Friday, August 10, 2018

Mid-2018 report: The craft segment is either growing or maintaining or Who Moved My Beer?

The beer glass is either half full and getting fuller or at least not getting more empty. Hm, let's think about that for a second. Basically there's a lot of breweries out there. Plenty more in the making. Plenty more beer being made and lots of people still interested in getting to know beer. But maybe not as many there used to be. Thing about statistical forecasting is that it takes quite a few data points to make conclusive statements about both current state and future trends.

Here's the Brewers Association's press release regarding its mid-year report on the state of the industry.

Brewers Association Reports Mid-Year Growth Pace Remains Stable for Small and Independent Brewers

Boulder, Colo. • July 31, 2018 — Growth for small and independent craft brewers remained stable for the first half of 2018, according to new mid-year metrics released by the Brewers Association (BA) — the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers. Production volume for the craft segment increased five percent during the first half of 2018.

“While more mature, the market continues to show demand for small and independent craft brewers,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “There are certainly industry headwinds, but this stabilized growth rate is reflective of the market realities that exist for brewers today.”

As of June 30, there were 6,655 active breweries, up from 5,562 during a comparable timeframe last year. An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 breweries are in planning, based on active Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) licenses.

“The data demonstrate that 2018 is on pace to have the highest number of brewery openings and closings to date. However, even as breweries close, openings continue to far outpace the number that shutter,” added Watson. “New players looking to enter the space should be aware of the constructs of the current landscape, work to differentiate themselves and will need to make quality beer to succeed.”

Craft brewer definition: An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional. Small: Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately three percent of U.S. annual sales). Beer production is attributed to the rules of alternating proprietorships. Independent: Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer. Traditional: A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.

About the Brewers Association
The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents 4,800-plus U.S. breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The BA organizes events including the World Beer Cup®, Great American Beer Festival®, Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America®, SAVORTM: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, Homebrew ConTM, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® magazine, and Brewers PublicationsTM is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the U.S. Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the dynamic world of craft beer at® and about homebrewing via the BA’s American Homebrewers Association® and the free Brew Guru® mobile app. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

© Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge, 2018. All content is owned and uniquely created by Bryan J. Kolesar. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Kolesar is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, images, and links may be used with advance permission granted and only provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Contact Kolesar at

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Heading back to Cali. Here's what I/you need to know about two brewing fixtures - Bear Republic and Speakeasy

I'll be in the Bay Area in a few weeks with an intention to focus my beer efforts on some of northern California's oldest craft brewers. So, it was good timing to see these two press releases pop into my mailbox. One for Bear Republic, which is marking its first anniversary at a second brewpub location in addition to its production facility. The second press release below is for the re-energized Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, which has emerged from the financial brink with new owners just in time to celebrate 21 years of brewing. I've been to Speakeasy's location before and while it's not the most convenient for public transit, once there, the people and the beers make it worth the effort.

Bear Republic? Oddly enough, I've never been there. Been to at least a brewer's dozen (how many's that? dunno. but definitely more than 12 if a Beer Week can be called 10 days!) breweries in the North Bay and beyond. Actually, maybe close to two dozen, come to think of it. But, yet, somehow, never Bear Republic. No matter the crazy amounts of praise I heap upon the Racer 5 .

Ok, here you go. Both press releases in one post. Oh, and one more piece of news about what has become an SF establishment over the last 11 years. It looks like City Beer Store will have completed its move two blocks closer to Market Street (albeit missing the mid-block cut through street to Cellarmaker) and reopening by the time I arrive. In its early years, was a destination bottle shop in the city's SOMA neighborhood. Then became a destination to buy said bottles, but only after getting distracted for an hour or more by one of the city's most drool-worthy draft lists.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers Celebrates 21 Years of Brewing in San Francisco

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers Releases Gilded Ale (Golden Stout with Gold Glitter) and Syndicate Series No. 04 (Barrel-Aged Vintage Ale) at 21st Anniversary Event

