Seven years ago, Mary Heller bought a beer kit as a gift. Now, she and her husband David spend their retirement brewing craft beers for the I-68 region at Olde Bedford Brewing Company in Bedford, Pennsylvania, and they’ve never looked back.
One of the exciting parts about opening the craft brewery has been introducing “the community to the craft beer world,” according to David Heller. “We’re the first brewery in the county since 1791,” he says, and that distinction has come with its own set of challenges. While locals at first thought of Olde Bedford Brewing as just a bar, the Hellers have worked hard to set the company apart as a family-friendly gathering place celebrating unique and delicious brews.
The Hellers see Olde Bedford Brewing as a “third space” where friends and families can relax after outdoor adventures, gather for a casual meet-up, or stop in for refreshments while shopping. The company’s location is shared with Fat Jimmy’s Outfitters and Wholesome Living Marketplace, which creates charcuterie plates and other eats for Olde Bedford Brewing customers. “We really have a great synergy between three businesses for someone coming to Bedford who wants to experience the county at its finest,” says Heller.
This collaboration goes beyond Olde Bedford Brewing’s immediate location and encircles the entire region. The Hellers source their ingredients locally—from their own farm or other businesses—whenever possible. Even the décor or their business reflects their community-first focus: “We have a story for pretty much everything that’s in here.” Visitors to Olde Bedford Brewing see a wall of historic beer bottles collected by the Hellers and sit at bar tops crafted from sugar maples grown on their land.
The space itself is also designed as an open concept, with customers getting a first-hand view of the brewing equipment while they drink. This transparency is part of the Hellers’ efforts to satisfy the “real interest” in the region on learning “how this craft came about.” And in the process, they’re creating one-of-a-kind drinks that are already leaving their mark in the region. In 2019, two of their brews received awards at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Beer Competition.
Although still a relatively recent addition to the I-68 region, Olde Bedford Brewing is already expanding their brand and opening new locations. They have a seasonal location forty-eight miles away in Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania, and operate their Bedford farm as an event space.
Even though Olde Bedford Brewing Company seems like an overnight success, Heller advises patience for start-up business owners. Focus on craft is important, and so is an awareness of local regulations and resources. It’s this focus that created Olde Bedford Brewing Company’s success.
Interested in retail and lifestyle manufacturing opportunities in the I-68 region? Explore the I-68 Alliance website to learn more.