With Swazey Farms, every day is an adventure. Our most recent trip took us into the heart of Pennsylvania. Nearly four hours from our home base is Bald Eagle Township, PA. Here you'll find a slew of farms, big and small. Dairy producers, beef raisers and a host of produce places adorn the roadside leading through the hamlet. We passed them all en-route to our first destination, East Coast Wood Barrels.
Several months ago we placed our order for a 5-Gallon Toasted Romanian Oak Barrel. The plan would be to inevitably barrel age honey allowing it absorb a mild earthy-smokiness our customers could enjoy. Additionally, it would serve as the perfect vessel for the aging of our line of Mead (a fermented honey drink as old as man). Upon receiving word that our one-of-a-kind barrel was crafted and ready for pick-up, we hit the road.
Stepping into their humble cooperage, Brendan gave us an after hours tour of their facility. It was amazing to see the passion and personal touch they put into their products. With a staff of about five, they are churning out a thousand barrels per year. Much of the wood used in their production is locally sourced but some of the equipment used for cutting the wood is vintage--flown in from as far as France!
Being a Cooper is a timeless profession and as with many things in life, there is no substitution for the old fashioned techniques. After getting to see how it was done, we were escorted to our newly commissioned custom barrel.
True, our barrel was not the largest in the shop but it did not diminish the sheer awesomeness of its existence. This barrel will play a major role in another chapter of the Swazey Farms story. Before too long our honey will adorn the inside of this cask where it will absorb some smoky notes and potentially be turned into mead some day. And so, with barrel in hand, we bid farewell to the crew of East Coast Wood Barrels and took to the road again.
Before navigating back to NJ, we took the recommendation of our newly found Cooper-friends and stopped at Twin Run Farm Bakery From the road, this quaint turn-of-the-century farmhouse leaves a lot to the imagination--until you step inside... Through the front doors you're transported to a simpler time where apple pies cooled on the window sill and you treated neighbors like family. If you're ever in the area this is one stop you HAVE to make.
The staff were perhaps the nicest people we'd ever encountered on our journey and we truly felt at home. We ordered our fill of pastries while leaving room to sample from their lunch menu--every bite better than the last. There was nothing more satisfying than a hand made grilled cheese (on homemade bread with homemade cheese and a slice of locally sourced ham). All of this was enjoyed while dining in the parlor of this farmhouse as we pondered simpler times.
This is the essence of Swazey Farms. It's simple, rustic, hand crafted with family and shared with those who can truly appreciate its quality. We couldn't think of a better way to cap our weekend excursion and so we hit the highway bound for NJ--until our next adventure..