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Breakout Brewer: Root Down

Award-winning Root Down Brewing in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, is balancing reverence for the classics with excitement for evolving styles.

John Holl Jan 13, 2020 - 10 min read

Breakout Brewer: Root Down Primary Image

The brick building on Main Street in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, not far from Valley Forge, has a long history with beverages. It’s the current home to Root Down Brewing Co., which has occupied the space for the past couple of years, but from the 1950s to the 1980s, it was a Hires Root Beer plant.

The existing infrastructure, including tiled floors and drains, made it an ideal spot for a brewery, and while Founder Mike Hamara has worked to make the space its own—with graffiti-styled walls, a soundtrack of nineties hip-hop filtering through the speakers, and plenty of seating—from the long bar facing the serving tanks to the bar area complete with church pews to a back area with pinball machines, the past is still visible.

Take the tour, and Head Brewer Steve Bischoff, who joined Root Down before it opened, is happy to take you down a narrow staircase into the belly of the building where room-sized ammonia chillers, cast-iron boilers, and other large pieces of now obsolete and nonworking technology sit, driving home the point that this place was made for drinks.

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John Holl is the author of Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint, and has worked for both Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and All About Beer Magazine.