Take Me to Funk E-Town

After talking with Funk Brewing Company co-owner Jon “Norm” Norman a couple times over the phone, he invited me to check out the Emmaus-based brewery’s second location. His crew was putting the finishing touches on the new Funk taproom in the space of the former Elizabethtown Hotel at 28 S. Market St. It was a Thursday afternoon in November and he planned to open the doors the next day. Things, by all means, were hectic. He was putting together a bar stool and said their last inspection prior to opening was going down in an hour. The inspector, in fact, got there early. I took a seat in a corner booth, well out of the way, and just watched things happen.

All the preparations needed to make the bar entirely functional were in full swing. Contractors were pulling protective paper off the newly stained floor. Windows were cleaned spotlessly. Last minute accoutrements hit the walls. Speaking of walls, they contrast from the original rock wall of the older building into a custom accent wall derived from the brewery’s packaging design. Wood mixes with metal all around.funks-pint-inset-1215

“We wanted to highlight part of Lancaster County and E-Town, but then we also wanted to bring some of our home base feel with us—that place is a production facility so it is a way different vibe,” says Norman.

The crew adjusted lighting and positioned two-person high-tops. Music and the swoosh of rushing workers filled the space, which is separated in two—bar side, seating side—by a half wall made of recycled pallets. The taps worked. I was happy. I later met the manager of the new digs, Ryan Mock.

“I feel like it’s the last day and we’re on Bar Rescue,” says Mock.

There’s no need for John Tapper to show up around here. Funk Brewing Company has a vision and a plan—to bring well-made beer to an area appreciative of such
a product. Norm knows. He’s an E-Town resident.

“The reason we are opening here is not only because I live in E-Town,” admits Norman. “E-Town has a cool feel. The feel of the downtown is really cool and people are really excited to support new things. The downtown is on the tip of what could be something really awesome.”

By awesomeness he means beer. In just over a year, the area has now seen the opening of three breweries. Cox Brewing Company opened just outside of town
in April and Moo-Duck Brewery celebrated their one-year anniversary just a week before Funk Brewing Co. opened.

“E-Town could be the next craft brew Mecca,” says Norman. “We’re gonna have three craft breweries in little old E-Town. A lot of people think that’s pretty neat.”

And Norm is prepared for “a lot of people.” For the opening he staged 61 kegs of beer. The tap room will pour all four of the Funk flagship brews: Citrus IPA, which is also available in canned six-packs; Efflorescence, a Belgian saison with hibiscus flowers; Fuego, a farmhouse-style pale ale; and South Mountain Stout, an imperial stout conditioned with blackberries, but not overwhelmingly sweet. Several seasonal varieties will also be available.

funks-growler-inset-1215During my visit, I got a sneak peek at White Christmas, a Belgian white brewed with Sauvignon Blanc musk from Hauser Estate Winery in Biglerville. It’s awesome. The beer begins with notes from the grapes and transforms as it warms presenting subtle (nowhere near overwhelming) hints of spice reminiscent of holiday brews; the difference there are no spices – the flavors are created with a unique yeast strain and French oak spirals. Other seasonal offerings include a double IPA in the spring and a pumpkin-less Belgian in the fall.  Norman is still waiting for the engine for cask conditioned beers, but the tap room will soon feature the same creative styles found at the Emmaus location, like their firkin of Efflorescence supplemented with blueberries. Eventually, the tap room will pour one-off beers, which can only found in the  E-Town location.

The Emmaus location is a large brewing facility, pumping out 150 to 200 kegs per month with a 15 bbl system. Ultimately, some brewing will take place in E-Town and Mock will take over as local brewmaster. Expect the first brewing to happen at the E-Town Funk later this month or early January. Mock spent several weeks before the E-Town opening following the Funk formula in Emmaus, but he’s been an avid homebrewer for years. Until hops meet water here, Mock will oversee general management.

Fresh Café, who joined forces with the Pita Pit (also located at 28 S. Market St.) in August 2014, will run a separate, original menu for hungry visitors. The
menu includes Sturgis pretzels, Gene Wenger’s Ham Loaf (as a meatball
appetizer and a panini), and bologna from Baum’s.

“We will use quality, local ingredients,” says Norman. “We’re going to have some really cool appetizers, salads, paninis, and wraps.”

The bar has three televisions, but doesn’t have a sports bar feel at all and seats approximately 60 people. I spent about an hour watching, talking and tasting, and figured I should get out of the way. Planning for the opening was fully underway; a massive training event was scheduled for the evening. Just as I stood to leave a passerby opened the door and popped his head in and asked, “Are you open yet?”
He couldn’t wait. People are thirsty in E-Town.

Bring on the Funk.


Funk Brewing Company Tap Room
28 S. Market St., Elizabethtown
Wednesday and Thursday 3–10 p.m.; Friday 3–12 a.m.; Saturday noon–12 a.m.; Sunday noon– 8 p.m.


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Posted in Drink – Harrisburg, Drink – Lancaster, The Bar Scene

Michael C. Upton works as a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure covering subjects ranging from funk punk to fine wine. He graduated with a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Maine at Farmington and is actively published by trade journals, specialized websites, and regional and national magazines. Upton lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania—in the heart of Amish Country—with his wife and two youngest children.

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