San Francisco, Calif. — Wednesday, August 1, 2018Speakeasy Ales & Lagers has been in the craft beer game for more than two decades brewing exceptional small batch beers at their San Francisco Bayview-Hunters Point brewery. On Saturday, August 25, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers celebrates the gilded era of craft beer with a 21st Anniversary event inviting beer aficionados to join the Speakeasy staff inside the taproom with exclusive VIP access (VIP ticket packages range in price), in addition to the General Admission experience for only $5. Whether you book the Godfather's Office or Scarface's Lounge for you and your closest friends or simply join the party for tastings of up to 17 draft beers, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers hosts one of the summer's most anticipated Bay Area craft beer events with an array of their favorite San Francisco businesses.

Achieving 21 years in the beer business is certainly a milestone, and with their upcoming anniversary summer bash Speakeasy & Lagers also hoists a pint in celebration of being open for almost a year under its new ownership. Marking such a momentous occasion is the special draft-only release of Gilded Ale, a Golden Stout with Gold Glitter paying homage to the golden era of Speakeasy. The 21st Anniversary event also serves as the annual 22 oz. bottle release of Syndicate Series No. 04. A unique blend of Speakeasy beers that have been aged for no less than one year in bourbon barrels, Syndicate Series No. 04 includes Scarface Imperial Stout (Aged 22 Months), Fixed Fight Old Ale (Aged 20 Months), Scarface Imperial Stout (Aged 23 Months), Betrayal (Aged 50 Months), and Old Godfather (Aged 48 Months). Syndicate No. 04 pours dark with heavy tobacco, leather, chocolate, and vanilla notes along with hints of dark fruit and coffee. Syndicate No. 04 clocks in at over 10% ABV, but is smoothed over by its extensive aging time.

Many of San Francisco's revered local businesses will join Speakeasy Ales & Lagers' epic anniversary party, including Philz Coffee, Dandelion Chocolate, Humphry Slocombe, Etta+Billie, Glass Coat Photo Booth, Regrained, El Taquero, Samara Southern Creations, and Long Bridge Pizza. Live music by The Helltones, Mad Mama and the Bona Fide Few, and Sweetwater Black.

VIP tickets ($50) include access to the taproom, a Speakeasy 5 oz. glass with unlimited tastings, a Syndicate Series Vertical Flight, and early entry at 1 pm. Speakeasy Taster Glass tickets ($30) include unlimited tastings and early access at 1pm. Pre-sale General Admission tickets ($5) include one beer, and GA tickets ($5) at the door allows entrance only.

Tickets are now on sale at

About Speakeasy Ales & Lagers
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers has been defiantly brewing small batch beers in San Francisco's Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood since 1997. The brewery started with a single iconic beer, still made today, Prohibition Ale. The hoppy amber beer embodies the spirit of bootleggers and gangsters who persevered when America's taps ran dry. Speakeasy quickly gained a loyal following with its bold, complex beers, and striking 1920s imagery. Speakeasy's kingpin Big Daddy IPA is the brewery's highest seller among its wide array of celebrated beers, from session ales to bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts. In 2013, the Speakeasy Taproom opened serving thousands of local craft beer lovers with fresh draft beer to be enjoyed onsite or to-go in growlers and crowlers.

Speakeasy's original 15 barrel brewing system was replaced in 2015 during a major expansion, which included a 60 barrel brewhouse, centrifuge, malt handling system, canning line, and an additional 1,200 barrels of fermentation capacity.

Hunters Point Brewery LLC, a company founded by former owner of Horizon Beverage Company, Ces Butner, acquired the Speakeasy beer brands and brewing equipment in 2017. Under new ownership, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers will grow by leaps and bounds. The brewery's trademark eyes, ubiquitous and cryptic, beckon you to join our mob, no password required.

