West Chester’s Newest Brewery

Yes, it’s true. West Chester has a new brewery in town!  Boxcar Brewing Company, located on Westtown Road in West Chester, announced its official Grand Opening and the introduction of its flagship beer—Original Ale. Boxcar Brewing Company is a family-owned, community-oriented brewing company that brews fine-crafted beer meant to be enjoyed with family and friends.

Boxcar Brewing Company was founded in 2008 by cousins Jason Kohser and Jamie Robinson. Jason, formerly a winemaker in Sonoma California, discovered his passion for brewing beer and sharing it with friends and family while living and working in California. While enjoying Jason’s homebrews one afternoon, Jamie—a lover of brews of all kinds—posed the question of formally brewing beer. When the time was right, Jason decided to move to Pennsylvania and together with Jamie, the dream of opening a brewery was born. Today, Boxcar Brewing Company is owned and operated by Jason and Jamie and their wives, Kristen and Kymberly, respectively.

I caught up with Jason and Jamie at their West Chester location to get the scoop on their brew. Jamie is your typical beer-drinking dude who brings the beer drinking experience to the table and Jason brings the science. Now their full-time gig and joking that they couldn’t make enough beer to keep up with their personal demands, the owners talked with me about the experience of starting their own brewery.

WC Dish: How did you get started brewing your own beer?

Jason: I was originally a wine maker and buyer in California for a few restaurants, and then I moved from California. When you move away from California you can’t get good grapes from your neighbor. A guy once said to me that beer is so much more complex than wine and I thought he was crazy. And he was right. It’s incredible.

WC Dish: What made you change from a wine guy to a beer guy?

Jason: I wanted to make a beer that I liked because I didn’t understand it. I just didn’t like beer. I decided to approach beer how I approached wine…noticing how it hits on my palate, smells, feels in my mouth, the aftertaste.  All of those things happen when you drink beer anyway.

Jamie: I, on the other hand am the beer drinker.  I love beer, I drink it a lot, I try it all and love ’em all.  I try as much as I can, so when Jason was making beer, he had the technical knowledge and I was the taster.  I bring the consumer experience to he table.

WC Dish: How did this turn into something bigger than a hobby?

Jamie: We had a lot of positive feedback from everyone that had our beers and that sparked us into looking into a serious thing.

Jason: When you mention to a family member that you make beer, every Irish Catholic family says, “start a brewery.” We have a lot of beer drinkers in the family, so they helped to encourage us. We brewed our own beer for my wedding, which was a huge hit.

He pauses to go into the back room while Jason pours some stuff from a water bottle into the brewing tank. An alarm goes off and Jason deals with it all while chatting with Jamie about their next steps for brewing.

WC Dish: Tell us about Boxcar’s first beer, Original Ale.

Jason: We wanted to create an especially social beer that would be a transitional ale for people that don’t like heavy microbrews, but one that has a lot of subtlety to it so that microbrew fans would love it as well as mainstream drinkers. We feel like Original Ale is one that people would drink for its great flavor, but would find it light enough to enjoy socially. I think that is just what we have created here, a “session ale” where you can sit down and have flavor but it is refreshing but complex and great on a hot day. This beer is for everyone.

He goes on to explain that this light-bodied ale offers a pleasant hop flavor balanced with a mild malt taste and a hint of citrus. Two different types of unroasted base malts and whole leaf cluster hops are dry hopped with whole leaf cascade hops to provide the rich flavor to this very pale ale. The finish is satisfying and clean with an alcohol by volume of 5%.

WC Dish: How come only one brew?

Jason: We only make ONE kind.  We like being simple.  It’s a good beer.  We’ll do others in time, but we aren’t going to have 10 beers in a year…maybe two or three.

WC Dish: How did you choose your first location?

Jamie: It was important to us to open the brewery in Chester County, especially West Chester. My wife and I have spent so much of our lives in the area and we think that it is such a great place for family, community and small business.

WC Dish: Where do you distribute?

Jamie: So far we have beer available at The Note, Side Bar and Restaurant and The West Bradford Grill in West Chester.  Also at the Station Tap Room in Downingtown, The Epicurean Restaurant and Bar in Phoenixville, Duffer’s Tavern in Glen Mills and Duffers Mill in Chichester. You can grab a case at Goshen Beverage, Waywood Beverage or Lou’s Beverage.

WC Dish: A local restaurant actually told me that what sold him on supporting you was not only the taste of the beer but that you delivered it in a trailer hitched to your car:

Jamie: Every place we’ve gotten into we’ve handed them a beer and gone from there.  I deliver all of it myself.  Today I delivered 50 cases.  The delivery truck is actually a trailer with “Boxcar Brewing Company” written in 4 inch letters.  And we hitch to our family vehicles, it’s a pretty cool site.

WC Dish: Why the name “Boxcar Brewery?”

Jason: My family is Irish and when the first generation came over to the states, they had a few choices of profession.  They could be a cop, a fireman or work on the rails… they decided to work on the rails.  We still have family that work with Amtrak and Septa and we liked the way it sounded, it’s simple.   People think they’ve heard of it when really they haven’t, it’s just a familar sounding name.

WC Dish: Tell me about your Community Bottling Day:

We typically bottle on Sundays and as a fun way that the community can get involved.  We ask for two shifts of people that volunteer their time from 12-3 or 3:30-6:30.  We usually get about 8 people for each shift and they come in for 3 hours while we listen to music, bottle beer, have a pizza break and give them samples.  It’s really a community thing to have people involved in a local brewery and what we are doing.  If someone is a fan of our beer we love to let them be part of what we are doing.  We are open to anyone coming down… in fact, we just had a married couple drive down from Lancaster to help do bottling day.  They had a great time.

Boxcar Brewing Company Open House This Weekend!

Boxcar Brewing Company will host Brews, Blues and Boards—an open house event offering free beer samples; featuring entertainment from local funk blues band—The New Kings of Rhythm and a skateboarding demonstration featuring Pro-Skater Mike Maldonado and Winner of the “Element ‘Make it Count’ Contest,” Scotty McDade. The event will take place on Sunday, June 6th from 1-4 pm at the Boxcar brewery on Westtown Road in West Chester. Everyone over the age of 21 is invited to come for samples, guided tours and the owners and brewer will be there to answer questions and to meet the community.

For more info, visit www.boxcarbrewingcompany.com.

Boxcar Brewing Company
306 Westtown Road Suite C
West Chester, PA 19382
(484) 887-0538
E-mail [email protected]