Mid Atlantic Brewing News February/March 2017 : Page 1
By Greg Kitsock By Alexander D. Mitchell IV ILLUSTRATIONS BY HANS GRANHEIM Brewer Ian Hummel stands outside Brew House No. 16, a former Baltimore City firehouse converted into a brewpub. PHOTO BY ALEXANDER D. MITCHELL IV ou might not know it, but the ingredients in beer are highly flammable. Grain dust can explode in a fireball. The oils and resins in hops can spontaneously combust. In 2006, Hopunion suffered a conflagration that destroyed 4% of the nation’s crop. A stray spark can do immense damage a brewery. In 2013 a blaze caused a million dollars in damage to Yuengling’s Tampa brewery. Ironically, it was accidentally caused by a welder installing a new fire escape. Breweries, therefore, depend on firefighters to safeguard their personnel and property when disaster strikes. And firemen, after a busy shift battling flames and smoke, can appreciate a cold beer. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Take it from Tom Kehoe, owner of Yards Brewing in Philadelphia. "We've always offered discounts on our beer to police and fireman. We often drop some beer off to our local firehouses. A few years back there was a fire on the street where we lived. Fire trucks were delayed due to rolling firehouse closures. We helped raise some money to keep our local house open." Firehouse closures often result when cities face budget shortfalls. At least five mid-Atlantic breweries have taken up See Fire p. 5 t-shirt sold by the Grand Canyon Brewery in Williams, Ariz. That claim might be a bit bombastic, but both railroads and beer have become intertwined in the American experience. “ T his country was founded on TRAINS and BEER!” So claims a The railway changed American life in the nineteenth century, as railroad stations became centers of commerce linking thousands of American towns. After rail travel diminished, many of these buildings—often architectural gems— became bars, restaurants or brewpubs. In a few of these places you can even watch the passing trains while hoisting your beer. See Rails p. 3 INSIDE Strength Matters .......................... 7 Homebrew News .........................10 Event Calendar ............................11 Maps ...................................... 14-17 Book Review................................31 State by State News W. Virginia ........9 Virginia ...........12 C. Penn ............18 Philadelphia ...20 E. Penn ............22 Maryland ........24 Baltimore ........25 D.C. ..................27 New Jersey .....28 Delaware ........30
Riding The Rails, Sampling The Ales
Alexander D. Mitchell IV
“This country was founded on TRAINS and BEER!” So claims a t-shirt sold by the Grand Canyon Brewery in Williams, Ariz.
That claim might be a bit bombastic, but both railroads and beer have become intertwined in the American experience.
The railway changed American life in the nineteenth century, as railroad stations became centers of commerce linking thousands of American towns. After rail travel diminished, many of these buildings—often architectural gems— became bars, restaurants or brewpubs. In a few of these places you can even watch the passing trains while hoisting your beer.
A northbound Norfolk Southern freight train roars past the front door of Penn's Tavern, a 1700s riverside tavern south of Sunbury, Pa., now specializing in locally brewed craft beers.
PHOTO BY ALEXANDER D. MITCHELL IV
Meeting of the Rails
Richmond, Va. Is home to two railthemed venues. Triple Crossing Brewing, in the Monroe Ward neighborhood along the James River, is named for a unique feature a mile to the southeast: two railroad bridges of the former Atlantic Coast Line and Chesapeake & Ohio (now CSX) cross a branch of the former Southern Railway (now Norfolk Southern) on the ground. It’s the only triple rail crossing in the Western Hemisphere.
The brewery itself, started in 2014 with a seven-barrel brewhouse, has just opened a second brewpub and production facility in the industrial Fulton neighborhood southeast of downtown— adjacent to the former C&O Fulton Yards.
An interior wall of Caboose Brewing in Vienna, Va. Pays tribute to the railroad boxcar.
