#114 – Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA

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(1) OUR EXPERIENCE

After spending the night camping at the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon on Easter Sunday, we made our way over to the original brewpub location of Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA. While there, we were able to sample 11 different Bullfrog beers of varying styles and chow down on some great & affordable lunch specials. The owner, Steve Koch, was kind enough to spend some time chatting with us about the past, present, and future state of the business, including details about their recently opened production facility, expansion plans, sour program, and upcoming beers. With the world’s largest outdoor portraiture mural on the outside of the building, it shouldn’t be hard for you to find this one-of-a-kind brewery when you make some time to go visit them!

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(2) VITAL INFORMATION

Date of our visit: Monday, 4/21/14
Open since: August, 1996
Approx. Barrel (bbl) Output 2013: 1,500 bbl total
Projected bbl Output 2014: 1,800 – 1,900 bbl total
Brewhouse size: 10 bbl
Owner(s): Steve Koch, Alicia Koch, Bob Koch, and others have some share
Head Brewer: Nate Saar (at brewpub)
Packaging: Kegs, bottles
Distribution: PA – limited

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Other things we learned:
* Brewpub we visited has been open almost 18 years; opened a production facility as second location about a year and a half ago
* Steve is from PA, spent time in the Seattle area, graduated Evergreen State College in Olympia, then moved back to PA and decided the area needed a brewery
* Bullfrogs are indigenous to the area; Steve liked them for that reason and because they’re jovial, fun-loving characters
* 10 bbl brewhouse at both brewpub and production facility, but production has larger fermenters
* 50 bbl of fermentation space at brewpub; 120 bbl of fermentation space at production facility
* Already preparing beers for their 20th anniversary, which is 2 years away
* Tuesdays are Quizzo nights; Wednesdays are local jazz nights; Sunday Brunch and Jazz Workshop on Sundays
* Growing some food on the roof, including some peppers they use in their beer Roky
* Mill in from the basement
* Building used to be an antique shop
* Having “Bullfrog Brunch” with 10 sours at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia this Sunday, Jun 1, 2014 – Get tickets here

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(3) BEERS WE TASTED DURING OUR VISIT

* Billtown Blonde
* Edgar IPA
* Stout Shine
* Stout
* Funny Farm House Cider
* Pomme Par Jour
* Roky (w/ hot peppers)
* Anton
* That Red Ale
* Farmhouse Strawberry Brown
* Le Roar Grrz Druiven
* Complete listing of beers

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Other notes about their beer:

* Edgar IPA has a cult following
* Highly experimental; always mixing it up/ trying new things; no true year-rounds
* Belgian-inspired brewery and specialize in barrel-age style beers
* Releasing 3 limited variants of Le Roar Grrrz (hand-bottled/ cork & caged Champagne bottles) on Saturday June 14th: Grrrz, Grrrz Kriek, and Grrrz Druiven
* Have a house yeast strain that started as a mix between a biere de garde, bret, and wild lambic yeast captured from bottles
* Roky is named after Roger Kynard “Roky” Erickson – an American singer, songwriter, harmonica player, and guitarist from Texas
* Released a Pineapple IPA called Upsidedown PIPA between the time of our visit and now

(4) EXPANSION PLANS

* Get more tanks/ kegs
* Hire a new brewer
* Expand into State College, PA

(5) BACKGROUND OF PEOPLE WE SPOKE TO

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[Haggis, Steve, Me]

Name: Steve Koch
Title: Owner/ GM
Been with company since: 1996
Previous Brewing Experience: Homebrewer
Previous Occupation(s): Restaurant industry
Favorite Superhero: The Shoveler

(6) MORE LINKS ABOUT BREWERY

* Main Website
* Events Calendar
* Food Menus

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

Author: Michael Roberts

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