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Terry Hawbaker is a "Wild Ale Guy" with an open mind

Terry Hawbaker is a “Wild Ale Guy” with an open mind

Pizza Boy Brewing has been cohabitating a huge new warehouse like space with Al’s of Hampden Pizza since April – and it seems to fit together well. Hundreds of types of pizza and sandwiches with hundreds of draft beers. But about 25 of those drafts are made by Pizza Boy Brewing on premise – and they are plenty good – all by themselves. Yet, Brewmaster Terry Hawbaker doesn’t mind sharing the taps with 75 other craft brews, “hasn’t been a problem for me yet”.

What makes Pizza Boy kind of different – along with it’s sheer abundance of diverse styles and flavors of beer, is that you can’t buy their beer anywhere but at this one location in Camp Hill Pa. You can buy pints there, you can take home growlers, but that’s it. And this year Terry is shooting for producing 10,000 barrels. They do have some unlabeled bottles of special barrel aged sours – but they have to be opened and poured in the establishment. One of the servers explained: “We can’t legally sell the bottles off premise, and now we have to pour them at the bar or table, as we once caught a guy trying to cap a bottle in the bathroom with a home brew capper.”

And a broad range of Pizza Boy brews sit inbetween the Lagunitas, Dogfish, DuClaw, Stone, Southern Tier and others crafts. How about PB’’s “Both Barrels” a bourbon barrel barleywine @11.2, or “Permasmile” a tasty Apricot Lambic Sour, aged in a white wine barrel. Want hops? Try some “Pallet Mallet Triple IPA” 9.5 abv or chill out with a “Citra Pils” sessionable at 4 abv. Then there’s “Hazleton Allen” (a nod to Al the owner himself) a “Saison IPA” at 7.5%. And that’s just to start.

Coffee Stout, Triple IPA and Apricot Lambic - to name a few

Coffee Stout, Triple IPA and Apricot Lambic – to name a few

“I am really a wild ale farmhouse guy” says Terry, who has been brewing in Pennsylvania for over 10 years including stints at “The Bullfrog” in Williamsport and “The Farmers Cabinet” in Philadelphia (that via his Virginia brewhouse). “But I like the challenge of brewing all types of styles, it keeps me on my toes”. He has two brewhouses in the brewery – the smaller one from the previous Pizza Boy location, and a new automated larger German system. “The BrauKon is so automated, all I need is a Barco-lounger.”

Terry doesn’t care if they ever bottle or distribute his Pizza Boy beer: “That’s Al’s thing – it’s up to him. He gives me the ability to brew what I want, but he handles that side. He does things pretty much like I would, but this set up is a little different for me -it’s a brew pub and production facility – kind of a hybrid. I would personally like building a more intimate relationship with our beer and the patron – like sharing more information about the beers, and I think we are getting there.”

So Pizza Boy is another phase in Terry’s long experience with craft beer. “I was very lucky to get into it when I did – in the early 90’s. I learned from the old guys – who were then the new guys.  The key to sustainability in this business is to grow slowly, take your time. Some people today try to grow too fast, throwing a lot of money at it. I think they have big money – but small minds”.

Well, I highly recommend Al’s/Pizza Boy – and the diverse and high quality stable of beers that come from Terry’s open mind. It’s worth the drive to Camp HIll for sure. When comes to BeerAppreciation, Pizza Boy delivers and how. (And guys, you have to check out the rest room.)

Al's of Hampden packing them in on Friday night

Al’s of Hampden packing them in on Friday night

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