Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lancaster Dreaming

This past weekend, S outdid herself once again and treated me on the day commemorating the day I became old enough to hold a bottle, to a fantastic weekend away from home in Lancaster. As you know, she is one to plan some of the most involved and intricately-nuanced birthday celebrations and this time was even better than last year's afternoon at Hello Again with Friends and Family, in Hazleton.

It started Friday after work when we traveled down I-81, I-83, and other assorted secondary roads to Lancaster. We drove in on the Harrisburg Pike which is like the spoke of a wheel off of 30 rimming the north of the city. When I saw the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant next to Franklin and Marshall I knew I was in for a good time with a chance to see just why this city has a chance to once again be called the Munich of America. We had never been there before so I was looking forward to a new experience and a the chance to try some new beers.

The brewery is in a new building containing apartments/condos/businesses across the street from Franklin and Marshall. For parking you can turn just before or just after the building housing the brewery and park around back. The lot was fairly full and there were numerous people walking in or out, and milling around in groups talking, just outside the place. It's no accident that the first thing you see enticing you to enter, is a row of fermentation vessels standing guard behind sidewalk-to-ceiling windows facing the parking lot!

The inside was reminiscent of a high-ceiling ed Applebee's restaurant. There was a cozy dining area separate from the bar area containing many high tables. We picked one of those and sat down to peruse the beer selection. As I looked around I noticed a mixed lot of college-aged kids having one last brew before hitting the books again and also older-folk enjoying themselves without a care in the world. As my gaze finally settled on the object of my affections, the beer list, (NOT!, S), I scanned down the list, and the seasonal Belgian Ale barked it presence out to me immediately and I quickly ordered one. S, cultivating and nurturing her own taste in beer, is leaning more to the lighter delights, and settled on the Iron Hill Light Lager.

When our beers were brought out, we lifted them high and shouted Prost! My beer reminded me in aroma, flavor and color of a Hefeweizen--the main difference being that this beer seemed a bit lighter of yeast and contains 8.2% ABV! But, there is very little alcohol taste so this can be one dangerous brew if one didn't know better and treated it like an everyday quaffer! S said her beer was just right--hitting her luscious lips at a light 4% ABV.

For dinner I figured it was getting late so when I spied the kielbasa and sauerkraut I immediately was drawn to it and placed an order. S decided on the sweet potato fries which she had never had. With that I added an Ironhill Ale which is an American Pale Ale, and let me tell you, what a pairing. I highly recommend this beer based on the the 4C's of quality: Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and Crystal! Medium-bodied coming in at a very light 5.1% ABV. Ummm, mmmm, good.

The Iron Hill Brewery is a nice place for a night out. It's a happy place and you'll come out of there primed!

We drove just a bit further to the Arts Hotel located on the same Harrisburg Pike, built in an old tobacco warehouse, to settle in for the night. I slept sweetly with visions of beer and balloons dancing in my head.

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