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Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. Tour

How Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. Converted the Remote Town of Hawley, Pennsylvania into Craft Beer Fans

Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. Tour

Lake Wallenpaupack in Hawley, Pennsylvania is a year-round destination for fishermen, hunters, boaters, hikers and outdoorsy folks that want to get away. The reservoir tucked in the Poconos offers an abundance of nature’s amenities. But until recently, there was one problem: no beer. Wallenpaupack is the second-largest reservoir in the state. The 52 miles of shoreline was left untouched by fermenters and brite tanks. Instead of craft beers, locals and vacationers stuck to $2 dive bar pints of Busch Light or filled their coolers with grocery store six-packs.

Rebecca Ryman seized the opportunity to open Wallenpaupack Brewing Co., the first brewery on the lake, in 2017. Ryman’s family owns a lake house in the area, and she’d been vacationing there from New York most of her life. She has a financial background but did her homework before opening. She learned the business from her cousin, who owns a brewery in Florida, learned how to homebrew, and then voila!

The brewery replaced an old run-down Arby’s, which surely no one complained about, but it took some evangelizing to get the residents on board with the beers.

Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. English Pale Mild Ale

The Beer

“When we initially opened up, there was some pushback,” said head brewer Logan Ackerley. The team had to convince locals to fork out an extra $3 for a craft pour when they were set in their Rolling Rock ways.

“We addressed that by producing approachable styles that people are used to drinking,” he said. “So, our flagship Paupack Cream Ale is just a nice, easy-drinking beer. Becky calls it a conversion beer.”

The gateway beer strategy worked. Ryman and her crew lured in a clientele with unsuspecting ales, leveled up to their other staples like the Largemouth IPA, Hawley Hefeweizen and English Pale Mild Ale (pictured above). Soon, regulars were hooked on the Grodziskie Polish-style smoked ales.

The Grodziskie was recently in rotation alongside other traditional styles. Yes, history is destined to repeat itself in Wallenpaupack’s taproom. Ackerley got his degree in history and that fondness for the past carried over into his beer tastes.

For instance, he recently toiled over a 19th-century Dutch-style Kuyt beer. The mash bill included 45 percent oat malts—an insane amount of oats that caused a lot of problems—with 25 percent wheat, and 30 percent pale malt.

“You opened the can and it smelled like oatmeal,” he said. It’s this rich, grainy, bready smell. It was like a bakery.” The 6 percent ABV Kuyt had a smooth, slick body from all those oats. It’s just too bad we’ll never get a chance to try it.

“It was a crazy way to brew. We probably couldn't replicate it,” Ackerley said.

wallenpaupack brewing co. tap handles

The brews from antiquity put the operations manager and salesman Sean O’Day to the test.

“Logan will come out with some historical style, and I am like, ‘But I don’t know how that is going to go out in the market. I don't even know what that is. How am I supposed to sell it?’” O’Day exclaimed quizzically.

The historical beers have done well in-house and in the eight surrounding counties they distribute to, but there are plenty other more contemporary options available as well.

Before Wallenpaupack Brewing Co., Ackerley brewed at a 10-barrel farmhouse brewery, Abandon Brewing Co. He also managed the 125-barrel system at now closed Saratoga Brewing. Saratoga piqued his interest in lagers.

“We do a lot of lagers here, largely because I love lager,” Ackerley said. “But I also love barrel-aged and wild stuff because of [my time at] Abandon.”

Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. consistently offers a seasonal IPA, a seasonal lager, a hazy IPA series, a new lager series, and many, many more. Ackerley puts his pride aside and brews beers he hates to make but people love to drink in a series called Logan’s Tears. He’s begrudgingly brewed styles like a cherry oat crisp and a gingerbread stout.

Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. interior with view of brewhouse

The Space

The fact that Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. aims to please is obvious in the beer, as well as the environment.

Natural light floods the 1400-square foot building, with beautiful views of the surrounding area. A giant glass wall separates the bar from the brewing space, so patrons get a clear sight of the towering, glimmering tanks.

In the brewhouse, the team recently added a centrifuge for longer-lasting storage. They run 40-barrel tanks for flagship and seasonal brews and a 20-barrel system for the rest. There’s a small mill room behind the tanks. And there is one giant barrel used for spent grain. A local farmer feeds all of his livestock with it. O’Day said the farmer prefers it because it has more protein compared to any other feed he can get from a feed store.

Connected to the restaurant area, a large outdoor patio allows people to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air. In wintertime and late fall, parties and families can rent an entire side of the patio for themselves.

They offer counter service with food delivered to the tables with classic appetizers like poutine and wings, burgers and sandwiches, including a roast beef sandwich, a nod to the former Arby’s. (R.I.P.)

Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. the wake zone

The team also recently opened a second location halfway around the reservoir called The Wake Zone (above). The family-friendly, entertainment-focused taproom has six golf and sports simulators for those who want to practice their golf game or play zombie dodgeball. 

With all it has to offer, Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. has become a community hub. It’s a place for people to pick up beers to-go before heading out on the lake and a refuge to end the day over warm food and a cold pint. It's safe to say Ackerley and the Wallenpaupack crew have successfully converted the community to craft beer fans.

“When I came in, and I saw what the beer scene was, I took it upon myself to educate and introduce people to what beer can be,” Ackerley said. “All beer drinkers have that moment where a light bulb goes off, and you’re like, ‘Wow, beer can be that.’”

Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. outdoor area

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