‘Live Simply. Drink Locally’
Farm-brewed beer draws Phil Lohr ’81 to new career as a brewmaster
by Alexander Diegel

When Phil Lohr ’81 graduated from Bucknell with degrees in mathematics and computer science, the chances he’d someday become a brewmaster were quite slim. Yet 38 years later, Lohr is a brewer and co-owner of Hops on the Hill, Connecticut’s only farm-to-glass brewery.

“It certainly has been an interesting journey,” Lohr says of the path that led him from Lewisburg to his small farm in South Glastonbury, Conn. While working in computer science, Lohr began hobby brewing.

“Home brewing, in the shuffle of a corporate life and raising four children, was something I did maybe a couple of times per year,” Lohr explains. “Not until the last five years or so did this vision really come alive.”

As his career transitioned to organizational development and consulting for major corporations such as Aetna, General Electric and Merck, Lohr’s passion for brewing was reinvigorated by a 2008 trip to Bavaria, Germany, where he learned to brew German-style lagers. “It’s a very old beer culture there,” he says. “The German-style beer and beer gardens are part of the lifestyle.”

Phil Lohr holding a beer.
Photo: Joel Kurlan
Phil Lohr ’81 at Hops on the Hill, where the beer is brewed in small batches, is never filtered or pasteurized and contains no preservatives, additives or stabilizers.

At home, Lohr continued perfecting his signature lagers that gained a following at a local winery. He eventually partnered with Al Gondek, who owns the farm where Lohr brews today, and Hops on the Hill became a reality. In their rural community, which still prides itself on its farm culture, Lohr’s brews are a hit.

“The beer has been good from the start and I can’t really explain why, other than making some very good choices when it came to the way I was going to brew,” he says. “It’s 100% local ingredients, and it’s on a farm, in a barn. Our tag line is ‘Live Simply. Drink locally.’ ”