Derek and Elaine Wolf know their way around a keg.
The couple had been attending home-brewing and beer festivals for years, which inspired them to try their hand at the craft. When they won an award in the summer of 2013, their appetite was whet, and their sights were set on winning more. They eventually won honors in all 50 states, laying claim to 123 awards with 55 different beers.
These overachievers in the beer world have now opened their own establishment.
“We had the opportunity to travel extensively to areas like Australia, New Zealand, France and around the United States,” Derek said. “So, we figured out what we liked and didn’t like.”
Earlier this year, the couple opened their own brewery in the Market Square portion of Landmark Legacy Park off Route 114, an area near and dear to their hearts.
“Mechanicsburg is our hometown, and we remember running around the cornfields,” said Derek.
It doesn’t hurt that the area is currently under development and will soon be the site of new homes, pedestrian trails and retail establishments.
The 8,000-square-foot brewery seats about 300 people, with a décor that can be described as an open, contemporary space with clean lines and plenty of places to sit, whether at the bar in view of the 10-barrel system, at large, wooden tables scattered around the room, in front of either of the two fireplaces, or at a bank of chairs positioned in front of the attractive front windows.
The couple are also excited about their outside space, which seats 100 and features a covered patio and lawn behind the building, along with cornhole games, picnic tables, firepits and an outside service window. The area is dog-friendly, as well.
The Wolfs said that the project began in June of last year and that they’ve managed to weather the COVID storm and the lumber crisis, but there has been a learning curve, too.
Elaine, who has worked in both human resources and the restaurant industry, brings her considerable experience to the table, but still has trouble finding staff, like many in the hospitality industry these days. And Derek said that he’s learning quite a bit, after the initial shock.
Derek credits other breweries for being willing to offer advice, along with the assistance of the National Brewers Association, the Brewers of Pennsylvania and staff at the Nebraska-based Alpha Brew System.
“Even though I’ve collaborated with other breweries, I was still a deer in the headlights in the beginning,” he said.
Hitting Their Stride
Beer aficionados will be in their element, with a total of 24 selections on tap, ranging from lagers to pilsners to sours, saisons and IPAs. And if you’re bringing along that person who may not care for beer, there’s a selection of Pennsylvania wine, ciders and spirits on hand.
It’s also important to the couple to give back to the community, so each month they sponsor, “Flight for a Cause,” where $1 from each beer flight goes to a local organization.
“Last month, we were able to raise $3,280 for the Mechanicsburg Fire Department,” said Elaine.
Wolf Brewing partners with Mechanicsburg’s Smoke & Pickles to manage kitchen operations.
“We use as many local farms as possible, including as many things from Smoke & Pickles Artisan Butcher Shop as we can, such as our nitrate-free bacon and our 21-day dry-aged, and 100-percent grass-fed burgers,” said David Mills, owner and chef at Smoke & Pickles.
Mills said that plans are in the works over the next few months to expand the menu and feature private beer dinners to showcase local ingredients presented in an upscale way, along with new releases of Wolf Brewing Co.’s beer.
Customer Julie Huff went to check out the west shore’s newest brewery soon after they opened.
“My overall take on the place is that it’s classy, but comfortable,” she said. “It’s welcoming, and the servers are very nice. We also like the fact that there are a variety of places to sit.”
Eric Anderson said that he’s a loyal “Wolf Pack” member who had the opportunity to get in early for a nominal fee, along with merch and an invitation to the soft opening. Anderson, who lives in Linglestown, met the couple at brew festivals and followed them.
“I also like the food,” he said. “I had the croque madame with fries, and it was amazing.”
As for his favorite beer, that would be the aptly named “On the Prowl,” a double IPA brewed with citra and galaxy hops, featuring floral notes and flavors of pineapple.
With each new day in business, the couple said that they learn more. They now feel that they are hitting their stride and are happy to be pursuing their passion, on their terms.
“We love to see people enjoy themselves and we like to entertain too, while at the same time giving back to the community and making friends along the way,” said Elaine.
Wolf Brewing Co. is located at 100 Legacy Park Dr., Suite 400, Mechanicsburg. To learn more, visit their website at www.wolfbrewingco.com.
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