Awesome Beer and a Great Group of Guys
There’s always a smile when you talk to the owners of Bog Turtle Brewery. We asked them how they keep the long brew days fun. “With five partners with a varied set of interests such, as movies, music, sports and outdoor activities, there are always subjects to argue, debate, and even sometimes agree on. And there is always beer to talk about.”
How did Bog Turtle Brewery get started?
“When we first got started, 5 of the 6 partners lived in the same development, Sycamore Crossing, and all of us lived in Oxford Borough. At a neighborhood barbeque one weekend, the group of us were standing around talking about what we do for fun. Steve chimed in and said he brews beer in his garage. We all did a double take and the rest, as they say, is history.”
“The first Saturday of the month became Brew Day. It didn’t matter what was going on around us, blizzards, hurricanes, even the 2012 apocalypse. If it was the First Saturday, we were in Steve’s garage brewing.”
“Our home brew setup was quite intense, we brewed on propane, it was like having 200 bunsen burners in a ring. It sounded like the space shuttle was taking off,” Jon jokes. “After finding a home for the brewery, where cooking with propane was apparently frowned upon, our Brewmaster, Steve built out an electric system for the current brewhouse by hand. It’s that attention to every detail you get when you have Steve as the brewmaster.”
“One weekend we brought some of the home brew we made to a friend’s barbeque and John McGlothin, owner of the OTE and SawMill was there. He tried some of the beer and said if we ever open a brewery he would give us a tap at the OTE. This was pre-fire.”
“At first we laughed and said we would never be able to be an actual brewery. But then we turned around and said, wait a minute, maybe we can give this a shot. So, in 2014 we divided up the tasks to explore the idea of opening a brewery.”
On March 1, 2015 they signed the lease with the Oxford Sewer Authority to rent their municipal storage space. The guys spent 9 months cleaning, renovating, and getting the brewery up and running.
Today, the guys brew almost every weekend and can produce 5 batches which is 68 cases of beer a weekend!
“We have a fun time coming up with the beer names. We are all Oxford residents, so we try and use local references and inside jokes when naming our beers.”
“Two Stories Blonde Ale, is named based on the Oxford Hotel, which was the first two-story building in Oxford.”
Bog Turtle’s most popular beer, Devil’s Nine Ball, also has an interesting story behind it. Be sure to get that story first-hand from one of the guys the next time you’re in the brewery.
You also won’t want to miss the story behind the Willy Loman and the Chocolate Stout. Here’s a clue, it started with a beer or two!
“It’s interesting being in an old building in Downtown Oxford. It used to be an A&P Grocery, a Charter School, even the Oxford Historical Society was housed here. When I first moved to Oxford in 2003, it was a Mexican restaurant and I spent a lot of time eating all my lunches here. I’ve come full circle, because I still spend all my free time in this building.”
“While doing the build out of this space we got excited about this awesome huge walk-in fridge we installed. We’ve reached the point now where its busting at the seams.”
“These are those growing moments when we take a minute, look around and realize how far we’ve come.”
Bog Turtle is a second job for all the guys.
Chris Davis – Regional IT Manager by day. BTB Director of Finance.
John Ewing –Pipefitter by day. BTB Director of Operations.
Johnny Topmiller – Engineer by day. BTB Director of Regulatory Compliance
Steve Applegate – IT Storage Engineer by day. BTB Brewmaster
Jon Campbell – Physical Therapist by day. BTB Director of Community Relations and Marketing
5 guys with 5 very specific set of skills.
“We each are hands on when brewing. But we also have our own responsibilities of running a business that we focus on.” They’ve managed to turn a weekend hobby into a growing passion that has been for the most part self-funded. “We’ve turned all profits back into the business, not taking any salaries for ourselves.”
We divide up brewing into shifts, 2 guys on Saturday and 2 guys on Sunday. It works out that we each get one weekend off brewing duty a month. It helps that we are all locals. It’s easy for one of us to cover for the other if we need to take the kids somewhere or be with our families.
People keep coming back for the beer, which is very good, but they also come for the experience.
“We’re a fun bunch of guys, we’re all dads, we all work our tails off. In the end we are doing what we love.“
The guys at Bog Turtle Brewing also give back to the community as much as they can. For example, at Sacred Heart’s Octoberfest they are literally the grand prize.
“We take the winner’s home brew and do a full production run. It’s is an awesome prize for a home brewer!”
“First Friday’s are always a great night, but we also can’t wait for the weather to break so we can open up the Outdoor Café again.”
The Bog Turtle Brewery Tasting Room is now open. Stop by and try out of their four standard brews along with their seasonal favorites.
They recently hosted the first live music event with Blades of Grass bluegrass band, who will be coming back on Thursday March 15. They also host a weekly movie night, View with a Brew, on Wednesday’s.
You can get growlers and pints at the Tasting Room at 14 South Third Street. They also have taps at the SawMill and the Octorara Hotel and Tavern in Oxford. As well as Sovanna Bistro in Unionville. We are looking to expand this network. Once this summer hits and the Tasting Room takes off we’re looking to expand this network.
Bog Turtle Brewing
14 South Third Street
Oxford, PA 19363