Black Forest Brewery opens

By on January 6, 2015

There’s a new brew in town.

Actually there are five new brews in town.

While I was busy getting “canned” at St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company for their six pack release, a new brewery in Ephrata was opening its doors at the exact same time. Black Forest Brewery opened for business on Dec. 12 and a week later, when I visited, customers were still streaming in to try offerings from Lancaster County’s newest beer maker.

The legendary 1777 House in Ephrata has entered a new chapter as the Black Forest Brewery, a gathering place for craft beer fans. (Photos by Michael Upton)

The legendary 1777 House in Ephrata has entered a new chapter
as the Black Forest Brewery, a gathering place for craft beer
fans. (Photos by Michael Upton)

Black Forest Brewery is the work of Denise and Robert Harter — owners of the 1777 Americana Inn Bed and Breakfast — which started as a simple homebrew project. The idea of brewing his own beer came to Harter as he was hiking the Black Forest trail in northern PA with his sons, thus the name. After some trial and error on a small scale, Harter now produces five recipes of what he terms “true tavern ales.” So, I ordered a flight to get a taste of all the beers available. (5 O’clock Heffy hefeweizen was not available during my visit; the first batch was tapped for customers on Dec. 26.)

First off was the Americana Pale Ale, the flagship brew of Black Forest. Named after the inn, Americana looks like a straightforward pale ale, but carries a heavier hop infusion than most other pale ales. It is golden-colored and just a wee bit sour; a low alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage makes this brew a favorite choice for many.

Black Forest’s India Pale Ale offering is a mouthful of hop explosions. Balanced by a hefty grain bill and infused with a signature blend of hops, 42nd Mile IPA will please the hop head in any crew. I’m not a huge IPA fan — I can tolerate some and there are a few I love —

so any endorsement for this brew should come from the one who currently holds a pint of the flaxen-colored ale. The mileage in the name refers back to the brewery’s namesake, the Black Forest trail, which is a circuitous 42-mile loop stretching through Potter and Lycoming counties.

Moving away from hop-heavy varieties, the next beer on the flight was the Whistle Stop Amber Ale. I really liked this beer. Copper colored with a thick, rich head, Whistle Stop is the classic example of a refined amber ale. Slightly bitter and full flavored, this would be my favorite beer at Black Forest if it wasn’t for their Shreck Tavern Stout. Nearly black in color, the Shreck Tavern Stout is a definitive stout in the tradition of this timeless brew. This is a beer, with a relatively low ABV, that I could drink several of in a sitting.

Not sure what to get? Try a Black Forest sampler.

Not sure what to get? Try a Black Forest sampler.

I agree with Harter’s description of his beers as tavern ales. They are drinkable and mild and none are over the top with uncharacteristic flavors. You won’t find a beer here with so much hopiness that would melt your tongue off, nor any beers with wild ingredients. Pints and flights are $5 in the tasting room at 301 W. Main St., Ephrata, and growler fills are $17. (Due to high demand and low stock, Black Forest is currently limiting growler fills of the 5 O’clock Heffy and the Americana Pale Ale.) Cheers!

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at somepromcu@gmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

The newest brewery in Lancaster County is the Black Forest, which recently opened at 301 W. Main St., Ephrata. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

The newest brewery in Lancaster County is the Black Forest, which
recently opened at 301 W. Main St., Ephrata. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

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