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers' taproom is located at 1195 Evans Avenue, San Francisco, CA. For more information, please visit:

Bear Republic Brewing Company Celebrates One Year Anniversary of Rohnert Park Location

SONOMA COUNTY, CALIF. (August 1, 2018)Bear Republic Brewing Company (BRBC), a Sonoma County, California based brewer, celebrates the one year anniversary of Bear Republic Brewing Company Lakeside on Tuesday, August 21 with a luau themed party.

Bear Republic Brewing Company Lakeside One Year Anniversary Luau features a roasted pig, aloha welcome cocktail hour, full buffet dinner, fire dancers and authentic Tahitian and Hawaiian dance performances. VIP tickets for the event have sold out, General Admission tickets are still available on or Located at 5000 Roberts Lake Road in Rohnert Park, BRBC Lakeside offers award winning craft beers and delicious pub fare with a twist.

“We’re thrilled the Rohnert Park community has welcomed our Lakeside location with open arms. This luau celebration marks a successful year of crafting nationally recognized ales and serving mouthwatering dishes in a family-friendly environment,” said Tami Norgrove, Bear Republic Brewing Company Co-founder and Owner. “We look forward in continuing to deliver experiences worth celebrating with our latest craft brews, evolving menu and live events.”

BRBC Lakeside opened in August 21, 2017, the location includes a 10-barrel brewing system, a full bar offering house and beer cocktails, a stage, a kids play area, and an adult games area. A large outdoor dining area overlooks Roberts Lake flanked by palm trees. The kitchen serves pizzas along with classic Bear Republic dishes.

Established over twenty years ago, Bear Republic Brewing Company has expanded from a small brewery in downtown Healdsburg, CA into distribution markets all over the country. Bear Republic is the 42nd largest craft brewery in the United States and employs more than 220 people. The company operates two brewpub locations, a production brewery, and shipping warehouse. Bear Republic maintains a sense of loyalty and tradition from eras gone by with a constantly growing portfolio of craft beers.

© Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge, 2018. All content is owned and uniquely created by Bryan J. Kolesar. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Kolesar is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, images, and links may be used with advance permission granted and only provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Contact Kolesar at

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Happening at Yards. Beer. Party. Run. Drink. Run. Jam. Beer.

This isn't so much a press release as it is a forwarding of an e-mail I received since I'm signed up to run the 5000 Yards Dash on Sunday, October 14. I did it two years ago for the inaugural race when it was held on the flat and fast Delaware Avenue.

With Yards Brewery now located on Spring Garden Street and the race course going through Northern Liberties, I'm expecting just a touch slower with the introduction of some slight inclines along the way. Nonetheless, I'm confident it will be another fun event, this time hopefully minus the Nor'easter swirling, pounding rains and 20+mph sustained winds.

Here's the e-mail they sent.

Great news. In the next two weeks, there are two big parties for you at the Brewery.

1. Thursday Night, August 9 - In case you have not heard, Yards has been named Best Local Brewery in Philadelphia Magazine’s Best of Philly® 2018.

To celebrate, Yards is throwing a big, free party on Thursday at 6pm. First beer is on the house. Enjoy drink specials, live music in the warehouse from TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb, Hardwork Movement, and Marah, a limited edition lager on tap, and surprises throughout the night.

2. Save the date for the All City Summer Beer Run on August 16. (next week). Two of the best things about summer are getting outside to run and chilling over a beer with friends. So, we are teaming up again with Philly's running clubs to get together and celebrate this amazing running community. Best of all, $1 from every beer sold goes to Achilles!

We cannot wait to see you in October. Sign up now before it is too late.

Carl & Jon
* tag us in your social media #5000yardsdash

© Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge, 2018. All content is owned and uniquely created by Bryan J. Kolesar. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Kolesar is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, images, and links may be used with advance permission granted and only provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Contact Kolesar at

Pottstown United Brewing breathing more life into High Street

My formative years were spent being raised in Berks County with numerous activities (church, community events, music lessons, etc.) and both parents working in Pottstown, which was only ten minutes down the road from home. As a late-years teenager with a driver's license, I was known to "cruise High Street" on occasion, though that was never really my thing, more of a curiosity thing (honest, Mom!)

