As the daughter of Dock Street’s co-founders, Renata Certo-Ware has seen the evolution of Philly’s modern craft beer scene from the front lines.
In the business since she was 16 years old, dropping off samples and tap handles to local bars, Certo-Ware is now head of business development & marketing for the brewery. Along with the team at Dock Street, she is ready to usher in a new era as they bid adieu to the West Philly firehouse brewery and shift their homebase to their mammoth South Philly location. Oh, and did we mention they’re opening a new taproom in Fishtown?
Heady Times was eager to find out how Certo-Ware plans to take this O.G. brewery to even higher heights.
Heady Times (HT): Your family has a proud legacy in the Philly craft beer community, but how did you get started in the business?
Renata Certo-Ware (RCW): Technically I started as soon as I got my driver’s license! In exchange for letting me use the car, my parents had me drop off beer samples and tap handles around the city. It wasn’t unusual for me to have a trunk full of beer while I was in class at school. But I was a good kid, and the teachers knew it was for the family business, so I never got in trouble for it – I was just putting in an honest day’s work!
HT: It was recently announced that you’re moving on from the brewery in West Philly. Why was the decision made to shift your home base to your South Philly location?
RCW: The process began a few years ago when we needed more space and started to look for a larger location around Washington Ave. We opened our 10,500-square-foot production brewery and brewpub in August 2019, and for a while we kept both breweries operational. But it ultimately made more sense to fully utilize the massive amount of space and new equipment at Dock Street South. So, when our 15-year lease was up in West Philly, we made the difficult decision not to renew and to say goodbye to our beloved firehouse and the neighborhood we loved. Now we’re focused on continuing to grow production at South while also adding a new taproom in Fishtown!
HT: What does Dock Street have in the pipeline for 2022 that beer fans and retailers can get excited about?
RCW: Recently we’ve gotten really excited about brewing lagers. We’ll be canning and distributing a new Helles soon, followed by our annual Festbier and finally the return of Illuminator Doppelbock – a classic Dock Street beer that our brewers are eager to have a crack at. Beyond lagers, we’re also excited about collaborating with businesses in Point Breeze. No firm details to announce just yet, but we have our heads together with a few local companies we’re very excited to partner with.
HT: What do you see for the future of Dock Street?
RCW: This is something I think about every day – there are so many possibilities. It’s a great time for young entrepreneurs and small businesses. The dream would be to open a few more locations – taprooms as well as more brewpubs. We’re among the O.G.s when it comes to craft breweries in the city, and in the country for that matter (est. 1985, whoop whoop!) and we want to continue the legacy, standing tall and proud like a redwood of the Philly beer scene.
HT: Finally, how has Dock Street shaped the beer scene as the city’s first craft brewery?
RCW: My parents, Rosemarie Certo and Jeff Ware, were true pioneers. They did so much of the legwork, as far as educating people about good beer, showing the city how dynamic beer can be and really laying the groundwork for a scene that comfortably houses some of the best microbreweries and beer drinkers in the country. My goal is to make “Dock Street” synonymous with “Philly beer.”