American Blonde Ale: ABV 4.4%, IBU: 20
This American blonde ale is an easy drinking session beer. Straw yellow in color, this beer is malt forward highlighting the soft grainy American two-row barley and malted wheat characters. It is light and crisp, with a touch of Simcoe hops, and a frothy head that will surely make you Weak In The Knees.
The Story: American blonde ales are lightly flavored, low alcohol, easy drinking ales which made it a perfect choice for our first brew to calibrate our brewing equipment. On our very first brew day with our new system, we did a double brew; brewing Weak In The Knees and I Love Mary-Jane. During our Weak In The Knees brew, a fuse on the utility pole exploded, catching the pole on fire and shutting down our brew day until the local fire department and electric company cleared the scene!
To add to the excitement of this first brew Michael twisted his knee injuring his meniscus which later required surgery. At the same time Jason was awaiting surgery dates for a long list of injuries that include damaged ACL, meniscus, and other knee ligaments. Michael and Jason thought it was fitting to call this beer Weak In The Knees.
American blonde ales are typically not popular among IPA seekers as this style of beer is meant to have a clean, light, grainy malt forward character that is lower in alcohol. Despite this, Weak In The Knees has become a favorite beer of our clientele! We personally like to bring it on our outdoor adventures as it tastes delicious and is a refreshing drink after a long days’ play.
American Pale Ale: ABV 5.3%, IBU: 12
Easy drinking and refreshing; a Handy Little Fellow is a Pale Ale brewed with Simcoe, Idaho 7, Centennial and El Dorado Hops. Pilsner, Maris Otter and oats finish out the malt profile so drinkers experience delicate notes of citrus and floral.
New England Hazy IPA: ABV 6.2%
We live outdoors. Lucky for us the Appalachian Trail runs right through our hometown of Duncannon. This adventure beer is a nod to the Thru-Hikers we see trekking through town every year. Brewed with Pilsner Malt and Oats. Generously Hopped with Citra, Mosaic, and Amarillo for bursting notes of grapefruit and citrus. Enjoy at the summit or your other mountainbeering adventures.
Coffee & Cream Stout: ABV 7.0%, IBU 48
A robust coffee and cream stout brewed with Munich and Chocolate malts. Additions of Lactose add a creamy, smooth mouthfeel, while subtle undertones of chocolate accentuate the locally roasted coffee beans from Shermans Valley Coffee Company of New Bloomfield, PA.
The Story: In our early planning of the brewery we knew that we wanted to brew a 7.0% ABV coffee and cream stout with it being designed in a way to be a supportive pedestal to showcase the coffee. We wanted to have an exceptional coffee beer, and not a beer with coffee. We use German Munich malt as our base malt, plenty of brewers oats, lactose for the cream addition, and German Hallertau Magnum hops.
Next, we did as much research as we could on the topic of coffee, taking us down a journey back in time and all over the globe. With having an understanding of what we were looking for we talked with another Perry County business, Sherman’s Valley Coffee Company in New Bloomfield PA. There we met and with the owner Bruce Aguilar and sampled many coffee varieties from different locations, all with different roasting levels that Bruce personally roasts. We decided the coffee we wanted to use was Sumatra Mandheiling Coffee with a Vienna (dark) roast. This beer has been our number one seller.
Rotating Seasonal Brews
Fresh Wet Hopped Hopback IPA, ABV 7.4%, IBU 50
An unfiltered fresh/wet hopback IPA using Comet whole leaf hops fresh from the farm (row 2 to be exact!) at GEMS hops farm in Carlisle Pa. To be adventurous for this special once a year beer, we did a double decoction mash with a mix of our favorite malts, added generous amounts of fresh Comet hops in an extended hopback, then dry hopped with fresh partially dried 29% moisture hops.
