Observer Journal of the Pennsylvania Liquor Industry March 1992

Ale's Well in State's Newest Microbrewery

by Rich Wagner

CHAMBERSBURG – Until the Arrowhead Brewing Company here came on stream with their Red Feather Pale Ale last November there hadn't been an ale brewery in the Keystone State since the onset of Prohibition which closed the Robert Smith Ale brewery at 38th & Girard in Philadelphia.

And while this new addition to the brewing industry is considered a microbrewery, there are ambitious plans to brew 5,000 barrels during the first year of production.

Elsewhere across the nation ale production among microbrewers is quite common. Ale is their preferred product because it does not have to be aged as long as lager beer. The difference between ale and lager is the yeast. Ale is made with top fermenting yeast and is ready to consume withing a week or so while lager is made with a bottom fermenting yeast at lower temperatures and must be aged for several weeks (at least).

The Arrowhead Brewing Company was established by Fran Mead who retired from a career as an industrial pharmacologist to pursue his dream. While his scientific background suits him well as a brewmaster, he has also demonstrated the necessary business acumen to attract investors and capital vital to getting his business up and running. Every home brewer fantasizes about opening a brewery and Fran was no exception. His visits to pubs in England and brewpubs in California convinced him to have a go at it.

Red Feather is a “pale ale,” which means that this amber colored, medium bodied brew that balances the sweetness of malt and the bitterness of the hops. This delightful pale ale should be a good cross-over drink for those who are more familiar with American brews.

In addition, Red Feather Ale has an engaging “hop nose” and a clean robust flavor that should bring a smile to the lips of any beer lover. The beer is already being served in restaurants in the Chambersburg area.

The brewery expects to open markets in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, as well as Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. And if the taste taste conducted by this reporter is any indication of quality, licensees who carry a good beer selection will want to add Red Feather Pale Ale to their house offerings.