Flapjack Brewery makes a business out of brotherhood

Berwyn's Depot District is a destination for artisan pizza and craft beer

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By Melissa Elsmo

Food Writer

Flapjack Brewery, 6833 Stanley Ave, has been serving up an iconic food and drink pairing since opening in Berwyn's vibrant Depot District three years ago.

"Anytime you have pizza and beer you know you're in for a good time," says chef and co-owner James Macchione. "My brother Paul is the beer guy. I handle the food and always wanted to do pizzas"

Brothers and co-owners, Paul and James Macchione were raised in Berwyn. James, four years Paul's senior, recollects harassing his younger brother as a child, but the two became closer as they got older. They started brewing beer together as hobbyists well before brewing became their business of choice. 

Often bustling, Flapjack Brewery is housed in a 2,000 square-foot building in the Depot District. Though the brothers discussed various locations they remained loyal to their hometown because they like the feel of Berwyn and saw potential in The Depot District. Even the brewery's name came from one of Paul's childhood nicknames.

"He wore a lot of flannel shirts as a kid and developed facial hair early," said James. 

"I looked like a lumberjack," said Paul.

"So, we started calling him Flapjack," replied James.

The rest is history.

Paul operates a tiny three-barrel system and keeps 8 beers on tap including Gabba Ghoul -- an Italian Saison with notes of basil and black peppercorn that make it an ideal pizza pairing. Huddled up in a garage, the duo also developed the recipe for their Fantasmo Vanilla Cream Ale together. Today the beer, made with Mexican vanilla beans, is Flapjack's flagship offering.

Drinkers will find James' face at the bottom of pint glasses at Flapjack Brewery — the etching, an image of James at his first communion, keeps the beer effervescent. James, a culinary school graduate, bounced around between restaurants before spending 15 years working in finance. He eagerly turned his attention back to the kitchen when he and Paul opened the brewery.

"Our mother made homemade pizza for us weekly — sometimes two or three times a week," said James of his childhood in Berwyn. "We had a pool in our backyard, and she would bang on the picture window when the pizzas were done to call my brother, me and all our friends in to eat."

Mama Macchione's pizzas, baked in a well-loved cast iron pan and topped with sauce straight from the can, featured a fluffy bakery style crust. While the budding cook learned the joy of sharing pizza from his mother, James created a completely different pizza recipe for Flapjack Brewery.

James is quick to admit there are plenty of quality pizzas available in Berwyn but aimed at the outset to create a pizza that was different from traditional pies served in the area. Flapjack's Neapolitan-style pizzas cook in a 750-800 degree woodfired oven for just two minutes. The resulting pie has a raised airy rim, is thin in the center and light on toppings. 

Customers clamor for the "danger pizza" brimming with ingredients designed to test hot heads' tolerance. Expect habanero infused tomato sauce, Calabrian chili flakes and smoked ghost pepper honey to put a different kind of fire in Flapjack's woodfired pizzas.

James, however, is particularly fond of his far less intense four-cheese arugula pizza. 

"I am not a salad guy, but I was inspired by smoked Scamorza cheese and added fresh arugula and lemon juice," said James.  It's a white pizza and I think it is my personal favorite."

Two tavern style pizzas also grace the menu. They bake slightly longer, are rolled flat across, and topped generously to the edge of the pie. The "Beerwyn Supreme" is a notable offering featuring San Marzano tomato sauce, sausage, cremini mushrooms, shallots, and green peppers.

As perfect a pairing as pizza and beer, James and Paul Macchione have a proper business based on brotherhood. 

"I don't think I could work for anyone else again," said James. "Owning a business comes with challenges, but I wouldn't have it any other way."

Contact:
Email: melissa@oakparkeats.com

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