When Johnny Waering started growing his beard in a facial hair growing contest, he never imagined that the flaming red bristles on his face would become an integral part of a rapidly expanding business.
It started out while Waering was actively participating in a “couple” late night drinking sessions with childhood friends Matt Zuk, Jon Bronson and Dave Oakley.
“It wasn’t very easy to find really good beer in our area (Carbondale) five years ago,” Waering said. “We talked about opening a six-pack shop so we would be able to have good beer around us at all times. We wanted to brew our own beer, and maybe sell it at our shop.”
As the night continued, the beer shop plan faded and talks of opening a brew pub started. The idea was quickly shot down, but the four men still wanted to offer the community and beer lovers something more. They had the dream of one day opening their own brewery in Carbondale; a dream that came true this month when Three Guys and a Beer’d Brewing Company officially began rolling out kegs of beers to a handful of lucky local bars. The response has been overwhelming, and the beers are selling out as fast as they are being delivered.
Zuk, Bronson, Oakley and Waering (aka “the beard”) have known each other most of their lives. It is with that friendship and camaraderie that the men forge their way into this new business adventure. Each owner is working a day job while also working diligently on his individual duties at the brewery. Zuk is the head brew master with Bronson, Oakley and Waering following suit with guidance and suggestions. The group brainstorms different beer styles, and Zuk dissects the suggested beers and puts together a starting recipe that will be transformed and altered until the brewers are satisfied with their product.
And the experiment doesn’t end there.
Before Three Guys and a Beer’d had all of its licensing and a physical location, they would brew and set up beer tastings in different northeastern Pennsylvania watering holes. They couldn’t sell their product yet, but nothing was stopping them from giving it away at the tastings and asking for feedback. They even set up a suggestion box for comments and prospective beer names. This is how they discovered a name for their American hefeweizen Wheat Beer: “Wheat The People.”
The origin of the name “Ladder Dive Rye IPA” is a different story.
“The name comes to us from Jon Bronson,” Waering explained. While we were building the brewery, Jon’s ladder kicked out, and he smashed his head on a rafter. He was knocked out, fell 15 feet to the floor and shattered his wrist. He had a couple screws placed in his wrist. We figured that guy has shed more blood for the brewery than any of us, so let’s name a beer after him. The poor guy was laid up with his arm resting on a pillow and couldn’t do very much. We had to dedicate a beer to him. That’s where we came up with our Ladder Dive Rye IPA.”
Three Guys and a Beer’d are also working on an Irish Red for St. Patrick’s Day, a chocolate porter, a smoke stout, another IPA, an amber ale and a pale ale for future releases. Their beer is available in kegs now, and in the future, they plan to bottle it for sale in local six-pack shops.
They will release a special product for the Fourth of July and will debut the first brew in their “Clean Shave” series, a limited experimental brew collection. Their short-term goal is to brew 500 barrels in 2012. Although their brewery isn’t currently open to the public, they are located in the Carbondale Technology Transfer Center, a space that provides technical support, business assistance, financial resources and appropriate facilities to small businesses. Their long-term goal is to expand the business while remaining in the Carbondale area.
“We want to open up a full-scale brewery and create jobs in our area,” Waering said. “We want to stay right here in Carbondale. We are the first brewery in Carbondale since Prohibition and right now we are the only registered brewery in Lackawanna County. We want to bring the brewery tradition back to Carbondale. This area has been hurting for jobs and if we can bring 30 or 40 jobs in the next five years, then great!”
Three Guys and a Beer’d are four, tightly-knit friends. They’re involved in their communities, surrounded by loving family and flanked by friends ready to help them with whatever they may need. They also brew beer for the people they want to keep satisfied.
“We haven’t even realized that we own a brewery and we are a brewery,” Waering said. “We know that we brew beer. We do all the work that goes into brewing beer. We do all these radio spots and attend different events, but it still has not hit us yet that we own a brewery. It’s still really fresh in our minds.”
Three Guys and a Beer’d brews are available at The Backyard Ale House, Scranton, The Jessup Side Bar, The Manhattan Manor Carbondale, Chico’s Lounge, Mayfield, A.J.’s Club Soda, Peckville, Frank’s Place, Simpson, and they hope to be available everywhere soon.