PHOTO BY ALEXANDER D. MITCHELL IV
Only two blocks from the actual “triple crossing” itself is the Southern Railway Taphouse, a craft beer bar/gastropub in the trendy Shockoe Bottom part of downtown. It occupies the former Southern Railway freight terminal, a brick building built in the early 1900s. The restaurant features forty draft lines, “chosen mostly as locally as possible,” said general manager Mark Chavez. The owners have opened a second location in West Palm Beach, Fla., although the Southern Railway never ran that far south.
Ashland, a college town north of Richmond, is noted by railfans for having the twin-track Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac main line (now part of CSX) bisect Center Street and the downtown district. Several businesses tip their hats to the railroad, including the Trackside Grill and the Iron Horse Restaurant. Also on Center Street is The Caboose, a longestablished beer-and-wine store with a tap/ tasting room in the back that serves beers by the glass. Opening in early 2017 is Origin Beer Lab, an offshoot of nearby Center Of the Universe Brewing (see Virginia column for more). All four locations are within a block south of the Ashland station, served by Amtrak. There are motels within a short walk.
The Railroad House in Marietta, Pa. The old station building is on the left. The brewpub is next to Washington & Old Dominion Railroad Trail, about a quarter-mile north of the town's red caboose display.
PHOTO BY JIM WEBER
Then there’s Devils Backbone Brewing near Roseland. Little noticed in the hubbub over the brewery’s takeover by AB InBev is a handsome white building adjacent to the brewpub. Built in 1870, it originally housed the Southern Railway's freightand- passenger depot at Arrington, Va., 18 miles from its present site. In 2007 it was disassembled and rebuilt in Roseland as a coffee shop. Devils Backbone currently operates it as a café called The Summit serving breakfast daily.
Layover in New Jersey
Woodbury, NJ has three freight lines converging from points south to head north to Camden and Philadelphia. A mile from that junction, Eight and Sand Beer Co. Started operation last September as a brewery and tasting room. The unusual name derives from a local railroad expression meaning “have a safe and uneventful run.” The “eight” is the highest setting on a diesel locomotive's throttle and the “sand” is sprayed on the railhead to improve traction. The company's logo depicts a front view of an old steam locomotive with a beer glass subbing for a smokestack; the four-glass sampler stands are called “rails.”
All Aboard for Pennsylvania
Other than The BrewErie (brewer of Railbender Ale) in Erie’s Union Station, the Keystone State has one other brewery in a railroad station. That’s the 10-bbl brewhouse that the Wellsboro House Restaurant and Brewery opened across the street, in the former New York Central passenger depot, in Wellsboro, Tioga County. Look for brewer Ron Cathcart’s beers on the Tioga Central Dinner Train, an excursion operating from nearby Wellsboro Junction Fridays and Saturdays from May through October and catered by the Wellsboro House.
Rusty Rail Brewing in Mifflinburg more than makes up for the lack of track and trains nearby. Opened in September 2015 and billed as the largest brewpub in central Pennsylvania, it occupies an industrial building where truck bodies and later cabinets were manufactured. It stands alongside what used to be the PRR line from Lewisburg to Bellefonte, now a bicycle trail.
The rail theme permeates the premises: huge murals depict trains and the town’s train station, and tap handles are topped with actual rail spikes. On display is one of the last trucks fitted with a body built in the building. Owners Paul and Eric John are on the lookout for antique railway equipment, maybe even a small locomotive, to keep it company.
The tap handles at Rusty Rail Brewing in Mifflinburg, Pa. Even incorporate actual railroad spikes—though no longer rusty!
PHOTO BY ALEXANDER D. MITCHELL IV
In West Chester, a mere block from the Market Street Station of the West Chester Railroad, Boxcar Brewing occupies not a boxcar but a handsome brick storefront on Market Street. Offerings include Boomer Brown Ale, named for railroaders who drifted from job to job.
Penn's Tavern, in the hamlet of Fisher's Ferry, lies along both the Susquehanna River and the former PRR main line below Sunbury, Pa. It dates back to at least 1791; Samual Auchmuty, a Revolutionary War officer, reportedly built the inn as the eastern terminus for a ferry. The building would serve as a hotel, ferry house, post office and railroad station. Trains have roared past its front doors for 160 years now.
