North Country Brewing Company By: Rick Perrotta
At North Country Brewing Co., environmental and social consciousness, and community involvement are not mere buzzwords; they are the guiding principles upon which every aspect of the company is built.
In 1998, Bob and Jodi McCafferty purchased an old furniture store on Main Street in downtown Slippery Rock, parts of which are now over 200 years old. By time they had their grand opening in 2005, everything, from ceiling beams to window frames to the moldings on the floor, had been renovated. Using 95% reclaimed wood, recycled from the building itself or sourced from the surrounding area, Mr. and Mrs. McCafferty personally handcrafted the hardwoods, black walnut, and curly maple that give the present day building its charming, earthy feel.
Production Brewery Manager Jim Hicks confirmed what is immediately evident when visiting their website, northcountrybrewing.com—North Country Brewing Co. cares deeply about its community and customers.
“That’s true, we try to keep everything as close, as local as possible,” says Mr. Hicks. “And everything we do is about being environmentally and socially conscious.”
The brewers at North Country Brewing Co. create 40 different, high-quality craft beers throughout the course of a given year, 12 of which are regularly available on tap. Local ingredients are used in the brewing of each drink. Select grains and fruits are brought in from local sources, as are spices and herbs. North Country Brewing Co. adds no preservatives or sugars to their beers, as the beverage travels a mere 10 feet from tank to mug. This also eliminates the need for glass bottles.
As little as possible goes to waste at North Country Brewing Co. Used oil from their fryers is refined and converted into bio-diesel fuel. Their post-brewing practices are equally impressive. Spent grains are used to feed local cows. They never touch a landfill. “Environmentally friendly would be the perfect way to put it,” boasts Mr. Hicks.
North Country Brewing Co. is active in the community on several levels. They are a member of the Rock chapter of the North Country Trail, and have adopted the State Game Land 95 section. They have also adopted the Veterans’ Memorial Garden in downtown Slippery Rock and assist Slippery Rock University in keeping the park clean and well maintained.
Beyond that, Mr. McCafferty has spearheaded what he calls the “Polish the Rock” initiative. Four times a year, volunteers from around Slippery Rock join together to sweep cinders from the streets, paint signs, pull weeds, or do anything that they can to beautify their town. It is a testament to what can be accomplished when individuals devote their time and efforts to the community.
North Country Brewing Company is currently in the final phase of a new expansion, according to Mr. Hicks, and is set for completion next month. Currently, they are able to brew seven barrels of beer at once. After the expansion, that number will jump to 60 barrels. The 4 beers distributed will be the Station 33 Firehouse Red, the Buck Snort Stout, the Slimy Pebble Pils, and the Paleo IPA.
Not surprisingly, the choices made concerning distribution are dictated by a concern for the environment and customers. Beer will be available in aluminum cans as opposed to glass bottles. Mr. Hicks says that North Country Brewing Company’s customers tend to prefer an active lifestyle–fishing, camping, hiking–and the cans are more convenient. “They’re lighter, they can be crushed, and they are easier to dispose of.” Aluminum also saves energy and is 99% recyclable. The typical plastic rings used to encircle 6 packs of beer are being replaced by hard cap plastic which is sturdier, returnable and reusable, and made up of 96% recycled plastic.
That’s all good news, but perhaps the best news for local beer lovers is that North Country Brewing Company’s craft selections are soon to be available in the Pittsburgh market. They will be proudly distributed by Vecenie Distributing Company.
STATION 33 FIREHOUSE RED
Station 33 Firehouse Red is an American Red Ale. It contains a fair amount of caramelly maltiness and a burnt sugar quality, from specialty malts, which is balanced with a discreet amount of hops. It pours a ruby color and has an ABV of 5.5%. It complements rich, aromatic, spicy and smoked foods and goes well with chili, BBQ, grilled poultry and meats. Station 33 Firehouse Red is one of North Country Brewing Company’s top selling beers and is always available on tap.
BUCK SNORT STOUT
Buck Snort Stout is a West Coast Style Stout and features bold dark and roasted malt character that is heavily hopped with aromatic American hops. Its coloration is jet black and it has an ABV of 7.0%. Buck Snort Stout highlights the nuttiness and braised caramelized character of dishes with brown, savory sauces; it complements silky, salty foods like oysters on the half shell.
SLIMY PEBBLE PILS
Slimy Pebble Pils is a Bohemian, or Czech, style pilsner. It features fresh maltiness, hints of caramel, plus plenty of aroma, along with bitterness from the spicy Czech hop, Saaz. It pours a brilliant gold and has an ABV of 5.0%. Slimy Pebble Pils works wells with salmon, tuna, and other high-fat, oily fish and marbled meats. The bitterness offers a pleasing contrast with sweet reductions and sauces.
Paleo IPA is an American India Pale Ale. This beer features light to moderate maltiness, nearly overwhelmed by resiny, grapefruity American Hops. It pours hazy gold and has an ABV of 6.2%. Paleo IPA complements intensely flavorful, highly spiced dishes and bold sweet desserts. As with the Station 33 Firehouse Red, the Paleo IPA is a customer favorite and always available on tap.
Northern County Brewing Company is located in Slippery Rock – 141 S Main St Slippery Rock, PA 16057 (724) 794-2337 for more information, directions and hours please visit them at www.northcountybrewing.com – proudly distributed locally by Vecenie Distributing Co.