legal changes to allow farm-house breweries throughout the state. PHOTO BY KELLY FOWLER Editorial ......................................... 2 Book Review.................................. 7 Fairy Hopmother ........................10 Homebrew ...................................18 Maps ...................................... 20-23 Matters of Import .......................34 Brewhaha ....................................37 Event Calendar ............................41 INSIDE State by State News Virginia ...........14 C. Penn ............24 Philadelphia ...26 E. Penn ............28 Maryland ........30 Baltimore ........32 New Jersey .....36 W. Virginia ......38 Delaware ........40 D.C. ..................42
Expansion: Bracing For A Craft Beer Deluge
The Keystone State seems to have a powerful thirst. Evidence for that consists of three popular production breweries in east-central Pennsylvania that have already completed or recently announced major expansions: Tröegs, Sly Fox and Weyerbacher. Their stories are part of a larger tale about the impressive growth that’s unfolding here.
And just before we went to press, Victory Brewing Co. Made it four, announcing on March 21 that it will open a second brewery in Parkesburg, Penna., stating that the current brewery in Downingtown will reach its capacity sometime this year. The location was chosen because of its similarities to current site, according to a company press release. Brewing at a second site will cause “some growing pains," reads a statement from Ron Barchet, Victory CEO and co-founder, "but once we are up and running, it will allow us endless opportunities to experiment with new flavors and recreate old favorites."
The most ambitious buildout is the new 90,000 sq ft facility that Tröegs Brewing co. Opened in Hershey last fall following a 14-year run in Harrisburg. The new brewery is three times larger than the old one and features a 100-bbl BrauKon system for large production batches and a 15-bbl BrauKon system for small batches. It’s expected to eventually double Tröegs’ capacity to 60,000 bbl. There is enough demand for Tröegs beers that there are no immediate plans to expand beyond the current eightstate East Coast market, say founders Chris and John Trogner.
The Hershey plant is designed for visitors, featuring a huge tasting room just inside the main entrance with a 70-ft-long bar running beneath a platform on which the main brewhouse rests. The smaller pilot brewery sits next to the bar’s right perimeter (this is where the brewery’s popular limitedrelease “Scratch” series is brewed).
The effect is that visitors find themselves right inside the brewery almost as soon as they come in the door. There is table seating for 150 guests in the tasting room (though no table service), but even more enticing is the self-guided tour down a window-lined hallway that offers such enticements as the brewery’s popular DreamWeaver Wheat fermenting in an open tank and a barrel-aging room that will one day hold 400 bbl of beer mellowing in the wood.
Sly Fox Brewing Co.’s new 30,000- sq-ft brewery occupies a six-acre site in the Pottstown Airport Business Center; it began making beer in March on a 50-hectoliter BrauKon system. The company moved there after outgrowing its smaller brewer in Royersford. Production capabilities will be tripled (from just shy of 10,000 bbl in 2011) with the new brewhouse. Sly Fox could brew 25 hectoliters twice a day at their previous location but will be able to brew 50 hectoliters three times a day in Pottstown. A tasting room is planned for opening this summer.
Sly Fox also says it will concentrate on its current Pennsylvania-New JerseyNew York market footprint, but expansion is almost definitely on the table. Moving southward into DC, Virginia and Maryland would be a logical course, but brewmaster Brian O’Reilly’s New England ties might come into play as well.
Easton’s Weyerbacher Brewing Co., which also came in at just under 10,000 bbl last year, announced a $1.1 million expansion to add a 7,500-sq-ft addition to its plant in early February, eventually tripling production. The project is expected to reach completion by September, with a pub added in January 2013.
Fermentation, bottling and kegging operations will be moved into the new space when it is ready; meanwhile, four new 80-bbl fermenters will have to be crammed into the existing brewery. Founder Dan Weirback isn’t worried about finding enough customers for all the extra beer the brewery will pump out. “We grew by 34% in 2011 in both barrelage and dollars, amounting to $3.6 million in sales, and sales are up 51% for the first two months of this year. The long-range plan is to phase out all the existing 20- and 40-bbl tanks and replace them with 80-bbl ones. That's how we will get to 30,000 barrels."
Ready to Launch
This trio is but part of a larger pattern of increased production that’s turning beermaking into an even more important part of the Pennsylvania economy.
For example, the $10 million Susquehanna Brewing Co. Project in Luzerne County, which has been reported on extensively in these pages, built around a 50-bbl BrauKon system, is probably the largest from-scratch launch ever in the region. While the founders say they will be concentrating their sales efforts in Northeast Pennsylvania, the size of the plant and the hiring of estimable industry vet Jaime Jurado as brewmaster would seem to suggest there are larger plans afoot.
