Brewer Interview: Alex Franko (Bright Path Brewing Company)

Brewer Interview: Alex Franko (Bright Path Brewing Company)

Bright Path Brewing Company

The Brewer Interview Series

We continue our series of brewer interviews with Alex Franko from Bright Path Brewing Company. Last interview was with Logyard Brewing Company’s Sean Gorzynski and you can read that interview here: Brewer Interview: Sean Gorzynski (Logyard Brewing).

Let me say thank you to Alex Franko right away. This interview took a little time to set up and he was patient enough to get this to me. We started everything during the busy time of Christmas – New Years and everything that goes on with the year ending and a new year beginning. The original plan was for both Alex Franko and Dillon Smith of Bright Path Brewing to do the interview, but that didn’t quite work out.

This interview was supposed to go up a few days ago, but my life has been pretty busy as well. I work 4 days 10 hour days; so it doesn’t always leave time to do writing / uploading / promoting / etc. I try to fit in some writing before going to work and try and get some done after work, but don’t really like publishing articles much after 9PM due to lack of viewer interest. So sometimes things get pushed back and then get pushed down the pile when big news stories come out (like Mount Gretna Craft Brewery’s closing, The Englewood’s Re – Opening, etc.).

You can read a small interview that Tyler Budwash did with Alex Franko and several other brewers here: Brewers and Industry Folk Look Towards 2023.

So I would like to thank Alex Franko for doing this interview with me, and without any further adieu, let’s get right to it!

The Interview

(The interview is conducted in Question – Ask style. Question by “The Beer Thrillers” and answer by “Alex Franko”. After a few times of using “The Beer Thrillers” and “Alex Franko” it will be replaced with “TBT” and “AF” for simplicity sake. Thank you for reading.)

The Beer Thrillers: When and how did Bright Path Brewing start?
Alex Franko: We started having initial conversations about starting the brewery back in late 2019 early 2020. We officially started selling beer on Jan 21st 2022 and our tasting room opened April 23rd of 2022.

The Beer Thrillers: Who was involved in the creation of Bright Path Brewing?
Alex Franko: It was myself and Dillon Smith and both our fathers Guy Franko and Todd Smith.

The Beer Thrillers: Why Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania?
Alex Franko: We are all born and raised in Jim Thorpe. I graduated in 2005 and Dillon in 2010. Our fathers graduated in the 70s and 80s. And I thought it was wild that there wasn’t any breweries in Jim Thorpe with it being such a big tourist destination. 

The Beer Thrillers: What is the size of the brewery? (Taproom size, brewery size, barrel production, etc.)
Alex Franko: The whole building is 4000 sq ft. with half of that devoted to production and half to the tasting room plus a 20’x20’ cold box that extends into the tasting room side. Our brewhouse is a 2 vessel 10bbl brewhouse and we have 2- 10bbl fermenters, 1 – 20bbl fermenters, 1 – 20bbl brite tank and 2 – 20bbl lagering tanks. Right now we can push out 900, maybe 1000 barrels if we run at max capacity. But this past year we did just over 500 bbls. We have plans to add more fermenters and lagering tanks and eventually we hope to be able to do about 2500 bbls at our current location. 

The Beer Thrillers: Side – pulls and the taproom at Bright Path is pretty exceptional. What made you guys decide to go this route?
Alex Franko: We knew we were going to brew a lot of lagers and knew that the Lukr sidepull faucets are the best around to really enjoy lager beer. And they look cool. 

TBT: Background on Alex Franko and Dillon Smith?
AF: I attend the Siebel Institute for brewing. I’ve been brewing professionally for over 10 years now. I have a college education as well. Dillon has a lot of hands- on experience working at different breweries over the last 5 years, he’s also a graduate of Lehigh University.

TBT: How did you guys get started in beer and craft beer in particular?
AF: I started drinking craft beer in probably 2007-2008 while I was living in Philadelphia. A lot of IPAs and stouts, really flavorful stuff. 

TBT: How did you guys get started in brewing? Did you homebrew?
AF: I homebrewed for a little but never really did it consistently. I was never happy with what I made. I moved to Boston in 2009 then while I was working in retail I was looking for a career change and I found an apprenticeship at Blue Hills Brewery in Canton, Mass (it’s now closed). And after doing that for a while I decided to try and do it full time.

