Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Best in Glass: Brooks Hemauer has made the leap from award-winning amateur to professional brewer

In an article titled, “The Winner Effect,” author Eugene Sheely explained that, when people compete and win a contest, large amounts of dopamine and testosterone are released into the brain.

“Over time, changes to their brain structure and chemical makeup occur, making them more confident, smarter and able to take on larger challenges over time,” he wrote.

Brooks Hemauer may not have realized this when he won first place two years in a row at the Iron Brewer contest in Lancaster, but one thing he can attest to is that the recognition buoyed his spirits and inspired him to “up his beer game.”

Hemauer’s foray into the brewing business began with an IPA kit and an end product that he enjoyed.

“I continued to brew, and soon it became a passion of mine,” said the Dillsburg resident, whose next step was to join the Sons of Alchemy, a local home brewing club that has spawned many beer careers. Homebrew festivals followed, as did the compliments. According to Hemauer, the question asked most often was, “Where can I buy your beer?”

This prompted him to consider the prospect of selling his suds and pursuing his passion. Soon, he was bidding goodbye to his job in the automotive business and embracing the position of brewer.

“The game plan was to have our production facility at our detached garage in Dillsburg,” said Hemauer, who soon hit roadblocks at the local government level. “We needed a special exemption to brew beer as a rural occupation in the rural agricultural zone where we live.”

Determined, he returned to the drawing board, and the second time ended up being the charm. This time, he brought in studies to bolster his argument.

“We had to verify that we weren’t depleting the aquifer for other homes in the area,” he said.

By September 2019, Hemauer was licensed and began selling beer to bars and restaurants. It wasn’t long before his thoughts turned to the benefits of brick and mortar. This led him to open a taproom at the Wesley Drive Plaza in Mechanicsburg near the Peppermill restaurant.

New Digs

The new Hemauer Brewing Co. taproom spans about 1,400 square feet and seats about 49 people.

Brooks’ wife Shannon has joined him in serving the public and running the business. The couple would like to report smooth sailing since the inception, but COVID-19 has put a crimp in the best-laid plans.

“We were three days away from receiving our liquor license when they halted field inspections,” said Hemauer, who then contacted the beer trade group, the Brewers of Pennsylvania. “They have an attorney on retainer, and we were put in touch with him, and he was able to expedite things.”

The couple opened to the public on May 1, offering a wide variety on tap.

“We have sours and barrel-aged beers, with a rotating selection that varies weekly,” said Hemauer.

Available on most days is their flagship Helles lager. Out of all the selections, the Lucky Lobsta is the most popular.

“It’s a New England-style IPA,” said Hemauer, adding that its popularity can be attributed to the “haze craze.”

Untappd, a beer-focused social media app, describes the Lucky Lobsta as “a beer with a soft, silky mouthfeel that is purposely hazy from the use of oats.”

Another popular selection, according to Hemauer, is “Wild Ways,” a wild yeast fermented saison created with a yeast that was captured at the garage where he brews in Dillsburg.

“I am the keeper of that yeast, and no one has it,” Hemauer said.

The Hemauers also offer seltzer with a rotating selection of pineapple, black cherry, passion fruit and mango.

As for food, they keep it simple, with items like pretzel braids, chips and salsa, a three-cheese grilled cheese and a spicy Italian panini, to name a few.

“People expect to be able to order food when they visit a taproom,” Hemauer said.

Kelly Coons of Dillsburg said that she began to frequent the establishment after becoming acquainted with the Hemauer brand at the PA Flavor festival during Harrisburg Beer Week.

“We sampled an amazing beer and began asking them where we could find more of their brews,” Coons said. “After learning that they were in Dillsburg, we kept a close eye on them.”

Coons said that she visited the day after they opened the taproom to grab some of their 32-ounce crowlers.

“I love their brews, their creative names, and their knowledge and recommend stopping in for a flight,” she said.

Carlisle resident Marsha Cleff said that she enjoys visiting with the couple now that the taproom is open for dine-in.

“With so many new breweries on the scene, a brewery needs a niche, and theirs is easy to see,” she said. “The logo is an ‘H,’ which I am convinced stands for home!”

Hemauer said that there’s a reason there are no televisions in their taproom.

“We want neighbors to meet neighbors, and we enjoy all the conversations,” he said.

As for COVID-19, the Hemauers are determined to ride the storm out.

“We [breweries] are not all going to make it, but my wife and I are trying to position ourselves for it, and it’s gratifying to be your own boss,” he said. “That way, the fires I put out are all my own.”

Hemauer Brewing Co. taproom is located at 1010 Wesley Dr., Mechanicsburg. For more information, visit their website at


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