LANCASTER / MOUNT JOY, PENNSYLVANIA
Residing in Lancaster’s Central Market at Hager Arcade, SPRING HOUSE TAPROOM serves craft beer originating from nearby Conestoga’s Spring House Brewing – originally a small keg-only barnyard operation started in 2007. Utilizing natural spring water emanating from its basement, the boorish stable’s brew house has grown fast. On my pre-noon stopover, 7 Gates Pale Ale, Spring House’s flagship beer, just started getting bottled for Pennsylvania consumption.
The grand opening of the Taproom on February 3, 2011, allowed brewmaster Matt Keasey to expand beyond any stylistic limitations. A glass-fronted alehouse with ultra-mod orange and black interior, the midsize open-spaced room featured a U-shaped bar (with 3 TV’s), sidling wood-furnished tables, and exposed ductwork. Local patrons have taken advantage of the maroon mug club.
On this sizzling hot Thursday, Van Halen’s “Panama” blares from the speakers as I ingest seven pleasing concoctions that go just past conventional barriers. But before testing the outer limits, I sampled above-mentioned mainstream lager-like mainstay, 7 Gates Pale Ale, a crystal-malted dry body with mildewed orange astringency, lemon mold souring, root vegetable slipstream, and wet cardboard bottom. Nearly as mainstream accessible but way better, Goofy Foot Summer Wheat retained a moderate fresh-watered citric dalliance and floral-spiced wisp.
Next up, two Belgian-inspired beers showed off Keasey’s broad range. Diabolical Dr. Wit ceded a curious cologne entry enjoining evergreen overtones, herbal rosemary-thyme intensity, floral lavender-lotus-hibiscus accents, and blood orange-peeled kaffir-limed acidity atop sugary maple. Robot Bastard Belgian IPA spread buttery banana, nectarine, cantaloupe, and pineapple tropicalia over pumpkin-glazed chamomile tea nuances.
Staying on the fruity side, persuasive Mango IPA contrasted cotton-candied mango sweetness against modest grapefruit-peeled bittering, picking up ancillary orange, apricot, and peach enticements. Mouth-puckering tropical alternative, Two Dudes Wet Paint Guava Ale brought dry lemon-pitted bittering to soft-spiced guava tartness, rotted orange sourness, and subtle perfume notions.
To finalize this eye-opening session, there were two nutty alternative elixirs. Perfectly descriptive Peanut Butter & Jelly maintained a certain jellybean likeness, layering chocolate-y peanut-shelled whimsicality with grape jam, strawberry, and boysenberry illusions. For dessert, Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout spread creamy peanut-buttered black chocolate richness above vanilla, macadamia, hazelnut and cola undertones.