Then there is the huge local craft brewery everybody somehow seems to forget: the Boston Beer Co. Plant in Breinigsville, the largest brewery owned by the makers of Samuel Adams, accounting for two-thirds of their annual production. Last year Boston Beer turned out 2.5 million bbl, placing it neck-to-neck with Yuengling for the title of the nation’s largest domestically owned brewer. A company spokeswoman says that Boston Beer will invest roughly $50 million in its facilities this year, most of it in Breinigsville.
And finally we have New Belgium’s East Coast brewery, which is slated for either the Philadelphia area or Asheville, NC. In making the decision where to locate, New Belgium will take into account such factors as community receptiveness to craft beer, quality of life, and infrastructure for shipping supplies in and beer out, says New Belgium’s media relations director Bryan Simpson.
A decision is expected as early as April, he added.
Will Beer Keepthem Down On The Farm?
By a unanimous vote, the Maryland legislature has passed legislation designed to assist the dwindling number of family farms in the state and reward beer drinkers with a bumper crop of new breweries.
House Bill HB 1126 and Senate Bill SB 579 establish a Class 8 Farm Brewing License that will grant farmhouse breweries many of the privileges now enjoyed by small wineries. Mount Airy hop farmer Adam Frey, who plans to open Frey’s Brewing Co. Later this year, said farmhouse breweries would be able to hand out samples, sell bottles and growlers directly to customers, and offer simple food items like pizza and pre-packaged sandwiches. “This means we can have customers come to the farm to take a tour, try our beer, and eat a light lunch without the need to leave the farm."
Originally, the legislation would have allowed farmhouse breweries to selfdistribute their beers, but that part of the bill was broken off for further study.
Another limitation is that the proposed Class 8 license will cap production at 15,000 bbl a year.
At least three Frederick County farmers plan to start breweries within the next three years. In addition to Frey, they include Tom Barse, a lawyer/farmer who bought a former dairy farm and now makes a living raising longwool sheep, keeping bees, quartering horses and growing hops, among other agricultural activities. Barse expects his Milkhouse Brewery to be producing beer by this summer.
The third is Greg Clabaugh, a dairy farmer who for the last ten years has been growing and malting barley in cooperation with brewer Tom Flores of Monocacy Brewing Co./Brewer's Alley in Frederick. Clabaugh began diversifying back in 2000 when the price of milk plunged to $10 per hundred pounds. Last year he harvested Farmhouse continued from cover about 48,000 lb of grain this year at his Sc Willow Lane Farm in Detour, rigging equipment from old milk tanks and parts of a hay elevator to malt the barley.
But it’s been his “whole goal all along” to open a brewery. “I produce milk, but I don’t see it to the end product. I never make a dime off that.” A sixth-generation farmer, Clabaugh says he needs to keep His farm sustainable; otherwise, there’s no incentive for his three children to maintain the family business. He envisions a 4,000-sq-ft tasting room decorated with antique farm machinery to educate visitors about what farm life is like.
Frey couldn’t say how many of the state’s 12,800 farms will opt to take advantage of the law one it goes into effect on July 1.
“Although I highly doubt most of them will drop what they've been doing to open a farm brewery, I do see a select few diversifying and moving in that direction over time. For instance, there are currently 54 registered Class 4 limited wineries in the state [the equivalent of a Class 8 farm brewery], and the numbers have been steadily growing for them. So it is very likely that farm brewery numbers will also grow."
The bill requires at least one ingredient in the farmhouse brewery beers to be a Maryland agricultural product. Having more farmers plant barley, wheat and rye would benefit the state, Frey added. “These cover crops are used to improve soil structure and recycle nutrients from air and rain. They also help with weed control. When a farmer plants these brewer-friendly cover crops, he or she helps control soil erosion and ultimately helps save the Chesapeake Bay."
Maryland's governor is expected to sign the farmhouse bill, even though the unanimous vote in the state legislature (the Senate passed it 45-0, and the House of Delegates, 133-0) renders the measure vetoproof.
Even if the hadn't passed, Barse, Frey and Clabaugh say they would have gone ahead with their plans to open a brewery. Frey explained that Frederick and Calvert Counties already have zoning laws that allow ato operate with a Class 5 license, as long as it's not in a dry district. As a result of the bill, however, farms in 21 other counties can now start making beer.
Frey commented, "Let's face it, it's not easy working long, thankless hours, making ends meet when Mother Nature isn't kind to you. It's even harder when you see your friends driving new cars and going on vacations to the Bahamas. So diversifying by raising brewer- and/or vineyard-friendly crops, or even starting a Class 8 Farm Brewery or a Class 4 Limited Winery, makes sense.