Couple serves up recipe for success

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

A desire to lay down roots led Bob McCafferty to a dilapidated, 19th-century building on Main Street in Slippery Rock.

McCafferty, 45, owner of North Country Brewing Company, learned the restaurant business while bartending and waiting tables throughout college.

But after majoring in environmental geosciences at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, McCafferty worked as an archaeologist for 12 years.

All the while, he collected menus from favorite restaurants he discovered.

“I loved my job, but the traveling piece was wearing me down and I wanted to call something home,” he said.

McCafferty and his wife, Jodi, bought land on Slippery Rock's Main Street in 1998, on which stood an original structure from the turn of the 19th century.

“We were both working full-time, maximizing credit cards and rubbing pennies together,” he said.

There wasn't a straight angle in the structure, and it needed repairs, but McCafferty saw its promise.

The history of the place was long and varied, McCafferty learned through research.

Built by Peter Uber around 1805, the building stayed in the Uber family and over many years it was an inn, a tavern, a funeral home, a furniture store and an antique store.

While McCafferty said various changes and updates gave the place a “fun house type of effect,” he wanted to incorporate some of the old into the new.

Slippery Rock had been a “dry” town since Prohibition, only allowing alcoholic beverage sales after a community vote in 2001.

McCafferty began renovation that same year, basically gutting the existing building.

He eventually left his archaeology job to focus on his new business full-time — but was able to integrate various hardwoods he had saved, adding them to the structure.

“When you walk in, you can see all the wood — white oak, pine, cherry,” he said.

Wood, slate and stone from the original building also were repurposed in the update.

The brewpub opened in 2005, and McCafferty said the community has embraced the business.

Under the guidance of head brewer Sean McIntyre, the brewery specializes in whole grain beers with no additives or preservatives.

Local places often are honored in the names of beers, such as Station 33 Firehouse Red. A portion of its sales is donated to the Slippery Rock Fire Department.

Production and popularity has grown, with 2013 marking the first year for a new warehouse system that will allow the brewery to distribute its four top-selling beers to surrounding areas.

“Crazy, fun beers” will still be offered, along with the top sellers at the brewpub, McCafferty said.

Food at the brewpub is seasonal, relying in large part on vegetables, fruits and meats from local farmers.

McCafferty appreciates being able to shake the hands of people who deliver food to his door, and now he has his own 64-acre farm too.

It took five years to build up the farm, he said, and now he raises cattle, pigs and hens that provide fresh, local selections to the menu.

“I love the restaurant business, but it is nice to have the farm because it's easier to see the results at the end of the day when you're doing so much yourself,” he said.

North Country Brewing Company is at 41 S. Main St., Slippery Rock. For details, call 724-794-2337.

Mandy Fields Yokim is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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