With exiting industry over the years, the city's condition of the 80s, 90s, and its future outlook was bleak. But there have been new signs that point to a gradual turnaround. Pottstown United Brewing has joined Henry's and Lily's as excellent food and drink destinations along High Street.

Steel River Playhouse, just a few doors down from PUB, hosts stage performances year-round. Nearby Memorial Park is home to the Trilogy BMX Park and also hosts the annual Pottstown Rumble, proclaimed the world's largest double's grass volleyball tournament. The Carousel at Pottstown is adjacent to the park.

And, the Schuylkill River Trail has a parking lot just a couple blocks south of High Street. If you follow the industry closely enough, you know that brewpubs are often on the leading edge of identifying neighborhoods poised for turnaround and growth.

PUB opened on June 6 as co-owner Steve Armstrong's follow-up to Armstrong Ales in Phoenixville. His partner, Adam Burke, owns Lily's Grill just a few blocks away and runs the PUB kitchen. I was engaged in non-beer business that evening (I know, right? how can that be during Philly Beer Week?!) and finally had a chance to visit PUB this past weekend for a quick one hour. But that was enough time to find some solid samples of Bitter, Kolsch, blueberry Berliner Weisse, Grisette, and West Coast IPA. Ah, a West Coast IPA. How recent was it that you'd never imagine having to encourage brewers to keep West Coast IPAs around?! Nice range of styles and ABVs.

Then, the food. Wish I could speak now to the food, but was on my way to a party. Spying the menu as well as fellow barstool jockey's plates, that was a mistake I'll need to rectify in the near-term. From the sandwiches to the platters to the fries, there seems to be something interesting, and just enough off the beaten path of usual brewpub selections (how about, e.g., poutine or scallops?), on the menu to satisfy most customer preferences, including the occasional vegan/veg option.

Atmosphere is comfortable with, rough guessing here, 15-20 bar seats and 25-30 table seats. Small stage for live music in the front and a fondness for soccer on the television above the bar, hence the name Pottstown United. On that, stay tuned for what Armstrong says could be future early morning events tied to live games overseas. Looking forward to more from these guys and tracking their success as they reach their steady state.

© Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge, 2018. All content is owned and uniquely created by Bryan J. Kolesar. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Kolesar is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, images, and links may be used with advance permission granted and only provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Contact Kolesar at

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Iron Hill in Center City Philadelphia scheduled to open in September 2018

Won't be long, I suppose, before the count of Iron Hill (IH) locations outnumbers the brewery's age in years. The 22-year-old Brewery & Restaurant is due to open #15 in September (exact date still TBA) with #16 hot on its heels at the center of everything in Hershey, Pa. (If you don't know everything going on in this part of Pennsylvania (and I mean beyond the brewing activity), you should really catch up during a few days in Hershey sometime soon.

But this is about Center City Philadelphia and its ambitious remaking of East Market Street. Iron Hill is putting its second city location (the other being in the northwestern neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, opened in 2012) on Market Street between 11th and 12th Streets facing the historic Reading Terminal Headhouse (where today's SEPTA Jefferson train station operates below ground; take note train-going beer seekers).

The full city block from Market to Chestnut Streets has been redeveloped over the past few years and, when finished, will include residential, hotel, and retail. Cutting between the buildings fronting Market Street and adjacent to Iron Hill's outdoor seating is a smartly placed pedestrian walkway which management says they will have access to for special events. Oh, that sounds ideal, does it not?

Inside, the restaurant and brewery will be one of the company's smaller footprints, given the location and physical constraints amongst the mixed-use development. The restaurant plans to present the same type of "scratch kitchen menu" available at other locations and the brewery (10-bbl) will be cranking out mostly seasonal and specialty beers with the house beers typically being produced and delivered from other larger IH locations. Josh Jastrzembski has command of the kitchen and Ben Schamberg will be taking on the brewing operations and falls under the regional brewing management of respected IH veteran Chris LaPierre. Jastrzembski has worked nearby at the Loews restaurants and Schamber comes from local brewing roots at Philadelphia Brewing and Nodding Head.

