What’s new at Rock Lititz?

By on January 24, 2018

Brandon Stetser (pictured) began brewing beer in 2012 with partners Mike Simpson and Aaron Risser. The trio will open Fetish Brewing Company Feb. 1 in Rock Lititz’’s Pod 2.

Brewpub opens at Pod 2 this week

Fetish Brewing Company has never rushed into anything. This philosophy can be applied to their new Lititz brewpub, which is projected to open to the public Feb.1 in Rock Lititz’s Pod 2.

The brewery, which until now has operated as a membership-based CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, was formed in 2012 by friends Mike Simpson, Aaron Risser, and Brandon Stetser.

Fetish followers got a sneak peek at the Pod 2 location Dec. 21 at a members-only soft opening. For the last six years, the trio have been brewing out of a renovated garage on Ice Ave. in Lancaster City.

The plan was to create beer and maintain creative control over the process without going into immediate debt. The CSA was the solution.

“It started with us standing outside of Aaron’s house every Wednesday night huddled around a little tiny burner and he was trying to teach us how to brew beer,” said Simpson. “What he learned early on is that Brandon and I won’t learn anything. So, we all kind of found different jobs in the brewery so we didn’t get in Aaron’s way.”

Membership filled quickly and now includes 80 craft beer fans. Members receive a selection of four Fetish beers each month, everything from traditional IPAs to fruit-suffused goses. Each fall the brewers hold their annual Fetish on the Farm event, which brings more than 200 revelers to Hopeland Farm in Elizabeth Township.

“(CSA growth has) impacted our volume, but not as much as you would think. We have just been really thoughtful about scaling up for this space,” said Simpson.

Over the years, the Ice Ave. location morphed into a by-chance tasting room, which was closed after the city zoning board denied the brewery’s plans in 2016 after state laws governing breweries changed.

Fetish still brews on Ice Ave., but the majority of the operations will now move to the 1,700 square-foot space in Pod 2.

Featuring a 20-foot hand-built bar and seating for up to 70 people, the new Fetish beerhall will operate 16 taps. Hand-built shelves — Risser is as skilled as a woodworker as he is a brewer — will showcase a collection of high-end brews and aged varieties available for purchase. The barstools were repurposed from an old soda fountain near Philadelphia.

Visitors can bask in a growing collection of vinyl records and take home draft beer in crowlers-sealed 32-ounce cans.

“We are licensed to sell PA beer, wine, and spirits. We are really excited by the opportunity to partner with the new distillery in Lititz (Stoll & Wolfe) and we love Andrew Martin at Thistle Finch (in Lancaster). Having some local wines would be great,” said Simpson.

Simpson expects to open the Pod 2 location by offering core Fetish beers like Submissive IPA and Dominant DIPA; Sahti, a Finnish, barrel-aged juniper ale; and others on draft. Other brews available may include Fetish’s line of barrel-aged Belgians, a handful of goses, and a selection from their line of sour beers.

“Our sour line is something we are most proud of. It’s unique in Lancaster,” said Simpson.

While enduring a few customary setbacks associated with opening an establishment selling alcohol, Fetish has been stockpiling kegs of beer for the opening, which was originally slated for late summer or fall 2017. The wait has given the three-man brewing team time to consider new brews, including cider.

“What’s great about the sixteen taps is that it gives us the kind of flexibility we need either to go big on our own or do some slightly different local things,” said Simpson, who is not opposed to offering other local breweries tap space.

A space is what Fetish needed after their Ice Ave. plans were scuttled. After the city ruling, representatives from several locations in Lancaster County reached out to Fetish in hopes to draw the brewery to their community.

“Our running joke is that if we just don’t do anything (the brewery) grows,” said Simpson. “We had all these great offers and we did nothing.”

Eventually, the folks at Pod 2 reached out to Fetish.

“We saw the people who work here and the support they were willing to give us. Then the evolution of Lititz began to play into our decision. Lititz has become this great little city of makers,” said Simpson. “It seemed like an easy win for us.”

At Pod 2 Fetish will be joining other creative businesses like Rock Candy (an extension of the co-working space The Candy Factory), Lititz Bike Works, and Tone Tailors. Pod 2 is defined as “the collaborative hub of the Rock Lititz Campus,” which houses more than two dozen tenants in a 250,000-square-feet shared work space. The vision for Pod 2, explained Rock Lititz General Manager Andrea Shirk, was to build a community space with public businesses to create a unique culture.

“While Pod 2 is primarily about bringing together live event companies we felt having public facing businesses would add a cool element to our small Rock Lititz community,” said Shirk. “It’s really beneficial for everybody. So, we looked for businesses that aligned with what the Rock Lititz community wanted as well as things we though would fit in well with the local community.”

A brewery is a great social addition to Pod 2, which already houses a chic eatery, Gravie Kitchen + Commons.

“Fetish fits in because we do a lot of events, a lot of networking. Fetish does a beer CSA and a lot of our employees are members,” said Shirk. “For all of our tenants we look for people who fit culturally. We want people who are really pushing the boundaries of what they do and are passionate about what they do.”

A look at — or sample of — Fetish beer proves the brewery meets those standards.

“We came here and we feel like we are surrounded by friends,” said Simpson.

The drive behind Fetish is real and only disguised by their nonchalant nature.

Simpson plans to “grow the Fetish empire” beyond Lititz. It will just be at a pace unique to Fetish. Currently outside of Lititz, Fetish has two dedicated taps at Carr’s Restaurant and a selection of Fetish brews can be found at Lancaster bottle shops.

One Comment

  1. Michael C. Upton

    January 25, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Always doing things on their own schedule, Fetish has opened earlier than expected! Beer started pouring 1/24/18.

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