2790 Gallons of Beer on the Wall…

Father and sons of the Gill family. From the top: Tim Sr., bottom from left to right Peter, Tim Jr., Luke. Not in picture is mom Lisa, who gave up her kitchen so they could brew beer and now keeps them in line, and sister Meg, who is an unofficial taster. Photo: Bryan Lathrop

Philadelphia boasts several stellar micro craft breweries, but family-owned Wissahickon Brewing Company (WBC) is something special. This dynamo of a brew pub is nestled in a perfect location, tucked away on School House Lane—a stone’s throw from the wooded trails and natural beauty of its namesake Wissahickon Valley. It’s easily accessible by SEPTA bus routes and commuter rail (the R6 runs right behind the brewery). By car, WBC is conveniently close to 76, City line Avenue, and Kelly Drive, and has ample parking. The vibe as soon as you walk into WBC is genuinely welcoming, laid back and family friendly, including dogs. You can enjoy one of roughly two dozen local food trucks in rotation every day of the week; or attend frequently hosted community-oriented events such as yoga classes, game-watch parties, Quizzo, and special programming. More recently, you don’t have to wait until beer o’clock to enjoy WBC’s ambience, as they recently launched Wirly Bird coffee. So, if you work remotely and need a change of “office scenery,” you can head to their tasting room as early as 7am to work on your laptop and sip a delicious Americano. And we haven’t even gotten to their award-winning beer!

Wissahickon’s origin story is a relatively common one—home brewers turn pro—but it exceeds “common” because of its fantastic trajectory. It starts in 2006 with the Gill family, of Philadelphia’s Roxborough neighborhood. As a Father’s day gift Tim Gill, Sr. received a home brewing kit from his kids. “It turned out to be something that we enjoyed doing frequently. As your kids grow, you go through a period where they need everything from you, then they get older and they don’t want anything to do with you. Fortunately, making beer has become something that we love to do together. We would tie up mom’s kitchen all day, brewing five gallon batches of beer every two weeks.” Before long, Tim and his sons graduated to a larger system—capable of 15 gallon batches—and gave the kitchen back to mom after moving brewing operations into the basement. They spent the next 12 years perfecting and sharing their brews. “We got a lot of great feedback during our homebrewing years—not just from my mom.”

The Gills entered their beers into home brew competitions and did pretty well, even with the tough styles like IPAs—a particularly competitive category which emboldened them to make a go of it. In 2015, they got their business papers with the state of Pennsylvania, then they sought funding, acquired their School House lane location in 2016, did their build-out, and opened their doors officially for customers to come in April 1, 2017. This all sounds pretty straightforward, but the process wasn’t quite so streamlined. The Gills had gone to more

The man behind the flavors, Director of Brewing Operations, Luke Gill. Photo: Bryan Lathrop

than ten banks seeking financing and had been shot down across the board. Despite having won multiple prestigious awards for their beers, they were viewed by the banks as “hobbyist brewers”—in other words, too risky to finance. They were on the verge of throwing in the towel when they received a sign at a Fourth of July picnic. They’d been telling a family friend of their struggles to finance the business. That friend happened to be a banker and she ultimately helped them secure funding to move into their Schoolhouse Lane location…almost. Brewing Operations Director Luke Gill explains “Even with bank funding, we had to launch a GoFundMe campaign so we could open our doors. And that family (banking) friend? After she got us our funding we promised to name a beer after her, and we did—Hail Mary, it’s a West Coast IPA which is our second best seller.” Luke describes Hail Mary as “kind of a triple entendre—our dream of a brewery was on the verge of collapse and Mary was our last best hope; it’s our salute to her; it was also the year the Eagles won the SuperBowl by denying the Patriots’ hail Mary attempt.” Throw in the fact that the Gills all attended Catholic school and this beer makes perfect sense.

Tim Gill Jr, Director of Operations at Wissahickon Brewing Company. Photo: Bryan Lathrop

To illustrate just how far the Gills have taken their passion for brewing beer, consider this: Wissahickon Brewing Company now brews 2500 barrels a year (77,500 gallons) about 600x the annual volume of their salad days in mom’s kitchen. They’ve brewed roughly 150 different beers in the six years they’ve been open. Their all time top three sellers are Wigwam, Hail Mary, and Devil’s Pool, which won a bronze medal in the prestigious World Beer Cup in 2022. They currently have about 20 beers on tap at the brewery, with 12 core beers in their stable; and about eight seasonals. All this goodness is brewed in their 8,000 square foot brewery, with an additional 3,000 square feet of beer garden where visitors can enjoy their suds.