At the preview event held last week, familiar founding faces of IH ownership -- Kevin Davies, Mark Edelson, Kevin Finn -- introduced a new face, that of Kim Boerema. He comes to Iron Hill with a long career in the restaurant industry, opening more than 200 restaurants in over 30 years. He will hold the role of CEO, while Kevin Finn is taking the position of Chairman of the Board. Seems that they've positioned themselves, as they've continued to carefully through the years, to reach their goal of 20 locations by the year 2020.

I'll have more to share in early September as they begin to put the final polishing touches and do more previews and soft openings.

By the way, calling this Iron Hill's 15th location got me to thinking that it's been a while since I took an actual tally on brewing establishments within the city proper. When I wrote my book in 2014 and as it was published in 2015, there were between 5-8 breweries. Now, unless I'm missing any below, the city stands (for a few seconds, anyway) at 20 breweries. Iron Hill should be number 21 next month. Triple Bottom is due at some point in Love City's neighborhood and Don Russell recently reported in his e-mail newsletter two new breweries on the horizon for the Roxborough neighborhood -- one unnamed and one to be named Twisted Gingers -- plus one in South Philly for 2019 going by the name Cartesian Brewing. Have I missed any others? Oh, and unless I'm unaware that they've begun brewing, Roy-Pitz and Goose Island only count as taprooms/brewpub extensions of their production facilities located elsewhere outside the city.

  • Brewery ARS
  • Brewery Techne
  • Chestnut Hill
  • Crime & Punishment
  • Dock Street
  • Earth Bread + Brewery
  • Evil Genius
  • Fermentery Form
  • Fishtown Brewpub
  • Iron Hill (Chestnut Hill)
  • Love City
  • Manayunk
  • Philadelphia Brewing
  • Point Breeze
  • Saint Benjamin
  • Second District
  • 2nd Story
  • Urban Village
  • Wissahickon
  • Yards

© Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge, 2018. All content is owned and uniquely created by Bryan J. Kolesar. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Kolesar is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, images, and links may be used with advance permission granted and only provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Contact Kolesar at

Friday, August 03, 2018

Stone Brewing taking it one continent at a time

(Shanghai VIP Grand Opening - photo courtesy of Stone Brewing)

It's hard to keep up with these guys. I've been to Stone Brewing HQ in Escondido. Working on getting to Berlin. Napa? I should be able to in a few weeks. But, Shanghai's gonna take another level of effort. Fun to watch these guys grow and introduce their beer to the world. Here's the latest press release.

Stone Brewing Completes Famed Napa / Berlin / Shanghai Trifecta with Opening of Stone Brewing Tap Room – Shanghai

Three new locations on three continents in just three months fuels a global craft beer phenomenon 

ESCONDIDO, CA (July 26, 2018) – With winds in its sails, a whole lot of grit and z-e-r-o Big Beer investment, Stone Brewing marks an expansion milestone for U.S. craft beer this week. America’s 8th largest craft brewery opened three first-class craft beer destinations on three continents over three consecutive months. This trifecta of expansion around the globe celebrates the continued rise and appreciation for craft beer in far-flung markets. With pints held high, Stone Brewing proudly announces the opening of Stone Brewing Tap Room – Shanghai, preceded by Stone Brewing – Napa and the Berlin city center Stone Brewing Tap Room – Prenzlauer Berg.

“The promise of expansion seems to be an all-too-familiar excuse for selling out in craft beer, but we prefer to be the embodiment of the alternative,” explained Stone Brewing CEO Dominic Engels. “Our independence is what guarantees authentic experiences for our fans. It allows us to be nimble, creative and bold. By pioneering new geographies we’re leading the charge for independent craft beer and the sheer act of doing so is fueling our creativity and passion. We’re thoughtful in our growth, we’re focused in our execution, and you definitely haven’t seen the last of us.”