TBT: Initial favorite beers (when you were first getting into craft beer)?
AF: Rouge’s Dead Guy. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Stone IPA. Yards Brawler. Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout.

TBT: Favorite early breweries (when you were first getting into craft beer)?
AF: Sierra Nevada, Stone, Yards, Nodding Head, Dock Sreet.

Some questions for Alex as a consumer

TBT: What styles and types of beer do you enjoy?
AF: Lagers. I don’t care if they are macro or micro. I’ll drink a good lager every time. 

TBT: What are some of your favorite breweries?
AF: I still love sierra nevada. Locally I really enjoy Human Robot & Forest and Main & the Referend. Whenever I can get anything from Notch Brewing in Salem, MA I do. 

TBT: Do you like to travel to breweries or rather drink at home?
AF: When I’m on trips I like to try different local breweries. I don’t really drink at home, mostly at our brewery when we have different beers. 

TBT: As a consumer, what do you look for in a beer, what flavors, or styles, or ingredients/hops do you enjoy?
AF: Lagers. English Styles. Anything that is sessionable and not overly hoppy really. If I am going to drink something hoppy I’ll usually try stuff with Australian or New Zealand hops in it. I just find them so unique and a change from the “juicy” American hops. 

Some questions for Alex as a brewer

TBT: What styles and types of beer do you enjoy making?
AF: Lagers. Still waiting for the bottom to fall out on hazy IPAs but it looks like they are here to stay.

TBT: What are some of the more creative ways you like to brew?
AF: We love traditional styles so we brew in traditional ways. Most of our lagers use decoction mashing and as long as possible lagering times. 

TBT: What have been some of your favorite beers or recipes that you have brewed?
AF: Our Helles, Keller Pils and Marzen.

TBT: Have any preferences – West Coast vs. New England? Porter vs. Stout?
AF: If I’m going to have an IPA I prefer it to be  West Coast. 

TBT: Thoughts on the ways consumers now view and treat breweries and beer? Preferences on things like pints vs. flights? Bottles vs. cans?
AF: Flights are the bane of my existence. They are the worst way to consume and enjoy a beer. I don’t think everyone needs to order by the liter but I think a half liter or a pint is a good size, nothing under 8oz if you really want to experience a beer. Cans vs bottles depends on the beer. Coors original is great out of a can. I can only drink Yeungling out of a bottle. 

TBT: Things that you enjoy about being a brewer?
AF: The freedom to make something that is enjoyed world wide and is really a universal language almost. If you are somewhere and don’t speak the native tongue theres a good chance you can still find a good beer and enjoy it. 

TBT: Things that annoy you about being a brewer?
AF: Talking about IPAs and hops and flights. 

Alex Franko’s favorites

TBT: What is your current favorite non-Bright Path brewery?
AF: Human Robot, Forest & Main, The Referend

TBT: What is your current favorite non-Bright Path beer?
AF: That’s tough, it really depends on where I’m at and the setting. I can always enjoy a Heiniken or Coors Original. But I’ll always go for what’s freshest.

TBT: Favorite / Best state for beer traveling?
AF: North Carolina.

TBT: Favorite/Best city for beer traveling?
AF: Asheville, NC or Portland, ME

TBT: Favorite beer you’ve made?
AF: Helles Lager or Keller Pils

TBT: Favorite beer you’ve done a collaboration with? Favorite brewery to do a collaboration with?
AF: Haven’t done too many yet.

Alex looks to the future…

TBT: Where do you see craft beer in the future? In the next 5 years, the next 10 years? The next 20 years?
AF: More balanced not everyone having 8 to 10 IPAs on tap. As the consumer becomes more knowledgeable brewers will have the ability to offer up different styles.

TBT: Where do you see Bright Path Brewing in the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
AF: Distribution through the whole eastern part of PA. A major destination brewery in the region. 

TBT: Where do you see yourselves in the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
AF: Helping my daughter get through school and figure out what she wants to do with her life. Hopefully she’ll want to have a part in the brewery. 

