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As Yeast Whisperer, Scott Rudich appeals to the instincts of a beer lover.
“We would not offer anything we don’t like,” said the Pipersville resident and co-owner of Round Guys Brewing Company. “If you don't like our beer that you are drinking, we will find something you will like.”
It's about beers for everybody, brewed by nobodies.
Add Enzyme Wrangler Rich DiLiberto, of West Chester, and what you have are the nobodies behind Round Guys Brewing Company.
You also have the nobodies behind the first taproom to come to Lansdale at the corner of Wood and Courtland streets, in the old Lauchman Printing Company building.
Like a strong stout, there is some work to do before Round Guys is tapped as a Lansdale beer lover’s newest watering hole.
“We have until September 30 to have all our ducks in a row,” Rudich, who is also head fermentationist, said. “We are looking to open by Halloween or Thanksgiving.”
Round Guys had a presence at last month’s Lansdale Beer Fest, and feedback from the community was great.
“We got a local government that was excited to have us in there,” Rudich said. “We stopped looking at other places and decided to just find a spot in Lansdale.”
Round Guys Brewing Company right now has its home in the garage of Rudich. Soon, that miniaturized version will be morphed into a 260-gallon tank, 7-barrel system in a space behind Philadelphia Soft Pretzel Factory and Main Street Pizza at 314 W. Main St.
Round Guys will operate on a brewery license and not a liquor license.
The difference is a brewery license will allow Rudich and DiLiberto to sell their beer and any wines made in Pennsylvania, whereas a liquor license allows one to sell anybody’s beer and anybody’s wine and liquor.
Not to mention the $200,000 cost for a liquor license.
“The county sold all its liquor licenses, and the only other way to get one is to either be in an economic development zone or transfer a license,” said Rudich, a pharmaceutical technician with Merck. “Even if you are in an economic development zone, you have to put down a $50,000 bond with the state to do that. And $50,000 is a half-year operating budget for us.”
The payoff will come in the form of a full staff, Rudich said, and any volunteers they can get to complete the expansion of the brick building.
“It’s bare bones. We’re recruiting tradesmen and anyone willing to donate their time on a Saturday or Sunday with plumbing stuff and construction stuff,” Rudich said. “Just to help get our doors open.”
The first step is for Round Guys to open and get licensed to sell growlers. Then, get licensed to have a kitchen and sell pints and complementary food like grilled cheese sandwiches, paninis and the like.
Rudich and DiLiberto met through a mutual friend in 1998, and have remained great friends that have become business partners.
The love of homebrew came about through inspiration from a really band cover band.
“Rich texted me one night that he was watching a crappy cover band. He said we should either start a band or a brewery,” Rudich said. “I texted that neither one of us can play an instrument. I called up and said, ‘Do you want to start a brewery?’ and it started from there.”
The first batch was brewed almost two-and-a-half years ago, and they had to start small.
“We were joking around in the early days of homebrewing of opening a bar and the wives said we shouldn’t invest the money and take up time and try it unless we were good at it,” Rudich said. “We got a finger-wagging.”
And the name “Round Guys”? They started with Two Round Guys, but it sounded too much like a cross between a hardware store where Rudich grew up in New York and a pizza shop.
They dropped the "two" and went with Round Guys.
“And we couldn’t think of anything better,” Rudich said. “Round Guys defined us.”
Rudich said the name also relates to the beer they brew.
“We don’t make aggressive beers,” he said. “We are not cutesy. There are no special ingredients. We are not adding things that don’t normally go in beer.”
Everything is regular beer with a balance of hops and malt, he said.
“We make IPAs, but they’re not going to blow the roof off your mouth. Even people that don’t like craft beers taste it, and say ‘It’s good, but I can have only one of these.’”
Then, there’s the inspiration of buying rounds of drinks for their friends on many an occasion.
“We used to blow money at bars buying rounds for our friends. We’d each have $400 and come back penniless from Sea Isle,” Rudich said. “We were eager to bring friends out and have a good time.”
The inspiration for a taproom started with a business model from Weyerbacher Brewing Company in Easton: sell your beer to bars and have tastings from noon to 4 p.m. daily and brew in the evenings and weekends and be open limited hours on Saturday.
“Once we got into Lansdale,” Rudich said, “and starting meeting the people, we thought ‘This would be silly for us to be open a couple hours a week.’ We wanted to find a way to be part of the community, find a way to serve a pint and let the people of Lansdale in and get to know them.”
There is a difference between a taproom and brew pub. Both serve pints, but the difference is in the type of food. A taproom is about simple foods like hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches.
“At least 50 people in Lansdale are excited for us to be there, and having Molly Maguire’s across the street gives you an option,” Rudich said. “If you want an upscale dinner, go there. If you want quick pints and sandwiches or a pretzel, come to us. And that was our idea.”
The plan for the Round Guys Taproom is basic: be open allotted hours, four days a week and weekends. As football season approaches, be open for Monday Night football games and serve pints.
“We met the mayor, we met Mike Riccio, we met Matt West, and they are all great guys. They kept saying, ‘Come in. We really don’t like craft beer, but we like what you’ve given us so far. Come into our town.’”
Take a drive over to Wood Street at Courtland and you’ll see some changes.
There are three new windows on the Wood Street façade and a new entrance. The sidewalk is getting worked on too.
“At this point,we are waiting for our landlord to complete outside construction, and then this week, he will divide the space between us and the pizzeria,” Rudich said. “Once that space is divided, then we will start moving in.”
The “moving in” includes putting in new floors, a new water system, new electrical conduit and two bathrooms. The brewery and the taproom will be separated too.
Then there are the legal items: filing documents with the federal government and state government.
Round Guys Brewing’s production system is in storage at present.
