Local chiropractor planning microbrewery in Mill Hall
MILL HALL — The borough of Mill Hall will soon attract a whole new crowd of beer enthusiasts and local fishermen with the opening of a microbrewery later this year or early 2022.
Dr. Lee Powers, a local chiropractor, has been hard at work planning Floating Feathers Beer Company at 380 Main St. in downtown Mill Hall.
What was formerly a laundromat, arcade, restaurant, and a hardware store, will soon become a place to drink craft beers, eat good food, relax with family and friends, all the while looking out over Fishing Creek, a popular fishing hot spot.
Since November of 2020, Powers has been hard at work setting up his future place of business, while still dedicating his time as a chiropractor as well as committing to his side hustle of making and distributing his own homemade duck calls.
His passion for duck hunting actually led Powers to the idea of both the location of the brewery and also its name, Floating Feathers.
“I bought a place up in the Finger Lakes that I have been working on for eight years now. I named it Floating Feathers Lodge, as we duck and goose hunt and fish up there. When I started brewing beer and decided to open up my own brewery, due to all of the ducks and geese in Fishing Creek, I wanted to use the same name.”
Despite having come a long way with craft brewing as well as setting up a new business, Powers is relatively new to the world of craft brewing.
“It just happened. We bought our farm in Lamar in March of last year, the time that the lockdown started. I was the only one working in the office and my father (Dr. Richard Powers) had closed his dental office due to the virus. I was seeing a ton of clients to be able to make ends meet,” he said.
“Other than working, I needed something to do, so I decided to start brewing beer to pass time. The first batch tasted really good. Some of the buildings in Mill Hall were on the verge of being condemned, so I jumped on one of them to build my own brewery,” Lee said.
Powers is already setting up a menu of his own craft beers that will be named after local towns in Pennsylvania. On the menu, he plans to introduce a variety of types of beers including an array of nitros, dessert beers, smoothie beers, IPAs and ciders.
“We are only going to sell our own beer and cider. I make a large variety of beer and cider that we will stick to and not branch into wine or anything else. But that could just be for the time being,” he said.
“I have about 15 beer recipes that I have made, but they will not be released right off the bat. I try to brew a batch or two a week and then make sure to redo it and redo it so I can be consistent with it. Brewing is easy, but the hardest part is getting it to be the exact same everytime,” he said.
The food menu is in the works at this time and has not been announced. There are no plans on having a wait staff for ordering beer and/or food. Instead, customers will be able to order and pick up beer and food at the bar and kitchen area, he said.
Powers said he decided to keep the original structure of the building due to expenses involved with the demolishing it.
“The building would have cost too much to demolish and to get a permit to rebuild,” he explained. “Since I had to keep the walls and everything … the inside walls are actually the old outside walls of the original building. It was a real mess at the beginning but now it is looking really nice!”
Powers showed The Express the layout of the future brewery.
There will be a brewing room, a bar with a menu board for patrons to order beer/food. They will pick up food in front of the kitchen, which is located along the same side as the bar itself. Along the back wall, there will be a beer-to-go cooler and a merchandise wall. The brewery will have an indoor dining/seating area and an outdoor deck seating area with rocking chairs for patrons to sit and drink a beer while overlooking the creek.
The table tops and counter tops will all be custom cut from a variety of different types of wood to give an authentic look to the place. Powers is also considering using old wood barrels as tables for the outside deck area. And there will be multiple TVs both outside and inside for sports games.
He said there are no plans of doing anything with the top floor of the building, which will be used for storage in the business’s infancy stage.
The original building was still full of old kitchen appliances, pizza ovens, and mixers from the previous owners, said Powers. He also mentioned a sign from the old Park Drive-In in Mill Hall still remains inside the building with other cool stuff.
According to Powers, much of the hard part of the renovations is just about over and he now awaits code approval and finalization of plans.
“Everything inside is there waiting to be done. I am just waiting on approval of codes and the go ahead. We will be done with construction in no time. I am still waiting on my brewing license and all that will take some time.”
By fall of this year, Powers hopes to slowly be able to open up the beer to-go portion of the brewery and eventually open the entire operation come early 2022.
“I am hoping to have four-packs and beer to-go by the fall. For food and everything else, I want to be ready by fishing season. I can’t wait to see see fishing along the stream next spring,” he said.
Powers will be the primary manager of the business but will have some welcome help from his family
“I am primarily running the brewery, planning it, building it, but my family is going to help when it is all set up and open for business… when all of the hard stuff is done,” he joked.
“I will probably stick to running it exclusively as a family to start. It is just too soon to think about hiring staff other than us at this time.”
It won’t be long when people will be able to go out for some early morning fishing, and then relax by the creek in the afternoon and enjoy a nice cold craft brew.
Sounds good to Lee.