Across the county line: Dauphin

By on May 18, 2016
Beer connoisseur Michael Upton attended the Little Big Beer Fest at Appalachian Brewing Company’s Abbey Bar in Harrisburg on April 30.

Beer connoisseur Michael Upton attended the Little Big Beer Fest at Appalachian Brewing Company’s Abbey Bar in Harrisburg on April 30.


I crossed the county line looking for some big beers, and they were pretty easy to find. In Lancaster County we have our own Appalachian Brewing Company (in Lititz), but I had to head to Dauphin County to get to ABC’s Abbey Bar in Harrisburg. The upstairs function room/bar was home to the Little Big Beer Fest on April 30. The culminating event of Harrisburg Beer Week sold out two days prior, but I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the fest celebrating high ABV beers.

I immediately ran into my friends at Zero Day Brewing Co., who were there with their Critical Condition American Amber (8 percent ABV) and DeClawed Double IPA (11.4 percent ABV). DeClawed is brewed with six different hops, Columbus, Citra, El Dorado, Falconers Flight, Mosaic, and Wai-iti, an experimental hop from New Zealand. Cara cara navel and blood oranges add to the citrus complexity of this butt-kicking IPA. This is a treat for big IPA fans.

On the darker side of things, Harrisburg-based Boneshire Brew Works brought two hefty stouts. Lazaris is a Russian Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon barrels with cocoa nibs and coffee beans. Dark of the Forest is a barrel aged Russian Imperial Stout with just coffee. Both were great beers. I hadn’t heard of this brewery before; the startup became official only last year and brewers are still working on distribution and a tasting room scheduled to open on Derry Street before September.

The Brewery at Hershey represented Middletown with three different versions of their #2RyBrew Belgian Quad. Along with the original version of their Trappist-style ale the conglomerate brought one aged in a rye whiskey barrel and one allowed to ferment with cherries. The cherry version was my favorite, as the fruit added just a bit of sweetness to the big and bold beer.

Missing from the event was the Dauphin County farm brewery, Spring Gate. (Not to be confused with Spring House.) This place is definitely on my list of places to hit, as the brewery is located on a 250-year old homestead featuring an original log cabin and one room schoolhouse. I’ll be at St. Bonifest on June 4, but Spring Gate will celebrate its first anniversary with a grand party on the farm. The event will feature food from several vendors, including The Potato Coop (flavored fries and chicken tenders), Mel’s Rock N’ BBQ, and Lancaster Cupcake. Indian Summer Jars (contemporary American folk) will take the stage at 3 p.m., followed by the Shine Delphi Trio (New Orleans inspired folk-jazz) at 6:30 p.m.

In Dauphin County you can have your beer and eat it too thanks to Fudge-o-lutely. Jessica Kost sells beer fudge at her Broad Street Market location. After a sample, I had to bring home some of the Blueberry Lager fudge. For legal reasons she declined to tell me what beer she uses in her scrumptious treats; she’ll soon have an agreement with a number of brewers and will then release the info. Stay tuned …

Oh, and there’s a little brewery called Tröegs in Dauphin County, too. Maybe you heard of it. Up next in Hop’in Around, “Across the county line: York.”

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at and

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