For Ron Passaro, the idea to open a nano-brewery had been fermenting for years. In August 2019 the vision became reality with the launch of Hopping Eagle Brewing Company located on the ground floor of the Hawley Silk Mill.
A gift of a home brew kit from then fiancée Maggie sparked a hobby that quickly burst into an obsession. “As a home brewer I liked trying new recipes,” explains Ron. “There are thousands of beer styles and I’m always eager to try something new.” Ron and Maggie are New Jersey natives. After graduating from the University of Scranton and Marywood University respectively, the couple decided to put down roots in Northeast PA. First came the purchase of a home in Tafton. While holding down full-time jobs, the search began for a location for their passion project- a craft brewery. “We fell in love with the Hawley Silk Mill instantly,” says Maggie. “The style of the building really lends itself to a brewery, plus there’s a lot of foot traffic and everyone in the area knows the building.”
The one-barrel nano-brewery with eight fermenters means there are eight types of beer on tap at all times, plus a nitro-brew. There are some staple brews always offered such as the Blonde Ale and a Double IPA plus a rotating selection of seasonal beers and specials. In fact, visitors will usually find a new selection each week. Ron takes great pride in crafting brews that marry non-traditional flavors. Unique pours include a Jalapeno Pale Ale, which offers the flavor of the pepper without the heat. Ron recently introduced a Coffee Cream Ale and says he also loves to incorporate fruit into brews whenever possible.
Inside the brewery visitors will find a vintage industrial vibe. A massive mahogany bar was refurbished and serves as the hub of activity. Authentic wooden barrels double as tables. Classic pieces of Americana make up the décor including a 1939 Coca-Cola cooler, a ‘50s era Pepsi machine, pedal cars and an antique trunk. It creates an environment that encourages you to relax and hang out. A stack of board games is at the ready to entertain visitors of all ages and there’s a dart board for some friendly competition. Although food is not served, there is freshly popped popcorn for everyone to enjoy and guests are welcome to bring food in or even have meals delivered to enjoy with Hopping Eagle’s brews. For those who may not have a taste for beer, mead and cider from Space Time Mead and Cider Works is available as well as selections from nearby Three Hammers Winery.
Hopping Eagle Brewing Company is the latest entry into the area’s burgeoning wine and spirit scene, making the Lake Region a destination for craft brew lovers and wine enthusiasts. To thank the local community for its support, the brewery introduced a mug club convocation. With a $75 membership, participants get a commemorative mug, 20-ounce pours for a 16-ounce price, a birthday beer, $1 off all growler fills and an end of year members only party.
The brewery routinely holds special events. Pours and Poses, which combines a yoga session and beer tasting, is extremely popular. There’s also Brews and Bongos as well as Paint Night. Hopping Eagle is currently open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday with plans to offer expanded hours in the near future. To check out special events and what’s on tap, visit hoppingealgebrewery.com