As more local breweries bubble up in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region and beyond, I continue to admire how many of them re-purpose historic or outdated buildings for their fermentation tanks, pubs and serving areas like Saucony Creek Brewery.
Saucony Creek, a brewery and gastro pub just southwest of Kutztown at 15032 Kutztown Road, Maxatawny Township, that serves up creative and traditional, and always quenching brews, might have outdone them all by converting a former Chevy dealership and showroom into its brewery, dining, and sales area.
We’ve been here many times, by ourselves and with friends, to enjoy the products pouring from their growing inventory of taps and the consistent top quality, locally sourced selections from the beyond pretzel and burger menu. From the Amish-made table tops, you can take in a sweeping view of the surrounding countryside from what had been the Chevy showroom and onto the colorful tap handles at the bar.
On our most recent visit, we shared the kale Caesar salad with cornbread croutons, deviled eggs, Korean short rib tacos, and crab and bacon flatbread topped with spinach, grape tomatoes, a lemon vinaigrette which balanced the sweet crab meat, topped with a white sauce and melted mozzarella.
Before the food arrived, we ordered a flight of the pilsner, raspberry lager, cucumber Kolsch and the wonderfully tart, puckery sea salt lime sour. Tough decisions as we worked our way through the row, but my wife ultimately chose the cucumber Kolsch, which went nicely with the tacos, and I turned to my standby favorite, the Hexerei witbier, one of Saucony Creek’s flagship brews.
There’s a lot going on at Saucony Creek, including the addition of a beer garden-style patio (watch for its grand opening later this summer) with live plants and ship sail-style canopies instead of traditional market umbrellas, and its planned restaurant and taproom in the historic Franklin Street Station in downtown Reading.
Ian Scott, gastropub manager, pulled up a chair to chat about Saucony Creek, which opened just over five years ago, and tell us what makes it special. It all started when owners Matt Lindenmuth, Kirby Powell, and Rob Kline, all from Berks County, met and bonded over a shared love of beer, found the vacant property and went to work.
“It’s a big spot, but we’re growing into it,” said Scott, noting that Saucony Creek produced nearly 3,000 barrels of beer last year. “The owners said they would go big for the long term to avoid having to move and losing clientele and the fan base.” In addition to its Hexerei, Saucony Creek’s flagship beers are the Stonefly India pale ale, Kutztown lager, Hop Suplex ale, a double IPA, and, back from a brief retirement, the session IPA. There’s usually a batch of local farm-to-keg beer on draft at harvest time. Customers get to experience three new brews this summer, including a new England-style IPA and whatever creative inspirations come from brew master Nick Micio, whom the staff accepts as a Berks County-ite even though he hails from Orefield.
From executive chef Alice Schneck’s kitchen, Saucony Creek presents a sophisticated menu inspired by locally sourced ingredients. “The owners love good quality beer and what a pub should be, a place to just hang out with really good food,” Scott says. “A lot of breweries focus on the beer, and that’s fine, but we want really good food, not just a bag of chips and a choice of cheese sauce. You get bored with that after awhile. You want to step it up and compete with other restaurants by giving people want they want.”
It doesn’t stop with the beer and food. Saucony Creek also serves local wine and spirits and hosts events — yoga and beer the third Saturday of the month, live music every other week and trivia every Tuesday night.
An employee for four years, Scott, who’s been in the food and beverage business his whole career, started showing up at Saucony Creek on his days off to pitch in (for beer) where needed. The vibe eventually brought him there permanently. “The owners don’t work here—they all have other careers, but they created jobs for us. It’s really awesome,” he says. “This is their baby, but they trust their baby to us. Even though we don’t own it, we feel that it is ours.” “It’s cool to be part of something like that and deal with local farmers and a Berks County staff to focus on the whole atmosphere of craft beer,” Scott says.
Saucony Creek is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; there’s a happy hour Tuesday-Friday from 4-6 p.m. For more information, visit http://sauconybeer.com.
Blog by Bryan Hay.