Jim Thorpe, PA is a small picturesque town where tourism is the lead industry and it is considered one of the jewels of the Poconos. With a population of 4500, it’s not hard to know your neighbors and you can always expect a friendly nod or hello from passers by. Named for the famous Native American Athlete, this town was also the birthplace and childhood home of both Alex Franko and Dillon Smith.
Pitted against each other on the high-school wrestling team, the two lads soon became fast friends and shared many adventures. After high school, Alex and Dillon said goodbye when they went to separate colleges but fate played its hand and they both ended up working for breweries in their respective cities. A few years later, the call of the Poconos was too hard to resist and the two men returned to their home town.
It wasn’t long before Alex and Dillon hatched a plan to combine their entrepreneurial spirit with a mutual passion for brewing and open a brewery. With nothing like it for many miles, the brewery and taproom would be a welcome addition to the town of Jim Thorpe for both locals and tourists.
Naming the project is an important and sometimes difficult task, but for Alex and Dillon, the choice was an easy one. They both loved and appreciated their childhood home town and were proud of its namesake Jim Thorpe, one of the greatest all-round athletes of the past century.
The first Native American to win Olympic gold medals, he went on to play professional baseball, football and basketball. Part of the Sac and Fox nation, his tribal name was Wa-Tho-Huk, which when translated, means Bright Path. When the two men made their presentation, the townsfolk embraced the idea and Bright Path Brewing was born!
Knowing they would be focusing on lagers, the men did their research and determined the best option was to order a Specific Mechanical 10 barrel brewing system with a Mash/Lauter tun and Mash/Kettle/Whirlpool configuration. This flexible 2-vessel system would allow for easy step and decoction mashing, common to many lager recipes. Once again fate played a role as they ordered prior to the pandemic and Specific was able to deliver the completed system in July of 2020. This gave Alex and Dillon a chance to hone the recipes in time for their grand opening in April of this year.
Bright Path Brewing has turned out to be a runaway success, but there’s no time for high fives or handshakes, splitting the duties 50/50, by day Alex and Dillon do all the brewing, packaging and delivering, by night they’re pouring in the taproom to a full house of both locals and visitors.
The taproom has been well-received by everyone. Focusing on flavourful lagers and low-ABV session beers, the offerings are perfect when combined with the food trucks that stop by. It’s become a popular place for everyone to gather and feel welcome. Alex and Dillon feel the brewery is a huge part of the community and in addition to being a place for people to gather and feel welcome, it’s a business that contributes toward and is a vital part of the town’s future.