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Senator tours Bald Birds brewery

U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, D-Scranton, got a chance to learn how one man’s vision for building a business has become a reality in Jersey Shore.

On Wednesday, Casey toured the spacious Bald Birds Brewing Company housed in a former Woolrich warehouse and marveled at the size and scope of the enterprise.

“I don’t know of anything comparable to this in northeastern Pennsylvania,” he said. “This is remarkable.”

Joe Feerrar, co-owner of the business with his wife, Abby, led Casey and others on the tour.

He told Casey he started the business with the idea of creating a community center for his hometown of Jersey Shore.

“I grew up here,” he said.

Casey said it’s the kind of story that “we need to hear more of.”

Housed in the two-story, 153,000-square-foot structure along Shaffer Drive is a tap room, a private party and event area, leisure and sitting spots, as well as an outside patio with a view of the nearby mountains,

Spacious brewing facilities comprise another area of the building where Bald Birds beers and other drinks are produced.

“We repurposed a lot of the building,” Feerrar said.

Although the business has been in operation for just a couple of years, it is often busy.

“We had a wedding here last weekend,” he said. “I did a dozen last year.”

People from all over are coming to Bald Birds Brewing, he added.

Much of an activity room has been given over to cornhole boards.

Feerrar said every weekend people come for cornhole tournaments.

The business is growing with plans to double the number of employees to 50 this year.

However, Feerrar noted that he faces his share of challenges running the business, which includes dealing with the rising cost of supplies and materials for putting out his product.

“I try to find ways to strategically align with my vendors,” he said.

He recently was able to secure an 11-year loan of $2.4 million through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Business & Industry Loan Guarantees Program.

The funds will be used to assist in the installation of large-scale brewing equipment consistent with the brewery manufacturing process and to refinance debt.

“I think it’s an incredible story that’s inspirational to young people. They can see how someone from Jersey Shore built a business,” said Lycoming County Commissioner Rick Mirabito.

Mirabito said he liked how a business was built from an otherwise unused building, resulting in jobs for people.

“He’s helping the community as well as fulfilling a passion,” he added.

Feerrar has noted his love of craft beer and the “artistry behind every pint.”

Bald Birds Brewing, he said, is a place where exceptional craft beer can be enjoyed surrounded “by friends you know and friends you don’t know yet, and feel like you are right at home.”

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