Oct 01, 2020 10:47AM
By Linda Roller
It’s fall, and local bird watchers have been logging the migratory flights over our area as our summer friends head south for the winter. But here in Jersey Shore, we have a flock of new birds migrating in—and craft beer lovers couldn’t be happier. Bald Birds Brewing Company has found a home in an old manufacturing site at 220 Schaeffer Lane, and last month opened a taproom, event hall, and brewery.
Though the company is based in Audubon, down near Norristown, King of Prussia, and Valley Forge, the owners of this new-brew venture have strong ties to western Lycoming County. Abby Feerrar explains, “My husband, Joe, grew up in Jersey Shore. His family is here. When we heard about the building becoming available, it was the right thing at the right time. It’s been a rush!”
For Abby and Joe, a rush is an understatement. Everything has been coming thick and fast, but it wasn’t always that way. In the spring of 2017, they were ready to take the leap into owning their own business, and they wanted a brewery. But the banks offering Small Business Administration loans were not immediately receptive. The loan process was so drawn out and tortured that potential properties for the first brewery kept disappearing. When a loan application was rejected and they missed out on the sixth property they had looked at, it was hard to see a dream coming true. In the midst of all the worry and anxiousness about trying to get the funding and the place, they came home to a charming and encouraging sight—a robin had built a nest in the large wreath on their front door. When the robin laid four eggs, and the eggs then hatched, there were new lives to watch growing, all as they re-applied for funding and continued to look for the perfect place. Charming became the charm, as they finally found a great banking partner, a landlord who shared their vision, and a location with a lot of potential. Even the name of the town was perfect—Audubon.
The birds had found their roost.
In less than a year, Abby and Joe were ready to expand, this time into the Manayunk section of Philadelphia, with a taproom where bustling brewers with a growing reputation and an increasing tap list could serve even more people. If that wasn’t enough building and growing, the couple bought an old house in Newtown Square and renovated it. Top all this growing of a business and remodeling a home while raising a toddler, and a new baby born the week they opened the Audubon brewery, and you have two very busy birds.
But the Jersey Shore project just fell into place, and the grand opening on September 18 was within days of the second anniversary of the very first opening in Audubon. It was a big, grand, opening in every way. The brewing/production space is 80-90,000 square feet. Currently, the brewery has set up fifteen to twenty finishing tanks and two brewing systems. That allows Bald Birds to brew both small batches of specialty brews and also to brew larger batches. The large production space allows Bald Birds to produce a wide range of craft beers.
The tap list reflects this flexibility. Beer lovers can enjoy an IPA and a New England IPA, which have a different flavor and look. There is a pilsner, a cream ale, a pale ale, and a few lagers. There’s a fruity sour and an imperial stout. It’s an ambitious list, but, then, these Bald Birds like the challenge of producing a fine line of beer.
The Jersey Shore location is nicely suited for both a production brewery and taproom, with 150,000 square feet for the taproom and event space, in addition to the brewing area. Even with the pandemic restrictions of 25 to 50 percent occupancy, the building has enough space to accommodate folks safely, and outdoor seating available. The Feerrars used many of the elements from the original building and have designed a space that has an industrial/farmhouse feel. In the future, the event area will be available to host weddings and other celebrations/happenings for up to 400 people.
Gunzey’s Hot Sausage, known in the Jersey Shore area, is providing sandwiches and snacks to go with a tap list of a “baker’s dozen” brews. You can also bring your own food, as currently beer can only be served when food is available and visible on the table. There are six brews from the list available as four-packs to go. Oregon Hill wine and mixed drinks are also available.
For Bald Birds Brewing, the Octoberfest started early with the September opening, but the specials and celebration will last on through the fall. And craft beer lovers will likely be celebrating the migration of exceptional craft brewers to our local area long after the leaves fall and all the birds who head south are gone.
For more information and to check out the tap list, visit baldbirdsbrewing.com.