On Tap: Voodoo, the newest State College brewpub, is about diversity, consistency
This spring, State College welcomed its latest craft beer brewpub when Meadville-based Voodoo Brewery opened below Maine Bay & Berry Café in the former Barn in Lemont.
The State College location is one of the latest moves for Voodoo, which continues to expand its reach. Besides its Meadville home, Voodoo, which started in 2005, has operations in Erie, Homestead, Grove City, and Lancaster, and it will soon open pubs in New Kensington and Washington, DC.
CEO Matteo Rachocki took over the Voodoo business in 2011, and since then he’s looked to build and grow the brand.
“We always wanted to do something in State College,” he says. “It’s obviously near a university, which we’ve done in Erie and Grove City. In Meadville, we’re near Allegheny College. We didn’t want to be right downtown. We want to transcend all walks of life – from the 21-year-old to retired guys who are getting into craft beers.”
Eric Nartatez is the manager of the State College location, which has 11 beers on tap. He is a Penn State alum and is working toward a master’s degree in sports business management through online courses at West Virginia University.
“I saw this job as an opportunity for me to grow as a person and expand in new and exciting ways,” he says. “I had the opportunity to meet the folks from Voodoo prior to getting the job and they were so inviting and enjoyable to be around.”
Curtis Rachocki, Matteo’s brother, is Voodoo’s head brewer, with Shawn Strickland serving as the head production brewer.
“Something signature to Voodoo is the ‘voodooized’ take we have on classical and European styles of beers,” Matteo Rachocki says. “We also have bigger – higher ABV – products.”
Voodoo has six flagships beers, with one limited availability flagship:
• Hoodoo (IPA) – 7.3 percent ABV;
• Good Vibes (IPA) – 7.3 percent ABV (limited availability);
• Voodoo Love Child (ale) – 9.5 percent ABV;
• Killapilz (Imperial lager) – 7.5 percent ABV;
• Gran Met (ale) – 9.5 percent ABV;
• White Magick of the Sun (Imperial white ale) – 7.3 percent ABV;
• Wynona’s Big Brown Ale – 7.5 percent ABV.
Seasonals include Hazy Afternoon (New England-style pale ale; 5.5 percent ABV), June Gloom (Bavarian-style Hefeweizen; 5.7 percent ABV), and Names Are Hard (New England-style IPA; 6.9 percent ABV).
Rachocki says Voodoo’s diversity and consistency are its strengths.
“We don’t just make IPAs or sours. We make so many styles on a consistently high level,” he says. “Some breweries might do a New England IPA, and that’s all they do and it’s the best. But what’s cool about us is our diversity.”
Having Voodoo in State College adds to the Happy Valley craft-beer scene that includes Otto’s, Robin Hood Brewing Company, Elk Creek Café, and Happy Valley Brewing Company, which is next door to Voodoo.
“I think that Happy Valley could always use more craft breweries,” Nartatez says. “Being a college town where families and friends come to gather, I think it’s a good way to enjoy time with each other. It gives them a time to settle down and enjoy a beer and enjoy the company.
“I have had the opportunity to enjoy a few great breweries in State College, including Otto’s and Happy Valley Brewing Company, and have enjoyed the beers I have had there.”
Nartatez says the reception to Voodoo so far “has been awesome.” He adds that he’s seen a variety of age groups come in and the brew pub has a “family-feeling atmosphere.”
“I like getting to know each person that walks in,” he says. “I feel it creates a more enjoyable experience for everyone.”
For more information about Voodoo Brewery, visit voodoobrewery.com.
David Pencek is a freelance writer in State College.