Know Your Brewer: Tim Myers at The Vegetable Hunter
As local breweries go, The Vegetable Hunter on Second St. in Harrisburg, is one of a kind.
Not only do they offer a completely vegetarian and vegan menu, but their boutique brewery, at 9.5 ft by 9.5 ft, might be the smallest brewhouse in Pennsylvania.
Derek Markel, a local homebrewer, got the brewing program off the ground last April but has since passed the torch to another local homebrewer in Tim Myers.
Myers and Markel brewed together in All Grain Gangsters, a local homebrew club, and when Markel was stepping down he put in a good word for Myers.
Myers is not alone in the brewing process at The Vegetable Hunter. Jeff Thompson, a local homebrewer, is also brewing exciting and creative beers to add to The Vegetable Hunter’s lineup.
Thompson and Myers split the brewing duties, and both lend their own twists to the tap list at The Vegetable Hunter.
Myers has now been at the boutique brewery for six months and seems to relish the fact that he can be as creative as he wants to with his brews.
Brewing with creativity
Since he can only brew essentially one keg at a time on the small system, Myers has the opportunity to come up with some more off-the-wall creations.
“I like the creative nature of it all,” said Myers. “I’ve always been a creative person. When I’m not doing something creative, I always get this bug to get out and do something. That’s one of the reasons I started brewing in the first place.”
Owners Kristin Messner-Baker and John Baker gave Myers free reign over the brewing, and his creativity shows in his recent offerings.
Some of his recent brews include a Jalapeno Lime Kolsch and a Cara Cara Orange Saison.
“I’m not afraid to brew something that might be a good idea but hasn’t been done before,” said Myers. “I’m always talking with people and tasting new things to come up with what’s next.”
During my visit, he had a few brews on deck that are definitely out of the ordinary.
Ever try a Grodziskie?
Well, I hadn’t, until Myers poured me a sample of his version of this traditional Polish smoked wheat ale that apparently is making a comeback. Myers put his own twist on the beer by laying it on a Scorpion pepper for just a day.
Yes, a scorpion pepper Polish beer in a vegetarian restaurant in downtown Harrisburg. Again, he’s not afraid to get creative.
Myers also has a Kiwi Kolsch and Chocolate Bourbon Stout coming up once a few of the current beers on tap kick.
Thompson also exercises his creativity in his is recent brews, including Strawberry Rye of The Tiger, Lust for Life Euro lager, and Cat Under The Stars Red Ale.
A perfect fit
The brew system at The Vegetable Hunter is small. It’s basically a homebrew system on steroids.
For Myers, this was the perfect foray into professional brewing.
“It’s been a pretty easy transition,” said Myers. “This is basically a glorified homebrewing system, but you also have all of the bells and whistles that you get at larger breweries.”
He said he had thought about professional brewing before, but that it never seemed to be the right fit.
“It was a lot about the time commitment,” said Myers. “It’s perfect here, though. I brew about every two weeks, and then come in from time to time to check up on everything.”
Along with brewing, Myers also has a full-time job with Jack and Jill Ice Cream, and a few days a week he has to pull double-duty between the two.
Myers’s brewing philosophy and style also complement The Vegetable Hunter’s menu. Myers said that for years he has been putting vegetables and fruits into a lot of his homebrew recipes, so this felt like a great fit with the vegetarian fare.
“I love putting peppers into beers,” said Myers. “That’s always been kind of my thing, but I also love adding fruit like I do with my Raspberry Saison, and I plan to do a Lemon Pepper Saison as well.”
Myers said that his Jalapeno Lime Kolsch is probably the beer he is most known for, and it was the first beer he brewed at The Vegetable Hunter.
A background in homebrewing
Like Markel, Myers also has a background solely based in homebrewing.
“I would sit at the breweries and try a lot and check in on Untappd,” said Myers. “I saw other people homebrewing, and it got me thinking and researching if I could do the same.”
He bought his first homebrew kit and was hooked. He started to enter homebrew competitions almost immediately.
“I stupidly entered the Brewery at Hershey’s homebrew competition shortly after I started with some not-so-great beers,” said Myers. “Even though the first time wasn’t great, I’m competitive, so that kept me coming back and made me keep brewing.”
Myers continued to enter local competitions and went on to win some awards including a few for his Jalapeno Lime Kolsch.
Growing the brewery
Right now, the brewery at The Vegetable Hunter is only a 30-gallon system, which means Myers is only able to produce 15 gallons, or three sixtels, at a time.
“It’s a tricky situation because it is so small,” said Myers. “We were actually over-brewing at one point, and almost we almost ran out of room down here.”
Myers said the current brew system has the capabilities to handle another two fermenters, and he thinks he can squeeze those into the current space when the time comes to expand.
The next time you’re downtown, be sure stop by The Vegetable Hunter to grab one of their delicious black bean burgers and check out what new creation Myers and Thompson have on tap.
The Vegetable Hunter is open Monday-Tuesday 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
This story has been updated for accuracy since its intital posting.