Tonight marks the long-awaited grand opening of Spring House’s new brewery and brewpub on Lancaster’s South Side
There’s no mistaking Spring House Brewing Co.’s new digs.
Decked out in typical Spring House style, the warehouse-turned-brewery on Lancaster’s Hazel Street stands like a titan – a testament to beers named The Astounding She-Monster, Big Gruesome and Diabolical Doctor Wit.
I stopped in for a sneak peek days before the plant started brewing, and I was floored by what I found. Hundred-barrel fermenters towered two stories high. Crew members were busy shuttling in empty kegs. The whole place was bustling.
<< Check out our photo gallery from the soft opening at the new Spring House Brewing Co. on July 8. >>
I caught up with owner Matt Keasey as he prepped the final connections to get the place operating. He needs to get brewing soon, as he’s hoping to open the new brewery and restaurant in a matter of weeks.
Spring House started out as Lancaster County’s best-kept brewing secret. Perched above the brewing tanks housed in a small barn in Conestoga, visitors could sample Keasey’s early brews and purchase a case or keg on the way out (his flagship beer, Seven Gates Pale Ale, quickly went into bottling for distribution). That facility, which created memorable beers like Kerplunk!, an imperial chocolate stout, operated on a 12-barrel system and was literally Keasey’s home.
All of that barn equipment is now gone – sold to Flying Dog Brewery out of Frederick, MD – and has been replaced by this massive system, which is capable of churning out 11,000 barrels of beer annually.
Plus, there’s room to expand. Besides the open-beamed, exposed-brick building Keasey shows me, he has an entire other building, about which he’s just starting to kick ideas around. (Maybe storage. Maybe canning. Maybe distilling.) Distilling? Now he’s really got my interest piqued, but that’s a long way off. First he needs to get brewing, as Spring House’s back stock is beginning to dwindle.
For the rest of this year, Keasey plans to shore up supplies of the core lineup and then add two new seasonal varieties. Spinal Remains is a pumpkin spiced stout, which should be available in late August or early September. And now available at the Taproom is a limited run of a coffee coconut porter, which will make a full debut in December.
“In 2016, we are going to come up with a whole new packaging system,” says Keasey. “We are probably moving towards more cans and getting away from the 22 ounce bottle format.”
That’s great news for those of us who love to take our beers to the beach, boat and beyond.
Keasey leads me from the brewery area toward the restaurant side of the new building – the floor still tacky from a final coating of finish. He points to the open space above. The ceiling—or what was the ceiling—was removed and flipped to replace a horribly conditioned floor. Wood planks on the floor match the color of the building’s brick façade. I’m amazed by the approximately 150-occupancy (indoor and outdoor) restaurant interior, complete with a Coatesville Boiler Works door on the far wall, which Keasey describes as “freakin’ massive.”
“The whole building itself was pretty damn scary. When we got the building, it was full of crap. It was a mess,” says Keasey. “The more demo we did, the more I saw how cool the building could be. The building fit our needs, and it comes with plenty of parking.”
Before Spring House, the building housed a roofing company. The structure was segmented haphazardly. Rooms opened to other rooms, which opened to huge storage areas. Narrow stairways led to cramped entries. Rooms were packed with old supplies like full drums of roofing tar.
None of the mess remains, but much of the building’s character was preserved. Behind aging drywall, construction crews found elaborate graffiti, which adds to the Spring House look. Overhead beams have been removed and repurposed into a flight of stairs leading to what will someday be an upper-level bar space overlooking the brewery. Beneath that space will be a full kitchen. Keasey brought on an experienced chef familiar with brewpub operations.
“He’s big into game – like duck, rabbit. He wants to do some different things rather than your typical stuff,” says Keasey. As we chat, those helping to get the brewery up and running chime in with other planned menu items: cracklins, sweetbreads, pheasant, dirty rice. “He cooked down in New Orleans for a while,” Keasey explains.
The brewery will also utilize the kitchen at the new facility to supply the Taproom, which has a kitchen the size of a closet.
“We’ll probably end up changing a lot of the Taproom menu,” says Keasey. “We’ll be able to do a full-scale restaurant menu here.”
The new facility will allow Spring House to provide two different experiences in Lancaster – the Taproom will remain focused on downtown foot traffic, while Keasey hopes the Brewery will become more of a destination site.
There’s a new Seven Gates in town. The posterns will swing open soon.
• 209 Hazel Street, Lancaster
• Hours to be determined