The "Odd" Bar
It's always, if not inevitable, that you are going to meet some resistance introducing something new to a stable environment. Growing up in the Pennsylvania Coal Region I knew nothing of craft beer, less that it was always considered bitter, which in turn was at that point a bad thing. In my late teens and early twenties if a beer wasn't light enough that I could drink 30 and still be standing I wanted no parts of it. I can still remember a cousin of mine giving me a Sierra Nevada Pale ale and thinking who would drink something like this. I had a particular fondness for an Amber Lager that is brewed about 25 miles from my house, not mentioning any names. I still hold allegiance to this brewery as they have been pumping out a damn good Wheat and Oktoberfest beer as of recent years.
In my mid-twenties, I had the opportunity to live in California. This was a major turning point in my beer drinking tastes. I can still remember the first beer I drank that turned me over to the light. Obsidian Stout by Deschutes Brewing. I don't know what it was about this beer, but I remember appreciating the chocolatey, toasty, malty, notes that came along with it. Something that made me say wow, a lot of thought and heart must have went into this beer. From that point on I was hooked. I tried every different brew I could get my hands on from West Coast Hop Bombs (Double IPA's) to farmhouse ales, to smoked beers, to Trappist Ales, to some beer with an alcohol content of 40+%. It was such a vast and tasty world that there was no turning back. What really caught me off guard was the fact that these breweries served their own beer onsite, and also that there were tons of bars in California that were dedicated to these handmade artisanal beers. This was something I had never seen before in Pennsylvania. Well eventually the inevitable happened and I returned home. Luckily by this point craft beer was slowly taking off in the PA Coal Region, my town had a bottle shop recently open that offered quite a range of good beer so I was content.
It wasn't until maybe 4 years ago that I started to notice in cities roughly the same size as mine that taprooms and brewpubs were opening up, yet it seemed like our town was stuck in a rut. This is when I started brainstorming on doing something different. I started doing a mental blueprint of what it would take to open a craft beer taproom in our area. How could I introduce an area that has been drowning in Macro lagers for decades, to craft beer? The taproom would be the only way. So at the beginning of this year (2015) my family had purchased an older commercial building to house a hardware store. We had some extra space and the rest is history. We started construction on our taproom in March. Our opening is slowly creeping upon us and with the feedback I am getting people in the area are excited and enthusiastic, considering the closest craft beer oriented establishment is about 35 miles away. My goal is not to force my ideas or opinions on any, but to hopefully introduce unfamiliar palates to a world of flavor. To help people really see and understand what goes into these artisanal ales and to bring some new life to an already struggling area. So what I ask is that when we open, branch out of your comfort zone and try something different, something that has been handcrafted not only with hands but with heart.