Tom Mertz, a local car dealer, purchased the tavern in 2015 and introduced a beer lineup from local breweries (including Rusty Rail), in addition to three German drafts and a German-accented menu.
Further down the Susquehanna in Marietta, Lancaster County, The Railroad House Inn sits across the street from the Norfolk Southern (ex-PRR) freight line connecting Harrisburg with Philadelphia, Baltimore and points south. It was erected in the 1820s as an inn for travelers and workers on the Pennsylvania Canal, a travel artery quickly usurped by the railroad. The building even served as a station office before construction of the depot still standing across the street. Since 2015 it’s been owned by Joey Bowden, a former manager at the Bulls Head Pub in Lititz, and Freddy States, an owner of nearby McCleary’s Pub. The inn features a “Perry Street Cellar” bar with 12 drafts and plenty of hard-to-obtain craft beers, an upscale restaurant on the main floor, and twelve rooms available for overnight guests. But take note: trains do run by the station nightly!
Fighting Fire With Beer
Brewer Ian Hummel stands outside Brew House No. 16, a former Baltimore City firehouse converted into a brewpub. PHOTO BY ALEXANDER D. MITCHELL IV
You might not know it, but the ingredients in beer are highly flammable. Grain dust can explode in a fireball. The oils and resins in hops can spontaneously combust. In 2006, Hopunion suffered a conflagration that destroyed 4% of the nation’s crop.
A stray spark can do immense damage a brewery. In 2013 a blaze caused a million dollars in damage to Yuengling’s Tampa brewery. Ironically, it was accidentally caused by a welder installing a new fire escape.
Breweries, therefore, depend on firefighters to safeguard their personnel and property when disaster strikes. And firemen, after a busy shift battling flames and smoke, can appreciate a cold beer. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
Take it from Tom Kehoe, owner of Yards Brewing in Philadelphia. "We've always offered discounts on our beer to police and fireman. We often drop some beer off to our local firehouses. A few years back there was a fire on the street where we lived. Fire trucks were delayed due to rolling firehouse closures. We helped raise some money to keep our local house open."
Firehouse closures often result when cities face budget shortfalls. At least five mid-Atlantic breweries have taken up residence in vacated firehouses: these buildings, with their oversized bay doors, concrete floors and excellent drainage, are near perfect for installing brewing equipment. Often they wind up serving the same personnel who worked there!
Once a month, Maltese Brewing in Fredericksburg, Va. Opens up early for Shift Breakfast, hosting firemen coming of the night shift.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MALTESE BREWING
Old Firehouses Reborn
“High ceilings and plumbing are what a brewery is all about!” laughs Rosemarie Certo, owner of Dock Street Brewing in Philadelphia, which occupies a building that served as a fire station between 1903 and 1984. A few years back the brewpub commemorated that fact with Firehouse Saison, a lightly smoked saison that was popular with local firefighters, Certo recalls.
Oakbrook Brewing in Reading, Pa. Occupies a fire station that was built in 1905 to harbor horse-drawn vehicles. “When we remodeled, we found a three-foot hayloft above the ceiling,” notes owner/brewer Kyle Neuheimer. The station was decommissioned in 2010 and today cozily houses a 50-seat brewpub and 5-bbl brewhouse. Several of the beers are named after the station’s mascots through the years. Polly’s Pale Ale honors a green-and-yellow parrot that used to ride on the bell of the fire truck during parades. Smokey the Dog Porter is named after a Dalmatian, while Joe and Dan’s Black & Tan commemorates two horses who were stabled where the serving tanks now stand.
Brew House No. 16 in Baltimore, Md. Is in a station that was built between 1904 and 1908, shortly after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 destroyed over 1,500 buildings. Firefighters from Philadelphia, New York and other cities rushed in to help quell the blaze, but found that their hose couplings wouldn’t fit into Baltimore’s hydrants. “It spurred the nationalization of fire fighting,” mentions brewer Ian Hummel.
Brew House No. 16 co-owner Harry Hummel stands by a display case holding an actual firefighter's outfit from the station's last days as a firehouse.