Stone Brewing Tap Room – Shanghai
The auspicious opening of Stone Brewing Tap Room - Shanghai this week marks the first tap room by an independent American craft brewery in China, and unabashedly raises the bar for craft beer in Asia.

To deliver a world-class beer experience Stone Brewing painstakingly designed the first uninterrupted cold chain delivery of US craft beer to China last year, and continues its tally of ‘firsts’ with the installation of a ‘flux capacitor tap system’ at the newly opened tap room. A first in Asia, this special manifold system is a principal example of elevating the craft beer experience, and allows for custom calibration of carbon dioxide and nitrogen mixes for each and every of the restaurant’s 30 beers on tap.

Stone’s meticulous approach to each beer’s delivery is indisputably matched by the environment surrounding it. Stone’s 3,200 square-foot bar and restaurant offers seating for 90 indoors and 28 in the additional 1,000 square-foot gardens. Floor to ceiling custom roll-up doors open the tap room to the outdoors on two sides. The interior incorporates reclaimed wood, concrete, steel and vintage furnishing, a main bar and an oversized fireplace lounge. The Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens food philosophy translates to Stone’s first Asia project, incorporating artisanal products with a focus on environmental responsibility and high-quality ingredients.

“Stone Brewing Tap Room – Shanghai is everything we set out to achieve, as it has the craft beer heart and soul we intended,” expressed Stone Brewing Executive Chairman & co-founder Greg Koch. “We’ve curated a selection of craft beers rivaled by none and designed an impeccable experience for enjoying them. This isn’t just about Stone beers either. It’s about global craft beer. These are destinations for those interested in craft to explore new things and experience the world’s very best just as they were intended to be enjoyed. We hope to inspire a more profound understanding of craft beer, raise the bar in appreciation for America’s craft brewers and, at the very least, brings our fans together over a pint of the good stuff.”

Stone Brewing – Napa
Last month Stone Brewing – Napa brought its renovated 1877 downtown Napa building to life in the heart of California’s wine country. The 9,500 square-foot restaurant and 10-barrel brewery offers locally-brewed beers, a dining experience, growler fills and merchandise. The Napa brewing program is led by Steve Gonzalez, Stone’s six-year veteran Small Batch Senior Manager of Brewing & Innovation. Fortuitously, Steve also had a former career as a winemaker, making him uniquely qualified to bring together the two industries in distinct and special ways. This will manifest itself in brewing techniques that include wine-barrel aging, beer recipes that include wine grapes, as well as interesting botanicals from the region’s diverse ecology.

Stone Brewing Tap Room – Prenzlauer Berg
In mid-May, Stone Brewing Tap Room – Prenzlauer Berg opened in the Berlin city center, 53 minutes by bike from the brewery and Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Berlin. The 1,000 square-foot outpost offers popular bistro menu items alongside international street foods. The destination takes inspiration from the expansive Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Berlin, with a more intimate approach in a bustling and vibrant neighborhood known for its outdoor Mauerpark Market. In usual Stone fashion, multiple taps are dedicated to international guest beers, making it another authentic destination for the craft beer adventurer.

With the addition of these three new locations, Stone’s unique venues now total 11 in number. Like-minded in approach, each exists to elevate the craft beer experience while creating an environment that fosters togetherness and affinity for the art of craft. The spirit and philosophy of Stone guides every project, but each is exclusive to its own surroundings, building’s character and local community.

And speaking of that spirit and philosophy of Stone, did we mention we did it all without the help of Big Beer? Founders Steve Wagner and Greg Koch retain full Board control of the company to this day, ensuring that the company stays true to its ethos and ideals of the past 22 years!

