Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lancaster Brewing Company

We sat at the bar gulping the ambiance of this converted tobacco warehouse. The bar is ell-shaped and located to the left of the door you see in the picture, in the far corner of the first floor of the structure, with a mug-club over the backbar. There's a nice draft tower on the other backbar showcasing all the beers on draught and there's a collection of growlers hanging from the ceiling along the wall you see behind the grain hopper. There are a small number of pub tables arranged in the area surrounding the bar. There's a separate restaurant directly in front of and to the right of the door with regular tables and chairs.

It appears to me that a portion of the first floor to the right of the bar, extending from the far wall in about 14 feet, and continuing down past the restaurant, has been removed. That is, if you went over to a railing installed along the edge, you can look down into the basement to see the fermentation vessels, lauter tun, and boil kettle. The fermentation tanks extend upwards from the basement to the ceiling of the first floor--what would that make them: approaching 20 feet in height? A grandfatherly open elevator presided over the whole place at the extreme right side of the restaurant's seating area. I can only imagine what this elevator was used for in the past but now it occasionally rises up, spits and sputters and opines on the state of the world and beer, serving as a reminder that old is still good. The whole place reminds me of a barn of sorts or perhaps more accurately an ancient warehouse--with massive visible structural framing members at least 12" square holding up the place and overhead exposed floor beams of the next level, rough-cut and on 12" centers--they don't build-em like this anymore!

There were a couple of small groups enjoying the beer and good conversation the whole time we were there as well as a number of men and women at the bar and at tables doing the same.

S went over to talk to someone and the next thing I knew, C came over and introduced himself to us as the Manager of the bar/restaurant. He informed us that the brewmaster's were not in at this time but that he would give us a tour instead.

We went through the restaurant and descended a flight of stairs to the cellar. C showed us where it all starts at the grain and milling room, and how the grain is then augered, oh, 50 feet into a hopper above the lauter tun. The lauter tun is right next to the natural gas fired copper boil kettle. These occupy roughly the center positions in a line of about 10 tall fermentation vessels. C said it takes two boils to fill one of the fermenters.

Away from the brewing area, there was a field of drums in the center of the basement and when asked what was in them, we learned that this is the spent grain which is picked up by a local farmer for use as animal food.

The brewery here brews all the drafts served in the bar upstairs and also fills kegs that end up at beer distirubors. Bottling no longer takes place in this facility as it has outgrown the ability and space to do so. The Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre contract brews their bottled beers now. C delighted us when he said that expansion may be in the works with another nearby brewery possible.

By the time we climbed the stairs to go back to the first floor, I had finished the Hop Hog IPA and was thirsting for another. Did I tell you that this beer is hoggish 7.9% ABV with a very svelte taste for that size pork belly? It pours a beautiful dark amber with super-nice hop aroma and plenty of citrus and herbal scents. An excellent beer to have with say, rib eye steak, which was what S and I ordered for dinner.

After we ate, I asked the server if she would ask C to come over before we left so I could thank him for the tour and his place's excellent hospitality.

So ends, my Lancaster Dreaming weekend. Thanks S, for another excellent birthday treat for yours truly. You're the best!

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