Burd's Nest brewers hope to stand out in Carlisle beer scene
Some of Dave Hamilton's first attempts at brewing beer blew up - literally.
The now 26-year-old aspiring entrepreneur took his first foray into craft brewing in college, when making his own beer was cheaper than buying it. Some of the first attempts, though, had too much alcohol, causing the glass containers they brewed in to shatter.
Hamilton, of Carlisle, has come a long way since those days, spending the past few years honing his hobby. Now he and fellow beer enthusiast Josh Hood hope to open their own craft brewery in the heart of Carlisle.
Burd's Nest Brewing Co. is slated to open this fall at 19 N. Hanover St. in the former Carlisle Arts Learning Center Building. The founders hope to offer 11 of their craft beers and a craft cider on-tap, as well as a simple food menu and family-friendly games.
If all goes as planned, they will join about four other craft breweries in the borough, most of which sprung up within the past several years.
Hamilton and Hood believe the borough's appetite for craft brews is enough to sustain all of them - although Burd's Nest hopes to stand out with a specialization in not-so-bitter IPAs.
"I think brewpubs are just something that are tremendously popular right now," Hood said. "I've never been in one that doesn't have a ton of people in it at almost any time they're opened."
What's a Burd's Nest?
"The name came from a friend's college apartment that was located on Burd Street in Shippensburg," Burd's Nest founder Dave Hamilton said in an FAQ sheet about the brewery. "My friend's wife was an art major and drew a picture of a 'burds' nest, and from that point on, everyone called it the Burd's Nest."
Statistics from The Brewers Association, a Colorado-based trade group, back up that hunch about the growing popularity of craft brews. Pennsylvania outranked every other state in the U.S. in terms of the number of barrels of craft beer produced in 2015. The number of craft brewers here has also skyrocketed recently, from 88 in 2011 to 178 in 2015.
Still, Hood and Hamilton have a long way to go before they can see their dreams come to fruition.
The duo founded Burd's Nest in 2013 after meeting through mutual acquaintances and bonding over their shared love for home brews. Hood, like Hamilton, has played with craft recipes for several years, working out of his home in Dickinson Township, Cumberland County.
A self-described "do-it-yourselfer" and owner of a small construction company, he especially enjoys experimenting with all the possible hop combinations in IPAs. He hopes to translate this interest into a hallmark of the new brewery by offering floral and citrusy brews that go beyond the bitter, piney taste that many people expect from an IPA.
He and Hamilton have shown off their beers at local events since forming Burd's Nest. They spent about a year developing their product, then another two searching for the right building to lease.
They chose the building on Carlisle Street this fall. Most of the 5,500-square-foot space will go to storage and production, Hamilton said. The rest will hold a rustic, industrial-themed tasting room decorated with scrap metal from Lancaster County's Full Circle Recycling and work from local artists.
With the space established, and federal licensing in-hand, Hamilton and Hood are now trying to finalize funding. They have backing from several investors, mostly family and acquaintances, but are still trying to find an institution willing to offer a loan. One attempt to obtain a Small Business Administration loan has already fallen short, they said, but they hope to have better luck with a bank that has local underwriters.
Hamilton will need to quit his full-time job to get the brewery off the ground, he said. Hood too plans to eventually back away from his company, where he is the sole employee.
Neither owner is afraid of making that leap.
"We're primed and ready to make all these things happen," Hood said. "It's just being smart and being safe and not pulling the trigger on things until we've got all our ducks in a row."