During one of the most challenging periods in Bethlehem’s history, the Fegleys entered the brewing and restaurant industry. The city was grappling with the decline of the Bethlehem Steel plant, a once thriving industrial giant, and the closure of the historic Hotel Bethlehem in April 1998. The downtown area was also feeling the effects of malls and big box stores drawing business away from local shops and community.
Despite these challenges, the Fegleys opened the doors of Bethlehem Brew Works at the corner of Main and Broad with optimism. They chose to celebrate the city’s history, paying homage to its working-class heritage in the brewpub’s decor and menu. The Fegleys believed that transformation was possible and, with the hard work of downtown business owners, change began to take place. Over time, shops extended their hours and more restaurants opened, helping to revive the downtown area.
In its first five years of operation, Bethlehem Brew Works quickly exceeded its initial expectations. The success of the restaurant and brewery pushed the limits of its capacity, but the Fegley family was determined to keep up with the demand. To accommodate their growing clientele, they added the Steelgaarden lounge, which quickly became one of the hottest spots in the Valley. The kitchen was expanded three times its original size to serve more guests and the brewery added additional tanks to keep pace with the thirst for their delicious beers. This expansion allowed Bethlehem Brew Works to continue providing top-notch service and high-quality beer to their loyal customers, cementing its place as a staple in the local community.
By 2005, Historic Bethlehem had transformed into a lively, year-round destination, boasting a beautifully restored hotel, a thriving restaurant row, and a diverse array of retail shops. The Steelgaarden lounge, a local hotspot, had expanded once again, taking over two more shop locations on Main Street Commons to offer even more nightlife and event space. Meanwhile, the brewery was operating at full capacity, producing over 1,000 barrels of beer annually.
In their pursuit of expansion, the Fegleys set their sights on Allentown. They were drawn to the rich history of the city, known as “The All-American City” in its heyday. From its role in the War of Independence to its thriving silk industry and grand retail era, the Fegleys saw the potential in a city that had seen its retail peak come to an end with the demolition of Hess’s department store. Despite the challenges, the Fegleys believed that Allentown was ready to thaw and bloom once again.
In June 2007, the Fegley family opened their latest project, Fegley’s Allentown Brew Works, located on Hamilton Street where the iconic Hess Brothers department store once stood. Housed in the restored and renovated Harold’s Furniture Building, the establishment offered a 2.5-level dining experience, complete with state-of-the-art banquet facilities in The Hamilton Room. With an array of atmospheres to choose from, guests could enjoy different experiences throughout the establishment, including multiple bars, a relaxing outdoor patio known as Der Biergarten, and a lower-level lounge, Silk, with a capacity of up to 700 guests.
During the height of the Great Recession in 2008, while the American economy was struggling, Bethlehem managed to remain a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors throughout the year for its numerous festivals, its “Christmas City” heritage, and its beloved Brew Works. Despite the challenges faced by the city of Allentown in revitalizing its downtown district, the Fegley family continued to forge ahead. They had opened the largest restaurant in the Lehigh Valley and established a new 15-barrel brewery, complete with seven fermentation tanks and eight serving tanks. With such excess capacity, the Fegley’s had successfully built a destination restaurant in a city with a damaged reputation, and were now able to begin selling their Fegley’s Brew Works beer outside of the establishment.
The Fegley’s relentless determination to succeed in Allentown paid off. Their investment in the city, despite the challenges posed by the recession, showed their belief in the potential of the city and its people. Their new brewery and restaurant provided not just a place for locals to gather and enjoy great food and drink, but also became a symbol of hope for the future of Allentown. By embracing the city’s rich history, including its past as “The All-American City,” and combining it with their passion for brewing, the Fegley family was able to create something truly special and meaningful for both themselves and the community.
During his campaign for the White House, President Barack Obama made a stop in Bethlehem in April and visited Fegley’s Brew Works. There, he had lunch with Peg Fegley and was impressed with the family’s hard-earned success and dedication to revitalizing the downtown areas of the Lehigh Valley. As he tried the Fegley’s ESB, he was heard saying, “Now that’s a good beer!”
