North Country Brewing Co. has a Great History and a Bright Future
Future POS helps neighborhood brewer craft good taste
June 6, 2017
Slippery Rock, Pa. – Craft beer is flying off the shelves. Not your father’s beer, but artisan stouts and ales with names like “Fruit Bowl,” “Squirrel’s Nut Brown” and “Darker Ages Ale.”
These beers owe their existence to restaurateurs Bob and Jodi McCafferty, long-time Future POS customers who co-own North Country Brewing Co. The company operates a brewpub in Slippery Rock, a canning facility outside Slippery Rock, the Harmony Inn in Harmony and a farm in Stoneboro.
North County has produced more than 100 types of beer, from traditional stouts to unconventional bacon-flavored brews and chai tea-infused ales.
“Having a master brewer on the payroll, trying new hops, it is a fun, dynamic world of creating and crafting the best beer you possibly can,” McCafferty said. “We’ve always been fortunate to have really good people around us.”
The McCaffertys opened North Country Brewing in 2005 and operate under a “community first” ethic. They donate 5 percent of sales on select beers to community causes and have hosted brew fests to raise $50,000 for Slippery Rock community upkeep. “Station 33 Firehouse Red” is a popular tap, with 5 percent of proceeds helping the Slippery Rock Fire Department.
Still, McCafferty does not take himself too seriously. The Butler native’s dry-hopped humor makes him a favorite among beer drinkers and revelers that appreciate a signature meal such as “The Leroy Brown” burger or “Herbivore Sandwich.”
The homebrews include “Brew U Fleet Street,” “Bucco Blond” and “The Ol’ Two-Niner.” The brewer promises a roller coaster of flavors and sensations – he almost always has a smile on his face – and offers barley-by-barley beer descriptions. “Darker Ages Ale” posts as “a slightly higher octane rendition of an old favorite. It is medium-bodied with a lot of chocolate and roasted character.”
North Country’s beers range from 4 to 8.29 percent alcohol content, with higher content beers being limited to two pints per drinker. McCafferty joked that you can drink his lighter beers and “cut the grass without losing a limb” due to intoxication.
Independent breweries like North Country are driving a craft beer renaissance in Butler County and nationally. According to the Brewers Association, 5,005 breweries served a cold brew in the U.S. in 2016. Joining North Country Brewing last week was Recon Brewing on Route 8 in Butler, a brand new Future POS customer.
Brew pubs, like any hospitality venue, strive for customer satisfaction. McCafferty, a former bartender, positioned himself as early advocate of point-of-sale. North Country signed with Future POS 10 years ago. Both of his restaurants use Future POS and its award-winning, state-of-the art technology.
“When we first opened, we went with a POS company that’s management team changed twice within the first year, with zero customer service,” McCafferty said. “We then went with another company that was approachable to a point but their software wasn’t friendly and wouldn’t count our inventory correctly. We finally went with Future POS that rehabbed some of our existing hardware while installing their software, saving us from a complete cost of replacement, and then provided ongoing support which we had never experienced before. As we are able to grow, we bring Future POS hardware and software with us.”
Future POS’ multi-column modifiers make it easy to add condiments or entrée specials to the menu. It all happens on one screen. There is a designated space in the software for manager’s notes, giving supervisors a tool for communicating with servers.
Future POS is especially valuable for a multi-site business such as North County Brewing, because its software enables restaurant chains or single stores to analyze and share customer information.
“Every morning, I get everything on my laptop,” McCafferty said. “Having Future POS onboard with North Country Brewing has been great.”
McCafferty said he has known Future POS President John Giles and Vice President Kelly Giles since they were teenagers. Kelly and Bob attended summer camp together.
“I’ve known them since I was 14, they’re great people,” McCafferty said.
In college, McCafferty studied environmental geoscience and tended bar at night. After graduating, McCafferty worked as an archeologist before his passion for beer became more than a hobby.
“I always loved beer,” he said. “We decided to open our own place. The hospitality industry becomes part of your blood.”
The McCaffertys bought the North Country building on Main Street in Slippery Rock in 1998. Both fell in love with the old storefront and immediately started renovating it. They lived in the building and used the old pot-bellied stove for heat.
“When we bought the building in 1998, it was falling down, completely falling down,” McCafferty said. “We didn’t have any money. Luckily, we had all this lumber.”
The duo rebuilt the structure from the foundation through the roof and gathered local hardwoods and recycled, on-site materials. They handcrafted black walnut and curly maple left over from a local furniture store for use as bar tops. The North Country interior offers a north-woods vibe and is creatively decorated with fishing rods, totem poles and humorous signs, such as one upstairs that warns, “No service will be provided at this bar to anyone on a horse.”
Five years ago, the McCaffertys opened a cannery that has been producing and shipping North Country’s most popular brews to every county in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
In 2013, the McCaffertys found themselves at a crossroad. The Harmony Inn, where the two met, was up for sale. They purchased the building and took it under the North Country Brewing umbrella.
Aside from pouring good taste daily, the McCaffertys operate a sustainable farm, growing organic produce for their restaurants and composting. They have 47 Scottish highland cattle that eat the brewer’s spent grains, 286 blueberry bushes, fruit trees, pigs that eat the prep waste from both kitchens, chickens, ducks and turkeys.
“It’s pretty crazy how it all happened,” he said. “In 2005, we hit the ground running. Actually, it really feels like we hit the ground running in ’98. It’s crazy to sit back and have a beer and remember all the aspects of moving and growing.”