Mount Gretna Craft Brewery targets late April opening in South Londonderry
After about three years in the works, Lebanon County's third craft brewery is finally expected to open in late April or early May.
The Mount Gretna Craft Brewery and neighboring Red Canoe General Store will open at the site of the former Furnace Hill Antiques store at the corner of routes 322 and 117, a site in South Londonderry Township commonly known as Leed's Corner.
"It's a welcome relief and there is such a rush here. We see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Brad Kleinfelter, who is opening the business with his wife, Allison, and business partner Todd Holsopple.
The brewery was originally slated for two other properties in South Londonderry Township, but one sale fell through and the other was scrapped after a zoning variance request was denied.
Kleinfelter, who will be the brewmaster, said his goal for the property at 2701 Horseshoe Pike, which gets significant daily traffic, is to create a lifestyle hub for the area. The brewpub and and general store building, which is about 6,500 square feet, will also be joined by a bicycle shop. There also are plans to convert a rear garage into a yoga studio.
"It's a place where not just a craft beer enthusiast can go, but be a place for families," Kleinfelter said.
Adopting a tagline of "rustically refined," the brewery owners want to draw from the nostalgia and rustic charm of Mount Gretna, he said, from the old architecture, laid-back atmosphere and community camaraderie. The owners want to create a venue where people can come and hang out as if they were on the front porches of their homes with friends and neighbors.
Two older houses on the property were razed to make room for more parking on the site. This week's blizzard delayed some of the parking improvements, which might also delay the opening.
The plan for the brewery early on will be to serve three flagship beers — a light pale ale, a brown ale and an India pale ale. As Mount Gretna builds up its beer inventory and adjusts to early business, Kleinfelter said he expects about 10 varieties will be on the menu year-round.
He hopes to eventually distribute beer to other establishments in the area, but said there is no rush.
The facility also will serve Pennsylvania-made wines and use local spirits in its small craft cocktail menu. Mount Gretna has partnered with Waltz Vineyards in Lancaster County and Hidden Still Spirits in Lebanon County.
"Over time, I'm sure others will be added," Kleinfelter said.
The food menu will complement the beer. There will be gourmet pizzas, burgers and sandwiches, soups and salads, and a lot of charcuterie. He expects about 15 items on the early menu, with weekend and seasonal specials.
The general store will open at 7 a.m. every day, while the brewpub will open at 11 a.m. The facility will stay open until about 10 p.m., with the possibility of extended hours on Friday and Saturday.
Mount Gretna will join Snitz Creek Brewery, which opened in Lebanon in early 2014, and the Rotunda Brewing Co., which is connected to the Batdorf Restaurant in Annville, as the only breweries in Lebanon County.
Overall, Central Pennsylvania continues to be a hotbed for craft breweries. There are now dozens in the region, including many that have opened in the last three years in nearly every county.
"I'm not overly concerned (about having too many)," Kleinfelter said. "Around here, we have a good variety of breweries. I still think there are a lot of legs to it."
McCabe's Construction LLC, located in the Manheim area, is the contractor for the brewpub and general store project. Yingst Engineers & Associates, located near Middletown, designed the building.