The Story: Hop harvest season was quickly approaching and we knew that we wanted to brew a fresh/wet hopped IPA using Comet hops from GEMS hop farm (Carlisle, Pa). Seeing that brewers only get to brew fresh hop beers once a year during the hop harvest, we wanted to go the extra mile and add some extra bells and whistles to this beer. We designed a recipe using traditional German double decoction mash methods, and an extended hopback rest using our mash tun. The grains we used were: Maris Otter malt, Bohemian pilsner malt, North American pilsner malt, pale ale malt, white wheat malt, crystal 45°L malt, aromatic malt, and Oats
Michael Reifsnyder at GEMS keeps a strict eye on prime hop picking times, and when the time came for hop harvest he gave us a call. Jason went to GEMS to help harvest Comet hops from Row 2, then once harvest was complete he took the sack of freshly picked hops to the brewery to brew this IPA. Once fermentation was complete this IPA was dry hopped (or wet hopped) with GEMS Row 2 Comet hops that were partially dried to 29%. The final beer was 7.4% ABV with a clean malt profile, and 50 IBU of fresh hop deliciousness.
American IPA: ABV 5.0% IBU 35
This was a project beer to brew a hoppy red ale using Idaho 7 hops, Kalsec hop extracts, and GEMS hops farm (Carlisle Pa) Hop Hash made from Newport, Tahoma, Triple Pearl, Comet, Nugget, Cascade, and Chinook hops. This beer has a very clean balanced bitterness from the kettle hop extracts, a unique delicate floral hop aroma from the Hop Hash, post fermentation hop extracts and Idaho 7 hops.
The Story: We got some hop samples from Kalsec hop extract company and Hop Hash from GEMS hop farm (Carlisle Pa), and wanted to brew a specialty project beer with those items. Michael Reifsnyder at GEMS has an oast that he built to dry hops before putting them through the pelletier. GEMS processed their Newport, Tahoma, Triple Pearl, & Comet along with River Hill (Mount Wolf, Pa) Nugget, and Avery Mountain Bines & Twine (Tunkhannock Pa) Cascade and Chinook hops through the drying oust. As the hot air blows the hops around some of the lupulin falls out and collects in the oust. Lupulin is the yellow pollen within the hop cone that holds much of the bittering properties within hop. At the end of the 2020 hop season I was able to visit GEMS hop farm and collect the years Hop Hash to use in this project beer where we added it to the whirlpool.
For the Kalsec hop extracts we used Isolone (46.122) in the kettle for bittering, Hoprival Grandissimo (47.117) for hop flavor and aroma in the kettle, and Hoprival Classical (46.316) post fermentation for hop aroma. When using hop extracts it is recommended to use a small amount of traditional hops, whole or pellet, so we chose to use Idaho 7 for its outstanding hop aroma qualities.
Seeing that this beer is all about the hops, the base beer really didn’t matter as long as it was a clean malt character. We decided that this was a perfect beer to play with malts to adjust color with a red color target using 2 row malted barley, 3.5% crystal 80°L, and 0.869% roasted barley. We then fermentation this red ale with our neutral Nottingham English ale yeast strain. This is not your intense IPA but a great example and a window into the world of specialty hop ingredients.
Sweet Potato Pale Ale, ABV 6.5%, IBU 30
An Ale brewed with sweet potatoes (but you’ll never taste them!). Light, smooth, refreshing with a little sweetness added, this ale is brewed with sweet potatoes, whole leaf hops, and reduced gluten.
The Story: Jason designed a homebrew sweet potato pale ale recipe using slow oven roasted sweet potatoes that carmelizes the sugars, and his homegrown Cascade hops grown at his grandmother’s property in Linglestown Pa. When we decided to brew this recipe at the brewery, for the first batch we had enough homegrown Cascade whole leaf hops to use. For the mash we followed the original homebrew recipe and Michael got to do his first German style decoction mash. A decoction mash is when a portion of the main mash is transferred to the kettle where it is slowly heated, resting in multiple temperature stages before bringing the decoction mash to a boil.
The purpose of decoction mashes by the German brewers was to help ensure better enzyme activity by using multiple temperature increases. Boiling the mash helps participate calcium and magnesium from the grains which aids in proper mash pH, and provides a boost in calcium ions that help in yeast performance and provides a healthy fermentation. Also by boiling the mash it produces a maillard reaction creating melanoidins which are the toasted or browning flavors you get when you cook something.
