The showroom of ales
So, a guy walks into a bar … or is it a car dealership? One of the coolest things about all the Appalachian Brewing Company sites is their adaptive reuse of buildings. There is no cookie-cutter look to the local chain, which now operates seven brewpubs across Central PA.
For the new Mechanicsburg location, ABC took over a Hummer dealership and fashioned it into a spacious, industrialized restaurant with plenty of seating indoors and out. I walked up to the long bar running the width of the back wall and found myself a seat in front of a flat screen.
It didn’t take long for a server to find me and ask if I had any questions. I was poring over the massive beer list. On tap were eight year-round beers, several seasonals and many one-off brews made at the Mechanicsburg location. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn’t remember the name.
“I want one of the beers that just released yesterday,” I say to the bartender.
She knew exactly what I was talking about, and turned, rinsed a pint glass and filled it with Busted Sole. Busted Sole – a Belgian pale ale with an Americanized hoppiness. Copper in color, the brew consists of 10 different malt varieties, balanced by the combination of Hercules, Styrian Golding, Warrior and Saaz hops. Even with a ton of flavor — and impressive citrus notes — the beer is rather easy to drink and calm on the palate. I learned about the beer in a press release the day before, but I wanted to get the whole history of the beer. So after my visit I got in touch with Mike Parker – Director of Marketing for ABC – to get the story.
“Because we overachieve sometimes, we have more space and we don’t like to leave tanks empty, so we brew a couple extra beers” Parker says. “Busted Sole became one of those. It’s a neat style. Our brewers are always trying to be innovative.”
Busted Sole is one of several of ABC’s “fill in” beers that make their appearance randomly. If people begin to say, “Wow, you should make more of that,” it might be put into ABC’s seasonal specialties rotation. On the seasonal rotation in November is Grinnin’ Grizzly Spiced Ale.
“This is the beer that has the real holiday spices. It will last through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays,” says Parker. “It’s one of those beers we sell a lot of.”
The amber ale is brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and fresh orange zest and balanced with a light hoppiness. It’s a great beer for a cold night, refreshing and not overbearing.
The biggest news for ABC this month is not site-specific — unless the site is your refrigerator. Parker announced ABC is adding four beers to its year-round rotation. All can be found in the big beer variety pack out this month. They include Out of Focus double IPA, Chocolate Avenue Stout, Trailblaze Maple Brown Ale and Aero-Head Bock.
“It’s been a while since we changed things up in our 12-ounce bottle offerings. Our loyal customers want something different and something new, and this is how we can provide that,” says Parker. “We’ve been evolving as a company, and we have some very loyal customers who have helped us expand our brewpubs.”
Speaking of brewpubs – back at the Mechanicsburg location I’m halfway done with my beer and getting hungry. The menu is the same at all the ABC locations. So, I instinctively order the fish and chips with barely a glance at the list of food.
ABC’s fish and chips are delicious, making use of their beer in the batter. (And for $1.50 more on Fridays, the fish and chips are all you can eat!)
Since the menu suggests pairing the dish with a Water Gap Wheat, I order one. I’m a sucker for good wheat beers.
I let my eyes wander around as I wait for my meal. Hanging from the tall ceilings are a number of international flags. Several panes of glass from the old dealership days have been replaced with stained glass depicting the ingredients used to make beer.
The crowd is mixed. Those who have just met the drinking age are interspersed between groups of middle-aged men, couples enjoying a date in their retirement and a solid after-work crowd. The staff is outgoing, chatty, and eager to make friends. When my fish and chips arrive I dive in, shut down from work mode and enjoy an evening at ABC Mechanicsburg.
• 6462 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg; 795-4660
• Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.-12 a.m