With Lancaster County positioned just above the Mason-Dixon line, it’s no surprise that the love of barbecue has migrated north to become a local tradition.
At Manheim’s Divine Swine In-Out BBQ, you will find all the greatest hits of a traditional Southern barbecue joint on the menu. You’ll also find a selection of craft beer brewed on the premises and wines produced by Mount Hope Estate & Winery, which sits directly across the street from the restaurant on Route 72.
Owned and operated by Scott and Heather Bowser, who have owned the PA Renaissance Faire and Mount Hope since 2005, Divine Swine opened its doors in December in what used to be the Hitz Farm Market.
The country barn-style building houses its own microbrewery – Divine Swine Brewing Company – and offers take-out and dine-in service with plans to offer catering in the near future.
The renovated dining space features two floors of seating for just under 100 people. On the first floor are high top tables and stools and a 10-seat bar. More tables, booths and a kid’s corner are on the second floor. There’s outdoor seating on the homey front porch for the warmer months with plans to open a deck accommodating 50 more barbecue lovers this summer.
The décor is an eclectic mix of farm-inspired furnishings, including blonde butcher block table tops, red metal stools and sheets of silver corrugated metal lining the bar. Behind the counter is a colorful patchwork of old wooden doors turned every which way along the walls to create visual interest.
And the food?
“The recipes were created by both the owners and the Divine Swine staff,” says operations director Candace Smith.
Smith says that since starting out with a simple offset smoker in 2004, smoked meats have become a popular menu item at the Renaissance Faire. A collection of smokers capable of smoking 1,500 pounds of meat per day have accumulated at the Faire. Smith says that the Bowsers both have extensive experience in food preparation and service and wanted to elevate food offerings beyond theme park concessions.
At Divine Swine, your mood will indeed be elevated by the heavenly flavors of pork and brisket roasted low and slow for up to 12 hours in an Ole Hickory Smoker, utilizing apple and hickory wood. The restaurant can cook upwards of 250 pounds of pork, brisket, chicken and ribs, and typically goes through 100 pounds in a day – sometimes selling out.
“As is the barbecue tradition, once the product – which has been freshly prepared for the day – is consumed, it is sold out for that particular day,” Smith says.
The menu features St. Louis-style spare ribs (available in full or half-rack) and beef brisket dry-rubbed and smoked for hours. Also featured is pulled pork slow-cooked until tender and then shredded, along with beer chicken and a spicy smoked pork and beef Cajun sausage.
To dress the meat, Divine Swine offers a mustard sauce and three barbecue sauces – Carolina, spicy bourbon and sweet.
The barbecue can be served as a sandwich ranging from $8-$10 or as a bun-free entrée ranging from $10-$24. Sandwiches are served on a brioche roll or Texas toast and include the signature butter pickle chips and a side. An entrée includes a slice of Texas toast, pickle chips and two sides.
Sides include comfort food staples like hush puppies with dipping sauce, coleslaw and baked beans. Starters include french fries served in a variety of ways, such as the mouth-watering brisket poutine – fries topped with beef brisket, cheese curds and beer gravy.
Chili is served with a delectable corn pudding. Fresh salads are available without meat or topped with sliced chicken or brisket and fries.
There’s also a kid’s menu offering favorites like mac & cheese, a grilled cheese sandwich and hot dogs. Take the little ones upstairs to the designated kid’s corner – complete with blackboard walls and a miniature table and chairs – and they’ll be drawing pictures of pigs in no time.
Portions are satisfying, but not out of control. So you might have room for dessert – like the Southern banana pudding or cherry bourbon brownie.
One of the best things about Divine Swine is its drink selection. I don’t know of many barbecue joints offering wine outside of the Napa Valley, but Mount Hope is making sure you can taste what’s for sale just across the street at its gift shop. A glass ranges from $5-$7.50.
On tap is an ever-changing list of beers including an American pale ale, gold, amber and stout. Seasonal beers are also available, including an Amarillo Red Ale and Hefeweizen brewed on-site. All beer is $5 a glass.
I sampled the dark stout and Irish red ale. Both paired nicely with the pulled pork, brisket and those delightful hush puppies, which taste amazing when dipped in either the sweet or spicy bourbon barbecue sauces (or both).
With the influx of seasonal traffic the PA Renaissance Faire brings throughout the year, Divine Swine In-Out BBQ is set to reap the benefits and serve as the area’s year-round hub for the growing microbrew and barbecue-loving public.
“We hope to stay true to genuine barbecue – simple, traditional and honest,” Smith says.
• 2684 Lebanon Road, Manheim
• (717) 879-9494
• Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.