But not for Braddock was the lure of green fields and running waters. Hers was to be a life of action and achievement, hers was no Lotus land of dreams. Already the faint tapping of a hammer and musical song of a distant saw-mill come at intervals on the quiet air: her industrial history is beginning.
– George H. Lamb, The Unwritten History of Braddock’s Field (1917)
Braddock’s first factory, the first spark of manufacturing that kicked off its century-long tenure as an industrial epicenter, was a barrel factory. Established shortly before 1850 by a group of Scotsmen from Massachusetts, the cooperage was building oak barrels and furniture more than two decades before the arrival of Andrew Carnegie and the construction of his Edgar Thomson Steel Works.
The arc of industry rose and fell. This beating heart of Carnegie’s empire, once so central to the growth of America’s infrastructure, was barely hanging on by the end of the twentieth century.
Not much is known about Braddock’s short-lived barrel factory, but it began an industrial legacy that carries through to today. Even after steel’s collapse, manufacturing never left Braddock’s blood. Edgar Thomson still extrudes steady columns of steam into the sky, day and night. The rusted skeletons of old warehouses and utility vehicles sit amongst their modern, operational counterparts. These overgrown, graffiti-adorned monuments to industry, past and present, were what initially drew us here.
Being a part of that industrial legacy is an essential aspect of our company’s identity. A brewery is a factory: we take raw ingredients, process them using production equipment, and manufacture a commercial product. The beers we’ve made thus far rely on technical precision and methodology.
With the addition of oak barrels to our brewhouse, however – a fitting coincidence, given Braddock’s inaugural export – we’re now capable of producing a line of beers that are entirely unique to us. While technical precision remains a necessity, these farmhouse-style beers are allowed to develop their own character with minimal intervention.
While farmhouse beers were usually made on farms, Braddock’s historic past was built upon industry, not agriculture. So why are we making farmhouse beers in a steel town? Because sometimes, tradition is more of a reference point than a rulebook.
This is part one in a three-part series announcing our upcoming farmhouse ale collection, leading up to its release later this month. Learn more about the name and production process next in part two, and get the details on the first beers in part three.