As if all this weren’t enough to love about Wissahickon Brewing Company, they recently partnered with Legacy of Hope through the efforts of Mike Rowe; and thus was born Philly United, a citra hopped lager that benefits cancer patients in Philly by generating funds for Legacy of Hope’s Emergency Patient Support Network. Brewmaster Luke shares “The challenge with Philly United was to create a beer that would have mass appeal, not be overboard in any direction—not too sweet, not too sour, not too bitter. We wanted to make it something that you could drink more than one of, because the whole goal of this is to raise money. So we created a lager base beer. Lager is still the number one consumed type of beer in the world for good reason. It’s easy to drink. We wanted to add a little flair to it; so we hopped it with citra instead of using what are called ‘noble hops.’ Citra is a little more flashy, more flavorful hop to attract folks that might not ordinarily drink lager, which is sometimes called “uncle beer or dad beer.” But lagers are such an agreeable beer. It really is a beer for all—Brewed in Philly for Philly.”

Peter Gill handles outside sales for Wissahickon Brewing Company. Photo: Bryan Lathrop

“Partnering with Legacy of Hope falls right in our wheelhouse. It gives us the opportunity to create a new beer as well as raise money for a great cause.” Philly United has been a resounding success. “Initially, we thought it would be great if we could sell maybe two 15 barrel turns. We started with a 30, and added another one early on. We’re currently on our third 30 barrel turn!” (Of note, one barrel equals two kegs, or 31 gallons. So three 30 barrel turns = 2790 gallons of beer.) “Not only are our customers loving Philly United—it’s been our number one seller since its release—and has been just as successful in the market, far outpacing what we’d hoped for as a baseline.”

WBC won Best of Philly 2019 for BrewPub right before COVID hit. During the pandemic they found ways to promote their product online and reach out to their fan base with online ordering, and incorporate an extensive delivery process, which they did themselves. Tim Sr. reflects “We were literally driving four packs of beer to people’s homes just to keep the production going, keep moving forward and be able to pay salaries around here.”

When asked about the most significant challenges he’s faced in leading his family business, Tim Sr. responds candidly “You have to deal with fear. I worked for organizations for 35 years and had that comfort of a weekly paycheck, job security, benefits. I worked for the city of Philadelphia. We also had a landscaping business on the side, and my sons are all part of that as well. The benefits and security and all that sort of stuff is wonderful to have, but you’re also limited. I think there was definitely a little bit of the fear of the unknown, but we did our homework and we were very certain that we were going to be okay. It worked out better than we ever dreamed. The response from the neighborhood and the city, Philadelphia as a whole, has been really great.”

Proud father of an amazing team at Wissahickon Brewing Company, Tim Gill Sr. Photo: Bryan Lathrop

“One of the biggest lessons has been trusting yourself and trusting your gut, and of course, doing your homework and making sure that you’ve prepared as much as you can. If you can go into a business with people you really trust, like your family, and in this case it’s my sons, and my daughter and my wife, then you’ve got a pretty good shot at realizing your dream and your potential. We’ve achieved a lot of the goals that we set for this location. We’ve pretty much fitted out every square inch we can. We did a recent expansion internally to increase our production. So the timing was great to take on this project, to be able to continue our core beers and then really flesh out Philly United. We’ve always had our eyes toward opening another location to use as a base for customer experiences, and be able to sell our beer by the glass. Maybe expand our reach a little bit to the West—any further East and we’re in New Jersey, right?”

Six years deep and still fortifying their brewery dream on School House Lane, the Gill family is producing an impressive volume and roster of beers, ales, ciders and sours. They’ve grown from winning awards at home brewing competitions to gaining international recognition at The World Beer Cup—a prestigious event known as the Olympics of beer, where their imperial India pale ale, Devil’s Pool, won bronze in a highly competitive field. They’ve crafted a tasting room that begs you to keep coming back for its welcoming ambience. Now partnered with Legacy of Hope and brewing a beer that gives back to the community, the Gills are a family hell bent on doing right by their customers, Wissahickon Brewing Company is testimony to that.

For information about where you can purchase Philly United if you can’t get to Wissahickon Brewing Company, check PhillyUnited.Life. Stay current with the goings on at WBC by following them on Instagram @WissahickonBrewCo.

