It started with an email.
Andy Rosen had been a beer enthusiast for years, even homebrewing his own concoctions after he realized there was more beer to drink than just Budweiser and Miller. He owned a beer distributor in South Philly with a friend until they sold it.
He estimates 3,000 beer bottles from around the globe line the walls in his Wynnewood home. He made friends and connections with people in Philly breweries like Yards and Victory.
Rosen, founder of the dental practice Rose Tree Dental Group in Media, had always said that if the opportunity came to be involved in a new brewery, he would jump on it.
So when an attorney friend emailed Rosen about a couple of guys who wrote to his firm about a business proposal to start Conshohocken Brewing Company, the opportunity presented itself.
“My buddy saw it and sent me an email in the summer of ’13 and basically said, ‘I know you love beer, I don’t know where you’re at or what’s going in your life right now, but I figured if I didn’t show this to you, you’d kick my a**,’” Rosen laughed.
After looking through the 47-page proposal, Rosen got in touch with founders John Remington and Ken Buonocore. Over beers at Gullifty’s, Rosen told them he wanted to be involved and that he would get them the money to get the brewery running.
Rosen, who belongs to Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El, sought investors by talking to friends and colleagues and drawing up paperwork and LLCs to get the new venture off the ground.
“I can guarantee you there’s no brewery on this planet that has more dentists and oral surgeons and orthodontists involved in it,” he said with a laugh.
As he was finding investors — including WIP sportscaster and Jewish Sports Hall of Famer Glen Macnow — Remington and Buonocore were looking for a location, which they found in an old warehouse off the Schuylkill River Trail in Conshohocken.
Through more connections, including one of Rosen’s patients, who designed and built the spot, they got the place together and built a 15-barrel brewery helmed by lead brewer Andrew Horne, who previously worked for Yards and Avery Brewery.
Complete with a tasteful menu of snacks, the taproom opened nine months later on April Fool’s Day — no joke — in 2014.
“It was everything we envisioned it would be, and it just has not slowed down since,” said Rosen, who grew up in the Bronx before moving to Philadelphia for dental school at the University of Pennsylvania.
Upon the success of the Conshohocken brewery, new ideas started flowing.
Remington called Rosen one day in late 2015 and told him to come to Bridgeport where they met at an abandoned warehouse — “We’re into warehouses,” Rosen noted — to scope out a location for a new brewpub.
Rosen saw the place’s potential, and called on the initial investors again plus a few more to raise the money to get the place open.
That turned into a two-story brewpub right off of Route 202 with a smaller brewing system and a full kitchen that opened in August 2016. The large space, its front door literally pointing you in the right direction with its “Beer Here” sign and arrows pointing down to the entrance, has a space for parties or charity events.
It will soon be complemented by a beer garden off the parking lot overlooking the Schuylkill River, which Rosen hopes will open in the next few weeks.
The success has only continued to pour out. They signed with distributors Gretz Beer Company and Penn Beer as they had previously been self-distributing. The beer can be found in major supermarket chains and both Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.
Their real luck came as they were opening the Bridgeport Brewpub when the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board announced breweries can now also sell state-distilled spirits, which allowed them to expand their drink menu for those who may not enjoy beer.
With the new rules, they also were allowed to open two storage spaces, which Rosen noted was a loose definition and could mean a restaurant or a taproom, as long as they don’t brew on the premises.
Enter their next project: new locations in Havertown and Phoenixville.
“So [Remington] called me once again,” Rosen said with a jokingly exasperated sigh. “He says, ‘I’ve got some new ideas. You’ve got to check it out, I’ve got two more places.’ I said, ‘Two?! Are you kidding me, two?’ … I said, ‘I just hit these people up for money in August.’ And he said, ‘No, you’ve got to see these places.’”
The investors came through once again and they found their next spot in the space that once housed Nais Cuisine on Benedict Avenue in Havertown, which recently closed. Rosen said a one-story brewpub with the same menu as Bridgeport will open hopefully in the fall.
“The buzz has been tremendous in Havertown,” he said. “We’re gonna crush it there.”
In Phoenixville, a new idea came to Remington.
Across from the Colonial Theatre where The Blob once terrorized moviegoers is a spot that will soon house a taproom with games like Ping-Pong and shuffleboard, comfy seating and music.
“We wanted to come in with a different idea,” he said, noting this too will also open in the fall. “We didn’t want to be the fifth brewpub there. This is a different concept, gaming.”
Apart from his role as “the money man,” he joked, as he works with the investors on equity and securing funding, his “official” title listed on his business card is one he relishes: Chief Taster.
It signifies one of the most enjoyable parts for him, which he emphasized by raising a glass of Ye Olde Brown Ale.
For him, the chances to meet cool people and the tikkun olam aspect of being able to host charity events and support local organizations stand out.
The brewery also keeps him active. While he used to play basketball at Kaiserman JCC, now he bikes 40 or so miles on Sundays down the trail among the brewery locations, stopping into “Conshy” and Bridgeport for a pint or two.
And the best part?
“Beer doesn’t give you cavities,” he promised.
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