The visit was a significant recognition of the Fegley family’s efforts to not just run a successful business, but also to contribute to the growth and development of the community. The visit by the President also shed light on the thriving beer culture in the Lehigh Valley and the success of Fegley’s Brew Works in particular. With its high-quality beer, fantastic dining experience, and a commitment to community revitalization, it’s no wonder President Obama was impressed. The Fegley family’s passion for excellence and dedication to their craft were on full display during the visit, and it was clear to the President that their work was making a positive impact on the region.
In 2008, the boys of summer came to Allentown when the Philadelphia Phillies AAA team, the Iron Pigs, opened the new Coca-Cola Park stadium and added Fegley’s Brew Works to its lineup. This move marked a significant milestone for the brewery as it allowed them to expand their reach and increase their sales. The new sales team behind off-site brewery sales helped Fegley’s Brew Works to be found in various locations from Harrisburg to central New Jersey, north to Scranton, and south to Philadelphia.
The Fegley family focused on filling the Allentown Brew Works with a variety of rotating events, festivals, banquets, and weddings, attracting a large number of guests and creating a loyal following. As word began to spread about the establishment, more and more people were drawn to the brewery to experience its unique atmosphere and delicious offerings.
The hard work paid off as the brewery was recognized for its quality, winning several awards such as a bronze for its Bagpiper’s Scotch Ale at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) and a World Beer Championships award for its Framboise Lambic. Despite the challenges they faced, the family remained steadfast in their commitment to revitalizing the Lehigh Valley’s downtown district.
However, their hard-earned success was momentarily interrupted during the height of the Christmas holiday season, when the Bethlehem Brew Works suffered a devastating fire. Despite this setback, the family continued to pour their heart and soul into the business, working tirelessly to rebuild and create a thriving community hub once again. It was this unwavering commitment to excellence and dedication to their community that endeared the Fegley’s Brew Works to the people of the Lehigh Valley and beyond.
Struggling through the winter with a limited menu and dining area, the Bethlehem Brew Works pushed forward, relying on the support and loyalty of the local community. Despite the setbacks from the fire, the restaurant persevered and was able to host a grand re-opening on February 26th, thanks to the hard work of the staff and the continued patronage of the Lehigh Valley’s fans.
Just two months later, the Fegley family added another location to their brewing empire with the grand opening of Brew Works on the Green. The new establishment was located in the west end of Allentown and welcomed diners to the picturesque setting of the municipal Benner Fairways golf course.
And the awards and recognition continued to roll in for the Fegley family. Brewmaster Beau Baden earned a Silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) for his Bagpiper’s Scotch Ale, and the Rude Elf’s Reserve also brought home a Bronze. These accolades further solidified the Fegley’s position as leaders in the craft brewing industry and demonstrated their commitment to producing high-quality, award-winning beers.
The year 2010 was a defining moment in the growth and success of Fegley’s Brew Works. The city of Allentown was flourishing, and the festivals and events hosted by the brewery continued to draw in larger crowds. The Bridal Fair and Event Extravaganza was a standout success, filling the ballrooms with young love and excitement. This event showcased the versatility of the brewery as not just a place for good beer, but also as a venue for memorable events.
The popularity of Fegley’s beer also continued to spread, as the brewery’s distribution reach expanded further into the region. By the end of the year, Fegley’s Hop’solutely was named the Beer of the Year by one of the nation’s leading beer writers and co-founder of Philly Beer Week, Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack). This recognition was a testament to the quality of the brewery’s beer and the hard work and dedication put in by the Fegley family and their team.
The brewery continued to see increased production and growth during this time period, as the Fegleys worked to satisfy the growing demand for their beers. Two new 30-barrel fermenters were added, along with new packaging equipment, and barrel aging was increased as well. By this point, the brewery was filling 150 oak casks each year for popular beers like the Fegley’s Bourbon Barrel Insidious Imperial Stout, which had become an annual release eagerly awaited by fans.
