PALMYRA TWP. (Wayne) - A business that evolved from pots and pans on their stovetop, has led two siblings from Sullivan County New York to create a brewery in the Lake Region.
Becky Ryman and her brother Chris are working to open the Wallenpaupack Brewing Company by the end of August.
Since the building appears nearly complete and interest in the community is apparent, The News Eagle was given a tour of the 20-barrel brew house July 25.
At the brewery side of the facility, the “intention” Becky who is a CPA said is to keg and then, bottling so the beer can go out for distribution. As a 20-barrel brew house, every time the company brews, 20 barrels of beer can be made. That, Becky calculated to be approximately 600 gallons or 40 kegs.
Once brewed, the “magic happens” in their fermenters where the alcohol is then created Becky explained. As part of the “brewing system,” sugar water is made and added to yeast, which then produces alcohol in the fermenters. The Wallenpaupack Brewing Company started brewing their first batch of beer July 25.
Since fermentation times vary for different beers, starting as soon as possible to get production going was necessary Becky said, especially as events such as Wally Lake Fest aren’t too far away.
Looking at the large tanks in the facility, Becky laughed and recalled how the largest batch she was able to make at home with pots and pans on her stovetop was 10 gallons. Now, with the proper equipment within four hours, 20 barrels can be brewed.
In addition to the brewery, there will be a pub, where freshly made beers will be served from a beer cooler as well as kegs and brite tanks. The idea, Becky said, is that the company’s own year-round “flagship style” beers will be available at some point.
To go with the seasons, the flagship beer may change every three months as well as the style of food to celebrate the seasons Becky said. There will also be merchandise that’ll include: clothing, branded items such as pint glasses, growlers and more.
Eventually there will be tours where people can smell the aroma of the malt and ask questions while seeing “where all the magic happens” Becky said. Although a lot of work is complete in the brewery, work remains largely in the brewpub. With exposed ducts and wood features, Becky expects that will “soften” the brewery with bluestone countertops to give a “local natural outdoors feel.”
Working with Kiley Associates, Becky designed the facility to be a “little different” as she insists on the Wallenpaupack Brewing Company be a “brewpub” where there won’t be any wait staff and people will order their foods at the counter, and have a drink while waiting for their food.
Becky expects the setting to be “enjoyable” for families because they don’t have to go near the bar if they choose she said. As well, beers can be purchased to go from the growler machine that will have fresh cans of beer or glass jugs. By having the to-go option, Becky believes it gives customers an option to take the drinks while on the boat or camping to “honor and celebrate the seasons.” With the region quieting down in the fall, the siblings want to “bring some focus to the off seasons” by offering darker beers, such as stouts that are “a little more hardy” she said.
Having a second home in the region for a while, as well as visiting the area for years with a boat on the lake, seeing the dilapidated Arby’s building sit vacant was unpleasant for the Rymans as they like “progress” Becky said. And so, after seeing the success a cousin has had with their own brewery in Florida, and a desire to offer the community something, the Rymans realized what was meant to be as “beer is a great compliment” to activities that occur in the Lake Region.
Her family, Becky said has a “track record” of progress as her parents own LP Cylinder Service as well as rental properties and their new business will be an “improvement for the community.”
The support of Palmyra Township and the community has been “phenomenal” Becky said, which is demonstrated in how well everything has moved forward. In a matter of 90 days, from when the Arby’s restaurant was demolished tanks were installed.
In preparation for growth, the brewery has been “sized for expansion” Becky said. And so, in the meantime there is open floor space as the idea is that eventually more brew tanks will be added. At some point, more fermenters are likely to allow for 40 to 60 barrels, which would double, possibly triple the batch. All of the equipment in the brewery was made in Wisconsin, and the aim is to “make quality consistent clean beer” Becky said.
As a team with her brother, Becky said she is more business focused and Chris is “operationally focused” as he is currently an operations manager at LP Cylinder, so they’ll bring their strengths to their new business.