Once everything is done, moved in and set up, Round Guys will churn out six styles of beer.
Each style must be brewed once every two weeks. Each batch makes 14-and-a-half kegs, and four batches can be brewed in a day at six to eight hours for one batch.
“The amount of yeast we are using will take seven days for a batch of beer,” Rudich said. “We have three sets of fermenters and one conditioning tank, so we can do four batches at any one time.”
Kegs will be filled and tapped, growlers will be bottled and cases will be ready to go.
“We will have enough beer to supply the residents of Lansdale and the surrounding five counties,” Rudich said.
The idea is to partner with bars like Montella’s, Molly Maguire’s, Third and Walnut and Junction House to sell Round Guys beer.
“If (Montella’s owner) Sal (Moscariello) wants to buy our beer, we’re happy to sell. If (Molly Maguire’s owners) Connor and Declan want to buy our beer, we’d lke to do that,” Rudich said. “We are not turning down orders; we want to start going outward from Lansdale.”
Once Round Guys expands to a kitchen, then they can offer a lot more to the community.
“The residents need to be patient with us. We want to expand to a full kitchen, but we need to get up and running,” Rudich said. “We’re about the beer. A lot of other brew pubs are about food and beer as a moneymaker. We want to be creative with our food offerings.”
There is also a plan to have a bottling line.
“We firmly believe that with the location we are at, we can put off bottling for quite some time because the support of the borough is enough that we don’t have to look at a bottling line,” Rudich said. “It’s labor intensive and we wouldn’t be able to supply the market well.”
One of the hooks is special brews will only be available at the brewery.
“There are special beers we make that we will offer to select certain bars that we’ve developed relationships with,” Rudich said. “We want to offer beer to bars that supported us through our discovery phase, like Blue Dog.”
So what kind of beer can you expect at Round Guys?
Well, it’s good to note that all of the beer brewed is more than 6 percent alcohol by volume.
“We are working on session beers – we’ve done Belgian pale ale and British mild – beers people can come in and drink that are 3-to-4-percent-alcohol-and-not-be-escorted-home kind of beers,” Rudich said. “They are full flavored but light on alcohol.”
Round Guys beer harkens back to the ethos that Rudich and DiLiberto won’t offer beer that they don’t like. That’s why you won’t find any fruit beer on the list.
“We’ve converted grandfathers, great-grandfathers, uncles, great-uncles who only drink stuff by Bud, Miller, Coors, who have had our beer and really liked it,” Rudich said. “They could be lying, but parties and events where kegs are kicked are another testament.”
“We are even looking to do a beer where the locals pick their favorite and market it as ‘Lansdale’s Beer,’” Rudich said.
So what are the six main beers of Round Guys Brewing Company?
There is Sticke Blonde: “That is based on Kolsch. It’s a hoppy ale; we add more malt to it and more hops. It’s like a German pale ale,” said Rudich.
There is Hammerzeit Alt, which has an interesting story behind it: “It’s German for ‘hammertime.’ One of the first times we brewed it, we found a 3-pound sledge in the bottom of the fermenter,” said Rudich. “The beer turned out fine.”
Hammerzeit is an amber beer, almost like an American brown ale.
Punch Drunk Porter is a 6.5 percent ABV beer: “It’s a nice fall beer and we have won multiple awards for it,” Rudich said.
Rudich offered a little history lesson: “Robert Hare, of Philadelphia, was the most prominent porter brewer in the 13 Colonies. It was popular in London and George Washington loved it. He would always order it for himself because he thought it was the best beer. I thought we needed a porter being near Philly,” Rudich said.
Blackback IPA falls in line with the popularity of IPAs in our area. “It’s a newer style that has emerged in popularity,” Rudich said. “It’s dark, not hard. It’s not chocolately and not coffeesque. We use a certain grain, and it’s a beer we get a lot of favorable response on.”
Round Guys brews two stronger beers: a Belgian triple called Fatbob XVII and a stout called Fuzzy Muttness.
Fatbob XVII is an 8.6 percent beer. “It’s an homage to a close friend of mine who brewed it and that was his email handle,” Rudich said. “I hope Harley-Davidson doesn’t send a cease and desist on the name.”
Fuzzy Muttness is an 8 percent beer named after Rudich’s dog, Guiness.
“It’s the name Rich gave my dog. I can’t name it Guiness, so I used Rich’s nickname for my dog,” Rudich said.
Round Guys also makes an Oktoberfest that they hope to unleash on Lansdale.
“Depending on the legality when we are licensed, it may be a 2012 offering,” Rudich said. “It’s the first one we won an award for. I usually cut my neighbors off when they start drinking it because they will finish the keg by the end of the night.”
Come October or November, Round Guys will begin its goal of starting small and radiating out to the surrounding area.
In the meantime, they both continue to educate themselves on brewing and getting drunk on the love of learning about brewing.
They want their business to be an educational experience to those stopping in to try their masterpieces.
Call it an oral test.
“We’ll have a quality program, and all the stuff to make sure we are serving a tap-quality product,” Rudich said. “We’re not a couple guys in the basement.”
Most importantly, Round Guys isn’t trying to be a bar. It wants to work with other local bars to make the residents happy and interested in not just coming to Lansdale, but staying in it as well.
It's nobodies making a success for everybody.
“I’d like to think Lansdale should become a destination, like Doylestown or Ambler, and not just wander in and wander out,” Rudich said. “If the door’s open and we’re brewing, poke your head in and say ‘Hi.’”
Want to help with Round Guys Brewing Company’s development and success by volunteering your time or offering services? Contact Round Guys at email@example.com.
Visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Roundguys.
Got a question for Scott or Rich regarding Round Guys Taproom? Let us know in the comments and we'll get back to you with an answer!