Friday, January 30, 2009

Breaker Brewing about to open

Another teeny-tiny brewery is about to pop in upstate Pennsylvania. Chris Miller and Mark Lehman are that close to opening their draft-only Breaker Brewing Company in Plains, Pennsylvania, just outside of Wilkes-Barre.

That's the brewery in the two pictures, and yeah, it's really that small. That's not the pilot brewery, it's a 1.5 bbl. production brewery. And yes, it's in what used to be Chris's garage.

It's "an out of control hobby," Chris told me. Obviously, these guys are not your ordinary homebrewers (not that there are many "ordinary homebrewers"...): when they decided to go to all-grain, it involved "a few trips to the scrap yard, hardware store and some fancy or... not so fancy fabrication," which led to a "2 tier 10 gallon brewery." Parts of that system were transplanted into the current production system.

Laugh if you want, but the system's been cleared by both the PLCB and the ATTTB, and local bars have already signed up to buy beer. What I liked about their paperwork was how they got the brewery past zoning. "We went door to door in my neighborhood and asked the neighbors if they minded if there was a small brewery near them. No one objected. [We] took that to the local zoning authority and they gave us the Okay." I love small towns. Especially beer-loving, reasonable small towns.

"Breaker Brewing" is a tribute to the anthracite mining heritage in the area; coal breakers were the big machines that cracked the coal into smaller chunks for burning in the furnaces that drove the Industrial Revolution in America. Coal mining's long gone up here, and left a legacy of pollution and scarred landscapes, but it's a source of local pride that the Wyoming Valley was once the heart of American industry.

The proposed beer names reflect that. The first out will be Anthracite Ale; not a stout as you might guess, but an amber in a roughly English style. Others planned include Olde King Coal Vanilla Stout, Goldies, a blond ale (Chris says the name has meaning, but we'll have to wait till their website is fully up; "shortly," Chris says), and my favorite name, Malty Maguire, a Scotch Ale. There are not any beers ready yet, but they hope to have them by the end of February. Check their website to see where the beers will be released.

Coming, NEPA, coming soon.
(And just in case anyone's keeping track...the magic number is two.)


Matt said...

10 years ago I worked for the long gone Full Sail brewery in Sydney and the owner originally brewed the beer in his Laundry with a high end stainless 3-tier homebrew system that got approval from his local council and the Australian Tax Department.

Its good to see more "Pico" Breweries around and its a good way to start a business from home.

Lew Bryson said...

I remember the Mystic brewpub outside of Reading, PA, which ran on a RIMS system: half a barrel at a time, all on a wheeled cart. There was a brewery I went to in Oklahoma City that used two large home water heaters as their hot liquor tank. You can definitely do it. The question is...can you make money at it?

Mike said...

It's really time for the area to have another brewpub. Since the demise of Black Rock, there's been a huge hole. Although I don't get up home all that much anymore, I want this to succeed terribly. My family deserves to drink well, too.

Ryan said...

That is exactly what I would love to do, and the money issue is the only reason I haven't tried yet. Do you how much beer they intend to produce?

Lew Bryson said...

Don't know how much, and I doubt these guys have quit their day jobs. I don't think the folks at De Dolle in Belgium did for quite a while, if they have yet. It'd be hard to say how much without knowing how much tankage they have.