Since The Millworks opened in 2015, they have continued to bring creativity and art to anyone who visits their home in Midtown Harrisburg.
From the 31 regional resident artists studios to the innovative food menu, art is all around at The Millworks.
Seven months ago, The Millworks added another form of art with a full-scale brewery to produce craft beer just feet away from the dining area.
Jeff Musselman, head brewer at The Millworks, said that he takes a two-pronged approach to brewing that combines science and art to bring a new beer to the avid craft drinker who comes to The Millworks.
“For me, the combination of art and science behind beer is what drove me to brew,” said Musselman. “You can have all the science down and still create some pretty soulless beer, so I like that I get to add my version of art in a glass.”
Musselman’s background mirrors the path that a lot of brewers take before going it on their own.
He got his start by homebrewing while at Lycoming College and continued the hobby while in his job at Merck Pharmaceuticals.
“I really found the love for brewing during that time while working in research,” said Musselman. “I liked my job, but I had that mid-twenties thought of what do I really want to do going forward.”
Musselman said he was at the right place in his life to make a change and go for his passion.
Once he quit his job, he enrolled in the Master Brewers program at UC Davis to start his official brewing education. The six-month program propelled him into his career in brewing throughout Pennsylvania.
“The great thing about working for two different breweries is that you quickly come to realize that there is no ‘right way’ to brew a beer,” said Musselman. “As long as the beer comes out good on the other end, there are multiple approaches.”
While with Weyerbacher and at Tröegs he saw how two different styles of brewing can still result in a good beer.
“When I started with Weyerbacher, it was a lot smaller with a lot of manual labor and working with what you had,” said Musselman. “On the flip side at Tröegs, I experienced how to harness and use technology to make consistently good beer.”
He said that having those experiences shaped the way he embraced his opportunity to branch out on his own for the first time.
“I don’t think I would have had the ability to tackle a project like this without those past experiences,” said Musselman. “The experience I gained from both breweries has proven extremely valuable to creating the brewery.”
On his own
“This is my baby,” said Musselman while looking at the brewhouse he designed and built at The Millworks.
Plans were in place for a brewery at The Millworks almost from the start. Musselman said that Millworks owner, Josh Kesler, got in contact with him through a mutual friend a month after the building opened.
“Through much of 2015, Josh and I put together a plan on how we wanted to do this, and by January 2016, I was on full-time here at the brewery,” said Musselman.
For the next eight months, the Millworks transformed the back room into a state-of-the-art brewing system that now houses a full brewhouse, four fermenters, along with serving vessels to bring customers the freshest beer possible.
“One of the biggest things for me was that we were building this brewery into a space that was already established,” Musselman said. “I was glad I was here on day one to help build and design the space, but after a long construction, I was itching to start brewing.”
The first batch of beer through the brand new system was an Oktoberfest followed by five other brews that still populate the beer menu.
Growing the brewery
His wealth of experience from formal education to brewing at Weyerbacher and Tröegs helped Musselman define a brewing philosophy that he employs when coming up with a new beer.
“My brewing philosophy is a lot like my drinking philosophy,” said Musselman. “You have to get the craft beer standards down before you can get too creative.”
As of now, Musselman wants to keep a core set of beers on tap that reflects his style and consistency but doesn’t shy away from more off-the-wall concepts.
“Right now, we haven’t gotten too creative with our beers, but I am chomping at the bit to get more creative beers flowing,” said Musselman.
One of his newest beers is a Brett Pale Ale that is packed with flavors of stone fruit, citrus and a little bit of funkiness from the brett.
“Down the road, I want to implement a sour program and continue to grow our barrel aging program,” said Musselman.