Flooding to keep Manayunk Brewing closed for weeks

Manayunk Brewing Co. tries to restore power. It had to throw out 1,500 cases of canned beer and about 4,000 gallons still in brewing vats, operating partner Michael Rose said.
Manayunk Brewing Co. tries to restore power. It had to throw out 1,500 cases of canned beer and about 4,000 gallons still in brewing vats, operating partner Michael Rose said. (COURTNEY MARABELLA / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 11, 2014

The hum of gas-powered generators and the smell of mildew filled the air Friday at the Manayunk Brewing Co. as a crew worked.

Cases of the company's canned beer on wooden pallets lined a wall outside the 18,000-square-foot restaurant, brewery, and banquet room on Main Street in the city's Manayunk section.

What was missing on this afternoon was the lunchtime crowd - and the lights.

More than a week after torrential rain caused massive flooding in the community along the Schuylkill, the 18-year-old craft brewery remained without power after 51/2 feet of river water deluged the former textile mill and ruined its electrical system.

"This is probably our fourth major flood," said Michael Rose, the brewery's operating partner. "This is the second-worst I have experienced." Only Hurricane Irene in 2011 was worse, he said.

Gone was the carpet that lined the floor, along with nearly all the furniture. Puddles of dirty water dampened the bare concrete.

"We had electrical problems, and we had problems finding the parts we need," Rose said of the building's electrical system, shut down since last week.

The storm generated 4.81 inches of rain and raised the river more than 30 feet, pushing water over a wall protecting the brewery's wooden rear deck on the 4100 block of Main Street, Rose said.

"We were right here until the water came over the wall," Rose said. "Then it was time to get out."

Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corp., which provides support for the neighborhood's many boutiques, restaurants, and other businesses, said the brewing company sustained the heaviest flood damage.

"They were the hardest hit," Lipton said. Other businesses in the neighborhood have regained electricity, she said.

The brewery had to throw out 1,500 cases of canned beer and about 4,000 gallons still in brewing vats, Rose said.

Rose was reluctant to put an estimate on the damage, but said it would likely exceed $500,000.

He said he and co-owner Swith Bell would have to cover most of the cost. "The flood insurance is very minimal now," Rose said.

"Normally, I can get things back up in 21/2 to three weeks," Rose said. "We're probably going to be down for a full four weeks." He said he expected to reopen June 1.

He said only about a dozen of the brewery's 120 employees were working during the cleanup.

After the workers remove all the debris and damaged material, Rose said, a private crew will finish cleaning and sanitizing the building.

He said the flood came at a critical time, noting that this weekend includes Mother's Day and the Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuylkill, which draw many customers. Rose said weddings and other events had to be canceled.

Looking ahead, Rose said the brewery would be improved.

"You're going to see a transformation to a whole different place," Rose said. "We're going to change the whole look of it. . . . We're going to shake off the old and bring in the new."


vclark@phillynews.com

215-854-5717

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