York County’s Good Libations Trails Bring Together Wine, Beer and SpiritsJul 31, 2017 08:30PM ● By Vanessa Orr
The Arrow Matic Amber IPA is one of Aldus Brewing's flagship beers.
One of the complaints that I’ve often heard while wandering wine trails (and seriously—you don’t hear a lot of griping from those happily imbibing) is that not everyone wants to drink wine. Some people prefer beer or spirits—which is why York County, PA decided to create the Good Libations Trails.
There’s a little something for everyone in this combination of trails and tourist destinations. The Mason-Dixon Wine Trail features 16 family-owned wineries in central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland; the Susquehanna Ale Trail highlights 10 breweries in and around York, and the brand-new Keystone Craft Spirits Trail provides access to York County’s first distillery since Prohibition.
In the interest of research, I spent a weekend in York County visiting some of the stops along the Good Libations Trails. While in beer mode, I stopped in at Aldus Brewing in Hanover, which was named after Aldus Manutius, the creator of italic type who made inexpensive books available to the masses. The brewery’s goal is to make craft beers accessible to everyone, which they do through their flagship beers, an American Blonde Ale, the Arrow Matic Amber IPA and a Scottish Wee-Heavy that they say they can’t stop brewing for fear that they would have a mutiny on their hands. My personal favorite was the Black Rose Broyhan, based on a ‘forgotten’ recipe that hadn’t been used in 400 years; all I can say is that it was definitely worth the wait.
Another unique stop is Center Square Brewing in The Altland House in Abbottstown. Staffed by Sarah Kovach, the only female brewer in Adams County, it’s a place where you can not only get tasty craft beers, but homemade root beer, which you can then mix with a vanilla vodka shot for a spiked root beer float (her idea, not mine!) Kovach follows standard recipes as well as creates her own inventions, including a sunflower wheat that requires 50 pounds of seeds and disappears almost as soon as it hits the menu. Fun fact: the Altland House claims to have the oldest continually running tavern in America in the same location—even staying open during Prohibition.
Speaking of that dark era of history, Old Republic Distillery in North York is the county’s first distillery to open in more than eight decades. Established in 2013, it is owned by a brother-sister team who make eight different spirits, including two vodkas, two rums and four fruit liqueurs. I’m a big fan of their Apple Pie Moonshine, made from their own recipe, though I also have to give a shout out to their Love Potion rum, which features their grandparent’s love story on the label. I especially like that everything they make uses natural ingredients—for example, the Apple Pie Moonshine is made with fruit from nearby Brown’s Orchards.
You’ve got to love a farm market where you can not only get delicious fresh fruits and vegetables grown on-site, but also taste wine made from those very same products. Logan’s View Winery is part of Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market, which was started in 1948 and is now run by the second and third generations of the family. While the winery is located about seven miles away, there is a tasting room at the market where you can enjoy numerous award-winning wines, including a very impressive traminette (my personal favorite) and a bing cherry wine made with fresh, crisp cherries picked right outside. The staff at Logan’s, made up of retired schoolteachers and a former military officer, not only know their wines but make for a really fun tasting experience.
Of course, there is more to life than drinking—like eating—and York County has no shortage of wonderful places to dine. Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market has its own café, and The Altland House is renowned for its chicken and waffles, which it’s been serving for more than 100 years. For a true farm-to-table experience, visit Wyndridge Farm in Dallastown, where Executive Chef Matthew Siegmund creates some pretty outstanding comfort food—try the baked seafood mac and cheese—which you can enjoy indoors or outdoors on the stone patio while taking in a spectacular view. The farm is also known for its libations, which include hard cider, craft beer and soda.
You’re also in luck if you’re just looking for a snack—York County is known as the Factory Tour Capital of the World, and tours are offered at Utz Quality Foods, Snyder's of Hanover and Martin's Potato Chips, as well as at Revonah Pretzel in Hanover, which has been making hand-twisted pretzels since 1935. The smell alone will get you in the door of this almost 80-year-old building, where sourdough pretzels are still baked in a 22-foot hearth brick and stone oven and slow-dried in a heated dry kiln. The owner of Revonah described eating a “greenie”—a cooling pretzel that’s crunchy on the outside but still soft in the middle—as a holy moment, and I’m not going to disagree.
To learn more about all you can do in York County, visit www.yorkpa.org. For more information about the places listed in this article, see below:
Aldus Brewing: www.aldusbrewing.com, 717-634-2407
The Altland House: www.altlandhouse.com, 717-259-9535
Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market: www.brownsorchards.com, 717-428-2036
Center Square Brewing: www.centersquarebrew.com, 717-259-9535
Logan’s View Winery: www.logansviewwinery.com, 717-741-0300
Mason-Dixon Wine Trail: www.MasonDixonWineTrail.com, 1-888-858-YORK
Old Republic Distillery: www.drinkord.com, 717-885-5095
Revonah Pretzel: www.revonahpretzel.com, 717-630-2883
Wyndridge Farm: www.wyndridge.com, 717-244-9900
Looking for a great place to stay? Check out Heritage Hills Golf Resort & Conference Center: www.heritagehillsresort.com, 717-755-0123.