Stone Brewing Tap Room — Shanghai

  • Address: Number 1107 Yu Yuan Road, Changning District, Shanghai China
  • Opening Date: July 26, 2018
  • Website:
  • Social Media: WeChat: StoneBrewing

Stone Brewing – Napa

  • Address: 930 3rd St. Napa, CA 94559
  • Opening Date: June 6, 2018
  • Website:
  • Social Media: @StoneNapa

Stone Brewing Tap Room – Prenzlauer Berg

© Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge, 2018. All content is owned and uniquely created by Bryan J. Kolesar. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Kolesar is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, images, and links may be used with advance permission granted and only provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan J. Kolesar and The Brew Lounge with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Contact Kolesar at

Thursday, August 02, 2018

PA Beer from Home to Lancaster to Harrisburg...and back. (Or: 190 miles, 6 breweries, 12 hours.)

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise; it ain't easy keeping up with the PA brewing scene. Even as the columnist covering it for Ale Street News. The country has somewhere in the vicinity of 7,000 brewing establishments. Pennsylvania? Something north of 300.

When asked to speak about the book I wrote back in 2014 about the beer scene of PA, NJ, MD, and DE, I throw out some statistics right up front. I visited 369 establishments (breweries, bars, and homebrew shops) connected by 9,444 miles of drive-time.

So why do I so rarely anymore go out for a day long excursion (or weekend long) to discover all that's new out there in the great wide beer world? Dunno, good question.

But that's exactly what I did do last weekend. 190 miles, 6 breweries, 12 hours. Here's a quick rundown.

Mad Chef Craft Brewing, in East Petersburg, PA
   It was their 3rd anniversary shindig and that had no bearing on my visit. At least not initially. When I was spec-ing out the trip and potential stops, these guys were high up on my list. Always are when in the Lancaster area. I refer peeople here who are looking for great food, even if not great beer too. Their beer game took a step up in the world when they were recognized with a silver medal at the World Beer Cup back in May for the Mr. Dynamite in the American Brown category. My first chance to have it since then and was not disappointed at all, i.e. not overly "Americanized". The Anniversaberry Sour was a big fruit-forward, easy-drinking raspberry sour. Can't go wrong either with the Dry Irish Stout, All Up In Your Hibiscus, or Vienna Lager. Or the Cuban sandwich. Or the free hot dogs and hamburgers. Or the frites and dipping aiolis. Ah, the frites. In the upper tier of frites, seriously. These guys, their staff, their place, all first rate.

Cox Brewing Company, in Elizabethtown, PA
   Over the river and through the woods. Or maybe for these guys it's more like over the hill, through the train track tunnel, around the bend, into the crushed stone parking lot, and next to the deer processing plant. It's not that Google Maps won't take you right to the doorstep. It's just the first reaction is something like: Is this really where it is? Then you saddle up to the tasting room bar (or stand, if it's capacity crowd as it was on this particular rainy Saturday afternoon) and you get pulled right into the friendly crowd of both staff and customers. The full operation (i.e. small) is on display in this bare bones setup. But the lineup of beers (a dozen draft lines) is anything but bare bones. This veteran-operated brewery (where each tap handle, as well as growler neck, is adorned with a dog tag) has a nice diversity of styles on tap and my short visit revealed decent beers in everything from the core brands, for example the Liberty Lager and CH-47 IPA, to the more flavor-adventurous such as Coffee Pale Ale and SR-71 Imperial Stout. Unfortunately, a schedule had to be kept, so I grabbed some complimentary peanuts and pretzels off the bar and headed up into E-town.

Moo-Duck Brewing Company, in Elizabethtown, PA
   There are three brewing establishments in E-town (short for Elizabethtown). I've been to them all now that I visited Cox (the other being Funk, an outpost for the Emmaus-based brewery). Who knows, there could be three more by now, but I think I'm safe at least for the time being. Been to Moo-Duck before which is conveniently just mere steps from the Elizabethtown Amtrak train station. They say they do a pretty nice business off the comings and goings of local commuters. Another 12 beers available here, on draft and in crowlers to go, with the average ABV, if you exclude the Imperial Coffee Milk Stout, at a very nice 5.25%. Half an hour up the road in to Harrisburg to the next stop.

