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History:

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant opened its first location in Newark, Pennsylvania in 1996 with a team of two award-winning homebrewers and an experienced restaurant professional. Since 1996, they added six more locations in Pennsylvania and Delaware with plans for more. They are among the top 100 brewers in the United States according to RateBeer.com with numerous awards at the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup, and more. Since opening, they have continuously been recognized for both their business practices and quality beer. I went there on August 8th with Maggie, who had heard very good things about the brew-pub.

Beer:

During the summer, Iron Hill offers a “salute to wheat beers.” They have anywhere from 6 to 8 seasonal Weisse beers on tap! These beers are in additional to the 6 house beers that are usually on tap.

I was a bit overwhelmed with the selection, but lucky for me, their cask-conditioned scotch ale called Braveheart (pictured above, right) was just put back on tap–a no brainer. The Braveheart is described as a “Strong Scotch ale, big malty-sweet and complex beer brewed with a Belgian yeast strain to give it a distinct fruity characer,” with OG: 1095, Color: 15, IBU: 30, Alc by Vol: 9.5%. The Braveheart had an extremely full mouthfeel, extremely creamy, and very different from any scotch ale I had tried before, likely attributed to the cask-conditioning–I liked it a lot.

Maggie’s first beer was their rendition of the Belgian Wit (pictured above, left), described as “an Unfiltered Belgian-style wheat beer. Pale in color and light-bodied yet very complex. A distinct yeast and the use of spices give it a fruity citrus flavor that is very refreshing,” with 4.4% Alc by Vol. It had a very floral lemony taste that was very light an refreshing. She really liked it and I imagine it would taste great with seafood, but it didn’t quite last till then.

I wanted to get a taste for their standard house beers (though that decision was tough given all the great Weisse beers), so I tried their Vienna Red Lager. This lager is described as “an amber Austrian lager has a distinct bready malt aroma and flavor, followed by a crisp, clean finish typical of lager styles. The nose also shows plenty of the spicy hop aroma contributed by the use of Saaz hops,” with OG: 1.054, Color: 13, IBU: 25, Alc by Vol: 5.0%. It poured a copper color and has a very slight hoppy aftertaste. It was a little better than your average lager, but I wasn’t blown away by it.

Maggie’s second beer was another seasonal Weisse, the Munich Helles described as “German-style pale lager, AKA “Lodestone Lager”, is a malt-accented beer with a touch of spicy hop aroma, and a crisp, clean finish,” with OG: 1046, Color: 4.5, IBU: 25, Alc by Vol: 5.0%. Maggie said it had a nice full pleasant taste, but probably preferred the first beer more.

Given the relatively numerous Iron Hill Brewery locations, it was clearly evident they have not lost focus on producing quality beer, even at their newest location in Lancaster.

Food:

Iron Hill Brewery is the first brewpub I’ve been to where I’ve seen people order just food and not beer; the food was excellent. The menu was very extensive, ranging from $10 burgers to very nice seafood dinners. I was originally going to get pizza, but Maggie talked me into the pan-seared shrimp and scallops, which came in crabmeat, asparagus, leek and tomato fricassee in napa valley chardonnay cream. I’m glad she talked me into it. It was so good that I’d be tempted to order it again if I went back, but my opinion might have been tainted by the Braveheart I’d had earlier.

Maggie had the Summer Traditional New England Lobster Bake special, which came with 1 and 1/4 pound steamed lobster, littleneck clams, Prince Edward Island mussels, corn on the cob, fingerling potatoes, and drawn butter and lobster broth. While she enjoyed it, she didn’t think it was particularly spectacular.

Atmosphere / Service:

Iron Hill Brewery in Lancaster is located across the street from Franklin and Marshall College. Inside, the brewery is very large with lots of tables, fairly close together. I called for a reservation around 4:00 PM on a Friday and no reservations were available. I was told to call back a half hour before I got there for call-ahead seating. I called around 6:00 PM for a 6:30 PM arrival and was seated within 10 minutes from arriving–not bad. They also offer walk-in seating, but I imagine that’d be a significant longer wait time. Inside, it was a very comfortable well-lit restaurant.

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We were both kind of taken by surprise when the manager offered us another round of drinks on the house after he brought out our food. He apologized for our food taking so long to come out, however, we barely even noticed the half hour wait time. Regardless, we opted to have our previously round credited, as we were already on our second round and had to drive home. It was a nice treat. As a new location across from a college, I’m sure they were trying to “spread the word” to the college community.

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed our trip to Iron Hill Brewery; it’s definitely a brewery worth visiting. I would’ve given anything for a brewery like Iron Hill across the street when I was getting my undergrad. Both their beer and their food are excellent. I look forward to going to back to the brewery any (and every) time I visit the area.

Rating – 4/5  rating

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4 Responses to “Brewery Review: Iron Hill Brewery (Lancaster)”  

  1. 1 Sheryl

    Ooooh I like the new rating system.

  2. 2 Adam Pitel

    Glad you like it.

  3. 3 Grant Pitel

    Wow, 9.5%!? Talk about a good buzz.

  4. 4 Adam Pitel

    If you think that’s a lot, you should check out the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA: 20% alc. http://www.dogfish.com/brewings/Occasional_Rarities/120_Minute_IPA/15/index.htm
    I shared that one among four people–it smells like spiced rum.

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