PITTSTON — Granite bar tops, a picture window looking out onto the brewery floor and light fixtures that bridge the aesthetic gap between vintage and modern tastes, decorate the newly finished tasting room at Susquehanna Brewing Company. With two distinct styles of beer pouring systems behind the bar, along with a family heirloom turned centerpiece, the proprietors at SBC are gearing up to be a local haunt for libation and relaxation.
The tasting room opens noon on March 5 at the brewery, 635 S. Main St. The bar features eight rotating varieties on tap, and the owners intend to introduce experimental varieties for patrons to try. The Southwest Savory Grill food truck will be on site at 2 p.m. Operating hours for the tasting room are 2 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Vice president and co-owner of SBC, Fred Maier, said the tasting room came out better than he planned.
“We were so fortunate,” Maier said. “Jason Solano of A. Pickett Construction did the whole thing, colors, granite. He didn’t even show us the granite. He saw it in his mind’s eye and ran with it.”
In addition to three eye-catching granite bar tops, one of which is lowered to meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the room is adorned with black wire light fixtures that provide adequate but comfortable brightness.
For now, the room is set up to seat about 30 to 40 people.
“The occupancy is 49 based on square footage,” Maier said. “These are temporary tables. The tables won’t be in until March, but we have high-boy tavern tables coming.”
Three flatscreen TVs hang on the walls, and a large picture window will offer patrons a look into the SBC brewing process. An English cask system provides an old fashioned tasting experience for customers.
“This is prehistoric beer 101,” Maier said. “It’s mechanical pull instead of gas propelled. CO2 adds a lot of flavor to beer, but this is just traditional English pub drinking. We have a special one we made with our Southern Rye aged on a small batch of German hop.”
Maier ordered a 10-barrel pilot fermenter to test ideas.
“We’ll have our own experimental varieties,” Maier said. “I just ordered some barrels to do some barrel aging, but that’s the kind of thing that takes 6 to 12 months.”
In additional to small batch and prototype beers, the tasting room will work the products of its contract brewers into the rotation.
“Joe Percoco, Sole Artisan, I want his beer to be on tap with us,” Maier said. “It’s all coming out of our place, and it’s completely different beer. It’s another point of view on how to do it.”
Recent awards have proven the way SBC does it to be just fine too. Their Goldencold Lager took home a medal from the Great American Beer Festival, and their Southern Rye Imperial IPA won a medal in Bend, Oregon, among hop-country brewers, but those are just two of the varieties that could be on tap at any time.
“Our goal is to have rotating beers,” Maier said. “Hopefully we’ll be running one or two unique casks per week. That’s the idea, being able to get into that groove of always changing.”
Maier said the plan is to focus on the best beer experience possible. Right down to the cleanliness of the glass, he wants to serve the perfect pour, but food will be provided by mobile vendors.
“The only thing we’re going to do is sell beer,” Maier said. “We’ll have popcorn from the Pittston Popcorn Company … but we’re not getting into prepared food. I’m actually impressed with the number of food trucks we have in the area. They’re all really well rated.”
A vintage cabinet that hangs behind the bar shows Maier’s family history. His great-great-great grandfather was Charles Stegmaier.
“That was my coffee table growing up,” Maier said. “That was the first wagon body Charles Stegmaier delivered beer in when beer was literally that local of a business.”
Five generations later, Maier is proud to be part of reestablishing a localized beer industry.
“More and more beer we drink is made within 5, 10, 15 miles of us, and there’s a lot of great beer now,” Maier said.
He’s hoping the tasting room reinforces that sense of community.
“We want to make it a low key neighborhood hangout,” Maier said. “We’re talking about, when the weather breaks, having food trucks and a beer garden outside.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter@TLArts