Visiting the historic Lancaster breweries is an enjoyable way for you to learn how beer is made as well as sample some local, homemade beverages.
Once known as the "Munich of the United States," Lancaster County at one time produced seven percent of all the beer, ale, and lager in the United States.
Today, the breweries offer more than just the production of beer. Among other things, there are many fine, atmospheric restaurants, tours, art exhibitions, shops, and family-friendly holiday activities.
A Brief History of the Lancaster Breweries
During the mid-1800's, German-style lager beer had become fashionable and trendy among beer drinkers in America. Previously, English-style ales had dominated the consumer market.
Because of the difference in styles, the emergence of lager beer necessitated a different
By the 1850's and 1860's, American brewers manufacturing German lager beer, could not satisfy the vast demand. As a result, a brewery boom erupted with literally hundreds of breweries emerging all over the United States.
Because of the number of German immigrants living in Pennsylvania Dutch country - a good number of whom had experience working as apprentices in breweries in their homeland - many Lancaster breweries flourished and many rags-to-riches stories were born.
So successful were these breweries, that it was not uncommon for a Lancaster brewery to expand into the restaurant and hotel business as well.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The end in this case began with Prohibition in the 1920's. Although Prohibition did shut down this flourishing business, it did slow it down. Some of the Lancaster breweries still operated through clandestine measures and constantly vigilance to avoid raids by federal agents.
When Prohibition finally came to an end, some of the Lancaster breweries reopened to their full operational speed but the popularity and success never matched the heyday of the late 1800's and early 1900's when there were tens of breweries in the region as well as many taverns and inn brewing in back rooms.
What really did end the glory days of the Lancaster breweries were the rise of larger, more modern breweries cropping up around the country. The relatively small Lancaster breweries simply could not compete with the newer breweries which could produce a much larger quantity of beer at much lower costs.
Many of the Lancaster breweries shut down completely by the 1950's.
Fortunately, some of the historic Lancaster County breweries have been restored and exist largely intact as they did when German lager and small breweries ruled supreme.
Recommended Lancaster Breweries
You can recapture the glory of these historic institutions even today. Here are some personal favorites where you can sample some homegrown brews surrounded by architecture and interior design that will transport you back in time.
Moreover, some of these Lancaster breweries offer special events throughout the year such as art exhibits, tours, and live musical concerts. There are also restaurants serving local specialties and historic hotels.
Address: 102 North Market Street, Mount Joy, PA 17552
Phone: (717) 653-2056
This Lancaster brewery was founded by a young German immigrant named Alois Bube who had been a brewing apprentice in Germany. In 1876, he bought a small brewery in Mount Joy in Lancaster County. Over the years, he expanded the brewery several times and even built a Victorian hotel to accommodate his guests.
Today, the Bube's Brewery microbrewery has a variety of handcrafted beers on draft. The selection changes frequently. Some of the most popular beers on tap at this Lancaster brewery include:
- Stout: Rolled oats as well as chocolate and roasted malts give this dark, full-bodied brew its distinctive flavor.
- Kolsch: This crisp style ale comes from Cologne, Germany. The Kolsch's unique smoothness comes from special Kolsch yeast, German Hallertau hops, a slow fermentation and lager like conditioning.
- Red Ale: A slightly sweet malt flavor is balanced with East Kent Golding hops to produce this tasty reddish-amber ale.
- Brown Ale: This English-style ale is pleasantly malty with nutty and toffee-like undertones. East Kent Golding hops are used to compliment this ale.
- India Pale Ale: This ale is made with delicate two-row malted barley and West Coast hops. A smooth malt finish with a subtle citrus aroma.
- Heffweizen: This traditional German-style wheat beer is rich in banana and clove undertones, with a frothy head.
- Kiwi-Strawberry Wheat: With this ale, the subtle flavor of kiwi and strawberry blend with traditional German wheat and hops.
Today, Bube's Brewery offers several noteworthy restaurants where you can enjoy the handcrafted brews along with specialty meals.
- The Catacombs Restaurant: This atmospheric restaurant is located 43 feet below the surface in the stone-lined vaults of the ancient brewery cellars. Once in the catacombs, you will be greeted by a costumed guide.
Dinner is served seven nights a week in the restaurant beginning at 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 5:00 p.m. on weekends. On most Sunday evenings, a special feast is held in the Catacombs.
Entree prices range from $16 to $24. The restaurant offers a complete wine and beer list, and a cocktail lounge is available if you would like a drink before dining.
Reservations are requested.
- The Alois Restaurant: consists of the original bar and dining rooms in the Victorian hotel portion of Bube's Brewery. Each room is uniquely decorated employing hand stenciling and other painting techniques.
The dinner usually begins in the “parlour” (the original bar) with appetizers and cocktails. After time to relax with the first course, you will be invited to enter one of the Alois dining rooms for the other courses which include a soup, salad, and sorbet course followed by your choice of entrée. Dinner is followed by dessert and coffee.
Reservations are recommended for the Alois Restaurant. The Alois Restaurant is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 9:00 PM; Fridays and Saturdays from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM; and, Sundays from 5:00 to 9:00 PM. The phone number for reservations is 717-653-2056.
