The greater Harrisburg area is home to an impressive (and growing) selection of breweries (hey, that’s why Harrisburg Beer Week is so dear to our hearts).
You’ve probably enjoyed a pint or two from many of them, but do you know the people behind the scenes who are working the tireless hours to get that beer into your glass?
Brewers come from all walks of life. Some do this full time and some are working crazy hours on top of other full-time jobs every week just to make sure we all are able to enjoy the “grains of their labor.”
About once a month, we will highlight a local brewer to give you all a look behind the curtain to see how these guys operate, what they have in store next, and give you idea of who is brewing your beer.
For the first one, we thought it was appropriate to start with one of the newest places to open: Ever Grain Brewing Company.
Ever Grain is brand new to the area, but their brewmaster is not. Bruce Tanner, a Baltimore transplant, has been involved in the greater Harrisburg area brewing scene ever since he started a six-year stint at Tröegs in 2010. He was a part of the team when they made the move from Paxton Street to Hershey in 2011.
“I was working for Tröegs,” said Tanner, “but it was a lot of shift work. Splitting up my time into three different shifts was a lot, and I took the chem job to have more of the normal 9-to-5 hours.”
Tanner said he realized almost immediately that the job wasn’t for him. Though he couldn’t see himself being there for the long term, he wanted to give the company some time after they took the chance to invest in him.
“I was only with the lab for two months before realizing I needed to get back [to brewing],” said Tanner. “For me, I couldn’t get out of the business. It’s something that a lot of people feel, I think, once you are in this industry.”
From Tanner’s past, it is easy to see that he has caught the brewing bug, and he probably won’t be leaving again anytime soon. His brewing experience began at a homebrew shop in Phoenix while studying biology at Arizona State University.
“Homebrewing became a huge hobby,” said Tanner. “We were making beer, wine and mead at one time.”
Tanner next went on to brew at a local pizza shop called Streets of New York to help them establish a brewpub in their Tempe and Scottsdale locations. The pizza shops are still there, but they no longer offer their own beers.
His next two brewing stops brought Tanner further and further east. His first post-Arizona stop was in Greensboro, North Carolina as a brewer at Natty Greene’s Brewing Company. He then headed back home to Baltimore to work at PubDog before settling at Tröegs.
Along with his clear passion for brewing, Tanner said he is also extremely focused when it comes to brewing.
“I take brewing very seriously,” said Tanner, “It’s something that I believe the beer and the company deserve from me.”
And it shows.
From the light and crisp, but still flavorful, Camp Pils to the aptly named Joose Juicy IPA, which he dry-hopped for nine hours, Tanner knows how to brew the whole gambit of beers at a high quality.
In fact, he said if he had to choose one beer from their current lineup to give to a stranger that he would choose the Camp Pils, because it is an approachable beer with great flavor.
For Tanner, his go-to style is a Belgian Beer. He said that the bold and robust flavors really appeal to him.
It’s rare that a brewery opens up with a long tap list of solid beers, but that is exactly what you can expect from Ever Grain and Tanner when they cut the ribbon on our area’s newest brewery.
Ever Grain Brewing Co. opens today at 11:30 a.m.
Ever Grain Brewing Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.