Black Cap Brewing Company in Red Lion is a small operation with high-quality beer
If you go
Address: 5 W. High St., Red Lion
Hours: Thursdays 4-9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 3-10 p.m.
The Pennsylvania craft beer industry is booming, with the Keystone State ranking 2nd nationally in craft beer output at 1.8 million barrels per year.
York County is home to nearly a dozen of these breweries, from Liquid Hero and Mudhook in York to newer players such as Wyndridge Farms in Dallastown.
Now, Red Lion has joined the party, with Black Cap Brewing Company run by Greg Bentley and Jim Waller.
It's a small operation, and they like it that way. They focus on high-quality renderings of well-established beer styles, served up with bistro food in a convivial pub atmosphere.
Three stainless steel, 31 gallon barrels are the center of the beer making process. The brewery is custom designed, with independent temperature controls and kegs on hand for storing the beer after it's fermented.
Waller and Bentley brew one to two times a week, and each batch ferments for about two weeks.
With an output of about 20 barrels a month, Waller said his goal is just to provide enough beer for the pub.
"We've got our hands full doing that now," he said. "Our license allows us to self distribute. Our goal really is to create a solid experience at the pub and always have good beers on tap."
Waller said there are 40-some styles of beer in existence. He said he gets most excited about masterfully brewing a traditional beer, following brewing competition guidelines.
The pub has seven taps, and Waller said they like to have one really "approachable" beer, such as the cream ale, on tap, along with a hoppy beer, dark beer and a wheat beer. The other three taps are for more exotic tastes such as Belgian ale, roggenbier, dunkelweizen and saison.
Along with the cream ale, the Indian Pale Ale is their top seller – no surprise, since hoppy beers dominate craft beer sales.
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Finding your beer
Waller said he enjoys talking beer with people and suggesting new beers based upon what they already like.
For those new to craft beer, who might be accustomed to drinking common domestic beers like Coors and Bud Lite, Waller recommends trying the cream ale. Although the ale is technically similar in style to the big domestic brands, he said his ale has a lot more malt in it than those beers, leading to more flavor, body and a higher alcohol content.
For those who want an adventurous beer with hints of citrus and spice, he suggests the Saison de gui.
And for those who want to try a dark beer, Waller said the General Gates Porter has been surprisingly popular, the third most purchased beer he has on tap.
Waller isn't in a rush to expand the operation or distribution.
"All along our goal was to create a community pub for people to come out and enjoy a couple beers and some food," he said. "When people sit down at the bar who don't know each other and end up leaving as friends, that's what a community pub is all about."
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