A simple business plan and a dream
Jon Northup approached Mike Price in the spring of 2010 with a simple business plan and a dream to start a small brewery. Over the next year, they found a small, inexpensive location in the middle of the small town of Ephrata, Pennsylvania and worked through all the red tape and logistics of forming the first one barrel nano-brewery in Lancaster County. The plan was to brew on weekends and be open for sales on Saturdays only. February 2, 2011 was the opening day and was met with a great response from the craft beer community. Hegemony was on tap and sold out in a few hours. It quickly became clear that this business was not going to be a part time job.
By April Jon was full time brewing and managing the day-to-day aspects of running the business. It also became clear that brewing one barrel at a time was not cost effective. In September the men designed and built a three barrel brewhouse using a redwood clad grundy with the top removed for a mash tun. The kettle was fabricated by a local Mennonite metal shop. The business started to turn a modest profit soon after the purchase of larger plastic fermenters. They were filling growlers and servicing bars with kegs from this location until the business grew enough to move to a larger facility, expand production capability, and open a taproom.
After a lengthy and frustrating search they found the perfect place on Main Street, just west of downtown Ephrata. The building, known locally as “the creamery,” was originally built to be a milk processing facility for Hershey Ice Cream. All of the necessary utilities and drains were already in place, so all it needed was some cosmetic upgrades and they were ready to move in and brew. The new brewery opened for growler fills in the middle of February 2013 while Jon and Mike continued working on the facility with the goal of opening a taproom by summertime. By June, construction was complete and the first pint was served. The addition of food trucks on weekends created a unique experience for the Lancaster craft beer scene. The popularity of the taproom grew so great that with production at capacity, 90 percent of the beer was being sold on premise. That meant the brewery had to stop servicing the majority of its bar accounts.
In the fall of 2013, Dain Shirey joined the ownership group. Dain, a middle school teacher, had been volunteering during the summers and became an invaluable asset to the company. He took on the marketing and social media aspects of the business.
Toward the end of 2013, the owners began to work on projections and plans for a major production expansion. Approval arrived in February of 2014, and the process of converting the remaining space in the building to a full scale production brewery began. After six months of hard work, the new 15 barrel brew house and canning line were installed and working.
In the fall of 2015, we doubled our tank space in order to increase our distribution footprint. In the summer of 2017, we installed a new canning line to increase the quality and stability of our canned products.
- Ephrata Review: Happy Birthday, St. Boniface. February, 2015.
- PennLive: Discover brews in Ephrata: Out with Sara. January, 2015.
- Lititz Record: Can-demonium! December 2014.
- Lancaster Online: St. Boniface selected as best craft beer. August 2014.
- Ephrata Review: ‘Can’onizing Saint Boniface. July 2014.
- Reading Eagle: Craft brewing starts with a plan. June 2014.
- Lancaster Online: St. Boniface has opened the taproom at its brewery. July 2013.
- Brad Rhen: New brewpub up and running in Ephrata. July 2013.