At the Wellsboro House: Restaurateur Chris Kozuhowski (left) and head brewer Rob Kathcart always have four of their craft brews on tap.
Limited quantity, high variety, and consistently awesome. This is the mission that Rob Kathcart and Chris Kozuhowski came up with when they teamed up to make Wellsboro House, a restaurant on Charleston Street, into the Wellsboro House Restaurant and Brewery.
Kozuhowski, the owner of Wellsboro House, had been friends with Kathcart, who is a Wellsboro native and schoolteacher for Southern Tioga School District, for twenty-five years.
Teacher by day, Kathcart was a home brewer by night.
When asked why he wanted to become a brewer, Kathcart was quick to answer, “Because I love beer!”
“My wife and I, about four years ago, decided to try making beer and wine at home,” Kathcart said. “We started going full force, and we made all types—beer, wine, meads, and ciders. I built a wine and a beer cellar, and for about a year we bought no commercial brands of beer.”
So it seemed natural that a partnership developed when Kathcart decided to bring some of his home brews to the Wellsboro House.
“I did it with no intentions whatsoever. I said, ‘Hey, you’ve got a great beer selection, why don’t you try what I am doing?’”
“We had a taste test session and decided to just brew some beer here,” Kozuhowski said.
And so, the Wellsboro House Restaurant and Brewery was born. Kathcart and Kozuhowski have been brewing at the restaurant for the past two years, with the brewery title becoming official in the past year.
So, just what does Kathcart do as head brewer?
“Hopefully make damn good beer!”
And, true to his word, Kathcart and Kozuhowski take pride in what they are doing.
A customer may not see the same varieties from one weekend to the next, and that is because they brew small batches and are constantly rotating their selection.
It’s been trial and error, with some not-so-good-tasting beers being nixed early on, but, thanks to some mentoring from head brewer Bill Moore at Lancaster Brewing Company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, it’s been smooth sailing.
“Bill Moore is one of the top brewers on the east coast, and he told us that we would learn it all on the job. So far it seems to be working,” Kathcart said.
According to Kathcart, the base recipe and steps for making different types of beer are all the same.
The process starts with mixing various malts, barleys, and grains. Those are ground up and soaked for about an hour in 164-degree water. Boiling the mixture converts the starches into fermentable sugars. The sugar water is brought back to a boil, and hops and any other ingredients are put in. This is boiled again for another hour and cooled down to about eighty degrees. At this point the yeast is added.
“The yeast is the most important ingredient. Yeast is what makes each beer different in terms of flavor and taste,” Kathcart said.
After the beer is cooled down, it is put into the fermenter. Most beers take just a little over two weeks to ferment. A couple of days before the beer is kegged, the temperature is dropped to about forty degrees. This helps settle out a lot of the solids. Then it is kegged, carbonated, and put on tap.
At Wellsboro House Restaurant and Brewery, the one craft brew that is always on tap is the Wynken, Blynken and Nod Out IPA. You can even buy a t-shirt emblazoned with its design. As the fall season progresses, customers will enjoy sipping on pumpkin flavors. Come winter, there will be stouts. Lemon grass arrives in the spring and fruit flavors in the summer. The Brewery always tries to have four of their own beers on tap at all times. But perhaps the most important thing about the craft brews is that they won’t taste like anything anyone has ever tasted before.
“No clone beers here,” Kozuhowski said.
“We make it our own,” Kathcart added. “We’re not trying to make something similar to a Guinness or a Bass Ale.”
Just a few weeks prior, a woman from Philadelphia, who frequently travels to Belgium for work, came to the Brewery. She told Kathcart and Kozuhowski that she always hesitates to order a Belgian-style beer back home, because she has tasted the real deal.
“She had ours, and she said it was one of the best ones she’s had at a craft brewery. She was thoroughly impressed,” Kozuhowski said.
“Breweries are a destination, and now we’re known as one,” Kathcart said. “This is how it was in America up until the prohibition. Your beer was always made locally. That is starting to make a comeback now. The craft brewery industry is tremendously growing. I think people appreciate that. You know the people that made your beer and they made it right here.”
More Brew for You
Yorkholo Brewing Company & Restaurant:
Located in Mansfield, Yorkholo brews twenty to thirty different beers throughout the year, and the selection is always changing. Look for year-round brews such as Bungy Blonde Ale and Pine Creek Raspberry Wit. Yorkholo, pronounced “York Hollow,” derives its name from the once local York family dairy farm.
Located in Williamsport, the Bullfrog Brewery has won awards for their brews, including medals at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup. Check out their flavors, including Billtown Blonde, Smoked Cherry Hefe, and Grape Wheat. Really like a flavor? You can take some home with you in a half-gallon or gallon growler.
Market Street Brewing Co. & Restaurant:
The only brewery in Corning, New York, also houses a restaurant. Drink one of the six beers on tap, such as Mad Bug Beer and Wrought Iron Red Ale, as you’re sitting at the bar made of cherry, walnut, and mahogany wood. Join the Mug Club and enjoy discounted beers and four growler fills throughout the year.
Horseheads Brewing Inc.:
The master brewer of this company received his education from the Siebel Institute in Chicago. Horseheads Brewing Inc. has won a trophy for Best Craft Brewery in New York State. Shop around the retail store for brews such as Chemung Canal Towpath Ale, Brickyard Red Ale, and Hot-Jala Heim Beer with Bite, as well as pint glasses and mugs.
This Williamsport spot, open for just over a year, is a traditional pub, and the pub’s motto is “Where it is all about the beer.” That doesn’t mean that you won’t find delicious fare made from local ingredients, though. And instead of TVs or Wi-Fi, you’ll find good conversation. Twelve craft brews are on tap, including year- round flavors Alpha Deuce IPA, Arch Street Wheat, Round Hills Red Ale, and Jaysburg Porter.