While Lancaster has always been rich with history, it is also a vibrant place that keeps current with modern trends. Such trends include the wildly popular craft brew and wine craze. Those thirsting for a range of flavorful beverages can find unique options all over the county.
If your preference is a malt beverage, brew pubs such St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company in Ephrata and Lancaster Brewing Company on the east end of Lancaster City, offer a wide array of craft brew choices.
Opened in 2011 by owners Michael Price, Dain Shirey and Jon Northrop, St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company began as a one-barrel brewery. After a few years, the brewery moved to West Main Street in Ephrata expanding to a fifteen-barrel system.
“It’s not your typical bland beer. Before craft beer started getting big, people didn’t understand that you could make the beers different flavors with different malts and hops. There are a lot of breweries out there pushing the limits to see what they can do. It’s a great time to be a beer-drinker for sure,” said Shirey. Among the brew selections, three customers favorites stand out on the menu at St. Boniface - the Paideia, Libation Double IPA and Hegemony Stout which are available year-round. St. Boniface also added a taproom with nineteen different taps for draft and growler fills to accompany their fun pub menu. “We have gotten such great feedback from our local community and from Lancaster County in general. We have always strived to grow organically and make sure we can provide for our markets,” Shirey said.
Another great stop and mainstay in the county is Lancaster Brewing Company. It is known for its variety of beer and fresh foods supplied directly from Lancaster. “We try to buy local, and use local foods and ingredients in all our recipes. As far as our beers, we always shop around for the best grains and malts,” said Brent Eshelman. Offering a wide selection of year-round brews like the Chocolate Milk Stoudt and the Imperial Joe that is infused with Lancaster County coffee, Lancaster Brewing Company also creates batches of seasonal beers such as Baked Pumpkin Ale and their Winter Warmer. And, as Lancaster is known for shoofly pie, we can’t forget their Shoofly Pie Porter brew. “We typically have a standard of ten beers all year round, and then we have a bunch of seasonals so things are changing all the time as we create different beer. Our commitment is to use quality ingredients with creativity, skill and experience,” said Eshelman.
For those who prefer sampling wines, settle in at Weathered Vineyards Wine Bar and Tasting Room located at the Historic Smithton Inn in Ephrata. Locally made wines are available as well as craft beers and sodas. “I wanted to offer both locals and visitors to our inn and the area, a rustic yet elegant ambiance coupled with exceptional wine,” said Historic Smithton Inn owner Rebecca Gallagher. “We transformed our front sitting room to a gorgeous wine tasting room, so guests can cozy up to the fireplace with a sampling from Weathered Vineyards. In the warmer months, they can also sit at the outdoor patio while sipping the vintage of their choice. We have live music on most Fridays and Saturdays year-round. We are very excited to welcome guests from near and far.”
Throughout the rolling hills of Lancaster County and the surrounding areas, vineyards have been sprouted up since the 1970s. Central Pennsylvania’s fertile soil bodes well not only for traditional farming but that of growing worldclass grapes. The yields from these vineyards give the local wineries the opportunity to produce exceptional and consistent vintages year after year. Coupled with premium wines are the beautiful views and unique spaces that all can enjoy while sampling a favorite variety.
Spend an afternoon tasting at Waltz Vineyards in Manheim, Moon Dancer Winery in Wrightsville, Nissley Vineyards in Bainbridge and Grandview Vineyard in Mount Joy. Scenic views of the countryside or the Susquehanna River will make the experience all the more special.
With so many unique selections of handmade brews and wines to try in Lancaster, the challenge is deciding where to begin.