‘Ultimate Drinkability’: Robin Hood Brewing Company Launches Watermelon Wheat Beer In Beaver Stadium
Just shy of its 10th year in business, Robin Hood Brewing Company is making leaps and bounds in the craft beer industry from its once-humble beginnings in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Originally a pizza place on Zion Road in Bellefonte, Robin Hood began as Home D Pizzeria in 2008 before converting to a brew pub in 2013. What once was Home D’s game room, featuring pool tables and dart boards is now Robin Hood’s 3.5-barrel brewery.
Caleb Peachey, Robin Hood’s head brewer, arrived as an assistant brewer in 2015 and worked with former head brewer Chris Schell for three years before heading east to Mifflinburg to work at Rusty Rail Brewing Company. Shortly after, Peachey returned to Bellefonte to cultivate the small brewery into what it is today.
He wasn’t always destined to be a head brewer. Peachey discovered his passion for beer later in life after touring the United States with his hardcore punk band as a drummer and exploring the world of craft beer in between gigs.
“I was touring around and we [went] to different cities,” Peachey said. “I would just stop and go to different breweries on tour. I was like, ‘This is kind of cool. I like beer.’ I started drinking a lot of beer. Then, I came back home and started working at beer distributors and starting home brewing. I figured why not strive to do it professionally?”
From there, Peachey made stops at Robin Hood and Rusty Rail before finding his way back to Bellefonte in the role of head brewer. Since then, Robin Hood’s expansion has increased mightily, and ultimately landed one of Peachey’s brews in Beaver Stadium this season.
Folks from Penn State Athletics approached Peachey and Robin Hood about creating a beer for the stadium, and while they couldn’t have been more excited, it came as a surprise to the small, grassroots brewery less than about 15 times the size of Beaver Stadium craft beer competitors Rusty Rail and New Trail Brewing Company.
“How is this little brewery in the middle of nowhere Bellefonte doing this on a big stage in Beaver Stadium?” Peachey said.
Peachey immediately hired an assistant brewer, knowing Robin Hood would have to increase its production to meet the needs of the 107,000-person stadium and, soon enough, “Melon Time” was born.
Melon Time is a 4.5% watermelon-flavored wheat beer brewed with Canadian wheat and German-based Hallterauer Magnum hops. Penn State fans can easily spot the pink and black nod to the university’s former colors on the label, and it’ll run folks $12.
“It’s got that wheat characteristic to it,” Peachey said. “Then you got a pop of almost watermelon Jolly Rancher kind of flavor to it, which kind of lingers in your mouth but in a good way. It makes you want to go back for another sip.”
Peachey created the beer with ease of consumption in mind, and says Melon Time has the “ultimate drinkability” factor.
The development of Melon Time didn’t come easily, as Robin Hood’s brewery didn’t have a canning machine or more than two sets of hands at any one time to brew the beer itself. By way of its 3.5-barrel system, Robin Hood can brew about six kegs at a time, which equates to about 744 16-ounce cans. For Penn State’s season-opener against West Virginia, Peachey needed to brew and package just over 5,000 cans.
While it was no easy task, it was never a question of whether or not it would get done. Peachey’s newly-hired assistant and the community rallied around the brewery to meet quotas and get the job done ahead of September 2.
“People are asking if [we] need any help because we do everything by hand,” Peachey said. “We hand-labeled the cans, all 5,000 of them. People were, like I said, very surprised but also excited for us because they see a bright future now.”
Robin Hood will continue selling Melon Time in Beaver Stadium throughout the rest of the Nittany Lions’ home slate, while continuing to break into wide-spread distribution after joining forces with Nittany Beverage around two months ago.
Melon Time will hit the shelves at Wegman’s, the Weis in Bellefonte, Pletcher’s, and Nittany Beverage for now. Before his partnership with Nittany Beverage, Peachey self-distributed beer in his SUV and sold the products in-house at Robin Hood.
State College-inspired IPA Hazy Valley will join Melon Time at local grocery stores and distributors, too.
“Hazy Valley’s like a juicy IPA and the New England-style juice bomb,” Peachy said. “Kind of in-your-face fruit. Fruit-forward hops.”
Meanwhile, Robin Hood may be best known for its sours, which it will continue to create in unique flavors like peanut butter and jelly or bomb pop, inspired by Fourth of July popsicles.
Peachey said he like to put items and flavors in his brews many would never expect, and that’s often when he gets the best results.
There’s no doubt Robin Hood is making a name for itself within the Central Pennsylvania beer industry, and it’s only growing as it continues to find success within the confines of Beaver Stadium.
“I never thought I’d do something this big for a small brewery,” Peachey said. “I feel pretty proud to be a part of Robin Hood right now. People are also pretty proud of what we’re doing, which feels nice.”
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