After a visit to the packed taproom of Philly’s Yards Brewing Company, we decided to make the short drive out to the northwestern suburb of Ardmore, PA and continue the rainy afternoon at Tired Hands Brewing Company. During our stop we were able to sample a few of the available beers and speak with co-owner Jean Broillet IV. The name Tired Hands was always what Jean called his homebrewing operation and serves as a nod to the “inevitable culmination of a hard day’s work”. The brewery functions under the label of a brew-café. Belgian and French farmhouse inspired beers crafted by the three brewer team in small batches, averaging about 12 kegs per brew, are served with a variety of charcuterie – meats, cheeses, and some sandwiches with breads made in house. The brewery values locally sourced ingredients, accomplishing this by partnering with about a dozen local farms to source its food.
While speaking with Jean, we learned that this project began about 10 years ago in his parents’ garage. His passion for beer flourished during college and he explored new beer styles, eventually coming to appreciate the storied farmhouse style. Following a 1st place win in a national homebrewing competition for his Belgian Saison, Jean began working at nearby Weyerbacher followed by a 5 year stint at the Westchester location of the popular Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant chain. It was during this experience that he fell in love with the brewpub model and felt it was time to pursue his own dream. Jean and the other owners, Julie Foster and Collin Ferrell, began purchasing equipment in the spring of 2010 and landed a location for the brewery on July, 1 2011. The building that now houses the brew-cafe previously served as offices for a physician downstairs and a chiropractor upstairs.
Tired Hands does not serve flights of their beer but does provide patrons with a variety of option in consuming the product. Draft selections can be purchased in pint, half pint, or 4oz tasters one at a time. Cask versions of beers are also available in the pint and half pint format. Specialty batches, often wine barrel aged beers, are bottled for small releases an average of every other month. Since opening, about 200 different types of beer have been created and Jean expanded that they are very interested in simple, dry, and expressive beers with a sense of “boundless experimentation”. While the tapped brews rotate frequently, the Saison Hands and Hop Hands pale ale serve as the primary house beers. Outside of these two house beers, the tap list upon our visit consisted of Beautiful Crystalline Structure honey saison brewed with red winter wheat and PA wildflower honey, Belew hoppy red ale which was also available in a cask version dry hopped with Matuku, Borgeb Double IPA, First Level IPA single hopped with Nelson Sauvin, The Warm and Supportive dark mild, and Perfectly Preserved Brain smoked barleywine utilizing cherrywood smoked malts.
During our conversation, Jean also shared some upcoming brews, many of which have likely been released since our visit: A collaboration IPA with Cellar Maker Brewing Company, Second level IPA single hopped with Galaxy, Powerstance Double IPA, Samurai Stuffed mixed fermentation saison, and Such Passion passion fruit IPA. Tired Hands has purchased a 13,000 sq. ft. warehouse which will be built out to serve as their production operation in order to better keep up with demand. The brew café will continue to operate to capacity while the production facility churns out popular batches on their 20 bbl brewhouse. Plans are to produce on a larger scale some of the beers that have struck a chord with the brewery’s patrons over the previous years. Hop Hands and Saison Hands will likely be recreated and, in addition, other beers tentatively making a reappearance include: We Are All Infinite Energy Vibrating at the Same Frequency wheat based IPA, The Light That Spills Out of the Hole in Your Head IPA with clementine zest and juice, Mago Tago Mango IPA, Sea of Green Double IPA, and HandFarm chardonnay barrel aged saison. Canning will also be in the works at the new location but that project will be quite a ways off.
The brew café currently offers a dark, cozy environment with bars both upstairs and downstairs. Unique artwork adorns the walls throughout, much of which was done by Jean. He shared that, as a small business owner, he feels it is important to be as involved as possible in owning every aspect and he even served as general contractor for the 11 month renovations prior to the brewery’s opening. They do not typically host events, preferring rather to remain open for daily business and available for their usual clientele. They love to work with the community, previously raising funds for a local animal shelter as well as a homeless shelter with more fundraisers coming up. Thank you very much to Jean for taking some time out of his Saturday afternoon to share his passion with us and to the Tired Hands staff for chatting with us.
Author: Brandon Wurtz