Mifflinburg brew pub draws regional, national musicians

Raven and the Wren’s Jason Tutwiler performs at Rusty Rail Brewing Company in Mifflinburg.
Raven and the Wren’s Jason Tutwiler performs at Rusty Rail Brewing Company in Mifflinburg. Photo provided

With Rusty Rail Brewing Company, Mifflinburg is quickly becoming a major destination on the craft beer map and the regional music scene.

“The main goal was that we were going to be the next big Pennsylvania brewery,” Marketing Director Myles Biggs said. “Everyone locally has just completely embraced the project. They want to support a local operation.”

Owners and brothers Paul and Eric John started making plans for Rusty Rail as early as 2013. Cabinet makers by trade, they purchased a 225,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on North Eighth Street that was in use as early as 1909. They refurbished it in an effort to closely replicate the original structure.

“Paul would walk the building. It spoke to him, and Eric was doing home brewing,” Biggs said. “Every detail was meant to match the original structure. If you didn’t know it, you would think it was like this the whole time.”

Although Rusty Rail has only been open since 2015, the velocity at which production has taken off has been a pleasant surprise, Biggs said.

“It’s all throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and it’s been two years,” he said.

The brewery is a core component of the brothers’ original vision of bringing a community together to celebrate the artistry of great craft beer, and the vision also includes a full restaurant, event space and, of course, a live music venue.

With a dearth of elegant places in central Pennsylvania to enjoy and perform live music, the music venue has attracted local and national musicians and customers who are thirsty to hear live music in a comfortable listening room while enjoying mindfully made food and beer.

“It’s a great way to give something to the community that everyone can enjoy,” Biggs said. “When you think about the word brew pub, you don’t think sports bar or your typical bar. You think about your local watering hole you go to with your friends, with good ambiance, and part of that ambiance is good music. We knew this would be a place for that.”

So far, Rusty Rail has featured established musical acts from across the region, including Raven and the Wren and Miss Melanie & the Valley Rats and nationally touring performers, such as Willie Watson and Jim Lauderdale.

“It’s a great, well-thought-out music venue. It has a great dressing room, nice PA and a good sound man in a good sounding room,” said Mark Ross, guitarist and band leader for Miss Melanie & the Valley Rats.

Jason Tutwiler, guitarist for Raven and the Wren, said the crowd at the Rusty Rail is also a draw for musicians.

“It has a great atmosphere and vibe,” he said. “The sound is always good and the people are friendly.”

In addition to local and national acts stopping by, the next few months at the Rusty Rail includes an emphasis on special events, with a wedding planning expo and Valentine’s Day special in February.

“Our ultimate goal is to become to next Pennsylvania powerhouse in brewing — the new Troegs, the new Yuengling or the new Yards,” Biggs said. “The five-year plan is to keep growing the roots of the operation. That will support the outward growth of the distribution of the beer. The more the name is out there, the more people will come to Mifflinburg.”

Upcoming shows

The Frank Wicher Band, 9 p.m. Friday

The Suitcase Junket, 9 p.m. Jan. 13

Crystal Bowersox, 9 p.m. Jan. 27

More info: rustyrailbrewing.com