Drinking Beer in Amish Country
When thinking of Lancaster County, what comes to most people’s minds, and with good reason, is the world of the Amish. However, with a recent boom in brewery construction along with some established stalwarts, there’s now a new reason to visit this scenic and laid-back area west of Philadelphia. Here are a selection of some breweries that offer a diverse weekend experience, but if you come across—and you likely will—a brewery that isn’t mentioned below and have the time and inclination, stop in. You won’t be disappointed. This area knows good beer, especially lager.
Just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike is the beer anchor of the area, Stoudts Brewing Co. (2800 N. Reading Road, Adamstown), founded in 1987. Ed and Carol Stoudt have spent more than a quarter-century perfecting their vision. Ed largely handles the food (you can find him on certain days shucking oysters behind the restaurant’s raw bar) while Carol and her brewing staff stick to the beer. The brewery is known for lagers—the wonderfully earthy Helles and Stoudts Pils can stack up against any German-style Pilsner in terms of its balance—but don’t overlook any special offerings on cask.
Due west from Stoudts is Union Barrel Works (6 N. Reamstown Road, Reamstown), another brewery in the lager tradition. Brewer Tom Rupp takes his lager making so seriously that he won’t drink any of the ales they produce, passing those duties off to an assistant brewer. Try the rich and smooth Wobbly Bob Doppelbock, but pace yourself, as it clocks in at a deceptive 9%. Union Barrel Works has a diverse food menu (including some house-made sausages),making this is a fine stop for the evening.
Lancaster city is the place to wind up your night. With hotels for every budget, it makes you centrally located for the rest of your visit.
By getting up at a reasonable hour, you can visit Central Market on the square in Lancaster city for a nosh and a taste of local delicacies, like headcheese and scrapple. Preserves, fresh produce, crafts and more can all be found among the stands. Pick up some snacks for the road and then get to it.
Head north and west on PA-772 to get to Zuckfoltzfus Brewing Co. (12 S. Market St., Mount Joy), a relative newcomer to the county. It has as many as eight beers pouring and, billed as a gastropub, changes the menu every two weeks, relying on fresh, local ingredients. Prepare for an eating experience you won’t soon forget.
You can leave the car and walk the two blocks to Bube’s Brewery (102 N. Market St., Mount Joy), the site of a pre-Prohibition brewery that now operates out of a much smaller brewhouse. Ask for a tour of the Victorian-era facility and its cellars and then try a sampler of the house beers while relaxing in the garden.
Return to Lancaster and if you’re looking to stock up on some local bottles for the trip home, go to The Fridge (534 N. Mulberry St.). Or just park the car downtown and embark on an easy bar crawl around the city.
Located in the heart of the city is the taproom of Spring House Brewing Co. (25 W. King St.) where brewer Matt Keasey moved after he outgrew the space above his farmhouse brewery in Conestoga. Elbow up against loyal clientele for a taste of eyebrow-raising offerings like Satan’s Bake Sale Mint Chocolate Stout and Wet Paint Guava Ale.
On Queen Street, just north of the hotel, is The Pickle Bar at Isaac’s (25 N. Queen St.), a beer and sandwich shop with continually rotating drafts. Next, head to Walnut and Plum streets, home of Lancaster Brewing Co. (302 N. Plum St.). Call it LNCBC to differentiate it from another LBC—Lancaster Bible College—where you are not likely to find beer. This is the county’s second-oldest extant brewpub after Stoudts. Here, head brewer Bill Moore, who began his career at Stoudts, focuses on lagers while casting an appreciative eye toward ales. In the mood for some lupulin? Try the Hop Buggy, an amber ale, or order one of the generous samplers.
Coming back to where you started is Pour (114 N. Prince St.) featuring beer, wine, cheese and charcuterie, all in one place and all right in the heart of Gallery Row, downtown. Perfect for a nightcap.
No visit to Lancaster County would be complete without a visit to Amish Country. As you head east out of town, you will get on PA-340 and quickly enter Pennsylvania Dutch territory. Rumspringa Brewing Co. (3174 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird-in-Hand) is a nanobrewery with an attached tasting room and restaurant perfect for brunch. Grab a seat outside and watch the horse and buggies roll by in what is a very old world meets new world experience.
This article appears in the July issue of All About Beer Magazine. Click here for a free trial of our next issue.