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.
Thimble Island Brewing Company was founded in 2010 by two longtime friends and CT shore natives, Mike Fawcett and Justin Gargano. The two had spent some time brewing out of a converted garage but soon realized that they would need to upgrade to larger equipment and purchase a facility in order to make their dream a success. Knowing that they are very busy on days when they are not open for public tastings, we were sincerely grateful that the guys opened up their doors to chat with us and share their story. They began distribution in July of 2012 with solely their American Ale, a tasty amber of which they are quite proud. Mike shared that the Coffee Stout was introduced after about six months and, due to its popularity and his desire to drink it at anytime in the year, was added to the year round offerings. Finally, their IPA featuring Cascade, Northern Brewer, and Falconer’s Flight hops was added around the one year anniversary.
Now approaching the end of their second full year of operation, Thimble Island has quite a lot going on. In addition to a large expansion into a new space nearby with a new 30 bbl brewery and upgraded bottling line, the brewing schedule is packed. The plans are to release four different seasonal beers as well as four additional beers staggered within each season under their Uncharted series. More information on that schedule can be found below but we were able to sample some of the Sandbar Brown as well as the huge, Citra inspired Ghost Island Double IPA. Make sure to pay these friendly guys a visit during open house hours for free samples of their year round and available seasonal beers and, if elsewhere in Connecticut, keep an eye out for new beers on shelves in six packs.
While cousins and co-owners, Augie and Chris Carton, and head brewer, Jessie Ferguson, were away at the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, we were thankful that the remaining staff was able to meet with us to share their knowledge of Carton Brewing Company. We started off in the tasting room where Rebecca Flynn was finishing up her last week with the company and training her replacement, Kelsey Stahl. Rebecca and Kelsey gave us a detailed rundown on the unique brews coming out of the tippy, the brewery’s pilot system, as well as the established rotation of beers. It was clear from the beginning that Carton does things on their own terms with a one of a kind approach to creating beers. The Cartons opened the business with an great appreciation for food and much of the beers brewed here draw inspiration from food or are meant to pair well with a fine meal. You won’t find much for standard styles in the taproom. Instead, Boat Beer, GORP, Carton of Milk, and B.D.G. (Brunch. Dinner. Grup) filled the tap lines.
Following our introduction to the Carton beers, we made our way downstairs and chatted with Brewers Jeremy Watts and Doug Phillips, a.k.a Phresh. They showed us the brewing facilities as well as the impressive barrel aging cellar. It’s obvious that Carton Brewing has a lot to add to the growing conversation in New Jersey craft beer. The staff is incredibly friendly and take great pride in the product. The brewery is located less than half a mile from the bay and makes for a great day trip with convenient access from NYC by ferry. Tours and tastings are offered Thurs and Friday evening as well as afternoons on the weekend. Definitely stop by to sample some of these inventive beers, make new friends, and fill up a growler for later.
On the morning of 4/5/14 we ate breakfast at a café across from the Pennsylvania state capitol then proceeded to travel east to the city of Easton, bordering the Delaware River and New Jersey. Our draw to Easton was, of course, the local brewery, one that has made quite a name for itself over the last nineteen years of operation in PA. Weyerbacher Brewing Company was established in August 1995 by Dan and Sue Weirback in an Easton livery stable. The brewery’s name comes from the original spelling of the couple’s last name, which had been morphed over the years following immigration from Germany. Dan had been passionate about homebrewing and, after visiting another brewery in Vermont, Sue suggested that they look into starting their own business. Originally the concept was to make some standard styles however the couple soon thought, what are we doing that is different? By 1997 they had begun adopting the philosophy “Set Yourself Apart” (now the company slogan), doing so by making big, full-flavored beers. The following year they added a kitchen to feed the growing volume of visitors but, when the lease ran up in 2001, they chose to move to a larger location and focus solely on brewing.