- The Alois Martini Bar: The Alois Martini Bar has a list of well over 100 different martinis and a selection of Bube's hand crafted beers on draft. Wines by the bottle or glass as well as traditional cocktails are available also. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available. Food is also served, if you like.
Reservations are not necessary for the Alois Martini Bar. The Alois Martini Bar is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 PM to midnight; Fridays and Saturdays from 5:00 PM to 2:00 AM; and, Sundays from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM.
- The Biergarten Restaurant: This is an outdoor restaurant reminiscent of a drinking garden common in Alois Bube's Bavarian homeland. In the middle of the Biergarten is the huge original boiler and smokestack used to create the steam power necessary to run the Lancaster brewery.
You can relax and enjoy your meal outside under shade trees away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world.
Lunch is served seven days a week beginning at 11:00 a.m. every Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, lunch begins at noon.
Dinner is served seven nights a week beginning at 5:00 p.m. Reservations are not required, but it is appreciated if you have a party of 6 or more.
- The Bottling Works: This is a restaurant and tavern in the original bottling plant of Bube's Brewery.
It is here where the beer and soft drinks were bottled, and the water for making beer was drawn from the limestone caverns below.
The restaurant is located adjacent to the Biergarten Restaurant, drinking garden.
Lunch begins at 11:00 a.m. every Monday through Saturday. On Sundays, lunch begins at 12:00 PM. Dinner is served seven nights a week beginning at 5:00 p.m. Reservations are appreciated if you have a party of six or more.
Bube's Brewery also offers the Cooper Shed which is a very unique store. It is located in the original cooperage (barrel working shop) of this Lancaster brewery. In the 19th century, breweries stored most of its beer in barrels. Bube's cooperage was traditionally referred to as the "Cooper's Shed."
Today, the Cooper Shed hosts a large collection of antique cooper's tools which are on display along with an actual barrel producing area.
The Cooper's Shed store supplies everything you need to brew your own beer. Two convenient start-up kits are available. There is even a wide selection of malted grains and malt extracts, hops and yeast.
You can also purchase a variety of products including locally made jewelry; crafts made of metal, ceramic, glass and wood; specialty foods, home brewing equipment and supplies; and, more.
Not only is this Bube's Brewery a one-of-a-kind 19th century Lancaster brewery complex, it is also a venue for artistic expressions of all kinds.
In addition to design, culinary, musical, and theatrical expressions, which are regularly presented at Bube's Brewery, the Brewery Gallery also hosts exhibits of the visual arts including sculpture, painting, drawings, photography, and installation.
The Brewery Gallery is open every Monday through Thursday from Noon to 9:00 p.m. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, it is open from Noon until 11:00 PM.
There is no admission charge at the Brewery Gallery.
Lancaster Brewing Company
Lancaster Brewing Company
Address: 302 N. Plum Street, Lancaster, PA 17602
The Lancaster Brewing Company is located in an old 19th century tobacco warehouse that had been converted to accommodate a full-service bar, award-winning restaurant and brewing company
As with the other Lancaster breweries, the Lancaster Brewing Company produces some unique and original regional beers on tap. They include:
- Amish Four Grain: This multi-grain pale ale contains the smoothness of malted wheat, the sweetness of oats, and the complex flavor of rye - balanced by imported Saaz hops.
- Milk Stout: This traditional English style sweet stout is a robust, dark ale bursting with roasted barley dryness and mellowed by sparks of chocolate and coffee.
- Dunkel Weizen: A dark Munich style weizen beer with traces of chocolate complimented by essences of banana and clove
- Strawberry Wheat Beer: This American wheat lager beer has the subtle taste of fresh strawberries.
- Baltic Porter: A traditional lager beer with a dark color and medium body. The beer has a defined hop flavor balanced by the smoothness of over six roasted malt flavors.
- Celtic Rose: This Lancaster version of the traditional Irish Amber Ale combines the richness of German and Austrian malts with the delicate and spicy British hops.
- Hop Hog: This India pale ale is known for its bold, citrus hop flavor balanced by a dry malt character.
The restaurant at the Lancaster Brewing Company specializes in modern and traditional fare. Entrees range from Filet Mignon, Osso Bucco and poached salmon to salads, pizza, and burgers. Meals are served from 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM. The bar is open until 12:00 AM on Sundays through Thursdays. It is open until 2:00 AM on Saturdays and Sundays.
Address: 2800 North Reading Road, Route 272, Adamstown Pa. 19501
During the past 20 years, Stoudt’s Brewing Company has grown and evolved from a small brewery with limited draught distribution, to a regional microbrewery with distribution in 10 different states. Over 10,000 barrels are produced each year at this Lancaster brewery.
Those interested in learning
how the beer is made
in the Lancaster breweries, are invited to join a free brewery tour conducted by Ed Stoudts. The tours are held Saturdays at 3:00 PM and Sundays at 1:00 PM. The tour meets in the lobby of the brewery's restaurant, the Black Angus Restaurant & Pub.
