The Friendly Fermenter is getting ready to open its doors in downtown Harrisonburg. This nanobrewery and homebrew shop will be the first Harrisonburg brewery that is open for lunch during the week. Located at 20 S. Mason Street, Suite B10 on the corner of Route 33 and Mason Street, next to Rocktown Bicycles and near Urban Exchange, Friendly Fermenter will be on the basement level of a three-story, newly renovated building which will also house LAFAH Café, a middle-eastern based restaurant, directly above. The third level will offer loft apartments which will also be ready soon.

FriendlyFermenter.png

Although Friendly Fermenter is new, owner Shawn Gatesman’s knowledge of hops, home brewing, and collaboration in the brewing scene is well established.  He’s brewed beer as a hobby for some time. From making beer for weddings to helping with the Harrisonburg Homebrewers group for several years, Gatesman’s passion and desire to help others experience the art of brewing was the reason he decided to start his own venture.

Shawn Gatesman, owner of The Friendly Fermenter

Shawn Gatesman, owner of The Friendly Fermenter

More than just another brewery, Friendly Fermenter will be unique in that it will be a nanobrewery, which essentially means it will be brewing smaller batches – approximately 7700 gallons max per year. These batches will be made using single-vessel all-electric powered equipment, cooled via a glycol loop system. This will allow for the mash to stay at a constant temperature, and allows Gatesman to better control the finishing product. All of this will lead to one-of-a-kind brews, as well as something else unique to Friendly Fermenter: educational classes.    

Beer enthusiasts will be able to purchase homebrewing supplies at The Friendly Fermenter. 

Beer enthusiasts will be able to purchase homebrewing supplies at The Friendly Fermenter. 

“We plan to offer scheduled classes, where people can learn some of the techniques and skills of home brewing for themselves,” says Gatesman.  “People will get a chance to make their own beer and taste the fruits of their labor.”  Although this will be the smallest brewery in operation in Harrisonburg, it is unique and will fill a niche for persons who want hands-on experience learning an art form that engages the taste buds.

Gatesman also plans to engage local artists and businesses to create mugs for the brewery. The details of the ‘mug club’ are still being finalized, but it’s clear that the Friendly Fermenter is going to be “all about the community and the beer that brings us together.”


Written by Derek Blyer. Derek is a Public Relations major and an active volunteer with HDR. In his spare time, he enjoys the outdoors, family and friends, writing, great food, and being able to help others.