CHESTER — Eyes are focused on the West End waterfront as the Philadelphia Union prepares to take on the New York Redbulls Sunday afternoon in round 1 of the MLS Eastern Division playoffs, and the Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County is set to announce the letting of a riverfront master plan design contract this fall.
Against the backdrop of a dominant season for the Union and renewed attention on waterfront business development, The Larimer Beer Company has brought back a long-dormant industry for the city.
The brewery opened the doors to its tasting room, located in the first block of Engle Street just outside of Talen Energy Stadium, ahead of a July 20 Union home game. “There’s still a lot of dust and chaos flying around; still finishing up a little bit of construction – it’s been a whirlwind from the July 20 open date,” said Matt Lindenmuth, founder and brewer.
Lindenmuth plans to serve the first beers brewed in the Chester location and have its manufacturing facilities fully operational by late November. Beer is currently supplied by satellite facilities in Philadelphia and Denver, Colo.
Construction has coincided with attracting throngs of Philadelphia Union supporters for home games in the back-half of the regular season. Along with providing a spot for Philadelphia Union supporters to gather immediately outside of the stadium grounds, the brewery has attracted guests from the Union office as well.
“It’s an absolutely perfect location,” said Daina Lecuona, director of operations and administration for the Wayne-based Philadelphia Union Academy, the club’s youth development component. “When you have all these events at the stadium or the training fields outside … it’s a much welcomed addition to this area,” he said, visiting the brewery tasting room Monday after work at the stadium complex.
“You have people from the community that are walking by that want to go have a beer, and from the soccer community as well. It’s almost like the merging of Chester and the Philadelphia Union as a whole,” said Lecuona. “Even the other clubs that are traveling (for soccer matches)… all of them are saying ‘I really want a beer.’ It’s like a little camaraderie building.”
The start of the NFL season has also brought Eagles fans to the tasting room, with the brewery releasing Bird Gang, the first of a new sports-themed series of beers on Sunday during the Eagles-Vikings game.
“We’re going to do something similar for each sports season,” said Lindenmuth, with Flyers- and Sixers-inspired beers set for a winter release. “They’re all part of our Phandom Acts of Kindness,” he said, with The Larmier donating a portion of proceeds from the beer series to a different charity.
The line will feature a Union-themed beer at the start of the 2020 season next spring, followed by the Phillies in summer 2020. “Gen. Larimer will be a five-sport athlete by the end of the run. He’ll be hanging out at all the games,” said Lindenmuth, referring to the Bird Gang can art depicting the brewery’s namesake logo at Lindenmuth’s Lincoln Financial Field tailgate setup.
The Larimer bears the name of William Larimer, a Western Pennsylvania native and state militia general who headed west in the mid-19th century and founded Denver, Colo. Lindenmuth, a Berks County native and current Philadelphia resident, saw a historical precedent in Larimer to his own life; founding The Larimer in Denver two years ago during a relocation period.
With production currently in Colorado and Philadelphia, the Engle Street site is nearing completion as a pilot brewhouse producing small batches of test beers. Lindenmuth told the Times in May that if a long-term goal of expanding into surrounding buildings and bringing full production to Chester comes to fruition, the current brewhouse will continue as an “experimental lab.”
The Larimer has planned out its first 14 beers for the Engle Street facility as it comes online, including a Mexicana baja-style lager, “a couple of new fruit sour beers, a few different IPAs varying in style, a coffee stout,” according to Lindemuth. Along with The Larimer production beers, the tasting room has featured guest beers from fellow Delaware County breweries including the Media-based Sterling Pig and Chester Township-based 2SP.
“Toward the end of November we’ll be able to start pulling beer out of the tanks here in Chester and get a whole bunch of new beers on the menu,” said Lindenmuth. “We’ve been … trying our best to keep our head above water with the soccer season right now. Luckily we’ve got some really great neighbors in Sterling Pig and 2SP and others,” he said. “We’re going to keep some good guest taps on, but I’m dying to start pulling beer out of these tanks and filling the lines with stuff we’re brewing here in town.”
As the pilot brewhouse comes online, the brewery has also launched its Larimer League and Larimer Pint Society groups, with paying members having access to limited release beers at the Engle Street site. “It draws people to Chester,” said Jeff Fulmer, Larimer sales representative. “One of our major goals is to draw people down and get that riverfront going.”