By Katie Kohler
Get that man a beer.
Dan Hershberg, CEO and Co-Founder of Workhorse Brewing Co., has been busy. On Thursday, Sept. 13, he spent the morning participating in King of Prussia Business Improvement District’s Global Trends Speaker Panel. During the evening, he welcomed VIPs to the brewery’s soft opening ahead of Friday’s official grand opening.
It hasn’t only been a busy 48 hours for Hershberg. It’s been a whirlwind three and a half years since the planning phase of Workhorse Brewing Co. The physical build-out of the 70,000-square-foot space took about 10 months.
“We knew we were biting off a lot, but we felt the risk was worth the reward. I didn’t want the place to feel cramped,” said Hershberg.
The reward is King of Prussia’s only brewery, which debuts with a portfolio of beers including American Brown Ale, New England IPA, Helles, Vienna Lager, American Pilsner, and West Coast IPA. Workhorse also offers Kurant draft cider, a seasonal draft cocktail, and Karamoor Estate Draft Wine.
The brewery features a tasting room and event space and is the base for Workhorse’s warehousing and manufacturing. From a customer-facing side, Workhorse is only using 5,000 square feet, but there are plans to expand the public space as the brand grows. Although Workhorse does not have a kitchen, it will offer snacks at the bar and will almost always have a food truck, and guests are welcome to bring their own food or have food delivered.
“We have a lot of growth potential and we want to expand the footprint of the facility,” said Hershberg.
Hershberg, a native of Mount Airy, graduated from Cornell in 2006 and worked as a production assistant for ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut. He then founded the clothing company Philly Phaithful. The Philadelphia sports-inspired designs can be purchased at the entrance of the brewery. They range from “old school” Dr. J in a doctor’s coat, to current sports icons (think Jason Kelce’s “no one likes us.”)
“Getting into this project wasn’t because of a longstanding love of beer. To be clear, I drank beer my whole life but I’m not a beer aficionado,” Hershberg explained. Over the course of over three years, he says, he has learned a tremendous amount about beer. As CEO and co-founder, Hershberg plays an active role in the, logistics, operations, marketing, branding and front-of-the-house service.
“I want to have that journey with everyone else who is interested in learning about craft beers. If the owner of the brewery is still learning about beer, it should show it isn’t intimidating,” said Hershberg.
Hershberg said Workhorse Brewing Co.’s location at 250 King Manor Drive is “perfect from a business standpoint” due to its access to consumers, distributors and all five major highways.
“It made a ton of sense for us from an operations standpoint. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the community asking for a place like this,” said Hershberg. “Anywhere you put a craft brewery, the intent is to make it the neighborhood place. Even though our goal is to be a regional distribution facility, our on-premise engagement is connecting with the local consumers to make it a place they are proud to call their own.”
Brewmaster Nate Olewine has been in the industry for 10 years and has a strong scientific background. He went to Virginia Tech for microbiology, and then moved to U.C. Davis, where he completed the prestigious master brewers program. Olewine started his career at Victory Brewery in Downingtown, and then moved to rural Virginia to open Devils Backbone, which, over the course of a few years, became one the largest regional breweries and the country and was recently purchased by Anheuser Busch.
Hershberg says Olewine was the predominant reason behind the brewery’s growth and many awards. His experience at Victory and Devils Backbone will enable Workhorse to brew quality batches in their thirty-barrel system at quantity, Hershberg said.
“Olewine’s mentality is the reason we get along so well professionally and personally, is that quality over everything,” he said. “It is the sole driver behind any decision this business makes. It’s about a commitment to quality.”
Workhorse’s mission is “your beer – made right,” so you can’t blame Hershberg for taking a few minutes to enjoy one after a whirlwind opening week.
What’s Hershberg drinking? Helles, a clean, crisp, easy-drinking lager. He also likes an IPA or American Brown Ale.
He’s enjoying the beer, but perhaps he’s enjoying the company more.
“The best part for me is seeing happy people in this space,” said Hershberg. “Knowing that people can come here and drink quality product whether it’s a respite from their day or as an extension of their life is the most rewarding thing.”