Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Visit to Taproom Spring House

My wife and I finally had a free weekend and managed to combine it with a visit to the Spring House Brewing Company Taproom and the new Troegs brewery. I'm going to start with the Spring House taproom and make a post about the Troegs brewery in a few days. We've been trying to get out to Lancaster to visit Spring House for going on three months probably. I think we must have planned at least 2 or 3 other visits and had to cancel them all for one reason or another so lets just say I was excited.

I first learned about Spring House a few years ago, probably in August of 2009 or so, when I bought a case of their Kerplunk Chocolate Stout. Previous to this past Saturday, I had managed one visit out to the brewery which is actually a barn next to the brewer's (Matt Keasey) house but it must have been over two years ago at this point since I didn't write about it. I imagine if I had started the blog I would have written something. That visit was quite cool just because the brewery was so rustic. I mean it was in a barn, how much more rustic could it get? However Matt finally realized he needed to do something about the large number of people that were visiting the barn and parking on his tiny street and so he opened the Taproom to alleviate the crowds. I'm glad he did since it was quite impressive and well put together.

The first thing you notice when you walk in is the fantastic artwork lining the walls. It seems to be all from his beer labels (as far as I can tell) but integrated together into a seamless picture. Here's the Two Front Teeth artwork melded with what I think is the 7 Gates label.
Very clean and quite cool. On the left side of the back wall is their Planet Bean artwork.
I believe the coffee cup is either attacking or being attacked by the beer bottle. I really like that label just because it's crazy.

However, all the cool artwork in the world isn't going to save a taproom if the beer isn't up to snuff. I'm glad to say that Spring House didn't disappoint. Just like most other brewpubs and such, they offer a flight where you can choose 5 or 6 (it was slightly unclear) for $6.50 and then fill it out for $1 per extra beer. Of course, we ordered everything they had on draft because that's how we roll. Here are the beers that were on tap this past Saturday.
The samples were set out in the order of the above board so I went ahead and worked my way through them in that direction. Sometimes I'll do light to dark but didn't feel like it this time.

I was excited to see the Kerplunk still available since it meant I could compare it to the '09 I drank the previous night. Basically, it was way more full in every aspect fresh compared to the aged version and I don't think it gained much of anything from aging. I'm not disappointed since I wasn't aging it on purpose but it's good to know I should drink the last bottle soon. Big chocolate nose, slightly stronger than aged. Thicker body. More chocolate flavor started things off with a more full middle and a chocolate finish. Some bitterness in the middle is the only thing the aging smoothed out but compared to the loss of the chocolate flavor, it wasn't a good trade off.

Next was the Blacker Cracker, a black ipa. Some citrus in the nose with tiny hints of roast. Not bitter at first but it grew stronger as I drank more. Some citrus in the body with a little roast followed by some unfortunate cardboard notes. Not sure what was going on with this one but it didn't do it for me.

After that was the Diabolical Dr. Wit. The nose reminded me of perfume with Jo likening it to really nice soap. Flavors followed almost exactly with it tasting basically like potpourri. Weird beer but I could totally see where they were trying to go and I imagine there are people out there that would like it.

For a quick break from my yammering, here's a picture of the flight minus the Kerplunk which I seemed to have missed. Oh well.
Next were two versions of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout, one on nitro and one not. Both had a nice peanut butter nose with some chocolate though the non-nitro version was stronger. Nitro had a creamier but thinner body than the normal. Similarly, the nitro flavors had less peanut butter and chocolate but everything was smoothed out a bit. The peanut flavor lingered in both with a slightly bitter finish. Really unique and tasty beer with a lot of peanut and chocolate flavor. While it didn't quite match up to eating a peanut butter cup, it was pretty close and that's really impressive. I much preferred the non-nitro version but that's often the case with me. I just think everything about a beer is brighter when not on nitro with only the small gain being a creamier body. The bartender said people usually prefer nitro beers so it's really just me being weird again.

Next was the Wet Paint Guava Ale, the brown one three from the end in the above picture. Smelled nice and fruity, very clean nose. Tons of guava followed with a tiny bit of bitterness. Really enjoyable though I'm curious if a full glass would be as pleasant to drink as the small sample or if the fruit would become too much. Hard to say but lets be positive and assume it would be.

Second to last was the 7 Gates Pale Ale, Jo's favorite. Light citrus nose. The same slight citrus followed by with a very nice malty sweetness and some bitterness keeping it from being too sweet. Really well put together. We actually got a growler of this since both of really enjoyed it.
Now you know I wasn't lying. Because I could have been but here's proof. I don't know why I'd lie about it but you never know.

Last was the Hoppy Belgian Wit. Smelled like a wit and tasted like a wit which is good since it was called a wit but it didn't do much for me. To be fair, most wits don't do it for me so it's not like this one did anything wrong. Just not my type of beer.

So that was the flight. Some weren't as good as others but I could still tell they were made well. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout was probably my favorite just because it had a lot going on with it but the 7 Gates was quite good as well. I ended up getting a glass of the Peanut Butter Stout as my only full beer and a full glass held up quite well compared to the sample.
I'll say the peanut butter flavor is more peanuty than peanut buttery but it was still quite tasty.

If it weren't an hour and a half from Philly, I'd recommend this place without hesitation. The beers were quite good, I felt there is a decent amount of variation in styles, and the environment was great. Jo and I both really liked the bar along with the rest of the place. Just a nice, comfortable place to hang out and enjoy some good beer. Every time we go somewhere like this we wish some place like it existed in our neighborhood. Nodding Head is close and I hope Tired Hands fills the rest of the void, but they still aren't just around the corner from our house. Still, if we're ever in the area, we'll definitely return for a second visit. Look for a quick write up on the new Troegs place in the next few days. Lets just say it's the opposite of this place and absolutely massive compared to the old Troegs.


  1. Rest assured. The guava ale at the spring house taproom is even better when ordered by the pint... For me, that is my session beer of choice.

  2. Well that's good to know. We both quite liked it.