Olde Bedford Brewing Company’s owners, David and Mary Heller are featured in this episode of Fermented Adventures.
Mary purchased Dave a Mr. Beer Kit. The first foray into home brewing was a success. To Mary’s surprise, it quickly developed from a hobby into an addiction to home brew. She thought that this would entertain Dave for a couple of months and he would move on. She had no idea that 7 years later that all of it would turn into a business. Olde Bedford Brewing is their “retirement job”. They even grow their own hops on their ranch. Quickly they developed followers of their beer and the brewery began to blossom from there. Passion drives the grain to glass philosophy. “Join the Whiskey Rebellion… drink beer” is their slogan. We had a tremendous time sitting down with Dave and Mary on the podcast. We learned so much about the history of Bedford, beer and the brewery. Take a side trip off the PA Turnpike and go visit them. You’ll be glad that you did.
Olde Bedford Brewing Company’s “Bedford Butcher Brew” places third in the 2021 Pa. Farm Show’s craft beer competition. This was the second time in a row that OldeBBC was recognized with an award-winning brew.
For the third year, a variety breweries, from well-known brands to smaller ventures, earned awards in the annual Pa. Farm Show craft beer competition.
This year’s award comes in the barrel-aged category. “We are honored to be recognized as one of the top breweries in PA”, said owner Dave Heller.
This article shares the story of our approach to locally sourced beer, and how each ingredient and each beer produced is ultimately part of a grander story. One that is uniquely Pennsylvanian, and even more uniquely Bedford County.
The article tells of the history of Bedford and of the Hideaway Ranch, the century-old farm that has been in the Heller’s family for almost half a century. And David and Mary’s passion for Pennsylvania and supporting the agricultural community is clearly demonstrated.
“You can experience local,” David Heller said. “It’s great for someone like us to have a customer in from Pittsburgh and we can tell them how it was made, where it came from and they can go up to Dancing Star Farms and see for themselves. It helps to educate the public on how important agriculture is to their everyday life.”
Read the rest of the article to learn about how we tie history into every aspect of the process. The Hellers integrate the historical context into all of their brews. And they have some interesting offerings coming in the future.
OldeBBC is proud of the historical legacy of our hometown, Bedford PA. Our customers recognize the ties we have made between our recipes and the rich history of our region.
Hops and History has written a book about the many breweries around the country that are honoring the people, places, and events in their regions. They have included a feature about us and our 1794 Rebellion Rye IPA, which is named after the Whiskey Rebellion. This beer and its name ties into the rich history of our town and its role in the rebellion and to President George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.
Olde BBC is proud to receive two awards from the first Pennsylvania Farm Show Beer Competition in January 2019. In early December 2018, expert judges evaluated 152 entries in 14 categories from 28 craft breweries across the state. Entries ranging from Schwarzbiers to Hefeweizens, and Saisons to Stouts illustrated the diverse range and quality of Pennsylvania-produced craft brews and the creativity of the state’s brewers.
“We are thrilled at the quality and variety of entries for our first statewide beer contest,” Cook said. “This enthusiastic group of craft brewers demonstrates the passion, talent, and drive that has made Pennsylvania number one in the nation. Congratulations to our competitors, and to their customers who will enjoy the taste of their success.”
Olde BBC entered two brews in “Fruit, Herb, Vegetable” category. “Fat Jimmy’s Arancia Orange Peel Wheat” won Third place in the competition. And we are proud to announce that our “Sons of the Forest Spruce Tip Ale” won First Place!
Below are pictures of owners David & Mary Heller and Assistant Brewer Jay Thorpe.
Brewers of PA is a non-profit association that brings together leaders of Pennsylvania based breweries, businesses that support brewing and enthusiast members in order to promote and protect the brewing industry in the state. On their website, they wrote an article about OldeBBC and highlighted our unique approach to connecting brewing with the local history and economy, and how we utilize local products in the production of many of our brews.
What are “Firkin Fridays”? First, what is a “firkin”?
fir·kin /ˈfərkən/ noun historical
a small cask used chiefly for liquids, butter, or fish.
a unit of liquid volume equal to half a kilderkin (about 11 gallons or 41 liters).
This month we feature “Railroad to Freedom Wheat”
This beer is made with Williamette Hops and accented with our own Hideaway Ranch Cascade Hops.
