Take a look inside Hanover’s newest brewery.
I stand in front of a building near the center of Hanover, peering in through the series of wall-sized windows at a place made for pouring pints. It’s early February – just weeks before the planned grand opening of Miscreation Brewing Co.’s brewpub – and I’m lucky enough to be here for a beer preview.
The door pushes open, and the delectable aroma of boiling hops – brewer’s cologne, I call it – greets me, along with the brewery co-owners. Mark Mathias (general business manager), Brent Stambaugh (brewmaster) and his brother Jason Stambaugh (sales and marketing) shake my hand, and Mathias takes me on a quick tour.
He shows off the subdued décor, with a painted red brick wall running the length of the room on one side and featuring the Miscreation logo in white – airbrushed by a local tattoo artist. The remaining two-story interior is a well-lit inky black and charcoal gray that allows the vibrant green of their triple-hop logo to pop when looking in from outside. The large room features an open second floor loft with central staircase and an eight-tap bar as well as a few cozy seating spaces among a series of black top tables and metal chairs.
The spot Mathias is most proud of – and easily the most striking feature of the brewpub – is one that already has people buzzing. A nationally known local artist, Rich Moorhead, created a functional art installation in the form of a high-backed bench made from the pieces of 89 recycled skateboards. Situated directly in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows that look out across the square, it’s easily the best seat in the house.
The tour concludes, and I sit down with these three Hanover locals to sample their beers and discuss Miscreation’s past and future. As they tell it, the decision to call their brewery Miscreation came with some hesitation. Worries over negative connotations ultimately gave way, and they embraced the term as the perfect way to describe their approach to the art of brewing. For them, a “miscreation” is a beer brewed with creative risk that can result in something fantastic and unexpected.
I get my first taste of Miscreation when Mathias pours their Reckless IPA. This beer has the caramel malt backbone of a Märzen, with a spicy hop presence and a lingering finish that is bitter and a little toasty. I pick up another flavor that I peg as some form of spice, but Brent wasn’t about to spoil the secret.
I inquire about the name, Reckless, and get a chuckle from the three of them. As Mathias and Jason tell it, the Reckless name came from an attempt to assemble a kegerator after downing a few pints of this deceptively drinkable IPA (it comes in at just over 9 percent ABV). Clamps weren’t properly secured, a line exploded off a keg, beer was wasted and a name was born.
We shift from the IPA to what Jason considers their signature beer – Frank’n Stout. It’s a light-bodied, coffee-centric stout with a touch of jalapeño heat that proved to be their most popular festival beer, even developing what they refer to as “brewpies” (think groupies, but for beer).
I bring the shaker pint to my nose and inhale the dominant roast coffee bitterness and peppery kick. A sip finds some malt sweetness mixed with plum/raisin, a seltzery middle and a whisper of heat on the finish. Overall, the flavor lacked the bite promised by the aroma, but Brent assured me that he wants to dial up the jalapeño. I think more aggressive heat will really give this beer an assertive character that could make it a favorite with their patrons.
These are the only beers they have on tap, but Brent is kind enough to show me the brewing operation and sample a few beers straight from the fermenting barrels – meaning noncarbonated and not quite ready for prime time.
I take special note of Spweach Impwediment – a peach beer that sets up camp in tangy country, just north of the sour border – and Illumination – a Belgian wit with a bready wheat body that gets its flavor and aroma from blueberries and a tart note (along with its red color) from cranberries.
We continue to try beers and discuss their plans for opening. They want at least five or six taps in full-time use. The regular lineup should include two IPAs, a stout and a pale ale, in addition to a tap for three rotating seasonal fruit beers. A pumpkin, barleywine and whatever special offerings they have will be tapped as they are available.
Beyond just beer, Miscreation offers a small assortment of wines from local PA vineyards, and paninis, wraps and finger foods. They’re having early discussions with local bakeries about using their spent grain for breads and other baked concoctions, but they don’t have firm information on that yet.
We finish the sampling and start to wrap up the evening. I ask them about their philosophy as a brewery, and Jason responds: “Cool flavors to try, a great space to enjoy them, and make a beer for everyone. That’s what Miscreation is to us.”
It’s that philosophy that won them fans at numerous brew fest tastings over the two years since they started as Miscreation Brewing, and it’s that same philosophy that has led them to the verge of opening a brewpub in the center of Hanover. Even though Miscreation is not quite ready to open its doors, I think Hanover is ready for it.
• 6 Center Square, Hanover: 698-3666
• Thursday 5-11 p.m., Friday & Saturday 11:30 a.m.-12 a.m.