DALLAS — Dallas native Vanessa Warren met Lookout Mountain, Georgia, native, Sam Warren while working in New York. When they reached the ‘meet the parents’ moment, Sam’s visit to Dallas wasn’t just a major step in his relationship with Vanessa; it was the discovery of a second home.
“The first time I went there it reminded me a lot of where I grew up,” Sam said. “I was kind of in the southern end of the Appalachians; it’s a mountainous area and it looked a lot like the mountains around Dallas and Wilkes-Barre. It felt like home right away.”
Vanessa, Sam and their three children spend most of their weekends in Dallas instead of their home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, but they aren’t just making the 3-hour drive to visit family and enjoy the amenities of Back Mountain living. In March 2015 (St. Patrick’s Day, to be exact), the Warrens opened their own brewpub, North Slope Brewing Company, on Tunkhannock Highway.
“We thought it’d do really well there and we’ve been happy that the community’s been excited about it too,” Sam said.
“Sam is a huge beer lover and there are some good breweries in the area but there’s no brew pub in the Back Mountain,” Vanessa added. “When we started talking about the concept we got pretty excited.”
The concept went like this: combine the couple’s experience working in restaurants with their enthusiasm for craft beer and a farm-to-table approach to the menu. According to Sam, North Slope’s food is created with ingredients and livestock from local farms, but the couple didn’t stop there; local construction companies built North Slope, a local carpenter built the bar and everything from bread (from the Bakehouse in Kingston) to honey (from the Beekeeper’s Daughter in Dallas) is brought in from local sources.
“I have always wanted to open a restaurant, especially with the farm-to-table concept,” Vanessa said. “We wanted to keep it local; that’s not always 100 percent possible but that was important to us. We did this primarily because we love the area and we wanted to do something kind of new and exciting for Dallas and the Back Mountain.”
North Slope Head Brewer Richard Lupi has a slightly shorter trip to Dallas (he resides in Glen Spey, New York), but he’s no stranger to Northeastern Pennsylvania. Lupi is the owner of Dickson City’s Northeast Hydroponics and Homebrewing, and when Vanessa and Sam began their search for a head brewer they were directed to the longtime homebrewer.
“They called me knowing that I knew a lot of people; I was actually getting them someone else to do the job when they asked me if I wanted it,” Lupi said. “I originally started making wine and when I started liking beer once I got a little bit older I started making beer.”
According to Lupi, North Slope Brewing Company has 10 different taps they keep in order from light to dark. He and the Warrens get together to decide which beer to prepare for the coming months, taste test and then go into production. The beer menu is predominately dictated by two factors: seasons and holidays. German hops are used in October, the holiday season brings spiced ales and the upcoming Valentine’s Day weekend will feature a dark chocolate porter. North Slope’s 10 taps gives Lupi and the Warrens room to work, and one of the most unique recipes the brew master uses is also one of his most dangerous.
“We have a beer called Gateway Session; it’s a blonde ale with honey,” Lupi said. “It’s difficult to brew because at the end of the batch you have to add about 125 pounds of honey. It’s supposed to be mixed in at a specific time and getting that much to blend and not just gel up at the bottom of the kettle could be difficult. It’s a fun brew but could be difficult because you’re working with very hot liquid.”
North Slope Brewing Company’s lifeblood may all have New York mailing addresses, but the brewery’s lifeblood lies in the Back Mountain and Northeastern Pennsylvania. Lupi has worked with local brewers like Three Guys and a Beer’d in Carbondale and owns a homebrew shop in Dickson City. The Warrens own a residence in Dallas, and spend most weekends there. North Slope Brewing Company is the result of local businesses providing their services to a brewery/restaurant created out of one couple’s love for beer, appreciation for locally sourced foods and desire to leave a piece of themselves in the Back Mountain.