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Delco Profile: Bob Barrar, Brewer and Co-Owner, 2SP Brewing Company
Pretentious? Never. Passionate? Always. Local craft brew lovers will recognize that as the mojo behind 2SP Brewing Company. Fiercely proud of its roots, 2SP is the Delco vibe.
The 20-barrel brewery and tasting room opened in Aston on August 4, 2015, thanks to Bob Barrar, Michael Stiglitz and Ben Muse. Brewer Barrar co-runs the brewery with Andrew “Ruby” Rubenstein. This team’s roots run deep: Barrar, Stiglitz and Rubenstein were formerly with Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant; Stiglitz is a Culinary Institute of America grad, and Stiglitz and Muse own Two Stones Pub (hence the name 2SP).
Never fear, 2SP really is unpretentious.
Barrar’s credits are solid: He won 19 Great American Beer Festival medals and 10 World Beer Cup honors while at Iron Hill, and is most known for his Russian Imperial Stout. He spent 15 years at Iron Hill — 11 of those at the Media location — and was head brewer for 13 years. Prior to that, he was a brewer for four years at Red Bell Brewing at the CoreStates Spectrum.
2SP’s awards also are starting to fill a trophy case:
2018 World Beer Cup Silver for The Russian.
2017 Best of the Main Line and Western Suburbs, Main Line Today, Best Tasting Room.
2017 GABF, Gold for The Russian.
2017 Philly Beer Scene, Best New Brewery.
2016 GABF (Gold for The Russian, Bronze for Antonym).
2016 Brew-Vitational, Best New Beers.
2015 Best of the Main Line and Western Suburbs, Main Line Today, Best New Brewery.
Yet there’s still not a drop of pretentiousness — what all of the above comes from is passion. To confirm, we had a Q&A with the laid-back Barrar. Read on to see what we mean.
Destination Delco: You’re a Delco native. Where did you grow up, and where are you now?
Bob Barrar: I grew up in Glenolden and graduated from Interboro High School. I also went to the Beer School Siebel Institute in Chicago. Now I live in Rutledge with my wife, Kerri; two sons, Ethan, 15, and Mason, 11; our dog, Duke; our cat, Sam; and our turtle, Speedy.
DD: Why did you choose Delco, and specifically Aston, for the brewery?
BB: We chose Delco to keep it close to where I live. The brewery needs daily attention, and for me, it was important to keep it close to where I live in case of any emergencies. The kids are in school nearby, so I can get to and from special occasions and not miss much work, and most importantly, not miss any special events. I’ve always been a family first kinda guy. You only get one shot at it!
DD: Your first 2SP beer was Delco Lager. Why was that important to you?
BB: I wanted to bring a beer to the market that the locals could relate to. Lagers are easy to drink, crisp, clean and refreshing.
DD: Tell us why Baby Bob is near and dear to your heart.
BB: Baby Bob is a scaled-down version of The Russian. It’s an American-style stout that has more hop character but less body than The Russian, with a lot of the same malt profiles. Ruby named this beer. He said, “In the beginning, we kept saying ‘Bob’s baby imperial stout’ … and the name stuck.”
DD: Why is a barrel-aging program important to you?
BB: Beer is cool in the sense that some beers need to be drank within a very small window of time (fresh!), and some beers just age well for a long period of time in barrels. It’s usually big, complex, malty beers that do really well over time in the barrel. That’s not to say we don’t put lighter-style beers in barrels; they usually just don’t age as long as the more complex ones. The barrel program is Ruby’s baby.
DD: What types of barrels have you used for special beers?
BB: We’ve done whiskey, bourbon, white wine, red wine, rum, tequila, gin, mezcal … and no doubt more coming down the pike.
DD: Tell us a bit about your relationship with your customers and that unpretentious Delco vibe.
BB: I always say we can make as much beer as we want to, but if no one is consuming it, we have a problem. Our customers are the greatest! I learned at my previous job that it’s important to mingle with the customers and build a relationship with as many people as you can. Customers are an extension of my family and the 2SP family; we’re all in it together.
DD: What’s your philosophy when it comes to brewing, as well as when it comes to relaxing with a beer?
BB: Brewing takes time, temperature and execution! Relaxing with a beer? Give me family, friends, coworkers and customers. So basically anytime.
Find 2SP Brewing Company at 120 Concord Rd., units 101–103, in Aston; (484) 483-7860. It’s open Monday through Thursday, 3 to 9 p.m.; Friday, 3 to 10 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. The tap list changes, as do the food trucks and events. Keep an eye on 2SP’s social media (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) for the latest!