Tucked away off Wertzville Road in Hampden Township is a little oasis known as Al’s of Hampden, a small pizza shop that would help drive the mix-a-six trend and give local beer enthusiasts another option to sample those one-of-kind microbrews.
But tucked away off Wertzville Road in Hampden Township was a little oasis known as Al’s of Hampden, a small pizza shop that would help drive the mix-a-six trend and give local beer enthusiasts another option to sample those one-of-kind microbrews.
“We started with six taps and then grew to 14 and then 24,” said Al Kominski, a Hazleton native who founded what he calls a “hole-in-the-wall” pizza shop in 2002.
Kominski jumped into the craft beer craze with both feet in 2008 as a way to grow his business.
In addition to the beer taps, which are constantly cycling through various beer labels, Al’s has become a buffet of bottled options — both warm and cold — for customers. The pizza shop sells about 350 varieties of beer, and Kominski is always on the lookout for more.
“I get requests all the time,” Kominski said.
That’s part of the problem. For starters, the Valley Road restaurant’s tight quarters make it tough to find room for any more beer.
And with growing competition from other restaurants in the area, cases and kegs of those nontraditional beers are harder to come by, Kominski said.
The latter led to the creation of Pizza Boy Brewing in 2011, an in-house label Kominski started for his own line of beer.
“I didn’t want to be (solely) reliant on beer distributors,” he said.
With certain brands, he was only able to get a case or two, which doesn’t meet high customer demands in a growing area.