Black Angus Restaurant & Pub offers steaks, seafood, and chef specialties as well as a seasonally changing menu with an emphasis on locally produced and organically farmed items. The restaurant hours are 4:30 PM until 10:00 PM on Mondays through Thursdays; 12:00 PM until 10:00 PM on Saturdays; and from 11:30 AM until 8:00 PM on Sundays. If you plan on dining in the restaurant, it is advisable to call ahead for reservations at (717) 484-4386.
On Fridays nights there will be live acoustic music from 7:30 PM until 10:30 PM in the pub.
At the Black Angus Restaurant and Pub you can enjoy the beer which is crafted fresh from the Lancaster brewery right next door. The brews include the following:
- Fat Dog Stout: This unique ale merges the complex richness of an Oatmeal Stout with that of an Imperial Stout. This silky black brew has a prominent roasted malt character and a chocolate, coffee-like finish.
- Blonde Double Mai Bock: This German-style, full-bodied lager is brewed with the finest 2-row barley, a subtle amount of hops, and a touch of clover honey.
- Weizen: A medium body, Bavarian-style unfiltered wheat beer. It is brewed with 50% malt barley and 50% malted wheat. The unique blend of German yeast strains creates a flavor of bananas, clover and bubblegum.
- Old Abominable Barley Wine: This full-bodied barley wine-style ale is brewed with 80% Marris Otter malt and a single variety of domestic hops. The ruby-orange brew is aged in whiskey barrels for 7 months.
- Stoudt Pils: This award-winning pilsner is delicately dry with a firm bitterness. The Saaz hops and dry malt finish provide crispness. The brew is representative of the traditional German-style Pilsners and has a floral, herbal nose.
- Scarlet Lady Ale: This English-style ale is brewed with Marris Otter and caramel malts which produces a copper-colored, sweet, malty taste. The brew has a soft, perfumed aroma.
- Gold Lager: This light-bodied, German-style lager features a subtle balance of sweet malts and clean, crisp hops.
- Smooth Hoperator: Ed Stoudt believes that this medium bodied, "American-style Doppelbock" is the first high gravity lager brewed with German malts and American hops. The brew has a delicate malty taste up front which is overshadowed by the dominating hop presence attributable to the 1.5 lb / bbl. of hops that were added for flavor and aroma.
Stoudt's Brewery also hosts several special events throughout the year. Each year there is the annual Great Eastern Invitational Microbrewery Festival. Breweries from around the country fill the Stoudt's courtyards and Brewery Hall while visitors stroll from one table to the next sampling some of the best craft brews that the industry has to offer.
Another well-known part of this festival is Ed’s “Best of the Wurst” German style buffet. Included in this are German sausages, pasta salad, German potato salad, red cabbage and six different varieties of Eddie’s homemade bread. The festival sessions are from Noon until 4:00 PM and from 7:00 PM until 11:00 p.m.
The ticket price is currently $27.00 per session. This includes a tasting glass, unlimited samplings of your favorite brews, the German style buffet, entertainment, and complimentary shuttle service from all the local motels. Attendees must be 21 years of age with valid I.D.
There is also the annual Oktoberfest festivities which are held from 2:00 PM until 6:00 PM every Sunday during the month - you guessed it -of October. This is actually a family event designed to celebrate German traditions in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Held in the Stoudt's Gemutlichkeit Bier Garden there will be plenty of live German music, dancing and authentic German food. Of course, there will be plenty of the Stoudt microbrews on hand, as well. General admission tickets are $8.00. Children under 11 free.
Stoudts is also a host of the Antiques Extravaganza. While it may sound unusual at first for a brewery to host an antiques festival, don't forget that Stoudts is located in Adamstown which is known as the antique capital of the East Coast. Three weekends out of the year all of Adamstown welcomes thousands of collectors and fans alike. Stoudt’s Black Angus alone is a showcase of over 500 dealers and their wares.
Another very popular event at this Lancaster brewery is the Christkindlesmarkt festivities which are held during the five Sundays before Christmas. There is always plenty of music, crafts and food for the entire family. Each Sunday offers a different Christmas theme.
The first Sunday is the “Lighting of the Christmas Tree." The second Sunday is the “Victorian Christmas”, complete with costumes, English fare and caroling at noon. On the third Sunday, St. Nicholas will be handing out chocolate coins to all the good girls and boys, while Ruprecht will be there for the naughty ones. On the fourth Sunday, Saint Lucia with a crown of lights will illuminate the Expo Center, handing out butter cookies to all. On the final Sunday, the local PA Belschnickel will grace the market with his folklore.
Once you've had your fill of Lancaster breweries, you might want to continue the theme and visit some of the beautiful
Lancaster County vineyards and wineries
where you can spend a pleasant afternoon sampling fine, local wine; touring the vineyards; learning how wine is produced; and, meeting some friendly people with colorful stories about the history of wine-making in Lancaster County.
Oftentimes, the wineries host special events where you can catch an art exhibit featuring local Lancaster County artisans or listen to live music in the evening under the stars.
If this sounds like it may appeal to you, here are some
recommended Lancaster wineries
that are sure to provide you and your family with a fun way to spend several hours.
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