Served On-Tap or On-Cask
A tribute to Bedford’s role in the Underground Railroad: Under the direction of John Fidler, Elias Rouse or Joseph Crawley, who would arrange for the safe transport of passengers to the Quaker settlement or to the Blair County line.
The January/February 2018 issue of “The New Brewer” magazine features breweries utilizing unique synergistic relationships with other businesses to expand their customer base. The magazine is published by the Brewers Association, which supports small and independent craft breweries. This issue’s topic was “the Business of Beer”. It focused on the value of infrequent customers, unusual business models, exports, ESOPs, and satellite tasting rooms. It highlights the OldeBBC and Fat Jimmy’s innovative business model.
The article describes another brewery which combined a bicycle repair shop and a brewery under one roof. They found that a lot of cyclists either begin or end their day at the brewery. “We hope to find a similar interest from the customer’s of Fat Jimmy’s”, owner Dave Heller said.
Jimmy Fungaroli, a long-time friend of the Hellers, owns Fat Jimmy’s Outfitters. He offered them space last year. OldeBBC will utilize 1500 square feet inside his building and another 500 square feet outside for a patio. A split-rail fence will wall off the brewing business from the sporting goods store. The businesses are co-located at 109 Railroad Street, in Bedford, PA.
Synergies Between the Two
The businesses will attempt to find synergies between their customers. For example, participants in Fat Jimmy’s weekly cycling classes will receive a dollar off pints.
Additionally, Olde Bedford Brewing Company plans to open a remote taproom at the Heller’s Hideaway Ranch, near the Blue Knob State Park. Riders who take advantage of the beautiful scenery and incredible biking trails will be able to stop in for a cold beer during their ride.
The Brewery intends to open this Spring. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
We know there is a rich tradition of brewing in Pennsylvania and the early American colonies. But clues found in the Reiley Ledger from the late 18th century give clues to an early Bedford County brewing tradition. (see photos below)
The consumption of beer was common in the colonies. (Smith, 1998) For example, scholars have presented evidence a standard breakfast of the period included “cold meat with a pint of good ale or cider.” (Smith, 1998) Additionally, new arrivals to the colonies in eastern Pennsylvania found a large selection of beer. (Smith, 1998) One of these Philadelphia newcomers was Benjamin Franklin, who in 1745 wrote how he enjoyed a stout ale with other pleasures. (Smith, 1998)
During the time leading up to the famous Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, Philadelphia’s and Bedford’s favorite visitor, George Washington, was himself partial to a good Porter (a roasty, caramelly beer). (Baron, 1962) Additionally, in the 1760s, he was known to purchase his porter from Robert Hare of Philadelphia. (Baron, 1962) During the 1790s, Washington was also purchasing his Porter from another Philadelphia brewer, Benjamin Morris. (Baron, 1962) Additionally, by 1796, as Washington was finalizing his plans for leaving his presidency, he “… procure a groce of good Porter to be taken there….” (Baron, 1962) OBBC would argue, when George came to put down the Whiskey Rebellion, he continued to enjoy a good Porter!
The Reiley Ledger
OldeBBC reviewed the Store Ledger kept by Martin Reiley 1788-1816, Bedford, PA. (Reiley, 1788) This examination provided us with a window into the past. The use of distilled spirits in around Bedford, as a local commodity, is evident while examining the many eateries with the words, Gin, Whiskey, Wine, Sherry, and French Brandy. But a closer examination of some of the entries, reveals the possible evidence of the spirit of homebrewing and beer consumption in the county. Consequently, we believe these are clues to an undiscovered Bedford County brewing tradition.
According to the ledger, In 1797, Conrad Atley, purchased along with other sundries, some British Ale. Later, in 1798, Jacob Helm purchased some molasses along with wine and other sundries. (Reiley, 1788) During this time, molasses was one of the key ingredients of a small beer recipe. (Baron, 1962) Also, in 1798, Noah Bowser purchased a “Kettle.” (Reiley, 1788) A brew kettle is a critical part of the brewing process, even in today’s brewing process. Although OldeBBC may never know if these precursors were used to brew beer, we would like to think so. Therefore, it is this tradition, OldeBBC will embrace.