There’s nothing like shiny, brand new BrauKon brewing equipment to bring all the boys to the yard. They could teach you… but they’d have to charge. Pizza Boy Brewing Company in Enola, PA has recently expanded their brewing operations for the third time since they began producing beer in 2011. And let me tell you, this new system has all the bling. It truly is a work of art and a brilliant example of top-notch craftsmanship. But what’s more important is that Pizza Boy can better keep up with the demand for their high quality brews.
If you’re new to Pizza Boy Brewing Company, let me give you a little background on them. What started as a pizza shop + craft beer bottle shop, named Al’s of Hampden, quickly blossomed into a craft beer destination by enthusiasts all over Central PA. The owner, Al Kominski, had been making pizza since he was in his teens. So he certainly was no rookie to pizza shop industry when he opened the doors to his own place in Hampden township.
Yeah. The food is good at Al’s of Hampden. But folks like me would come in droves to get their growlers filled from a massive draft beer selection and to stock up on unique bottle offerings from breweries located across the country. It soon became apparent that adding his very own brewery would be yet another reason for us Beer Hunters to pay Al’s of Hampden a visit. Hence, Pizza Boy Brewing Company was born. Pizza. Beer. Happy. A fitting tagline, indeed!
Fast forward to 2016 and Pizza Boy Brewing is producing 35-40 barrels each batch with their new system. That’s up from 17 barrels on their previous brewing equipment.
THE BREWHOUSE UPGRADE
Even though the brewhouse area at the back of the building was built for expansion, lots of thought and planning had to go into fitting a system this large into a tight space. It took months of ideation and consulting between the Pizza Boy brewers and BrauKon before any equipment was produced.
“Every piece of equipment, every automated procedure programmed into the system – even the configuration of the space was custom created for the way that Al and I brew,” says Brewer, Terry Hawbaker. “There’s approximately 100 parameters programmed for each step of the brewing process.” Wow. That’s kind of mind-blowing – “High Tech” used to mimic a brewer’s individual brewing process style.
“What’s nice is I can contact BrauKon and request an adjustment to a procedure or add a new procedure for a new recipe I’m working on. They then make the adjustment to the computer system all the way from Germany,” according to Terry. That ongoing customer service is built into this premium brewing system package. With that kind of partnership and support, you truly get what you pay for.
FUN FACT: Terry and Al can remotely start brewing using an app on their mobile phone. They can even monitor the process as they multi-task throughout the day.
FUN FACT: This is the 3rd set of brewhouse equipment in the past 5 years.
The first set was 5 Hectolitres and went to Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro Bend, VT to be their pilot system. Yes… that’s right! THE Hill Farmstead – No. 1 Brewery in the World 2015 (and also in 2014).
The second set (17 barrel system) was sold to Brewhouse Grille in Camp Hill, PA.
Also expanded is their barrel-aged program which now includes 16 whiskey barrels. The barrels that they use for their highly sought after sours still reside at their previous location up the street.
As a result of the brewery upgrade, Pizza Boy Brewing can operate with higher efficiency than ever before. And, it helps to free up some time for each brewer so they can focus on quality assurance, experimenting with new recipes, researching beer trends, etc.
While I was getting the down low on the new brewing equipment, I savored a new release created by Al called Singular CTZ IPA (shown to the left). Terry said it was “bangin'” and after trying it, I completely agree! Lots of tropical aroma with a crisp mouthfeel. Flavor notes included sweet mango and apricot with a subtle pine finish. I seriously could sit and drink this all day. I rated this 7.8% ABV brew a 4.5 in Untappd.
Future beer releases include: Sunny Side Up Coconut edition, a straight up peach sour, Permasmile Batch 2 and a boisenberry brew accented with cherries. Even though their batches are much larger, you’ll still see unique selections to try along side their regularly rotating brews.
Recognize that “BREW” hand tattoo? Yep. That’s brewer, Terry Hawbaker pouring some samples directly from the source. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!
Just how many beers are on tap?
Generally 25 to 30 Pizza Boy selections and gobs of other brewery’s beers. Just look at all those taps. #TapsForDays. To see what is currently offered, check out Al’s of Hampden’s online beer list.
Need beer to go?
They have you covered on that, too. 64 oz growlers, 32 oz growlers and 32 oz crowlers (giant-sized can) can be filled with most anything on tap. There is also bottles galore to explore. My latest bottle love from Pizza Boy is Yellow Breaches Kriek – a full flavored wild ale that’s wine barrel-aged with cherries added. So good!
FUN FACT: What’s pretty awesome is when you’re sitting in the taproom, you can look up at the ceiling to see twinkling green lights running along pipes carrying fresh beer that starts in the brewery and ends up at the other side of the building in the cooler behind the bar. #DrinkFresh is very real here.
(Follow Me On: Twitter & Untappd: @dzyngrl | Instagram: @dzyngrl14)