Stoudt’s Brewing Company

In Lancaster County, we are blessed with many good things…the best farmland in the world, scenic country roads, produce stands, a long and rich history (before 1776, Lancaster city was the largest inland city in Britain’s American colonies), and outlet shopping malls (only kidding about the last item).

Think it kind of funny and I think it kind of sad (to steal a line from a Tears for Fears song), and a tad bit ironic, that the Tanger Outlets have a farm-like look with the faux grain silos:

Those silos are probably full of pairs of shoes and other cute clothing accessories…

Maybe because the retail operation was built on former farmland? Like McMansion housing developments  with names such as “Pheasant Run,” because when built, pheasants were run off the property? There is an apartment complex in Carlisle, Pa. called Pheasant Run…looks quite bucolic to me. Maybe you can shoot a pheasant in-flight off the second floor balcony. With the real estate crash–seen as all bad–a blessing has been a stop to the madness of the building of blight.

Farm Retail Theme? Rockvale Outlets does the same thing (have to laugh at the brazen and banal SHOP in  the screen…like Duh):

Amos taking Annie in the buggy to Rockvale to get some new styling work boots? Ah, one could convulse on the irony. I also really don’t like those cloying kid commercials from Rockvale…using kids as props for your operation. Not cute, manipulative.

This is a funny picture…a fundraiser carwash soaping down  a buggy:

“Hey could ya scrub down my horse while yer at it. Or, is that extra?”

Is there nothing real? Is it the triumph of image over everything? With the return of microwbreweries in Pennsylvania, there is a refreshing river supplanting the backwash of macro big breweries. And, if we go to the headwaters of where microbreweries originated in Pennsylvania, you will come to Stoudt’s Brewing Company in Adamstown, Pennsylvania. Adamstown sits a top of Lancaster County, about as far north as one can do without crossing the line into Berks County.

In the words of president Carol Stoudt, “We were Pennsylvania’s first microbrewery since Prohibition.”

(Editor’s note: Here is a poster at the Black Angus Restaurant/Stoudt’s that shows the breweries in Pa. before Prohibition):

(Editor’s Note Again: Bube’s Brewery, still in operation in Mt. Joy., is at the center. Appropriate, as it is the oldest beer brewing building still standing in the United States. Must have been a pain to do this poster as it was pre-Photo Shop).

This website quotes her and writes (non-italicized text):

“Twenty-eight years ago, on our honeymoon, Eddie and I went to Germany,” Stoudt said. “We visited more than 60 breweries in the Southern Bavarian region alone. We tasted the Kolsch beers in Cologne and decided that we were going to bring good beer back to Pennsylvania.” Bierker aside, visited 60 breweries in Germany? Puts my 40/40 to shame. I am a piker in comparison.

In 1987, Stoudt introduced her inaugural brew, Golden Lager. For the first couple of years, Stoudt hand-crafted the beer herself in small batches.

Our beer has evolved since then. We’ve probably brewed over 60 styles of beer,” she said. “At first we would invite our customers to taste the beer in the Beer Garden. We don’t do that anymore. It was never our intention to do training-wheel beers. We wanted to replicate German beers.”

Lancaster County  was a natural fit. Carol Stoudt’s family, the Texters, settled in Lancaster County in the 1700s. Her husband’s family, moved to Stoudt’s Ferry in Berks County around the same time.

“They came here because the rolling hills are like a mountain chain, only a “hill chain” of hills that roll on and on continually. You will often find them in between plains and mountains, near major rivers, or randomly anywhere. The only places without rolling hills are deserts and flood plains.  reminded them of their homeland,” Stoudt said. “The area is rich in German history, and beer is part of German culture. Our intention was to handcraft the beer in the old artisan way.”

OK, back to Bierker writing. So, if Pennsylvania Brewery in Pittsburgh is the grandfather of Pennsylvania microbreweries, Stoudt’s is the grandma. Maybe her husband Ed Stoudt could be Jed from the Beverly Hillbillies. Instead when he shot, up came some golden lager.  Kind of the first shot in a war.

So, to pay homage to their hunting skill and battle prowess, I loaded up the truck and went to town, Adamstown that is…Stoudt’s Brewing Company.

The medals for victories won for their great brews:

Now, that is some hardware!

The warriors, the beers:

Kind of like the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines….sorry don’t mean to diss the Coast Guard, but there were only four beers in my flight. I didn’t keep notes that night, but take my word for it, you can’t go wrong with anything beer-wise from Stoudt’s.I think I had the four flagship beers but I could be wrong.  I like the Scarlet Lady Ale the best:

My wife Lina and I were at Stoudt’s last summer and there were about 15 microbreweries there. In my first place was Ommegang…a Belgian brewery in Cooperstown, New York (have I mentioned that we are going to its Belgian Fest at the end of July?…Tickets for the event sold out in less than 24 hours). In second place was Stoudt’s. And all the rest were so far behind these two, that I didn’t even bother coming up with a Bronze medal. It takes equanimity and confidence to host others on  your turf. It speaks well of the microbrewing community that there is a brotherhood and sisterhood of sorts in the ranks. Kind of like the “enemy of my enemy is my friend type of deal.” Sometimes smaller competitors can get petty and then get stomped by the big boot of corporate America . To the credit of all, this has not happened yet. Remember, divided we fall.

I also had a very stimulating and cordial conversation with a guy at the bar, a fellow beer-lover, studying and training to be a Catholic priest. Although I am now by theological conviction and practice an evangelical Christian of the Presbyterian (PCA) denomination, I was raised a nominal Catholic. So I know both sides better than most. Traditionally, Catholic and Presbyterians were fierce enemies. Read John Calvin’s unabridged Institutes of the Christian Religion and it doesn’t take long to see the vehement anti-Catholic and anti-Papist polemic nature of the work. Calvin’s goal in writing the opus Institutes was to convert France from Catholicism to what He thought (and I tend to agree) a more pure and holy understanding of Christian theology and polity.

Just because I don’t dig some of what the Catholic Church preaches, teaches, and practices, I see them as brother and sisters in the Christian faith, albeit misguided. Seems like we religious types could learn a few things from the microbrewery “all for one” ethos without downplaying our differences and distinctiveness. Over a beer (or two, I might add)

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