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Dr. Claudia Capparelli, PhD

Affiliations: Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Education: PhD, University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy – 2011

Focus & Impact:  Focus on the role of the SOX10 transcription factor with regard to tumor cell heterogeneity and plasticity across multiple genotypes in melanoma. Investigating how SOX10 plasticity/heterogeneity affects the response to MEKi and anti-ErbB3 combinations in WT BRAF melanoma patients. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Outrun the Sun Melanoma Research Scholar Award

  • Unical Fellowship Visiting Scholar

  • International Pigment Cell Conference Travel Award

  • Best Poster Presentation, Ninth Annual Jefferson Post-doctoral Research

  • INPDAP Fellowship for Student Merit 

  • University of Calabria Fellowships for Student Merit 

Dr. Qing Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Affiliations: The Wistar Institute, The Chen Laboratory, University of Maryland

Education: PhD,Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, State University of New York at Buffalo (Dean’s Award for outstanding dissertation) – 2006

Focus & Impact:  Focus is on the molecular mechanisms of brain metastasis originating from primary tumors like breast cancer, and the interplay between cancer cells and the stromal cells that populate the brain microenvironment. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards​:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy Award

  • Susan G. Komen, CCR Basic/Translational and Clinical application

  • The V Foundation for Cancer Research Award

  • Dissertation Research Award, Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 

Nia Andrews

Bio Coming Soon

Rebecca Blinn

Bio Coming Soon

Carol Sollenberger

Bio Coming Soon

Maree Lavo

Bio Coming Soon

Bryan Lathrop

Bio Coming Soon

Kimberly S. Reed

An award winning international speaker, author, corporate trainer and diversity, equality and inclusion executive, nationally recognized thought leader, expert, strategist and advisor to some of the world’s most influential organizations in global professional services, health care, financial services, consumer products and pharmaceutical industries.

Kimberly is a seasoned leader in transforming organizations into high-performing enterprises and challenging leaders to live without limits, with more than 20 years of HR, talent acquisition, and diversity & inclusion experience; successfully turning around troubled diversity practices by designing, building, leading, and shaping high-performing cultures at global organizations with robust strategies, global employee development programs and enterprise-wide initiatives that have increased revenue growth and organizational brand eminence.

Michele Redrow

Michele is a Director on the Legacy of Hope board and also serves on the Executive Committee.

mary chicorelli

Professional:  Mary is a certified city planner for Philadelphia, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the Pro Bono Honor Roll First Judicial District of Philadelphia.

Bio: Mary’s insight into the legal world is invaluable to Legacy of Hope, both in keeping our daily operations moving fluidly as well as making connections for our patients and their families when needed.

“Michael reached out to me about 2 years ago through mutual friends. We worked together to help a woman with stage 4 cancer get her electricity turned back on after it was shut off during the winter. I’ve been 100% supportive of Mike’s vision since then.”

joseph ruggieri, jr

Education: Bachelor’s of Science from West Chester University in Management and Finance

Bio: As a member of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.’s upper management team, Joseph brings a wealth of knowledge regarding finances, management, team-building and planning to the Legacy of Hope board. Joseph linked up with Michael, our President, and Wells Fargo began supporting Legacy of Hope annually.

“My father passed away from what started as Colon Cancer in 2015. Cancer is horrible and if there is something I can do to help others impacted I would want to be a part of it.”

David April

David is the founder of the Fishtown Beer Runners, an organization with chapters all over the world based here in Philadelphia.

dr. kevin kelly

Dr. Kevin Kelly leads Legacy of Hope’s Scientific Review Board to seek out and support the most promising cancer research in Philadelphia using a merit-based system.  He is Jefferson’s Director of Solid Tumor Oncology.

greg garber

Greg Garber is the director of Oncology Support Services at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

Gina Mancuso

Gina’s experience as the very successful co-owner of CoreFitness, LLC coupled with her expertise in planning special events makes her the perfect Vice President for Legacy of Hope. With energy, passion, and drive that makes her seem superhuman, Gina’s connection to our mission is a personal one.

“Both my father and my dear childhood friend were diagnosed with cancer within 3 months of one another. They were surrounded and supported by friends and family throughout their battle and until their passing. No one should suffer through a diagnosis alone and, without Legacy of Hope, some people would do just that.”

Michael Rowe

Awards:

Volatile Media Management’s Mover, Shaker, Changemaker Award – February 2017

Miles Mack Community Services & Leadership Honorable Mention – 2016 TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2015

TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2014

Bio:

With his free time so limited, Michael manages to fuse his work with his other passion: running. Whether it is with the Fishtown Beer Runners, our own Team Relentless Hope, or his closest friends, Michael can often be spotted on the streets of Philadelphia keeping himself fit and active.