Decoction mashes are rarely used in commercial settings due to the logistic difficulty in moving the thick mash and added time, so over the years maltsters have designed malts to mimic decoction mash. Because we got so much positive feedback for this beer it became a brewery Classic and we decided it would be best to use the Melanoidin malt vs decoction mash for full scale production.
Since the debut of It’s Beautiful And So Are You we have had many people who love sweet potatoes, and even more people that say they strongly dislike sweet potatoes, tell us that they absolutely love this pale ale.
Chocolate & Vanilla Stout: ABV 6.6%, IBU 48
A chocolate and vanilla stout brewed with Cocoa Nibs and Vanilla Beans. Additions of lactose add a creamy, smooth mouthfeel, with subtle tones of chocolate and vanilla.
The Story: We wanted to know what our Collapsed In The Corner would taste like using cacao nibs and vanilla beans instead of coffee. So far we have used Madagascar Bourbon, and Papua New Guinea vanilla beans.
BREWX Batch Series Vault
American IPA, ABV 7.1%
Our 2018 beer inspired by the final frontier, Destination Mars is our first beer in the BREWX Batch Series. Space Adventurers experience a galaxy of bright tropical fruits and a melody of berries.
Mission Log: Step mashing from 140°F to 154° F takes this beer from Launch Pad to Lift-Off. This Mission includes a no-hop 30 minute boil with 6 hops added to the 1 hour whirlpool – leaving IBUs unknown. Hot wort was used to create a Mosiac and El Dorado hop slurry, which was dosed into the fermenter for biotransformation. Double Dry Hopped with Mosaic and El Dorado.
Schwarzbier, ABV 5.3%, IBU 25
Brewed to commemorate the Pennsylvania Bucktails, the 13th Pennsylvania Reserve Regiment, an Infantry Regiment of the Union Army from 861-1864. B Company of the Pennsylvania Bucktails, formed in Perry County, drilled and mustered at the Clarks Ferry Tavern before embarking for Harrisburg’s Camp Curtin and the front lines. This Schwarzbier is a dark lager, smooth with hints of chocolate.
Beer For Good
American IPA, ABV 3.4%, IBU: 15
A historical colonial style ale known as the Pennsylvania Swankey is brewed with wheat bran, malted barley, molasses, and star anise to give the signature Swankey licorice character. Our version has been formulated to keep true to the historical style that was originally brewed in the 1800s by German Immigrants across Pennsylvania. This beer is a low alcoholic, highly bottle carbonated, table beer to refresh you through the day.
The Story: Michael came across an obscure beer style called Pennsylvania Swankey (Swankey with an E) that was made in the late 1800’s by German Immigrant farmers In Western Pennsylvania. By the turn of the century this rare beer style had almost been forgotten with a few mentions in old books and historical archives. Today there are less than a handful of craft breweries that have brewed this style with all of them being the brewers take on the style and no where close to historical accuracy. This was the spark that turned an idea into an adventure to recreate a local historical beer and to become the leading example of the Pennsylvania Swankey beer style.
We did much research including reaching out to many of the regional Pennsylvania historical societies, beer historians, Pennsylvania German Society, and visited libraries to gather as much information as we could to build a story and recipe.
What is a Pennsylvania Swankey? The Pennsylvania Swankey is a beer style that was brewed on a farm, usually by housewives in the normal daily tasks of preparing and cooking food.
It was intended to be a low alcoholic, highly carbonated beverage that was a summertime refreshment to be enjoyed by the farm workers during lunch time. This beer could be produced in the kitchen and ready within a day or two using common ingredients that were already on the farm and was meant to be drunk fresh. The methods to produce the Pennsylvania Swankey are similar to that of soda making or “root beer” beverages that the Pennsylvania German immigrants were known for.