The brewery will be a place for the community Becky said, which she feels is important and so, there will be an event room, as well as a stage for live music. There are plans for a tap of a month, where a nonprofit is featured and proceeds go to that cause. Being able to support local causes, Becky said is important to her.
The brewery, Becky believes “would complement the area and serve a need” as the pub offers an additional location for food. The township running the sewer line up the hill was a key reason the Rymans chose the location, after looking at several other sites.
CJ Penzone, who will be the head brewer at the Wallenpaupack Brewing Company, comes to the business from Tröegs in Hershey, which Becky said is the third largest brewery in the state. Penzone recently attended a brewing school to refresh his skills, as well as a craft brewers conference in the spring because “we’re always open to learning” Becky said.
Eventually, the Rymans would like their beer to be distributed throughout the state. To start though, 100 percent of their beers will come from their taps. While kegging will be happening in the building, it won’t be for distribution “right away” Becky said, so it can be consumed locally and then a distribution plan will be developed.
As for food, a menu hasn’t been set yet, in part because the chef started July 24. But, it will be a “fast casual style” with “shareable foods” that will include sandwiches, burgers and hand foods Becky explained. With Silver Birches and the Boathouse nearby, Becky feels the brewpub will have a different “style” since it won’t be a restaurant with a wait staff. Rather than being competition, she feels people “need good choices” and now, the Wallenpaupack Brewing Company brewpub will be an additional choice.
John Marchetti is the executive chef at the brewpub and most recently, he comes to the business from Slippery Rock, but he was at the Lodge at Woodloch at one time. Marchetti said he is “super excited” to get cooking for the brewpub as he plans to incorporate the “beautiful beers” into the foods that people will be familiar with, but will have a “little extra pizzazz!”
To ensure her staff is a team, as of July 25 neither the bartender nor kitchen staff had been hired, because the plan was to hire an executive chef and brewpub manager first, so they will hire their own staff and “build their own team” Becky said. All total, there will be 20 to 25 employees, some part time.
The bar won’t be traditional Becky said, because liquor won’t be served, instead there will be wine from a winery from the Lehigh Valley as well as beers from craft breweries. There will also be guest taps that will promote craft beers rather than the common commercial brands. The type of setting, Becky believes is more causal than what currently exists in the area.
For children, Becky said they would like to have many activities, such as being able to make soda and offer programs because they want to be a “family friendly place” as they are a family running the company.
Collaboration brews will happen with other breweries, because Penzone has an “amazing network of brewers” Becky said; as well, the brewery will partake in the Honesdale Beer Festival in September.
With so many styles of beers, Becky said it’s important that they don’t focus on just one and so, the hope is to be able to offer lots because it is possible to “get lost in beer” since “everyone adds their own local flavor.”
Although there are other breweries not too far away, Wallenpaupack Brewing Company will differ Becky said, because of the “size and scope of what we’re going after” as the idea is to one day be a “production brewery.” With “bigger dreams” the Wallenpaupack Brewing Company would like to one day be a “notable beer” in the state that brings “notoriety to the area.”
From the local businesses that have helped make the Wallenpaupack Brewing Company to come, to the public excitement, Becky said everyone’s support has been wonderful, and it has shown that the company is a part of a “very special community.”
As of yet, the Wallenpaupack Brewing Company’s website is under construction, but once ready it will be www.wallenpaupackbrewingco.com. There is a Facebook page though.
Opening this business, Becky called a “dream” for her and her brother who she feels are “very fortunate” to have parents that have supported their “crazy vision.” It’s crazy, because of the size of the plan. But, in the end, the reality is that the Wallenpaupack Brewing Company is a business, which means it is an investment that “we want to make it successful” and be “here for the long-term.” Although a brewery is a different kind of business for the siblings, and work still needs to be done, it must be remembered that, “there’s beer at the end of the rainbow” she said.