PHOTO BY ALEXANDER D. MITCHELL IV
The fire station last until 1989. Hummel, who renovated the building with his father, noted that one of the firefighters stationed there, Paul Stefanic, donated his fire suit and axe—they’re displayed in a glass case on the premises. The 7-bbl brewhouse, he adds, gives him “the ability to brew a lot of different styles.” He’s currently formulating a beer to be called Fireman’s Lager, a Germanstyle helles lager with “a bready maltiness and balanced bitterness.” He adds, “The firefighters that come here will like this one.”
Smoketown Brewing Station would seem to be an appropriate name for a brewery situated in a 1948 firehouse in Brunswick, Md. But the name has a totally different origin, says owner David Blackmon. “Brunswick is an old railroad town,” he relates, and the many coal cars passing through raised a haze over the town. Nevertheless, the brewery is often visited by personnel who worked at the station before it was phased out in 2011. “One of my favorite customers is the old fire chief, who served there for 18 years,” says Blackmon.
He’s currently formulating a beer to be called Fireman’s Lager, a German-style helles lager. He adds, “The firefighters that come here
will like this one.”
In its heydey, the volunteer fire company raised money for its upkeep by using the second floor as a concert venue, hosting top-flight acts like Duke Ellington, Patsy Cline and Guy Lombardo. Blackmon is renovating the floor for use as an events space. In the meantime, Smoketown’s tasting room is open seven days a week, serving beers like Berlin Brown Ale, Potomac IPA and Ashcat Pale Ale (the latter named after the firemen on a steam engine, who would wind up sooty from shoveling coal into the engine).
Still another volunteer fire company building—Chesapeake Beach Volunteer Fire & Rescue #4 in Virginia Beach, Va.—was extensively renovated inside to become Commonwealth Brewing.
From Quenching Flames to Quenching Thirsts
In Fredericksburg, Va., partners Joseph Smith and Bobby Cook briefly considered locating Maltese Brewing in a former firehouse, but the building’s current tenant wasn’t quite ready to leave. Instead, they wound up occupying three units in a shopping center/industrial park. But they’re the real thing, firefighters working for Prince William County: Smith is a paramedic, Cook an emergency medical technician. They named their business after the Maltese cross, a symbol worn by firefighters, whose four segments represent the virtues of their profession: courage, bravery, compassion and loyalty to duty.
How do they reconcile both jobs? “We work 24-hour shifts at the firehouse, and then we’re off for 48 hours,” says Smith. They’ve got an assistant brewer and cellarman to help.
Maltese Brewing is tiny (they use a barreland- a-half brewhouse) and draft only for now. On the first Thursday of each month, Smith and Cook fling open their doors at 7 a. m. for “Shift Breakfast,” hosting several dozen fellow firefighters coming off the night shift. Their watch over, the off-duty firemen can relax with a beer (maybe the Pineapple IPA, or the lighter Fireman’s Blonde) and chow down on breakfast pizzas from a local food truck, also fireman-owned.
California based Fireman’s Brew is another beer company started by firefighters. Co-founder Rob Nowaczyk remains on active duty in the Los Angeles area. His beers—a pilsner, double bock, amber ale and IPA—are contract-brewed at Mendocino Brewing in Hopland, Calif., although company COO David Johnson states that they hope to open their own brewery and taproom by the end of 2017. You can find their six-packs as far afield as northern Virginia.
Fireman’s Brew is licensed to display the logo of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Emmitsburg, Md. And donates a portion of the company’s profits to the organization.
Maltese Brewing’s Joseph Smith notes that there are similarities between the two professions. “There’s a brotherhood of firefighters. You can be a firefighter from, say, Saskatchewan, and you walk into a station here and they open up their arms to you.
“It’s like that in brewing. … There’s more of a team mentality, the idea that as a team you achieve more.”
George Hummel, Steve Marler and Alexander D. Mitchell IV contributed to this article.
Read the full article at http://mabnonline.brewingnews.com/article/Fighting+Fire+With+Beer/2707546/382662/article.html.