The Who Behind the Brew: Yorkholo Brewing Company

Tucked up in North Central PA, just a few miles from the stunning Pennsylvania Grand Canyon is the borough of Mansfield, home to Mansfield University of Pennsylvania, and known as “the Gateway to the PA Wilds.” It’s the kind of small town where small businesses, like coffee shops, ice cream shops and pizzerias, fill the charming storefronts on the main streets, giving the area some personality and a sense of local pride. One of these local businesses is Yorkholo Brewing Company, which put down roots in the town back in 2011.

Yorkholo Brewing

The brewery was founded and is owned by Jarrod York, a military veteran who decided to pursue a career in brewing as an evolution of his passion for home brewing. Now in its 13th year in business, Yorkholo is cemented as a cornerstone of the Mansfield community, known for its English-style beers and beers that celebrate the local PA culture, like its PA Grand Canyon Vanilla Porter and PA Wilds Ale table saison. We chatted with York about the origin story of Yorkholo Brewing, and how it has evolved during his decade-plus in operation.

PA Eats: Was brewing, or owning a brewery, something that was on your radar when you were younger?

Jarrod York: Not really. I went to school for environmental biology, and thought I was going to work in a lab or out in the field. But to pay for college I had to join the National Guard, and halfway through college I got deployed and had to drop out. When I got back, my whole outlook on life changed and I didn’t want to work for the government anymore.

I got into home brewing in the early 2000s when craft beer was just starting. I ended up applying to the American Brewers Guild, an intensive virtual and onsite training in Vermont, and then I did a six-week internship at Ithaca Beer Co. That internship wrapped up in 2008, right during the financial crisis time, and I was having trouble finding a job. I’d made friends at Ithaca, and they hired me. I worked there for two years.

What gave you the inspiration to start your own company?

Ithaca was more of a production brewery, and I was brewing the same stuff every day, non-stop, over and over again. I preferred the brewpub model, and the idea of being able to be creative and playing around with different beers.

Yorkholo Brewing

What brought you back home to Mansfield, and why did you decided to start Yorkholo there?

My family owned a building on Main St. in Mansfield, it was a beauty salon that my mom had been working out of for 25 years. She was looking for a new spot because it’s a big building, more space than she needed. We decided to use that space for the brewpub and we completely gutted it. There was this gorgeous brick behind the walls, wood flooring under the tile. The building dates back to the late 1800s as far as we know. For the look of the space, I love English pubs, but we gave this in a more American style, with antiques displayed on the wall. Someone gave me the original oil lantern that used to be in here, so I re-wired those.

Is the name Yorkholo a riff on your last name?

Yorkholo is the name of my family’s PA Century Farm, that was established in 1861. It was a dairy farm for years and when my grandfather retired he sold off all the dairy cows and now it’s just an old farm. The farm is pronounced like “York-Hollow,” but when you breed and register cows you have the farm’s name in the name of the cow. For registration, they shortened it to Yorkholo. The name of the brewery is our way of continuing that legacy.    


Yorkholo Brewing

How have things at Yorkholo changed since you opened your doors in 2011?

We’re mainly a restaurant with a brewpub attached. When we opened, we had a partially local menu. Because I really wanted to support local farmers, I said, “What if we cut our menu in half and go hyper local and seasonal?” But it was too ambitious. There was a backlash from our customers because to stick to local sourcing we had to up our prices and cut menu items like our fish and chips. This is a small, working-class area, and people weren’t too happy that our prices increased; we pivoted back to keep the costs down. 

Also, early on in the project, I tried to distribute a little but it’s a huge pain. You can go through a distributor where you have to sign a contract and lower your prices, or you can sell directly. And then there’s how other places you sell to present your beer, and I can have more control with my own staff if I just serve the beer here.

What’s Yorkholo’s beer style?

I tend to brew what I want to drink, which is to say, not the norm. Right not on tap we have a Rauchbier, which is a smoked lager, an English-style dark mild, a Belgian style dubbel and a British wee heavy. Those are beer styles I can’t find when I go out to restaurants or grocery stores.   

Years ago when we first opened, I’d go foraging in the woods for ingredients. See, hops are kind of like a newer ingredient in beer; for centuries people would use whatever they could when making beer. We tried dandelions and pine needles for a few years, and that evolved into a mix fermentation beer. I’d make the wort and let it sit in the coolship overnight exposed to the air, then transfer it to the tank and add primary yeast and let it ferment. When you bottle it, it evolves over time. The wild yeasts give it an acquired taste that’s balanced with fruity esters and acidity, it works. It’s a style I’m super interested in, but honestly it’s not a great seller. But that’s the fun of it: If I wake up and I have the urge to brew something, I can!

Yorkholo Brewing

For more info on Yorkholo Brewing Co., including beer releases, menu updates and events, follow along on Instagram and Facebook.

Find Yorkholo Brewing Co. at 19 N. Main St. in Mansfield, PA; phone: (570) 662-0241.

This series is made possible by support from the Pennsylvania Malt and Brewed Beverage Industry Promotion Board and grant funding from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

  • Photos: Yorkholo Brewing Co.

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