|Fetish Brewing Company
325 Ice Ave
Lancaster, PA 17602
Yes, you have made it to the right place. The yellowish-beige building with red trim with no sign on Ice Avenue in Lancaster city is in fact the tasting room at Fetish Brewing Company. Consider the look “urban camouflage.”
Joking aside, once you find the place, be sure to step inside. Surely one of the owners will greet you and introduce you to an array of unique and delicious beers.
Founded by a trio of friends that met in a shady bar in Lancaster – Brandon Stetser, Aaron Risser, and Mike Simpson – Fetish Brewing Company brings a fresh point of view to the craft beer scene.
The idea to open a brewery initiated when Risser would share his homebrewed beers and ciders with Stetser and Simpson. While Stetser was out of town one day, Risser shared what is now Ghost Pepper Fetish with Simpson.
Stetser reminisced about receiving a text from Simpson saying “Hey, this is really something. It’s totally different from anything else we’ve ever had. We should think about maybe doing something with this guy.”
Risser now brews his recipes 48 gallons at a time. He is currently hand bottling the beers, but sees kegging as the next step.
Fetish Brewing Company started as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), where customers take on a role like shareholders. After beers are brewed and bottled, they are distributed to subscribers at a central location.
Each CSA member has a branded wooden crate for pick-ups. The month allocation is 4 beers. CSA members also get to taste Fetish’s Stunt beers – or experimental beers – first. The initial CSA was capped at 60 subscribers.
Why a CSA? This allowed Fetish to not only finance the brewery, but also learn the market and get feedback, while building a culture. Stetser explained that the CSA pick-ups are typically a 2-hour experience – an opportunity to hang out, drink beers, and enjoy each other’s company.
Fetish opened a tasting room in December 2015, which is open to the general public. Stetser says the addition of a tasting room has “been a lot of fun… there’s been more interaction.” The tasting room is becoming an extension of the CSA – introducing more people to the Fetish brand and beers.
While Fetish is now open to the public, the CSA is still a large part of the business. CSA members have access to all Fetish beers and receive free tickets to the annual Fetish on the Farm event. Tickets to Fetish on the Farm are $40 to the public.
The annual party takes place at Hopeland Farm in Elizabeth Township where about 100 people gather to drink Fetish beer, enjoy tasty food, and listen to live music in the picturesque surroundings.
In the meantime, many Fetish beers can be enjoyed at the tasting room. The Fetish beers available during our visit included…
- Wild American Blonde – acidity, funky, complex
- Wild American Dark – Lancaster sour cherries meet French oak
- Submissive – west coast style IPA; dry aromatic, citrusy
- Dominant – hoppy, bitter, aromatic double IPA
- Belgian 60 – barrel-aged Belgian
- Bumble – bright aroma hops, raw local honey
- Pumpkin – evenly spiced, local pumpkin, toasted malt
- Peat – Scottish wee heavy, smoky peat, oak, caramel
- Sahti – Finnish barrel-aged juniper ale
- Kölsch – noble hops, crisp pilsner malt
- Ghost Pepper – spicy stout
The sour beers were quite delicious. Risser has been working on these beers since February 2013. The beers were brewed in March 2013, then aged in “sexy” wine barrels.
Wild American Blonde sat in barrels since March 2013, becoming a dry, acidic, lightly oaked, sour ale similar to a traditional gueuze.
Wild American Dark had 15 pounds of organic sour cherries added in June 2014, and an additional 15 pounds added in December 2014, becoming a sweeter sour ale with a thick maltiness balanced by ripened cherry notes reminiscent of a fruited lambic.
The Wilds are available in corked and caged 750mL bottles for $25 each.
In the tasting room, sour pours cost $10, while the other Fetishes go for $5 a bottle. Brave beer drinkers can try The Worst Beer We’ve Ever Made for $2.50 a bottle.
Risser also teased us about a beer currently in process at the brewery. Ten gallons of an imperial stout currently at 22.5% ABV is aging on oak spirals. The beer will be released as a Stunt beer, and who knows, maybe it will become “The Best Beer We’ve Ever Made”?
Fetish accepts cash, credit card, Paypal, and vinyl records as payment. The tasting room is open Friday and Saturday from 2 to 6 PM.
Beyond the tasting room, Fetish beers can also be found in about a dozen places in Lancaster. The Fridge, Crush Wine Bar, 551 West, and Bistro Barberet & Bakery frequently carry Fetish beers. You can also check The Pressroom Restaurant, The Belvedere Inn, Highland Pizzeria, and Dominion Pizza.
When asked about the long term goals of the brewery, Stetser replied, “We’ve really enjoyed the growth and the feedback and the success that we’ve had… What do we look like 5 years from now? I don’t know. Maybe exactly this.”
And there would be nothing wrong with that.