Craft Beer & Kombucha: How Antifragile Brewing Is Turning Heads In State College

Antifragile Brewing opened in April 2022 at 324 E Calder Way in downtown State College.

Co-owners John Schaffer and Lisa Harpster own Moody Culture Kombucha (which opened in the summer of 2017) and decided a brewery was the missing piece at the location.

We recently spoke with John and Lisa to talk about both kombucha and craft beer, and learned more about their operation in State College.

How did you come up with the name “Antifragile Brewing”?

John: It’s based on a book we both read from Nassim Taleb called Antifragile. It changed a lot about how I think and make decisions.

Lisa: It addresses how humans gain from disorder and volatility. Being a small brewery plays into the Antifragile brewing concept; we have options and can pivot quickly. Covid woke us up and made us rethink how to build a brewery model. Our logo is the hydra from Greek Mythology: when one head is cut off, two grow in its place, so the result is strength from hardship.

How did you become interested in kombucha and then craft beer?

John: I’ve always been a craft beer enthusiast, managed a bar in Avalon, and bartended in college and grad school. Opening a brewery is always something I’ve considered and now is the right time to act. I went on a beer trip to Vermont and many breweries served kombucha on tap, as well. We started exploring the idea of building a brewery back in 2018, then Covid hit, and that changed a lot of our plans.

Lisa: I’ve always loved craft beverages and waitressed and bartended for years through undergrad and grad school, always enjoyed the experience. I love craft beer, as well, and was equally excited to create a space that was community-centered and driven. I love design and took over the marketing aspect of the Moody Culture. The thought of expanding our craft beverage variety and designing and developing a culture around the space was exciting for me.

Photos courtesy of Antifragile Brewing.
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What styles of beers will you focus on?

John & Lisa: We will serve all types of beers: IPAs, stouts, porters, lagers, etc . We love Belgian and German-style beers, as well, so we’ve had a Munich Dunkel, a Belgian table beer, and many others.

Can you describe the space you’re in?

John & Lisa: We opened in a 1,700 sq/ft building that was the former location of Pablo’s Chicken and Barranquero Café. We both bartended in the past and designed an open space which gives us a lot of room to accommodate guests. There are about 26 seats downstairs, and the cool thing with this space is that it provides not only a brewery and taproom but also a great upstairs lounge area for extra seating. It gives a “living room-esque” feel and adds about 12 more seats.

We brew on a 1BBL brewhouse and have 12 two-barrel tanks. At the bar, we have beer primarily on tap, with about 9 of the 12 taps pouring beer. The other few will be a mix of hard kombucha and non-alcoholic kombucha. Kombucha is available in cans, and as of this weekend, our beer is also.

In addition, Antifragile carries PA-made spirits; offering cocktails for non-beer drinkers is important to us. We wanted to create a space where we wanted to hang out. Quality beverages are important to us, no matter the type and we want our community to enjoy a variety of quality options.

Do you release cans at your location?

John & Lisa: We offer cans currently. We have two Gosling canners, one for kombucha and one for beer. We offer 12oz kombucha cans and 16oz beer cans.

Do you have food?

John & Lisa: We encourage outside food, and there are a lot of great restaurants nearby to order in or BYOF. Currently, we serve gourmet popcorn.

Anything else our readers should know about Antifragile Brewing?

John & Lisa: We created a space where we want to be and are creating beverages that we love. Our main focus is quality. Paulo, our brewer, has free reign on what he brews, and no limitation on cost or ingredients. If we brew a beer and it’s not up to par, we are not afraid to dump it! Quality comes first, without compromise.

Make sure to follow Antifragile Brewing on Instagram and Facebook for all the latest beers and news!

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