Zeroday Brewing Company, in Harrisburg, PA
   I've met Brandalynn Armstrong, owner of Zeroday, several times over the last couple years and have given her my tired ol' "gonna get out to see you sometime soon in Harrisburg". Well, that day finally came. Good thing, too, because my free time, particularly free weekends, is looking pretty desperate until much later in the fall. Wanted to do more in the state capital, but too much driving and too many other stops said otherwise. But, glad to finally made it to Zeroday. Arrived in time to see the Saturday afternoon crowd thin out and then pick back up for the evening. Armstrong says there's a new, more comprehensive food menu coming, but we were more than satisfied with the heaping bowl of Lebanon Bologna and Cheddar cheese cubes atop a bed of pretzel nuggets. And a giant pickle on a stick. Most certainly the first time that string of words has been found here on The Brew Lounge. The beers catching my attention from amongst 15 on the list were the Mango Hab (great balance of heat; noticeable but not palate-blasting), Firehouse IPA (yay for West Coast IPAs; whoever thought we'd have to cheer to keep them around?!), and Margarita Fever (what can I say, this salty sour was a great way to break up a day of malt and hops). If I wasn't driving, the Triple IPA (12.4%) had my name on it. The rotating artwork series on the brewery walls is pretty amazing as is their space in the nearby Broad Street Market. Well, at least I hear it is. Last time I was at the market, there was no beer stand. Now, Zeroday is there selling beers to go with the vendors' meats, cheeses, and produce. Need to get there before closing next time. Oh, did I forget to mention the wall-mounted Randall? Nice, unique touch.

St. Boniface Brewing Company, in Ephrata, PA
   I haven't been to St. Boniface in probably close to three years. My how they've dressed the place up. Old days, it was a tasting room with, iirc, a stainless steel table, some taps, and a ragtag collection of tables and chairs. Maybe even a jockey box? I might be a bit foggy on that last point. Doesn't matter; the past is the past. And here in the future (er, the present), the brewery is open until 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and serve up pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, and desserts from a small corner kitchen behind the bar. And judging from this mid-evening visit, the locals love it. And how couldn't they? 16 of their own drafts plus 2 guests. I could've done more to wander out of my comfort zone, but when fresh Paideia Pale Ale presents itself (as it has in my kegerator at home), it's a pretty darn good place to start. Then, the Best of Both Brews Coffee IPA was a solid next step. No interest in food at this point, so will have to save judgement on the pizza for some other time. But, all-in-all, happy to finally get here and see the nice work they've done with the design and decor of the tasting room.

Suburban Brewing Company, in Honeybrook, PA
   St. Boniface is on Route 322. Suburban is also on Route 322, oh just about 20 miles away to the southeast. Plus, it was "on the way home" so, duh, I suppose? No, really, it was. Another brewery where I've told the owners: Yup, I'll be stopping by any day now. Uh, how about a Saturday night around 10 p.m.? On one hand, not the most ideal time for a first visit. On another hand, the perfect time. Get a chance to see the fun 'n' games of a Saturday night crowd. These guys definitely deserve another look from me. Maybe during the day; maybe for longer than an hour (or two beers, depending upon how time is measured). But they had me hooked on the English Brown Ale. Like I said earlier, sticking more true to its style roots and not too "Americanized". These guys, if you aren't aware, are the brewing side of Suburban Restaurant and Beer Garden in the Eagleview Town Center just of the PA Turnpike in Exton (more like Lionville or Eagle, but let's not quibble).

I've got some more day/weekend road trips in mind to catch up more around eastern Pennsylvania. One idea is the Lehigh Valley/Poconos. You know, from Emmaus to Allentown to Bethlehem to Hellertown and then up into the Poconos.

The other goes back to my Harrisburg comment, thinking about checking out some of what's happening in Harrisburg, Camp Hill, and Carlisle. Plus a York to Hanover (or vice versa) crawl. Like, did you know that Hanover now has four, count 'em 4, brewing establishments?

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