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Growing up in Kutztown, Matt Lindenmuth had always seen potential in the old shoe factory building on Greenwich Street. Little did he know that several years later he’d be opening his own business there: the Saucony Creek Brewing Company.
Lindenmuth got into brewing beer while living out west in the Eastern Sierras region in California.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of quality craft beer, the freshness of the beer, the unique flavorful recipes,” he said.
He credits traveling in Europe, specifically in Belgium, for making his senses more aware of better beer.
He began traveling the world as a professional action sports athlete with the X Games, an extreme sports competition, as well as other events, at the ripe age of 13. This exposed him to a creative counterculture of unique individuals who didn’t want to settle for the norm.
“I adopted that mentality and didn’t appreciate being told what to do by corporate America’s marketing campaigns that told us, for example, that the light, clear, golden water they are selling is the great American beer.”
With a little research, hands-on craftsmanship and passion, he and his friends quickly learned that they could produce high-quality beer that was much more pleasing to their palates. This eventually led him to start his own brewery, but first he needed funding.
He turned to Kickstarter, an online funding platform where people can donate money to different projects and see them come to fruition.
Lindenmuth is the sole owner of Saucony Creek Brewing Company, but he works closely with Head Brewer Joe Percoco, who was the head brewer at Barley Creek Brewery in the Poconos.
“We met through mutual friends here in Kutztown and hit it off right away,” Lindenmuth said. “We’re on the same wavelength and share the same vision of what we wish for the brewery to become. Together we’re going to do a lot of fun things in the community and with our beer recipes.”
He wants to make the building inviting to guests who visit for tours and samplings, but also wants to maintain its history.
“I have always been a dreamer and visionary from a very young age and saw a potential in that old shoe factory building,” he said.
The Saucony Creek Brewing Company will open as a production microbrewery. Lindenmuth plans to hold events on the property and would like to collaborate with other businesses in Kutztown. They will also offer customers classes on different beer styles and seminars on how to home brew.
“Our plan is to have a little something for everyone to be involved.”
What style beer will he serve?
“We will feature a wide range of annual beer styles that you’ll see on steady rotation,” Lindenmuth said.
The brewing company is registering more than 40 recipes with the government.
“Our flagship beers will include a blonde ale, India pale ale, brown ale, porter and stout.”
More information about these beers and others will be released closer to the opening date.
Lindenmuth hopes that the brewery will attract craft beer fans to the area that will visit other businesses in Kutztown, allowing the local economy to flourish.
“I want the local community and early supporters to feel involved and a part of the brewery from the beginning, as though it’s sort of their baby also,” he said. “As the brewery grows, the goal is to use our attention to help grow the community.”
An opening date for the brewery is indefinite. He has had challenges with permitting.
“We are over four months behind schedule because of their poor management and extremely inefficient process of approving building permits and other licenses,” said Lindenmuth. “The Borough of Kutztown claims to be business friendly but they have done nothing to help us and have ended up costing the brewery more money than we could have ever planned for. Additionally we lost large amounts of grant money from Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams) and a national commercial spot with them as they are promoting new upstart microbreweries.”
Dan Eslinger, Kutztown Borough Community Development Director and Zoning Officer, said the borough has 30 days to approve or deny an application but Eslinger said they usually do so in less time.
“He slowed the process down himself and he’s blaming it on the borough,” said Eslinger.
Eslinger provided a time line on the applications for the Saucony Creek Brewing Co.
Jan. 20 - Mr. Lindenmuth submitted a Zoning Application to establish a Microbrewery at 140 North Constitution Blvd.
Feb. 15 - Zoning Application approved by Zoning Officer. Conditions of approval include requirement for Building, Plumbing, and Electrical permits to be obtained.
Feb. 16 - Community Development office left message on Mr. Lindenmuth’s voicemail informing him Zoning Permit ready to be picked up with a $50 fee.
March 19 - Community Development staff spoke with Mr. Lindenmuth by phone and informed him Zoning Permit still in CD office to be picked up.
April 19 - Mr. Lindenmuth picked up and paid for Zoning Permit. He was once again informed that he must submit permit applications to comply with PA-UCC requirements.
May 31 - Building, Electrical and Plumbing permit applications submitted by Mr. Lindenmuth. Applications and plans forwarded to Barry Isett and Associates for review for compliance with PA-UCC (PA Uniform Construction Code).
June 25 - Matthew Walter from Barry Isett and Associates sends comments of non compliance with PA-UCC regulations to owner of 140 N. Constitution, Dean Siegel.
July 10 - Matthew Walter from Barry Isett and Associates met with Mr. Lindenmuth at property to discuss PA-UCC requirements for Microbrewery project. The owner of the property, Mr. Siegel, was supposed to be at that meeting but he was unable to attend.
As of Aug. 3, Mr. Lindenmuth had not submitted a revised application for construction permits along with the required plans to be reviewed for compliance with the PA-UCC.
Eslinger noted that Barry Isett and Associates is the third party agency used by the Borough of Kutztown to review all construction permit applications to ensure compliance with the PA-UCC.
Also, referring to the June 25 non compliance with PA-UCC regulations, Eslinger explained that Lindenmuth needed to submit professional plans for the project, for example, plans created by an architect. Lindenmuth had submitted plans he had drawn up himself, which are not compliant with code.
“The borough would love to see a microbrewery in Kutztown but he needs to follow the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code. That code requires professional plans,” said Eslinger.
For more information visit www.sauconycreekbrewing.com.
Kutztown Area Patriot Editor Lisa Mitchell contributed to this article.