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Axemann Brewery Bringing Fresh Brews & ‘Industrial Oktoberfest’ Feel To Centre County

Axemann Brewery, based in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, has been an idea in the making over many years for owner Rod Stahl. Now, there’s more than just beer brewing behind the walls of what once was a molten metal factory.

Stahl, a Penn State alum along with many other Axemann Brewery staff members, began his journey in the world of beer while home-brewing just a few gallons of beer at a time. The passion then progressed into a full-fledged second job for Stahl, and he hoped his tasteful in-house brews paired with a one-of-a-kind atmosphere would attract a community.

“I started homebrewing even before my real engineering career. I met a surveyor that I worked with and he was a homebrewer. He really got me hooked on it,” Stahl said. “After taking a break to raise a family, we opened our engineering firm in 2006, and it wasn’t too long into that when one of our engineers wanted to try homebrewing, so I helped him out. That got me back into it.”

Stahl amassed a group of five engineers in their firm that had become hooked on homebrewing, going so far as to host their own Oktoberfest events annually in which everyone entered their own home-brewed beer into a friendly competition.

“From that is where we got the idea, realizing that it was a pain in the butt, cleaning the bottles, fermenting in the bottles, carbonating in the bottles… That’s the worst part of home brewing — all the work that has to be done in the bottles just to get two cases of beer that you may finish in just three weeks,” Stahl said. “I then decided just to buy a bigger system, which we still use today, then it was we were doing all the steps of a real brewery, just at a smaller scale. It was no longer just a homebrew, so I thought if the right opportunity ever came up, we would expand.”

When asked about the growing number of alumni at the brewery, Stahl said it wasn’t intentional but is welcomed. Axemann Brewery boasts 18 current employees who are either Penn State alumni or current students and four employees who also work at Penn State.

“It wasn’t a conscious plan, but I have a feeling I may be a little subconsciously biased towards Penn Staters, especially in this area, you’re going to come across a lot of Penn Staters and a lot of people with Penn State degrees,” Stahl said.

The vision in question was something Stahl was proud of having combined his love of European beer and the Oktoberfest contest with the already industrialized building the brewery planned to move into.

“If you look around here, the two-word vision for this place was ‘industrial Oktoberfest,’ so we weren’t really trying to make it into a blue and white over-the-top sports bar,” Stahl said. “We tried to keep this place almost like a history museum to honor what it was. From old wood lockers surrounding the bar, old piping as footrails, and old lights hanging from the ceiling.”

After recently finishing the remodeling of a full second floor and balcony, most of the brewery is set up to encompass nature. Resting just feet from a natural stream, the entire back wall of the brewery is lined with garage doors in order to give patrons an inside-out feel during the warm summer months

“It’s much nicer when we are able to open up all the windows, you get a real industrial and nature mix around the bar,” Stahl said. “You can hear the sounds of the stream right outside, called the Springfield stream, and even the train that runs through here sometimes.”

While Stahl is focused on sourcing natural hops and grains from countries all over the world to make Axemann’s beers as delicious as possible, the brewery also tries to enrich its local community through weekly events to welcome people of all interests.

“We host a number of events here for non-profits and other charity organizations. We love to actively participate in fundraisers, such as THON,” Stahl said. “Around November and December, 10% of blue and white beer sales go to THON, and that’s how we like to make our donation.”

In the future, Stahl wants local consumers to be ready for new beers, new events, and a welcoming staff at every turn.

“Besides the cornhole tournament our general manager hosts every year, we plan on making a Mexican lager, a Scottish red ale, and maybe something else to honor our alma mater,” Stahl said.

Located at 2042 Axemann Road in Bellefonte, Axemann is open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

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About the Author

Brendan Wagner

Brendan is a Junior majoring in print and media journalism. Born in Pittsburgh, he now lives in Mooresville, North Carolina. As a die-hard Pittsburgh sports fan, you can find him on Twitter, @brchwags, often complaining about the Pittsburgh Steelers and probably Russell Wilson.

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