TBT: (At the time of the interview) 2023 is right around the corner, what do you think will be the big trend of 2023? The big trends going forward in craft beer?
AF: Lager. And still IPA. I think we’ll see a small consolidation of breweries. I don’t think you can just be a brewery anymore you have to make decent beer. The consumer is getting smarter. 

TBT: Where do you see more breweries putting emphasis in 2023? In person/taprooms, distribution, bottling, canning, etc.
AF: In person / taproom. I think it’s pretty obvious that breweries are sought out when people travel so having a good taproom will only help grow your business. 

TBT: What would be some advice you would give to a starting home brewer?
AF: Just come buy Bright Path beer. But Seriously oxygen is bad for beer, Fermentation control will make ok beer very good beer. 

TBT: What would be some advice you would give to an advanced home brewer looking to start his own brewery?
AF: You have to have real hands on experience in either brewing or running a business and which ever one you are lacking in find someone to partner with that fills that gap. And be prepared to work a lot. We’ve know from the start we’re gonna be work 6-7 days a week for possibly 3-5 years so we can really establish our business and make sure we growing for those first  years. 

Wrapping it up

TBT: Is there any new beers you would like to promote?
AF: 10P Czech Lager coming on tap soon that’s gonna be great. Grodziskie is fermenting now and almost ready for extended lagering. 

TBT: Is there any new events or happenings at the brewery or beer fests you would like to promote?
AF: We’ll be turning 1 on April 23rd so we’ll have a party that weekend. More details to come. 

TBT: Anything in general you would like to promote?
AF: Support local as much as possible. Local businesses help build communities. 


Thank You Alex

Want to give a big shout out to Alex Franko with working on me for this interview and helping my interview series project. A big shout out to Bright Path Brewing Company for helping and getting this done. I know its an undertaking, and I appreciate all the time and effort taken by all involved.

Ming, Don, and I were out at Bright Path Brewing Company back in July of last year (2022) and had a wonderful time at the brewery. Absolutely great place, and cannot recommend it enough. Make sure you check it out the next time you are in the area!

Bright Path Brewing Company

For more information on Bright Path Brewing Company, you can find them on the following social media platforms:

As per Untappd, Bright Path Brewing Company is a micro brewery from Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. They have 25 unique beers with nearly 3,000 ratings, and a global average rating of 3.7 (as of 2.19.23).

Our Articles About Bright Path Brewing Company

  • Bright Path Brewing Company Opening in Jim Thorpe PA
  • Beer Review: Helles Lager (Milko Pour) (Bright Path Brewing)
  • Our Trip to The Woods and Jim Thorpe – Bright Path Brewing Company and Stoker’s Brewing

Our Interview Series


Thank You For Reading

Thank you everyone for reading. And a big thank you to Alex Franko and Bright Path Brewing Company for doing the interview. It really means a lot and helps our Brewer Interview Series that we are doing.

Speaking of interviews – I have been working in the office here to set up a podcast / streaming / videoing area and working on getting cameras and microphones hooked up with our computer for future interviews to be done via podcasts, video, and blog post. So please stay tuned for all of that.

I want to give a big shout out to everyone who has been liking, commenting, sharing, and following the page. It really adds up and helps out here with the algorithms and stuff. Thanks so much for being such valued readers!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday morning. Its a slow start up here at The Beer Thrillers HQ. Yesterday we were planning a trip down to the Maryland border to check out some breweries (Black Locust Hop Farm and Brewery, Gunpowder Falls, and the new Railroad location for AleCraft Brewing), but unfortunately the stomach bug hit Amy and Scarlet. Hopefully once they awaken today they’ll be feeling better.

We are working and hoping to hit 2,500 followers on Facebook by the end of February. We are currently at 2,488. So we have about 10 days (counting today) to get 12 more. Lets see if we can do it! Click on over to our Facebook page and give us a follow please! You can find our Facebook page here: The Beer Thrillers – Official Facebook Page.

As the YouTubers say, “Smash that like button, clown down on that subscribe button, and make sure to hit up that follow button like its your best friend’s ex.”

….or something like that.

Anyway, thanks all for reading!

Cheers All!

-B. Kline

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Last Updated: January 30, 2024By Tags: , , ,
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