By Wendy Royal Spring 2015
Wine trails have become a popular weekend destination in Pennsylvania. Lately, though, it’s a beverage of a different kind that’s getting a lot of attention. Craft beer production in the state and particularly southcentral Pennsylvania is on the rise. And why not? With a growing number of consumers who put a great deal of emphasis on buying local products, it just makes sense.
Despite the increase in popularity terms like microbrewery, craft beer and brewpub can be a bit confusing to the novice.
According to the Brewers Association a microbrewery is a brewery that produces fewer than 15,000 barrels of beer per year with 75 percent or more of its beer sold off-site. Like the microbrewery, a craft brewery is usually a smaller independent brewer, but more importantly it uses traditional ingredients, like malted barley. Innovative ingredients are often added to achieve a distinctive flavor. More often than not, craft beer is produced in a microbrewery.
Along with many other cultural influences, German immigrants brought their love of beer to Pennsylvania. In fact, Pennsylvania had more breweries than any other state in the nation before Prohibition.
We can’t discuss pre-Prohibition breweries in Pennsylvania, however, without mentioning America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling. Beer and history enthusiasts should take the tour of Yuengling’s Pottsville facility. It’s a one-of-a-kind educational experience that takes you back in time, and up and down a lot of steps – 120 to be exact. So if you have health concerns, this may not be the tour for you.
Recently, Thrillist ranked Pennsylvania #8 among best Beer States. Much of the accolades have gone to Philadelphia, which was named as one of the best Beer Cities in the World by Frommer’s. With quality craft breweries on the rise, central Pennsylvania is beginning to make a name for itself among the heavy hitters.
A brewpub refers to a brewery with a restaurant or pub on the premises. One such brewpub is JoBoy’s in Lititz, Lancaster County.
After Jeff Harless moved to southcentral Pennsylvania from North Carolina in 2000, it didn’t take long for him to miss the Carolina barbecue he grew up with. A decade later, Jeff combined his love of Southern barbecue and beer-making to create JoBoy’s Brewpub. JoBoy’s opened in Manheim, Pa., in April 2010 by Jeff Boy Harless and his wife, Maria Jo. The brewery’s name was taken from the couple’s middle names.
In the fall of 2013, the Harlesses moved their operation to a larger space on Main Street in neighboring Lititz. JoBoy’s brews all its beers on the premises from Jeff’s original recipes. Lititz Lager and Manheim Red are the brewery’s most popular offerings.
Although the brewpub is known for great beer and amazing barbecue, you won’t find the typical red and white tablecloth atmosphere there. The dark wood, exposed brick and metal art on the wall creates an ambiance that is uniquely JoBoy’s. The brewpub’s distinctive logo is a representation of Jeff and Jo and originated from stick figure drawings that were drawn on notes that Jeff would leave for Jo when they were courting.
Across the street from JoBoy’s is the Bulls Head Pub, where guests enjoy English fare in a traditional British pub setting. While JoBoy’s and Bulls Head would seem to be polar opposites, Jeff enjoys the camaraderie with other establishments in Lititz like Bulls Head and Appalachian Brewery.
In addition to the pub and restaurant, JoBoy’s features a great event space upstairs with a capacity for 225 people.
Sturgis Haus, another microbrewery in Lititz, is located just a block from JoBoy’s. Appalachian Brewing Company has five locations in Pennsylvania, with four located in southcentral Pennsylvania. Although Bulls Head does not brew its own beer, it serves a great many craft beers.
BLAZING THE CRAFT BREW TRAIL
In 1987, Ed and Carol Stoudt opened Stoudt’s Brewing Company in Adamstown when there were few craft brewers in Pennsylvania. Carol was the first woman to open a brewery since Prohibition.
Pioneers in the craft beer movement, the Stoudts don’t do anything cookie-cutter. From the quality of the cuts of steak in their restaurant to more than a dozen craft beers, there is artistry in everything they do.
Stoudt’s Brewing Company plays host to events like the Winter Fest in February and Oktoberfest, which is held every Sunday in October.
The closing of the Wacker Brewing Company in 1956 after 107 years in business signified the end of an era for the city of Lancaster. As the oldest and longest-running brewery in Lancaster County, Wacker was synonymous with beer. Wacker was the last brewery standing in a long line of breweries in the city.
When the Lancaster Brewing Company (LBC, originally called Lancaster Malt Brewing) opened for business on the corner of Walnut and Plum streets in 1995, it ended the 39-year drought in Lancaster’s brewing industry that was created when the Wacker Brewery closed.
Whether you’re sampling an LBC Boss Hog Double IPA or feasting on a tasty Po Boy sandwich, or both, guests can see the brewery operation from the bar and restaurant. The Lancaster Brewing Company prides itself on artisan quality that creates consistently great beer. Those brews include eight year-round beers and about a dozen limited-release and seasonal beers. LBC has locations in Lancaster and Harrisburg.
Just a year after Lancaster Brewing Company opened, brothers John and Chris Trogner founded Tröegs Brewery. Tröegs is a clever combination of the Trogner name and the Flemish word kroeg, which means “pub.”
The Tröegs lineup includes a dozen year-round craft brews and several seasonal beers. In addition to the tasting room and tours of their Hershey brewery, Tröegs offers patrons a seasonal menu of fresh, locally sourced food created by chef Christian DeLutis.
In 2014, Bryan Kepner brought the Wacker Brewing name back to life. Kepner’s great-grandfather worked for Wacker before it closed. Today, the brewery on Grant Street produces two traditional German-style beers, but it has plans to add seasonal and English-style beers in the future. Wacker brews can be found at several Lancaster restaurants. The brewery is open to the public on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Names like Moo-Duck, Saint Boniface, Snitz Creek and Mexitaly are certainly unique and some may even be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but all of these brewers take their craft seriously. Each of these breweries offers a unique experience though their commitment to brewing a quality beer.
These are just a sampling of the craft breweries in Pennsylvania. For more, logon to Things To Do and choose Breweries.
JoBoy’s Brew Pub
27-31 E. Main St., Lititz, PA 17543
Appalachian Brewing Company
Lititz, Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg and Collegeville
Sturgis Haus Brewery
43 E. Main St., Lititz, PA 17543
Stoudt’s Brewing Company
2800 N. Reading Road, Adamstown, PA 19501
Lancaster Brewing Company
302 N. Plum St., Lancaster, PA 17602
469 Eisenhower Blvd., Harrisburg, PA 17111
200 E. Hershey Park Drive, Hershey, PA 17033
Wacker Brewing Company
417 W. Grant St., Lancaster, PA 17603
79 S. Wilson Ave., Elizabethtown, PA 17022
Saint Boniface Craft Brewing Company
1701 W. Main St., Ephrata, PA 17522
Snitz Creek Brewery
7 N. Ninth St., Lebanon, PA 17046
Mexitaly Brick Oven Brewhouse
2440 E. Market St., York, PA 17402