This style uses wheat bran, malted barley, molasses, star anise (or Alehoof, aka Creeping Charlie) which gives the signature Swankey licorice character, wildly grown (landrace variety) Cluster hops, and yeast. The yeast could be from commonly found English ale yeast used for brewing fast warmer temperature beers vs German cold lagers, however the majority of yeast used was common dried bread yeast that was on hand for baking purposes.
Due to the raw style, being low in alcohol, and crude kitchen methods used to produce this unique beer, the Pennsylvania Swankey was only made on the farms and never made it to the commercial brewery scale. As time went on, continuing into the 20th century, the quality and availability of mass produced products of every kind had slowly reduced the need to brew this lunchtime refreshment until it had stopped being produced all together.
With understanding the history, the raw ingredients that were commonly found on the farm, production process, and serving methods we felt that we could recreate this beer style. Knowing that to produce this beer on a commercial scale and be successful we had to make it drinkable with keeping as much of the historical aspects intact. We chose to use all traditional ingredients and decided to use our house yeast which happened to be an English ale yeast. For the star anise we used just a touch of if it to give a hint of the classic liquorice character without overdoing it and to make it balanced.
We named our Pennsylvania Swankey, Carks Ferry Swankey, after Duncannon’s Clarks Ferry Tavern which is the oldest building in Perry County. The Clarks Ferry Tavern is on the list of historical sites and is a part of our Beer For Good program that raises money with each purchase to restore the tavern.
A full article on the Pennsylvania Swankey beer style and our adventurously brewed story was featured in the December 2019 issue of Brew Your Own Magazine, written by brewer Jason Simmons. For Brew Your Own members here is a link to the article.
Winter Ale, ABV 11.35%, IBU 50
Benefiting the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. A big malt presence, both in body and flavor. The robust sweet maltiness, raisin malt character, and creamy body come from 10 Malts and Newport and Tahoma hops from GEMS hop farm in Carlisle, PA.
The Story: There we were at the 2020 Pennsylvania Farm Show giving presentations on homebrewing alongside GEMS hop farm (Carlisle Pa) and talking about all things hops. Michael Reifsnyder of GEMS and Clifford Lindgren both served in the Navy, so we wanted to brew a specialty beer for our Beer For Good program that would benefit the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
We knew that we wanted to brew a high-gravity winter warmer that was perfect for aging using GEMS hops and a blend of our favorite malts. We chose to use 10 grains which includes: Golden Promise malt, Maris Otter malt, 2 row malted barley, malted white wheat, Vienna malt, dark crystal 120°L, Aromatic malt, Munich malt, honey malt, and Golden Naked Oats.
Reifsnyder came out to the brewery on the farm for a long brew day where we did 2 mashes only sending the first runnings to the kettle where it was boiled for several hours. Michael brought over his Newport hops for bittering and Tahoma hops that we used in the whirlpool. This heavy malt forward 11.35% winter warmer is fermented with an English ale strain to showcase a clean malt profile with the complexity that matures handsomely over time. Packaged in 22 ounce bottles, each bottle was hand filled, capped, and hand labeled before waxing each bottle and stamping it with our logo.
With being such a big beer and a Navy collaboration benefiting the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, we wanted to make sure we had a suitable name to do it justice. Michael Lindgren told us a story of the first U.S Navy admiral named David Glasgow Farragut. Farragut was a respected man serving in Navy when the Civil War broke out. Being from Tennessee many questioned his loyalty serving as Union soldier, so he led several attacks on Southern military targets, with the most notable in August 1864 at the battle of Mobile Bay Alabama. . The confederate soldiers placed mines, also called torpedoes, all throughout Mobile Bay. When the first Union ship USS. Tecumseh struck a torpedo and sank it, the rest of the ships started to slow up and back off, with the exception of the USS Hartford led by Farragut. When questioned about the minefield Farragut shouted “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!”. His actions led to the victory of Mobile Bay, and put an end to any speculation of where Farragut’s loyalty lies.
“Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead!” has become the US Navy’s greatest quote of all time, and was a well suited name for this project beer. This adventure allowed us to make a fun specialty project beer that took us back in time on a history lesson, all while supporting a great cause.