Back during 40/40 Pa. Brew Tour three years ago, the Craft Beer scene in Lancaster City was Lancaster Brewing Company and Iron Hill. LBC was more laid back and comfy. Iron Hill was tony and expensive. Iron Hill’s beers are definitely better. Very high quality. LBC is the most affordable around but you kind of get what you pay for…econo-craft.
The food at both place is typical pub fair. When either place tries to be fancy food-wise, it winds up being an over-stepping. Foot too far off base. Stick to the burgers and wings, you will be fine. Otherwise, strike out. Or at least hit a lot of foul balls and pop-ups.
There are several new players in the city since then and Lancaster is becoming a mini-mecca for beers, a title which really doesn’t make given the Muslim prohibition on alcohol, yet things are definitely moving. So maybe sticking to the baseball analogy is better. Here we go around the bases for the new team members.
Here is my quick run down on the newer places:
– The Fridge – Great selection in bottles, limited taps. Glorified pizza joint. Cozy and friendly. Has a grungy vibe with the cinderblock construction. Probably the best place to go if you want to feel part of the Craft Beer scene. It has an upstart feel to it.
Hunger & Thirst – On the outskirts of the city. Definitely has a Foodie vibe with its beer and gourmet food and gadgets store. Very diverse beer menu with about 25 rotating taps and big bottle selection. Food and beer is a bit pricey but the upscale quality is there to justify the cost. It appears as if the owners are doing their homework and bringing in unique beers, particularly international.
The Taproom – In the heart of the city, The Taproom has the best urban feel location. Food is cooked at an adjacent restaurant and is very good. The beer can be too quirky and gimmicky. Dogfish can pull off quirky, The Taproom beers are either hit or miss. More often, I do not like the concoctions.
The Federal Taphouse – This is a large gastropub on North Queen. One hundred beers on tap, extensive bottle list. I wonder if the model of quality and volume will work over the long-term in Lancaster City. So far, it has been packed but that has been during the Honeymoon phase. It is like a luxury liner. Definitely, the most expensive of the bunch but a good night out on the town.
To save cash, I typically do not order food at these places. I favor more ethnic cuisine for both taste and cost. If I want a burger or pizza or wings, best to lower the standards a bit and go to places that are pretty much all over. Go for the beers….