Jean Broillet started brewing beer in his parents' garage as a college student seven years ago. Now, he's living his dream and opening a brewpub—right here in Ardmore.
Tired Hands, Broillet's future brewpub/café, hopes to bring beer appreciation culture to Ardmore in a unique way.
"There's a sense of pride in consuming something that is brewed in your [geographic]," Broillet, an Overbrook resident, said. "We're building a place that's built around the culture of this area, and we want to keep it as local as possible."
After receiving a degree in special education from West Chester University six years ago, Broillet decided that instead of applying to schools, he'd apply to breweries. He started at the bottom—"scrubbing mold and filling bottles" at Weyerbacker Brewery in Lehigh Valley, eventually working his way up. For the past five years, he worked as a brewer at Iron Hill Brewery until leaving three weeks ago to start work on Tired Hands.
But that doesn't mean education doesn't factor into his work now: it's an integral part of what he does, Broillet said.
"Everything I do boils down to a matter of education: if you don't understand how I'm making beer or why I make it, it loses something in translation," he explained. "If you understand the culture it's derived from, all of a sudden something about that product resonates with you."
That's an advantage of the brewpub model, Broillet said. And it's something that national beer chains can't capture in the way localized beers can.
"Knowing the person that makes your beer is a big step in the right direction—if you walk into Tired Hands, you will know me. It's a small space, so there's no way around it: we'll have met at some point."
Patrons of Tired Hands will be able to enjoy a beer at the 15-person bar after work, or head upstairs to the café area, where they're free to plop down with a book, play a game, and spend the afternoon.
Broillet's creations focus heavily on Belgian and French farmhouse ales and American hop-forward ales. Two beers to look forward to are Farm Hands and Hop Hands, which will be staples at the brewpub, Broillet said.
Farm Hands is "very refreshing, spicy, citrusy, and aligned with what the original saison brewers were doing." Hop Hands is an American pale ale, "very hoppy, very aromatic, but doesn't knock you down if you drink two of them."
What's Broillet's methodology for beer creation? Well, he either starts with the basic ingredients—hops, malt, yeast, water—and works his way up, or starts with a name and begins envisioning what that beer would be like.
"With some of the most fun beers, I come up with a name or concept," he said. "[You see] what feelings it evokes in you and then you slowly work your way down to decoding what base ingredients create that emotion."
Broillet believes that most beers are best consumed fresh, but for those who want to enjoy some Tired Hands brews at home, a small selection of wood-aged beer will be available to take away.
With such limited space, Broillet doesn't intend to run a full-service kitchen, but Tired Hands will serve house-baked bread, local cheeses and cured meats, stew, quiche, sandwiches, and seasonal salads—"simple and satisfying" foods that compliment the beer without overpowering it.
The soon-to-be brewpub is situated at 16 Ardmore Ave., across from a Bryn Mawr Trust branch. It is the first address in a row of buildings that sits adjacent to a large empty lot that could very well be the new Rite Aid (now making its way through the Township's approvals process).
The space is currently undergoing some serious demolition work by Broillet and his operating partners (one of whom is Collin Farrell, previously of Manayunk Brewery). The crew closed on the property July 1, and the hope is to have the brewpub/cafe up and running by January.
"Ardmore has been really good to us so far," Broillet said. "I meet two or three people a day that on their own volition come up and introduce themselves—a lot of them beer enthusiasts or home brewers. … It's a pulsating culture in the beer industry and people want to be on the inside and want to know what's coming next."
He hopes to bring some of that passion to Ardmore, a community he thinks will be receptive to this kind of model.
"I'm building a lifestyle business—meaning that I would be doing this anyway, for myself and my neighbors, if I wasn't making money with it," Broillet explained.
Did we mention that Broillet met his wife, Julie, at a beer festival in Boston?
"When I wake up, I think about making beer, when I go to bed, I think about making beer, and somewhere during my day, I am usually making beer," Broillet said. "So this is definitely my life goal for sure."