Meet The Brewer: Rob Tarves of Our Town Brewery

Welcome to our “Meet The Brewer” series! Where we interview brewers in Pennsylvania, from breweries small to large. Let us know if you know anyone who should be featured, email us at info@breweriesinpa.com.

Our Town Brewery opened on September 10th in Lancaster, PA, with a 10bbl brewhouse, inside a 100-year old former car sales and service building. The leadership of all the owners has led to the brewery making a great name for themselves so far. Rob Tarves is the head brewer at Our Town Brewery. Read more to find out his introduction to beer, where he sees the craft beer industry heading, and more!

What was your introduction to craft beer?

I was handed a Wild Goose IPA in 2005, my freshman year of college. It was absolutely bursting with hop and malt flavor compared to the Schaeffer Light that I was used to. I was really intrigued by it. That was the beginning of my journey.

How did you get started as a brewer?

My older brother was working on his Ph.D. at Boston University and began homebrewing with some of his lab equipment. I was amazed that you could make beer at home. That Christmas he got me a 5gal kit from Northern Brewer. I was only 20 years old at the time but started brewing quite often. At first, it was once a month, then every other week, then once a week! We had two taps going at all times.

What style allows you to be the most creative, and why?

For me, I think taking base beers such as gose or porter and making special kegs is the most fun and allows max creativity.

Rob Tarves of Our Town Brewery. Photo courtesy of Our Town Brewery.

What was the first beer you ever brewed, and what did you learn from it?

We brewed an IPA kit from Northern Brewer. Honestly, it turned out pretty decent. The only issue was that we didn’t evenly mix in the priming sugar so we had one good case, 12 flat bottles, and 12 bottles that were bombs! Even mixing of priming sugar is key! The first commercial beer that I brewed was Brookie Brown an English Brown Ale at Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks.

Where do you see the craft beer industry heading in the next few years?

I see a shakeout in styles. I do believe that heavily fruited beers and hyper-hopped NEIPA is here to stay but there is a push back of lager love and some interest in nuance. I could see some of these styles (PIlsner, Kolsch, Brown Ale) having a bit more of a place on a draft list. I also could see breweries downsizing in an effort to bring their beer back home and focus on quality and not quantity.

Describe what it’s like to be a brewer in Pennsylvania.

It’s an awesome group of people to be a part of. When I talk with people in other industries, they just don’t understand why we’re all so supportive and collaborative. It is hands down, my favorite part of the industry.

Rob Tarves of Our Town Brewery. Photo courtesy of Our Town Brewery.

What is the inspiration behind your beer names?

I like to set the tone for the drinking experience. It may tell a mini-story or remind you of something while you’re drinking the beer.

What is your favorite beer to drink right now?

Pilsner. Troegs Sunshine Pils and Evergrain Camp Pils are two favorites.

What is the most important lesson you learned in the beer industry so far?

Make great beer and appreciate your customers. There is a lot of good beer out there. People need a reason to come back to your place!

Thank you to Rob for talking with us! Make sure you visit Our Town Brewery for all the latest beers, news, information, and special events. And also follow Our Town on Facebook and Instagram.

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