Samplesode 34: Roy Pitz

IMG_0781There is just too much beer in the world to only taste twice a month. In the spirit of more is better the Blind Tiger podcast team has decided to add samplesodes to the podcast lineup. These mini-episodes will feature only tastings of hopefully unique or exotic beer, often on location to keep your Blind Tiger intake at a more regular interval.

This week Mike, Jesse, and myself traveled to the not so far off land of Chambersburg to enjoy an evening at Roy Pitz Brewing Company.  There we met up with Jesse Rotz and Chris Collier who were gracious enough to share their valuable time for a quick discussion on Chambersburg, craft beer, and the illustrious Roy Pitz.

Jesse Rotz and his friend, Ryan Richards, founded Roy Pitz Brewing Company in Chambersburg with a vision for better beer in their home town.  Starting mostly with a wish and a dream they built the brewery from humble beginnings into arguably thee Chambersburg hot spot that boasts a full bar, live music, and an impressive lineup of beers.

They hired Chris Collier as their brewmaster to come help build new beers and carefully steward their old favorites.  Chris is a fantastic brewer who is bringing his expertise to really help keep Roy Pitz brews at an extremely high level of quality and flavor.

While Jesse and Chris go into the history and Philosophy of the brewing in the extremely interesting discussion in the episode no interview would be complete without a review of the location.  In the end here are some thoughts on Roy Pitz Brewing Company.

Roy Pitz is a beautiful brewpub and brewery located in a large warehouse in downtown Chambersburg.  The building itself gives off the impression of an industrial history that adds a sense of time and tradition to the businesses shared within its walls.  [It currently houses Roy Pitz’ bar and brewery as well as a dance studio and chocolate shop.  A very interesting mix of businesses.]  The brewery is located in the warehouse’s basement where the current system is efficiently placed within the center of the space.  There is an abundance of space in the basement for the current system they are brewing on, except for height as the fermenters are about as snug to the ceiling as you can get.

Brewery tours are always fascinating to beer geeks.  There is always the mystery to see how different breweries lay out their equipment, optimize limitations in space, and adorn their workspaces.  Roy Pitz’s brewing space was especially interesting in investigate due to the plethora of art hidden throughout their brewery.  Taking the concept of producing high quality craft beer to be an art form the motto of “liquid art” was emblazoned on just about every available space within the brewery.  The photo gallery above shows just small few examples of experimentation with that theme.

The back of the brewery contained an official tasting room / employees room.  This was originally open to the public, before they expanded to include the Beer Stube upstairs.  It was here where eager customers could come to taste a sample of the latest thing on draft or fill a growler or two.  Jesse Rotz had a few stories about after hours drinking sessions between coworkers and friends that left their old “bar” worse for wear upon opening the next day.

Once the lines for beer were consistently out the door there was a want for space for those customers looking to make Roy Pitz beer a regular part of their evenings.  They expanded to the floor above the brewery and opened the Beer Stube.  This was a full bar with an impressive list of beers on tap.  They had a small kitchen (they are looking to expand) that had a variety of pub faire.  While the menu was slightly limited for choice to sandwiches, personal pizzas, appetizers, and such it was not limited in quality.  Mike shared an amazing soft pretzel while Jesse Clark, the audio genius, had a Hawaiian pizza that was fresh and delicious while I ate an amazing sandwich made wish a special beer mustard and slice of fresh apple that after a few beers was exactly what the doctor ordered.

The Stube is split into two halves.  The first half is always open to the public and Saturday nights has live music for those looking for a place to enjoy beer, food, music, and dance.  The other half can be rented for private events which has plenty of space, several tables, a nice comfortable “lounge” section, and its own private bar.  As parties go, it looks like an awesome place to get fifty people together to enjoy an event.

The night we visited the Stube was packed to the gills, standing room only which was quite filled as well.  For a city that perhaps has a reputation as being a “big market beer” city Jesse, Ryan, and Chris are easily demonstrating that there is more than enough interest in craft beer.

The Stube is lined with art on almost every space there is room.  There is original artwork that has become the labels to the beers they are bottling.  There is beautiful photography of their brewing process and other beer related content.  Although I was unable to get photos there are truly inspiringly handsome hand painted growlers that I immediately wanted for my collection.  Liquid Art is not the only art that Roy Pitz is attempting to promote.

The episode itself should sing the high praises of the beer that we drank.  I’m uncertain exactly where I initially got a low impression of Roy Pitz beer over the years.  I know that I sampled a few of their beers at a festival or two without finding them exciting.  Yet I had recently had their Best Blonde and was shocked at how impressed I was by the beer.  While my expectations were low I wasn’t sure if this could have been from the same brewery.  On location we sampled many of their beers and Mike, Jesse, and I were all extremely impressed by what they had to offer.  From a delicious seasonal watermelon beer that tasted of natural watermelon, to an amazing IPA, to a subtle and delicious smoked beer, to their blonde and beyond everything we had was highly crafted, delicious and drinkable.  A surprisingly rare treat.  I regret now seeking out their beers and seem incredulous that I ever had even a slightly negative impression.

Most importantly though, Roy Pitz is a rare brewery where you can meet and talk to the men behind the scenes.  While we were there explicitly for an interview for a show Jesse, Ryan, and Chris are regularly at the Stube indulging in their own products and excited to interact with their customers.  How often are you at a brewery where not only is the man who made your beer there enjoying himself but the men who started the business as well.  We met not only Jesse, Ryan, and Chris but Jesse’s father (who was the greatest example of tough, sweet, and salt of the earth), and a few of the initial investors.  And they weren’t in some private backroom VIP section.  They were happily drinking along with everyone else there.

The beer was great, the location exactly what you want from a wild, popular craft beer bar.  The places that I love as a craft beer drinker are those that make you feel like family.  There are a few places locally that I can say with pride I feel that I’m part of their business even though I’m solely a customer.  After a few hours at Roy Pitz I felt that any regular customer would quickly feel more like friends or family than just another drinker.  A special magic that is hard to capture.

I think I speak for Jesse and Mike when I say if you haven’t had their beer that you should give it a try.  Especially when the watermelon beer hits fresh.  And if you haven’t been to their location you should make the trip out there.  Even if it is a bit of a trip I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

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