By George and Chelsea Alexander, Owners, Mechanistic Brewing
After graduating from high school in western Pennsylvania and attending Clarion University and Penn State, we had the opportunity to live abroad and out West. We moved back East in 2008 to settle in Washington, D.C. and purchased a small condo in a converted row home in an up-and-coming neighborhood after watching rental prices skyrocket year after year. We loved watching the city grow, trying new restaurants every week, and just walking around all of the neighborhoods and sites. In 2012, we found out that we had a daughter on the way. Although we loved D.C., we quickly realized that we couldn’t afford to stay. We also recognized that it would be difficult to raise children in a small condo with no grass and no family support in the city. The saying goes, “It takes a village…” not “It takes a city…” Like many young families in D.C., we were looking to move out into Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia.
Transitioning Back to NWPA
During a trip home to Clarion, PA in the spring of 2013, we peered in the window of a realtors office. A small Victorian home caught our eye and was a fraction of the price of our condo…with a yard and walking distance to grandparents! Family + space + yard – cost = easy decision. By September of 2013, we were living back in Clarion. We loved being close to family, having a yard, having space for hobbies (enter homebrewing and wood-fired pizza oven), but we were still nervous that we wouldn’t meet as many people or have as many places to go. One of our biggest surprises has been all of the amazing families that we’ve since come to know. Of course, Clarion doesn’t have the population of a city, however, living in a small town creates more opportunities to meet and interact with other families.
We had forgotten how much we enjoyed the ‘community’ aspect of living in a town. We love spending time outdoors, but in Western PA there are days better suited for indoors. So, we started down the path of creating another hangout – a small brewery and taproom. We underestimated many details in the planning, especially the talents and good will of our community. We spent several years hashing out plans and found exceptionally talented people to help us make the right decisions.
Benefits of NWPA
A significant component to our success, as new business owners, has been the community. A driving force for this brewery was creating another space to bring the amazing people of our area together. The name Mechanistic Brewing is meaningful to us- manufacturing beer to be a mechanism for bringing people together. We are fortunate to live in a small town and have community to interact with every day. Living in Clarion also provided us with an opportunity to create a small business that we could not have done in D.C. with the unattainable real estate prices. Clarion provided us with an opportunity to raise a family in a town where kids still play in the street and to create a brewery in a town where everyone knows each other.