Location: 628 Park Ave , Reading PA 19611
Food: Yes. There is BBQ, sandwiches, nachos, soft pretzels, and various vegan dishes.
Kid Friendly: Yes. There are games available to keep kids busy while sipping on beers.
Beer to go: Currently growler fills only
Overall quality of beer: Untappd
Oakbrook Brewing Company almost never came to be. Owner/Head Brewer Kyle Neuheimer had a legal battle on his hands for years before he was able to restore an old firehouse into his vision of a brewery. His case went to court over and over due to pressure from the private club next door. Luckily, Kyle prevailed and started the very long restoration process with a little help from firefighters and community members to make it what it is now. Kyle has done his very best to update the current brew hall while preserving the old-time feel of the fire company, even down to the original paint colors.
Just two years in, and Oakbrook has the feel of an establishment that has been part of the community for decades, there are friendly servers who make everyone feel like a regular, the cafeteria style seating affords for an unpretentious welcoming experience, and the owner is almost always in-house happy to chat about; the vision, the journey, and of course the beer.
My friend and I went on a warmer Monday afternoon in April. Warm days at Oakbrook mean they let the bay door open and let the air into the brewery. Long wooden tables are positioned where the old firetruck used to be. Music from decades past played softly in the background. There are no televisions at Oakbrook. However, they do have board games available to pass the time while you sip on awesome beers.
I went there looking forward to trying their pineapple IPA that was advertised on Facebook. She put the glass under the tap and PFFFTTTTTT. The keg kicked. No other kegs were available. Oakbrook keeps its draft list updated on Facebook, and if you don’t make it time to try something new that Kyle whipped up, you might just miss it. The beer gods have frowned on me that day. No worries, I had a variety of other options. Oakbrook usually has 12 beers on tap and a guest tap that features a PA brewery.
Oakbrook has a unique menu that defies typical “brewery food” while still being food that tastes really good with beer. The menu features local favorites like Muddy’s BBQ used for pulled pork sandwiches and Kielbasa. Appetizers such as flatbread sandwiches, pizza, and Reading’s own Bell Alley Soft Pretzels, etc. They also have vegan options such as vegan Italian sausages, salsa and chips, and hummus. I decided to go with nachos with chicken served with a side of sour cream and salsa.
When it came to the beer, I started with a flight that featured The Blood Orange IPA, Oakbrook Seasonal Wheat, Oakbrook IPA, and Chocolate Moose Stout. Every beer we sampled was on point and delicious. There wasn’t a beer there that we didn’t rate under 3.5 on Untappd. The Oakbrook IPA reminded me a lot of Jai Lai by Cigar City. Cloudy, malty, hoppy, delicious! The Wheat is served with a lemon slice and would be the perfect summer beer on a hot PA day.
As we drank we walked around and looked at the various items donated to Oakbrook by members of the surrounding community. Many people donated pictures, uniforms, etc. from their parents or grandparents who served at the fire station. Everyone who donated the items expressed their joy about having new life in the old fire hall, happy that it was not torn down and made into a parking lot. Family members frequently come in and reminisce about their grandparents, parents, and their youth spent in the fire station.
Kyle Neuheimer is also committed to giving back to the community. When you buy a beer, you get a chip. You then get to choose which boot gets the chip. There is a shelf near the register that has three different boots on it. Each boot represents local nonprofit charities. To date, Oakbrook has donated thousands of dollars to such charities as the Reading Public Library, Trout Unlimited, and the Reading Police Dept K-9 unit.
Oakbrook always has various events taking place at the brewery. They have a 108″ projection screen in the brewery that features movies such as Ghostbusters, Austin Powers, and other such cultish classics. They also have formed a cycling team with JB Mountain Bikes with the proceeds benefiting the Friends of the Reading Police K-9 Unit.
Kyle has recently invested in a smoker which has led to the very popular “Wood Smoked Wednesday”! The smoked wings have apparently gone so well that an even larger smoker was called for in response to the demand.
Oakbrook is an outstanding brewery that has a tremendous amount of positive attributes. Giving back to the community, awesome beer and good food in a unique atmosphere make this a great place to visit when in the Reading area.