What’s brewing at Titan Energy Park? Taproom, restaurant to breathe new life into former factory

There’s something brewing at Titan Energy Park — revitalization — and soon, beer.

Axemann Brewery, maker of Blue Stripe beer, is building its home at the 104-year-old complex that currently houses former industrial facilities and office space in Bellefonte.

After a two-year search ended at what used to be Cerro Metal Factory, Axemann owner Rod Stahl said the former factory’s 20,000 square foot space, located in the park’s Plant 1, was the perfect fit and price to create the brewery and taproom scheduled to open this fall.

When Titan Park owners and McCrossin president and vice president Bob and Joe Leahey introduced Stahl to the site, he said he saw an opportunity to profit from the space and bring something new to the area — turning the location into more than just a place to pick up a case of beer.

“Obviously, this needs a lot of work, but it’s something you don’t really see around here a lot,” Stahl said. “This space had something that was economical and close enough to a population that (we) kind of adjusted our thinking and decided to make the taproom a little bigger and more involved.”

From metal plant to brewery

Beginning as a home brew, Blue Stripe beer was made by Stahl and Stephen Hirlinger in the Stahl barn milk house. After working on perfecting the manufacturing process over the last six years, Stahl said he wanted to turn his hobby into a reality.

“It’s a bit of a science and an art,” Stahl said, adding that converting the former metal plant into a brewery is “a lot of sweat and work.”

Rod Stahl talks about the how Axemann Brewery is renovating space in the Titan Park to be a brewery and tasting room. Abby Drey

The factory windows, doors and flooring will need to be updated and replaced, but Stahl said he wants to maintain the industrial atmosphere while incorporating the railroad and stream that run behind the site.

Brewing equipment has been installed, and while nothing is being made yet, Stahl wants to focus on brewing German lagers, microbrews and ales. The brewery could have up to 12 beers on tap and will work seasonal beers into its rotation.

Blonde Bistro to move in

Having no interest at all in the restaurant business, Stahl said he reached out to Blonde Bistro owner Ciara Semack, who was looking to move outside of the Bellefonte Borough. Once Axemann opens, Semack will be moving to the site and closing her location on South Allegheny Street.

Axemann Brewery is renovating a space in Titan Park off of Axemann Road to become the brewery and tasting room. Abby Drey

Offering the same menu, Semack said the decision to move stemmed from a desire to expand the Blonde Bistro’s clientele.

“Myself and my staff are very excited and a little anxious,” Semack said. “There’s that many more people who get to taste our food, but then there’s also that many more mouths that need to be fed.”

Now operating under a “bring your own beverage” mantra, Semack said customers will be able to purchase Stahl’s beers and have more space to relax and spend time once the move is official.

With the taproom big enough to seat over 100 people, Semack said she is interested in providing food and a buffet option for banquets, graduation parties and holiday parties. Food will also be available for takeout.

The fermenters and brew tanks are being installed at Axemann Brewery, which is converting one of the old mills at the Titan Park into a brewery and tasting room. Abby Drey

Future projects in the works

Stahl’s landlords, Bob and Joe Leahey, said they are eager for the brewery to get up in running and hope to attract other businesses.

With a history of factories and plants as tenants, Joe Leahey said several businesses and local artists are looking to locate next to the soon-to-be brewery. Future projects could bring ax throwing, a golf simulator, event space, a cidery and office space to Titan Energy Park.

Joe Leahey hopes to turn Titan’s Plant 1 into a destination and said local officials have been supportive of their revitalization efforts. With Stahl’s business occupying half of the building, he hopes another business will soon move into the space next door.

Spring Township Manager William MacMath said he hopes they are successful and thinks the brewery and restaurant will attract more visitors and businesses to the township.

“The open floor plan of the building, industrial character, new brewery and revitalization of the area have people interested,” Joe Leahey wrote.

“It would be great if Bellefonte becomes a destination,” Stahl said, adding that he hopes residents will come to Axemann to spend time with friends, eat, drink and play yard games.

Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.