A new small-batch brewery that will specialize in sour and farmhouse-style ales could open in Cumberland County in early 2018, the latest local business looking to enter the growing craft beer industry.
Matt Miller, a longtime homebrewer and pharmacist, plans to open Mellow Mink Brewing Co. with his husband, Cole Taylor, in the Hampden Center on the Carlisle Pike in Hampden Township.
The couple recently leased a 3,600-square-foot space in the center near Pho 7 Spice and Planet Fitness.
“The goal for the atmosphere in the tasting room is upscale and classy, but relaxed and mellow,” said Miller, who started brewing in 2009 and later took to blogging about sour beers, which have exploded in popularity over the last few years.
The tasting room for the proposed brewery, which has yet to begin the licensing process, expects to have about 10 beer taps, with about half of those dedicated to sour and farmhouse styles, such as saison beers. These funky beers make use of fruits, flowers and spices.
Mellow Mink will also make lagers, India pale ales and barrel-aged stouts, among other popular styles.
The bulk of the beer produced will be sold in the tasting room. Miller and Taylor also plan to do limited-run bottles of select sour and farmhouse beers.
In addition, they have started a founder’s club, or membership program, designed to raise some money for startup costs and reward supporters with special bottles of sour beers that won’t be released to the general public and early access to other limited releases.
“We plan to start everything through the tasting room,” Miller said.
The owners also will be hiring a full-time head brewer to help launch the brewery, he said. He intends to continue his pharmacy job. His husband, who is a dental assistant and photographer, is creative director for the brewery.
Miller said his primary goal is to not follow too heavily in the footsteps of other local breweries. He is inspired by craft breweries from around the country, including Jester King Brewery in Texas, The Rare Barrel in California and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Michigan.
That said, he has collaborated with local brewer Brad Moyer of 2050 State Brew Co., part of The Brewhouse Grille in Lower Allen Township, on some recent beers.
As production ramps up, Miller said the goal would be to take on local tap accounts at craft beer bars and restaurants. Mellow Mink will not have a kitchen, but will offer limited pre-packaged foods. There also are plans to collaborate with restaurants in the shopping center so brewery customers can bring in food.
“We know beer. We’re not restaurant owners,” Miller said.
Regarding the continued growth of the industry, which has been churning out new breweries in every part of the midstate over the last few years, Miller called it an “exciting time” to get into the business.
“Craft beer has been proliferating into almost every restaurant,” he said. “It’s on a great trajectory. I think people are looking for that type of experience, the small breweries with the local tasting room.”
He added: “The more good craft beer you have in an area, the more reason people have to travel to an area.”