While down in the City of Brotherly Suds during Philly Beer Week, I copped a magazine called Philly Beer Scene.
I felt a surge of hometown pride when I discovered that Lancaster Brewing Company’s Milk Stout had won the “Best Stout” award for 2010. So, since I had come back to town in my buggy from Philly, I tied the horses down and entered the establishment.
Here is a shot from the outside:
Architecturally, both exterior and interior, the building has a lot of character. Lancaster has been around as a town since Colonial times, and buildings like LBC act like bridges to a time where people built structures with both style and to last. Buildings such as these also are an appropriate setting to brew. As the LBC website notes:
“By producing Lancaster’s first commercially brewed beer in nearly 40 years, Lancaster Brewing Company has reawakened a rich and colorful brewing history. Brewing in Lancaster County grew from the back rooms of inns in the early 1700’s into a thriving industry. By 1810, the county accounted for 7% of all beer brewed in the United States. ”
Here is what you see when you walk up into the establishment:
Hey Lancaster Brewing Company, I am no clean freak but you might want to scrub these steps since it displays your motto.
LBC uses the Amish Buggy motif (as in stepping up into the buggy) to further drive the message home:
Also, watch your step when putting your foot down…them horseys’ pack a lot a load of their own.
Speaking of coasters, I have a bit of a pet peeve to air about the Amish-themes. I know that the local tourist industry has been coasting for years on the film Witness and the Plain People as a selling proposition. I like when microbreweries develop a theme so I affirm that the Amish story differentiates LBC from others and it is a good story.
Yet, it makes Lancaster seem like like a backwards place (more than it even is). At some point soon, the locals have to stop milking this one aspect of Lancaster culture. It is certainly a wonderful part of this areas heritage yet the Lancaster vibe, especially in the city, is much more than Whoopie Pies, black-bumpered cars, and taciturn and dour women with head coverings. I am not saying that Lancaster is anything like NYC or Philly, but it is hardly Little Home on the Praire with Anabaptist actors either. It has an artistic scene (music and visual) that is exquisite.
I think it is so cool that in the city of Lancaster I can see an Amish dude and a hip hoppin’ black guy all in the same look. Why not show this? That is a general critique of Lancaster County tourism P.R., not only LBC.
Second, LBC doesn’t even brew its bottled and canned beers under the LBC label in Lancaster County. Instead, it is contracted out to the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre a good couple of hours north from Lancaster City and County. That seems to be inauthentic. Call me a purist. But, if you are going to employ Jakey and his steeds in your company theme, at least have the integrity to brew your beers in Lancaster County. Wilkes-Barre is coal country…not farm country.
LBC does serve in it is microbrewery and restaurant the beers that it makes on the premises on draft.
Ahem, let me get off of my hobby horse for a bit. Don’t worry I will get back on in a minute.
I found Lancaster Brewing Company beers to be good. The Milk Stout, in particular was excellent.
Make sure to have the Milk Stout on nitrogen rather the carbon dioxide variety. Truly, the nitrogen gives this brew a deep creaminess dreaminess like a soft summer cloud crossing the palate’s sky. It is that good.
Part of the reason that I recoil from the Amish theme of LBC is because it seems to be a marketing ploy. Kind of like how Rolling Rock is made in Newark by Budweiser. Newark, about the least bucolic locale on earth outside of Baghdad. Add to this marketing semi-mirage that their flight (sample tray) of six beers to eight beers/4 oz or so, costs a good four to six dollars more (at $ 12) than almost every other microbrewery I have visited in Pa., it starts to feel like LBC has a tourist trap flavor.
How can they adjust this taste:
1) Make all of their beers in Lancaster County, period. Surely, LBC can do this. Or, modify the farmboy theme.
2) Lower its sample prices to be more in line with other microbreweries. Maybe the server made a mistake but I have seriously felt that the cost of LBC are typically higher than other comparable establishments and the sample just served this up in spades.
It is said that we are all hardest on the ones we love. I love Lancaster and by implication, Lancaster Brewing Company. Three words back to LBC. Step it up…you are better than this.