Along with the growth in their brewing operations, the Fegleys were also making a positive impact on the Allentown community. Inspired by the growing number of new restaurants and the flourishing atmosphere in the city, the Fegleys decided to launch their own ventures that aligned with their values of sustainability and “green” practices. They opened Fegley’s Burrito Works, offering quick service and all-natural, locally sourced and organic meats and produce. They also opened Coffee Works, offering organic, fair trade coffee and espresso drinks, from cappuccinos to mocha-caramel lattes.
However, after three successful years at the Brew Works on the Green location, the Fegleys made the decision to close that location and refocus on their core operations in downtown Allentown. Despite the hard work and effort put into turning the location into a million-dollar operation, the city’s leaders had decided to re-bid the contract for the golf course space. The Fegleys took the opportunity to express their gratitude to the fans who had come out to enjoy their beer and food, and were proud of what they had accomplished.
Meanwhile, Beau Baden and his team continued to earn recognition for their brewing excellence, receiving awards for their beers at regional, national, and international events such as the Philadelphia Summer Ale Festival (Best Summer Ale), the Great American Beer Festival, and the World Beer Championships. These awards were a testament to the quality of their brewing and the hard work and dedication of the Fegley team. The continued success and growth of the brewery was a result of their tireless efforts to bring great beer and positive impact to the Allentown community.
In early 2014, the Fegley family faced a setback with the closure of the Burrito Works/Coffee Works after a small fire, but they learned valuable lessons about operating a healthy and eco-conscious restaurant. Despite this setback, the Fegleys remain optimistic and dedicated to improving their business operations. As the national economy continues to recover, both Allentown and Bethlehem are attracting new residents and visitors.
In September 2014, Allentown saw a major addition to its downtown district with the opening of the PPL Center, a multi-purpose arena and home of the Philadelphia Flyers’ AAA team, the Phantoms. This facility not only serves as a hub for professional hockey games, but also hosts a variety of A-List concerts, events, and exhibitions that attract tens of thousands of visitors to the city on a regular basis. This influx of visitors has also contributed to the growth of the dining scene and retail shops in Allentown.
In Bethlehem, Fegley’s Brew Works continued to thrive as part of the city’s downtown revitalization. The loyal mug club regulars and rewards club fans welcomed new diners, tourists, shoppers, and festival attendees to the “Christmas City, USA” with open arms and a warm smile. Despite facing new challenges and opportunities, the Fegley family remained dedicated to both their business and taking time to enjoy great beer and delicious food.
Between 2018 and 2021, Fegley’s Brew Works continued to expand its brand and offerings, focusing on perfecting its beer styles and satisfying the taste buds of its customers. Some of the most successful beers brewed by the company during this time period included their Rude Elf’s Reserve Spiced Ale, Devious Imperial Pumpkin Ale, and their Insidious Imperial Stout, which received widespread recognition and accolades from beer enthusiasts and critics.
In 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the brewing industry. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Fegley’s Brew Works managed to not only continue brewing and selling its beers but also adapted to the changing times by offering online ordering, curbside pickup, and delivery services.
Untappd.com reviews of Fegley’s Brew Works during this time period were overwhelmingly positive, with customers praising the quality and variety of beers available. Many customers noted that Fegley’s Brew Works was a standout in the local brewing scene, offering a wide range of styles and flavors that catered to all tastes. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, customers continued to flock to Fegley’s Brew Works, drawn by the exceptional quality of their beers and the welcoming atmosphere of their taprooms.
The brewery continued to innovate and expand its beer portfolio, adding new and exciting brands such as the Hazy IPA series, the West Coast IPA series, and the barrel-aged Sour series. These new beers were well-received by the beer community and received high ratings on Untappd, with reviewers praising their unique flavor profiles and high-quality ingredients.
Fegley’s Brew Works also continued to support local causes and organizations through its commitment to sustainability, participating in clean-up efforts and supporting local farmers. This community-focused approach to business has solidified Fegley’s Brew Works as a staple in the Lehigh Valley area and a go-to destination for beer lovers and foodies alike.