Less than six years ago, brothers Eli and Taylor Facchinei opened the first brewery in Oaklyn — one that grew in size and following to become one of the most respected craft beer businesses in the region.
On Saturday, the brothers are ready to tap the first beers for customers at Tonewood Brewing’s new facility in Barrington. The much larger brewing and tasting room space has the same welcoming atmosphere as its original, as well as green technology for sustainable production which will greatly increase their output.
Year after year, the brothers seemed to add more tanks to the Oaklyn brewery until no more could fit inside the 3,000-square-foot warehouse on West Clinton Avenue, they said.
Ready to scale up and in need of a new facility, the Facchineis found the former Mr. Roberts Lumber Center in Barrington to be the best fit for that borough’s first craft brewery.
The new facility, which took more than two years to complete, puts the focus on the craft brewing process, as well as a commitment to mitigating its environmental impact while letting beer lovers learn more about both.
“It takes our existing concept that we have at Oaklyn of production meets tasting room and amplifies that to the next level — brings the customer, the drinker, front and center to the action,” Eli said.
Reducing the carbon footprint, one beer at a time
As environmentally conscious business owners, Eli and Taylor are all about green technology that reduces the environmental impact of their production.
“We’re trying to reduce our carbon footprint as much as we can,” Taylor said.
To do that, Tonewood has installed a 230-kilowatt rooftop solar array that powers the facility.
It is also the first brewery in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to use a carbon dioxide (CO2) recapture technology at its scale, Eli shared.
CO2 produced during fermentation is captured, cooled to negative 35 degrees Celsius, compressed and liquefied. Impurities are removed and liquid CO2 is then stored in a bulk tank to be used on demand to carbonate beers.
This allows the Facchineis to use natural CO2 rather than purchased CO2 (which is a byproduct of petroleum processing) while reducing their CO2 emissions.
“We’re going to be able to capture 2000, 3000 pounds of CO2 a week,” Eli explained. “So, over the course of the life of the brewery, I think the calculation is — it’s the equivalent of planting 15,000 trees.”
Sharing the process with guests
Eli and Taylor are staying true to their concept of a bar with the brewhouse directly behind it and a wooden, industrial look.
Walking in, guests are greeted by a front-of-the-house bar where they can grab a pint to sip or packaged beers to go.
Drink in hand, guests can either head to the beer garden (with a capacity for 150) or to the series of wooden community tables and standing high-top tables that open up into the main bar area (with a capacity for 275).
What’s new to the layout is the mezzanine — or the balcony as the brothers call it — that extends through the cellar and overlooks the entire space.
“While we’re in production and the guys are working and we’re doing beer things, you can go out up there and check it out and connect closer with the beer that you’re drinking,” Eli said.
The Facchineis kept the bones of the building, which is what drew them to the location in Barrington.
Their aim was to create a new space inside an old building with help from local businesses like Grabowski Plumbing of Cherry Hill, South Jersey Industrial Contractors of Runnemede and Smith Electric of Oaklyn.
The brothers brought up the high-efficiency standards of insulation and windows of the building, added new utilities and LED lighting throughout and expanded the site.
Plans for the Oaklyn location, market growth
With the new facility, what’s the plan for Oaklyn?
Well, the Facchineis will transition it into a barrel facility where Saisons and wild ales will be produced, expanding the space into a more intimate setting where “people can hang out amongst the barrels,” Eli described.
The brothers said they also are exploring the concept of using the original brewery as a rental space for events.
“That space will be warming and welcoming and be able to have a nice little event space amongst all the barrels,” Eli said. “We got some work to do to make it that space, but … that’s the goal for that.”
With the Barrington location, they are hoping to saturate the Philadelphia and North Jersey markets. The expansion will give Tonewood a 13,000 brewing capacity, compared to 6,500 now.
“We’d like to just be more available to our customers that do live out in those areas,” Taylor said.
The two are excited to continue growing New Jersey’s craft scene, which they’ve seen “more than double” since their opening in 2016.
With consumer awareness rising, more people understand “what we’re trying to do for the beer scene and for the community,” Taylor said.
Weathering the pandemic storm
And a global pandemic didn’t stop their efforts — even though there were some delays.
When the pandemic struck, the new facility was in the beginning stages with shovels hitting the ground. They held off construction for a few months to ensure their core business was stable.
“We kind of had no idea where we would go being that a large portion of our business at that point was bars and restaurants, our draft market,” Eli said.
But with their own packaging capability and canning line, they were able to shift to all packaged beers. The support from local fans allowed the Facchineis to remain comfortable and move along with the new facility.
With their business focused on distribution and wholesale, they feel they’ll be able to weather future pandemic-related restrictions or issues.
“We look at the tasting room aspect as a way to build our brand and to reach new customers and just make people feel familiar and further connected to our business,” Taylor said. “If we did have to close the tasting room again, I think we are pretty well equipped to transition back into mainly or all wholesale.”
‘Excited to see people’s reaction’
For Eli, watching their family business grow into one with much local recognition has been “really fun.” His father did the woodworking for the new space and his mother keeps up with all the books.
“Working day-to-day with my brother is great,” Eli said. “We all have our roles here. We’re pretty involved day to day.”
Those family feels and that warm atmosphere is emulated in the Facchinei brothers’ dedication to connecting with their patronage — which is what they are most excited about for this new location.
“I’m excited to see people’s reaction to the space because, to me, it’s really, really beautiful,” Taylor said. “Just the way everything turned out, it’s really nice and seeing people’s reactions to that, it’s going to be exciting.”
If you go
Head over to Tonewood Brewing’s new facility in Barrington for its grand opening on Saturday. Doors open at noon.
50 Clements Bridge Road; tonewoodbrewing.com
Hira Qureshi covers food and drink for South Jersey at the Courier Post, Burlington County Times and Daily Journal. She can be reached at [email protected] or 856-287-8106. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.