We visit Shot & Bottle in downtown Lancaster for a Manhattan made with only Pennsylvania-made spirits along with a modern take on a Pa. Dutch favorite York Daily Record
It’s a bit atypical to purchase a building with a nearly 12-foot wide hole in the middle of the second floor.
Then again, not many buildings used to house a near multi-story kettle either.
“People were drinking beer here before Lincoln was even voted into office,” Lebanon Valley Craft Brewery co-owner Kevin Booth said.
He’s not wrong. The brewery, which was formerly known as Lebanon Brewery, opened in 1856, five years before Honest Abe was sworn into office.
The brewery went through various name changes, including a rebranding as New Lebanon Brewing Co. in 1893. The brewery would cease operations during Prohibition and reopen as Lebanon Valley Brewing Company in 1934. The brewery has been out of operation since 1959.
Along with co-owners Henry Goodwin, Michael Osborne and David Koch, Booth plans to restore the brewery to its former glory and help rejuvenate downtown Lebanon as a destination in the process.
“What’s cooler than going to a craft brewery that actually was a brewery?” he said. “It is too cool (of a building) to let it go to ruin and fall by the wayside.”
The concept came about four years ago when Osborne met Booth and Koch during a Renaissance Faire. Osborne was working for Swashbuckler Brewing Co. at the time and Koch had a dilemma on his hands.
Koch and his wife had purchased the property in 2016 and were using the site as a storage-rental facility. The main building required a freight elevator for storage access to the upper floors, an investment Koch was unsure about making.
“Kevin said it was an old brewery, you ever think about putting a brewery in it again? That’s kind of how it all started,” Koch said.
Koch and Booth enlisted Osborne as brewmaster and Lebanon Valley Craft Brewery was born. The next step towards renovating the town’s namesake brewery began this summer.
In August, the team acquired a 20-barrel brew system from the now-closed 5 Season Brewery in Atlanta. The team plans on installing the system and having it ready for brewing and distribution within six months. A taproom and restaurant are expected to open later this year, according to co-owner and brewmaster Osborne.
Osborne is aiming to launch with five main staples, including a Dortmunder-style lager, an American pale ale, an Irish red ale, a stout and a Hefeweizen.
“I think it is something that can really spark some growth around here,” Osborne said. “We’re bringing Lebanon Valley back to this region.”
Today, the brewery’s campus consists of three buildings, including the main brewery, which housed the kettle in the building’s center tower. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, brewers would begin the fermentation process using gravity as their main aid.
Water and steam would be run up into the fourth floor of the tower as ingredients, and hops were added, the fermentation process would filter down each story, until the finished product worked its way into the main kettle. Later, barrels would be rolled down to the cellar for storage. Brewers even built a dam along the Brandywine Creek directly behind the brewery and chopped up pieces of ice to help improve refrigeration in the cellar, according to Koch.
The team is limiting the first phase of renovations and construction to the first and second floors of the main building. The next phase of construction will aim at expanding renovations throughout the building to improve guest accommodations including an event space and potential satellite bar on the third floor.
Later, the team plans on renovating the other two buildings on site, the former stable house and pour house, for additional outdoor and event space.
“We want people to say, we’ve been reading about you, we live in Jersey and we decided to come over for the day and see the town,” Booth said. “We want people to come here as a little bit of a weekend destination.”
Lebanon Valley Craft Brewery is located at 840 North 7th Street in Lebanon.
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