#113 – Breaker Brewing Company in Wilkes-Barre, PA

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(1) THE BREWERY & OUR EXPERIENCE

Our visit to Breaker Brewing Company in central Pennsylvania was on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We were thankful that day to get some time to speak with founders, Chris Miller and Mark Lehman, who were busy behind the scenes brewing their seasonal coconut saison, Quiet Canary. The two are longtime homebrewers who have built the business with a passionate, hands on approach and share most of the brewery duties. They began brewing and distributing out of a garage but have steadily increased production and capacity with new equipment. The new facility is in the old St. Joseph’s Monastery and School buildings and the public space is aptly decorated with artifacts reminiscent of the mining town’s roots. The brewery’s name and many of their beers reference the deep history in anthracite coal mining. The tasting room has been open since April of 2013, however, they only recently received a brew pub licence which allows them to offer full pours, rather than strictly samples, with the addition of food options.

Following our arrival, patrons filed in the tasting room to sample beers with lunch as well as to fill up growlers of their favorite suds to enjoy the afternoon in the sun. Breaker Brewing Co. is regularly crafting creative new beers. On top of quaff-able staples, they experiment frequently with different additions of fruits and even peppers as displayed in their well balanced Minefire Blackberry Jalapeno Ale. There is even a list on the wall detailing ideas that are being explored that may end up as future brews. Be sure to stop by the taproom to enjoy some food, beer, and new friends on the coming patio which will certainly take advantage of their hilltop placement for an excellent view of the city.

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(2) VITAL INFORMATION

Date of our visit: Saturday, 04/19/2014
Open since: In 2009 they received brewing licence and have been in new facility w/ tasting room since April 2013
Approx. Barrel (bbl) Output 2013: 150 bbl
Projected bbl Output 2014: 300-400 bbl
Brewhouse size: 3 1/2 bbl
Founder(s): Chris Miller & Mark Lehman
Head Brewer: Chris Miller & Mark Lehman
Packaging: Kegs and limited bottles
Distribution: 15+ accounts in Wilkes-Barre Twp/Scranton, PA area

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Other things we learned:

* Mark and Chris have been friends since 1990 and have worked for a telecommunications company for 15 years. They have been homebrewing since together since 2005.
* The two started the business in 2009 on a 1 1/2 bbl system, distributing out of the garage.
* Wilkes-Barre Township is a coal mining town and much of that is represented in the beer names/themes. Also, the name, Breaker Brewing, pays homage to the coal breakers common to the area.
* The brewery property is 2.5 acres, previously St. Joseph’s Monastery & School. They are currently operating out of the school and have plenty of room to expand next door into the church facilities.
* Plans to expand taproom hours and start doing events as space is expanded.
* Have a kitchen with pub fare – hot dogs, pizza, homemade chips, pretzels w/ Lunch Pale Ale cheese dip. They also carry Reading Draft Sodas and coffee by Grateful Roast Coffee Co.
* 8 small batch fermenters to keep variety on tap at all times.
* Limited bottling, all by hand.

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(3) BEERS AVAILABLE DURING OUR VISIT

# = Year Round; $ = Seasonal, * = Specialty/Limited Release
# Coal Cracker ESB
# 5 Whistle Wheat Ale
# Lunch Pail Ale
# I Love PA
$ Black Mariah Strong Ale
* Mule Driver Mango IPA
* Blasting Cap Coffee IPA
$ Minefire Blackberry Jalapeno Ale

* Year round beers
* Seasonal beers
* Beers currently on tap

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What we learned about their beer during our visit:

* Started the business with Anthracite Ale, King Coal Stout, Malty McGuire, and Goldy’s Blonde ale. The current best seller is the Lunch Pail Ale.
* Continuing to experiment frequently and let taproom demand drive beers.
* They are big IPA fans and brew a White IPA, Black Diamond Black IPA, Mango IPA, I heart PA, Coffee IPA, and single hopped beers (Columbus and Zythos to date).
* Brewing the seasonal Quiet Canary coconut saison on the day of our visit. Other seasonal beers not on tap during our stop include Laurel Line Lemongrass Ale, 16 Ton Double IPA, and Belsnikler Ale – Winter Warmer.

(4) EXPANSION PLANS

Open up a beer garden between the two buildings on property and a deck overlooking the town. Eventually upgrade to 10-15 bbl brewing system.

(5) BACKGROUND OF PEOPLE WE SPOKE WITH

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[L-R: Me, Mark, Chris, Michael]

Name: Chris Miller
Title: Founder
Previous Brewing Experience: Homebrewing
Previous Occupation(s): Network Engineer
Favorite Superhero: Batman

Name: Mark Lehman
Title: Founder
Previous Brewing Experience: Homebrewing
Previous Occupation(s): Systems Engineer
Favorite Superhero: Superman

(6) MORE LINKS ABOUT BREWERY

* Brewery Website

(7) You can find the rest of our photos here

Author: Brandon Wurtz

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