Brewing company opening in West Grove this fall
By Richard Gaw
Photo by Richard L. Gaw Bernadette and Knute Mellon of the Twelves Grill & Café in West Grove are two of the forces behind the start of the Blondes & Brewnettes Brewing Company, which will begin to serve its handcrafted beers at the restaurant this October.
West Grove will soon experience something that it hasn’t in quite some time, when a local brewery will bring the enjoyment of a cold beer back to town for the first time since the 1940s.
Scheduled to open this October at the Twelves Grill & Cafe, Blondes & Brewnettes Brewing Co. will be the first of its kind in 80 years to brew and sell beverages in the borough.
It's the mastermind of sisters Bernadette Mellon and Beverly Snyder and their respective husbands Knute Mellon and Shane Snyder, who launched the concept in 2013 when all four came up with an idea to brew their own beer. Within a week, the Penn Township couples had successfully brewed their first Belgium beer.
Soon after, they started to realize the real potential that lay ahead of them. Knute described the enjoyment that originally came from brewing their own beverages. The two husbands were able to have fun, all while trying different kinds of beer they otherwise never would have. Through trial and error over the following year, they created more recipes, using only local ingredients found in Southern Chester County.
When asked if owning a brewery was always a dream he had, Knute said that it was not originally, but that it became one.
“It started as a good, fun hobby,” he said. “We were making beer that we didn’t have to go out and buy. One thing led to another, and people really were liking it. It was almost like a pipe dream that just started narrowing down, and we were like, 'We can really do this. Let’s do it.'”
In July 2018, the Mellons became the new owners of Twelves Grill & Cafe in West Grove, at about the same time efforts were first being made to delicately change the culture of a dry town with the help of a new vision. Two community leaders – Borough Manager Greg McCummings and Kristin Proto, the executive director of the Garage Community & Youth Center and borough resident – joined with the Mellons and Democratic Committee member Molly Wood to explore the possibility of changing the borough's laws.
The first step the group undertook in dismantling West Grove’s dry town laws was to obtain over 300 signatures on a petition over a two-week period, a campaign that was stimulated by a door-to-door campaign, a signature-gathering event at the Garage's West Grove location, and social media promotion. Each signee of the petition had to be a registered voter in the borough and currently resided at their voting address.
Successfully completing the petition’s signature requirements allowed the Chester County Voting Administration to put the question ‘Do you favor the granting of malt and brewed beverage retail dispenser licenses for consumption on premises where sold in the borough of West Grove?’ on the May 2018 West Grove Borough ballot.
With 224 'Yes' votes and 81 'No' votes, the referendum passed.
While the new brewery is currently located at the Twelves Grill & Cafe and has applied for an official brewer's license, the restaurant is offering beers from the brewery that range from blonde ales to brown ales, IPAs, and grain free meads made from local Swarmbustin’ Honey. One special beer that will be featured on the menu will be Red Devil Ale, named in honor of Avon Grove High School.
Once a brewery is eventually located and officially opened, Twelves will remain a BYOB and sell Blondes and Brewnettes beers.
“The goal is to have both establishments going in the borough – to have Twelves to continue as it is with the added option of craft beers, and also operate the Blondes and Brewnettes brewery as a second option,” Knute said.
As for the inspiration behind the name of the brewery, it almost seemed like fate. While trying to type ‘Blondes & Brunettes’ on the list of potential names, auto-correct graciously corrected the spelling to ‘Blondes & Brewnettes.’ The name couldn’t be more perfect to describe Bernadette – whose hair is blonde -- and her sister Beverly – whose hair is brunette.
To help introduce the brewery to West Grove, a community wide family-friendly block party is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 5, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the West Grove borough. The party will feature food trucks, kids activities, other local breweries and vineyards, and of course, Blondes & Brewnettes Brewing Co. beer for adults to sample.
Proto is excited that the ultimate goal of unifying the community will soon be under way. After living in the borough for ten years, she feels that it’s time to have a place right in the borough, where people can gather and socialize. Proto believes that West Grove is the right town to support its own brewery concept, and is optimistic that it will contribute to the borough's social and economic growth.
“We need a place we can all hang out together,” she said. “We’re not a Kennett and we’re not going to be an Oxford. West Grove’s a different structure with different people.”
Blondes & Brewnettes will be located at the Twelves Grill & Café, 10 Exchange Place, West Grove, Pa. 19390. www.blondesandbrewnettes.beer.