Matthew Miller remembers a certain day in 2007 as one that would change his life.
It was when he tried his first Belgium lambic, and he immediately fell in love with the taste of sour beer.
Fast-forward a decade or so, and Miller and his husband, Cole Taylor, opened Mellow Mink Brewing to share their affection for high-quality sours—and great craft beer—with the people of central Pennsylvania.
“We’re crafting tap lists to appeal to someone who’s completely craft beer naive, the whole way up to someone who has very specific tastes,” Miller said.
Miller, the director of brewing and blending, began home-brewing in 2009, then started writing specifically about sour beers in 2014 on his blog. Now, he’s doing what most people only dream of—turning his passion into a career. Miller is the brains behind the many new recipes and flavors Mellow Mink features on its rotating taps.
“The more involved I got with writing, the more the passion kind of took hold,” he said. “It eventually became a thing where, I brew a lot of beer and I write about a lot of beer, but I wanted to be able to take that to the next level so I could actually make enough to share with the public.”
Meanwhile, Taylor brings creative strategy to the table, focusing on perfecting Mellow Mink’s online presence, marketing and overall “vibe.”
“We want to take the brewery and elevate it to a more upscale level,” Taylor said. “I think there’s already been this whole culture established around different breweries that, atmospherically, tends to be more industrial. I wanted to create more of an upscale environment that kind of mixed more interior design with beer. But, while it is visually upscale, the attitude is very much down to earth.”
Or, as he describes it—“sophisticated but not snobby.’”
Miller said this type of setting aligns with the brewery’s specialization in sour beer, as it takes some serious time and TLC to perfect this type of ale — in fact, it’s comparable to the aging process of fine wines and cheeses.
“The wine world is filled with beautiful tasting rooms, estates and vineyards and things like that,” Miller said. “But in the brewing world, it does often come down to function over aesthetics. And we really wanted to kind of bridge the gap between those worlds.”
Miller and Taylor are joined by Cale Baker, Mellow Mink’s head brewer, who brings both his own and Miller’s new ideas to life. Baker also began home-brewing in 2009, and he’s been brewing professionally for about three years.
And, to ensure something for every palette, sour beer isn’t the only thing on tap.
Mellow Mink has around eight versatile, in-house blends on draft at all times. Right now, they’re playing with around 30 or 40 recipes, Miller said.
Miller said that he finds a lot of his inspiration from food, cocktails and other beverages to create new flavors. Specifically with sour beers, he typically incorporates tastes from fruits, yogurts and even cheeses and cured meats.
Both Miller and Baker said they’re inspired by brewers such as Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen, Jester King, The Rare Barrel, Russian River Brewing and Allagash. They agreed that the culture these breweries create around their beers influences and motivates them just as much as their incredible flavors.
Soon, they plan to start an aging program, where they’ll age beer in oak barrels and stainless tanks for anywhere from three months to a couple of years. Then, they’ll bottle-condition them, allowing the brews to continue to age for several years. Miller said these blends will likely be the “crown jewels” of Mellow Mink’s lineup.
Overall, Miller and Taylor want Mellow Mink to be a place that becomes a well-known feature of the community, as well as somewhere people can sit down, relax and try something that maybe they haven’t had before. They want to be a place that creates unique brews for drinking on site, for taking home and even saving for special occasions and for giving as gifts.
“Hopefully, 20 or 30 years from now, we’ll still have a Mellow Mink,” Miller said. “And hopefully, it’s something everyone knows and appreciates.”
Mellow Mink Brewing is located at 4830 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg, in the shopping center near Planet Fitness and Karns Foods. For more information, call 717-693-7687 or visit www.mellowmink.com.