Today, we are kicking off our Meet the Brewer series by introducing Tim Patton, the co-founder and head brewer at Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. in Kensington. Tim sat down with Philly Beer Week for a quick Q&A session exploring his deep-rooted love of craft beer, especially Belgian Tripels, and future expansion plans for the brewery.
We also grilled Tim about what he loves and hates about PBW -- OK, what's not to love? -- and asked him to share his experiences as a newly-minted member of PBW's Executive Board. Tim, along with business partner, Christina Burris, opened Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. in 2014.
PBW: Hi Tim and welcome! Can you please take us back to the beginning? How and when did you get started in craft brewing?
Tim: I started homebrewing a few years before founding the brewery, sometime in the mid 2000s. I had gotten into craft beer right before I moved to Philly, then the scene I found here really expanded my horizons. I wanted to be part of it and also wanted to work on a small scale to start with. I researched nano-breweries and visited some on the West Coast, and that seemed like the model to start with.
PBW: Prior to entering Philly’s beer scene, what were your general thoughts and impressions about Philly Beer Week?
Tim: I had been going to Philly Beer Week events for a few years, and I was a big fan of trying different beers and seeing new breweries pop up in the city. I also like the festival atmosphere that a lot of my favorite bars took on during that week.
PBW: Have those thoughts changed since joining Philly Beer Week’s Board?
Tim: I definitely learned how much effort and time goes into making Philly Beer Week a success. I also became aware that the different groups have different needs that have to be met. It's important to reach a consensus among all the stakeholders.
PBW: Why did you choose Kensington to open Saint Benjamin?
Tim: I wanted to run an urban brewery. This city will always be our home market and I wanted to be close to it. Plus, it is near Fishtown and Northern Liberties where I have a lot of strong ties. This neighborhood is developing as well, and I liked the idea of being a part of the changes that were coming here. Finally, the neighborhood has a long history as an industrial center, which means there were a lot of suitable places to put a production brewery.
PBW: We’ve heard you have some pretty big plans for expansion. What can we expect to see at Saint Benjamin in the coming months?
Tim: We are going to be canning some of our beers, expect to see them in the late spring. We also will be opening a brand new taproom in our location in Kensington, around the same time we start canning.
PBW: What is the best part of Philly Beer Week for you as a brewer? Do you have a favorite moment or event?
Tim: Last year was our first year really being open and having a plan for Philly Beer Week. It was a blur, doing 18 events in one week! But, I really liked being able to get our beer in the hands of new people and talk with them about our beer. Doing festivals and tastings has always been one of my favorite things about this industry. This year, I am really looking forward to showcasing our beers in our own taproom.
PBW: Which of your beers do you enjoy drinking the most?
Tim: This changes a lot, but day-to-day I love the Inca and the Foul Weather Jack. They are both low ABV beers with a lot of flavor. We recently made a Belgian Trippel and that has been a wonderful beer to sip on after a long day. It is one of my all-time favorite styles, so I was pretty proud of how ours came out.
PBW: Any new releases on the horizon for Saint Benjamin?
Tim: Yes! For the Craft Brewers Conference [May 3-6 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center], we are releasing a Maibock. Our new brewing system was made in Germany, so we thought a lager style would be appropriate. We are happy to brew this beer with Scott Morrison. Besides being a friend, he helped us find our new brewing system -- and get it up and running quickly.
PBW: Do you have any hobbies outside of the brewery?
Tim: I like to stay pretty active. I run, bike and do crossfit. I also love scuba diving and am hoping to get away this summer to do a little bit of diving.
PBW: What is it about the brewing process and lifestyle that you love so much?
Tim: I love that it is a craft, neither totally art or science, and one with a lot of room to experiment in. I also love the people involved in it, the people we get to make happy by giving them good beer and the brewers, reps and owners who have helped and supported us as we went from an idea on paper to a growing brewery.
Check back next week as we introduce another star in “America’s Best Beer Drinking City”™