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‘Going back to the roots’: Signature beer dinners, old favorites return at Fegley’s Brew Works

Jill Oman
Stephanie Sigafoos
Jill Oman has returned to Fegley's Brew Works as the executive chef.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Fegley’s Brew Works is going back to its roots in Bethlehem.

Jill Oman has returned as executive chef, and together with founder and co-owner Rich Fegley, aims to bring the establishment “back to the glory days of what it was 15 years ago.”

Part of that, Oman said, “is putting an eye on the brewery and on the culinary aspect of it,” offering guests a delicious way to pair food with some of the best regional craft brews.

The mission began not only with a feast of old favorites back on the menu — including BREWschetta — but with the return of the Signature Beer Dinner Experience, a quarterly event meant to showcase both the brewing and culinary experience.

“I used to work here from 2004 to 2014, and I was across the street at McCarthy’s for the last 10 years,” Oman said.

“So when I got back here, I'm like, let's go ahead and plan three, at least for this year. Let's do them quarterly. So we have one scheduled for April, and then another one for August and then one for November.”

'Better ingredients make better food'

Everyone knows that Fegley’s offers a full array of beers — and a pretty complete bar lineup — so having beer-friendly food is just one part of Oman’s mission.

It’s not just crafting inspired dishes to complement the various beers and beverages on the menu, but to “uplevel” the experience of folks walking through the door, she said.

To do that, Oman said it’s all about the ability to give people what they want in the way of signature, beer-infused food, but also to explore beyond the appetizers and entrees usually featured at Brew Works.

“I think it's just going back to the roots. Better ingredients make better food, right? Don’t overcomplicate it,” Oman said.

"I think it's just going back to the roots. Better ingredients make better food, right? Don’t overcomplicate it."
Jill Oman, Executive Chef at Fegley's Brew Works

“The same thing with the food. You don't have to complicate what you're putting on the plate. Just buy good ingredients and don't screw them up.”

It means a taste of nostalgia (including a pork chop infused with rosemary and Fegley’s Devious Imperial Pumpkin Ale) is now head-to-head on the menu with things like an Asian Veggie Noodle Bowl or Honey Bourbon Salmon.

Honey Bourbon Salmon
Fegley's Brew Works
Honey Bourbon Salmon on the menu at Fegley's Brew Works in Bethlehem.

“We’re going to shrink the menu so that the staff that we have back there [in the kitchen] can do it and do it really well,” Oman said.

“It’s going to take some time getting the right equipment for the right food items and just changing the way we prepare things. Really, that's what I'm focused on more so now is putting different things on the menu.”

Rich Fegley agreed.

“We'll focus on doing what we do best and most efficiently. And these specials, I mean, I think that’s where things shine. And as someone who's been coming here for 26 years, I like to see some different stuff," he said.

"We're going to shrink the menu so that the staff we have back there can do it and do it really well."
Jill Oman, Executive Chef at Fegley's Brew Works

The beer dinner experience

April’s Signature Beer Dinner Experience will not only be an intimate gathering — with just 35 tickets available — it will feature co-host Beau Baden, former brewer at Fegley’s and the owner of Sherman Street Beer Company in Allentown.

Rich Fegley said the collaborative spirit of the night will be evident, with a menu that features things like triple smoked bacon steak with chimichurri and cherry gastrique, braised short ribs or cheese ravioli with butter poached lobster in a sherry cream sauce.

In total, guests will enjoy eight different beers — four pours from Fegley’s and four from Sherman Street — to complement each course.

Sherman Street Beer Co
Sherman Street Beer Co.
There's Sherman Street Beer Co. beer on the menu at Fegley's first Beer Dinner Experience in April.

“I don't know how long it's been since we've done a beer dinner,” Rich Fegley said.

“More than five years, I think. But in that time, in five years, we’ve probably doubled the number of breweries [in the area] and Beau has opened his in the meantime as well.

“So this is the first time to do a collaboration and then we’ll have the next one set up with Two Rivers Brewing (of Easton). I think we'll just continue from there.”

But for any fans of Brew Works afraid these culinary adventures and a streamlined menu will shake things up too much, fear not.

“The more popular items on our menu will definitely stay,” Rich Fegley said.

“The mac and cheese and the nachos have always been good, and cheesesteaks are so popular. The pretzels are popular. We sell a ton of burgers. So we want to try and maybe spruce up the burger with some different toppings, different style buns. But nothing too crazy.”