Grand Opening Saturday: Big Bottom Brewery

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Big Bottom Brewery hosts its official grand opening this Saturday, June 17, and the beers and location are already creating a buzz for local craft beer drinkers.

Big Bottom is set to be the first brewery in Dillsburg, and the beers that are already on tap have people asking for more and what’s next.

“We have people coming in all the time now just looking for our beer,” said owner Bob Szajnuk. “They ask what’s new or what’s next and it’s exciting to see.”

Big Bottom’s 1.5 barrel brewhouse is set up in the back room of Al’s Pizza and Subs in Dillsburg. While the restaurant is accustomed to people coming in for the pizza, they are now getting used to locals coming in solely for their beer.

“It’s pretty cool because we have a great family environment,” said brewer Brad Stump. “People will come in with their kids and have a few of our beers rather than just coming in just for the food now.”

Big Bottom tapped their first beer just in time for Harrisburg Beer Week 2017 and participated in the Little Big Beer Fest during the week-long craft beer celebration as well.

It was almost a year from start to finish from the inception of the idea to getting the beer flowing through the taps.

“Bob approached me right before the start of Harrisburg Beer Week last year to set an interview,” said Stump. “I was brought on to start helping build the brewery and I asked Brian (Keeney) to join me.”

The Brewery

Big Bottom Brewery was the brainchild of owner Szajnuk. He saw the void for a brewery in their immediate area and wanted to rectify that.

I talked to Brad Moyer at Fermented Artistry about how to go about starting the process,” said Szajnuk.  “He gave me great insight but said that if you’re going to do it that to do it now.”

Szajnuk immediately started the process by making calls and going through the necessary permitting to open the brewery.

“It took us about 10 months from start to finish to get to where we are now,” said Szajnuk.

To find a capable brewer, Szajnuk interviewed five brewers before finding Stump. Stump had all the capabilities to brew beer along with the business savvy that Szajnuk was looking for.

“I liked that he had the thought of breaking down each beer and what the cost is when presenting it to me,” said Szajnuk. “I don’t know much about the beer, but seeing the businesses side was important to me.”

Stump then enlisted help from fellow homebrew club member, Brian Keeney, to get the brewery installed and off the ground.

Both Stump and Keeney homebrewed for almost a decade, and they’re eager to share their beers with a larger audience.

“A lot of our beers on tap have been prior recipes from our homebrews,” said Stump. “We take what we like from them and tweak them a bit to get the most of out of it.”

The Beer

The brewers at Big Bottom don’t plan on having a core group of beers on tap all the time. Instead, they will keep their B3 IPA on as a house beer, and the rest of the taps will be a rotation of whatever beer they feel like brewing at the time.

“A smaller system like we have allows us to brew some experimental batches without having to worry about sitting on them too long,” said Keeney.

Their grand opening tap list offers variety for the masses. Whether you’re into IPAs or like to pucker up with a sour, you can find it.

  • B3 IPA  5.4% ABV – This IPA focuses more on the aroma and flavor of the hops rather than the bitterness. It only clocks in at 47 IBU but is ripe with flavor and great hop smell.
  • Castennial Centade Pale Ale 5.4% ABV – This beer is true to the pale ale style. It is extremely well balanced between malt and hops fro a crisp refreshing grapefruit flavor and aroma.
  • Big & Thick Oatmeal Stout 6.6% ABV – Although some may find the weather a bit too warm for a stout, this beer drinks light with a rich chocolate flavor and roasted notes with a hint of oatmeal.
  • Monk In The Trunk with Apricots and Mangos 8.8% ABV – The Belgian strong ale base for this beer was on tap at Little Big Beer Fest this year. To change it up, they laid the beer on apricots and mangos to give it a more fruit-forward flavor.
  • Phat Azz Farmhouse 6.4% ABV – This was the first beer that was brewed at Big Bottom. Classic saison flavors are balanced out with a zest from the hops and sweetness of the malt. It’s a beer that is perfect for any time of the year.
  • Dankle Berries 8% ABV – A double IPA that is brewed in a similar style to those of Trillium Brewing brews. There is very little bittering with a lot of hops added towards the end of the boil and dry hopping to give the beer a fruity balanced flavor and aroma.
  • The Count 5.5% ABV – A Blood Orange Berliner Weiss that is tart but packed with flavor. One whiff of this and you can already smell everything you’re going to taste. It’s very refreshing with a distinct blood orange taste on the back end that is perfect for a hot day.

The Space

There’s no bar to pony up to at Al’s in Dillsburg, but they have a lot of seating options both inside and outside on their patio.

Big Bottom beers are available at both Al’s in Dillsburg and Al’s Pizza and Subs in Enola.

“Al wants to keep our beers constantly on tap over at the Enola location,” said Szajnuk. “He already went through a few kegs of our beer and wants more.”

For food, Al’s offers classic pizza shop fare from stuffed shells to pizza and pretty much everything in between to pair with your choice of beer.

Big Bottom shares the same hours as Al’s Pizza and Subs Dillsburg: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Thursday-Friday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Intern Jimi contributed handily to this story.

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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