The idea of owning and operating a bar with friends is something that’s been discussed in university dorm rooms for decades. And while that dream fades away for most after college graduation, Ken Buonocore ’03 made it a reality two years ago when he co-founded Conshohocken Brewing Company.
It all began in 2009, when he received a home brewing kit for Christmas. Buonocore and his friend John Remington would spend hours in Buonocore’s basement, testing out different ingredients and buying more equipment in an attempt to brew the best beers possible. The friends even took a beer judging certification class to sharpen their knowledge about the brewing process. They started entering local brewing competitions, and noticed that they started to win several of them.
“At that point, I was home-brewing probably three or four days a week,” Buonocore said. “I turned my entire basement into my laboratory. It was around that time, in 2012, that we really started getting serious about it.”
The pair then found an investment group to provide the preliminary finances and set to work buying full-scale brewing equipment, drafting a business plan, and picking out commercial space. On April 1, 2014, Conshohocken Brewing Co. was officially open for business.
Located about 15 miles northwest of Philadelphia and minutes from the Schuylkill River Trail, Conshohocken Brewing Co. offers about 10 beers on tap on any given day in addition to a small pub menu. Buonocore said the brewery’s proximity to the trail attracts a number of runners and bikers, many of whom come in for a post-workout drink.
“Our blonde ale does really well because it’s a lighter beer, and the people coming in off the trail go for it often,” he said. “Other than that, our IPAs are our most popular.”
In the two years since its inception, Conshohocken Brewing Co. has brewed more than 50 different beers and has distributed to more than 250 bars, restaurants, and distributors, including Phillies games at Citizens Bank Park and Eagles games at Lincoln Financial Field. Last summer, the public voted Conshohocken Brewing Co. “Best New Brewery” in the 2015 Best of Philly Bar Scene Awards.
“It’s kind of a validation that we’re doing something right, and that our beer is good,” Buonocore said.
Buonocore, an ORFE major at Princeton, said that his undergraduate degree has actually come in handy during his day-to-day work at the brewery, where understanding logistics and supply chains is key. He’s currently focusing the opening of a second location in May, to be located in nearby Bridgeport, Pa. Buonocore said he’s hoping to accommodate a much larger crowd at the new brew pub, which will seat about 150 people and offer a larger restaurant menu.
“We try to focus on making good, quality beer,” he said.