Birthday Dinner at Bube’s Brewery

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If you haven’t already seen, my birthday weekend was a blast. But, I need to tell you about the seriously cool dinner that capped it off Monday night.

My sister, Hannah, and her boyfriend, Jordan, asked if I wanted to check out Bube’s (pronounced ‘boobies’… yes I asked) Brewery in Mount Joy. Neither of us had been there, but it always sounded cool.

The place has a fascinating history. Courtesy of their website…

“By the mid-1800s, German-style lager beer had become all the rage among beer drinkers in America. Very different from the English-style ales that predominated in the U.S. previously, lager beer necessitated a different brewing method. Those brewers manufacturing lager beer in the 1850s often could not keep up with demand and by the 1860s a brewery boom was underway. Literally hundreds of breweries emerged all over the United States. Into this brewing climate came a young German immigrant named Alois Bube. Having been a brewing apprentice in his homeland, Alois secured a job at, and in 1876 bought, a small brewery in Mount Joy Pennsylvania. 

Bube’s Brewery as it stands today is the result of Alois Bube’s life’s work. He expanded his small brewery several times and built a Victorian hotel to save his beer and accommodate overnight guests and offer dining to travelers passing through Mount Joy. By the turn of the century, he had a very successful business and his reputation as a good brewer and decent businessman had spread far and wide.

Mr. Bube died suddenly in 1908 at the age of 57. He had built up enough wealth that although his brewery closed just prior to Prohibition in 1920, members of his family were able to live her until the 1960s, changing nothing and doing little with the buildings. As common as breweries similar to this one would have been in the late 1800s, Bube’s Brewery is the only of the hundreds of “lager era” breweries that still stands in almost completely intact condition intact condition in the United States today. Restoration of the complex began in 1968 and continues currently.” 

When you walk into Bube’s, you feel like you’re in a castle in Europe — uneven cobblestones, a big heavy front door and just dark and dingy (in a cool, medieval way). Clearly, this place wasn’t meant to be a restaurant, but it works.

There are technically 4 main dining areas in the brewery — the Catacombs, which is a fine dining restaurant deep down 50 feet below street level; Bottling Works, which is a casual bar upstairs; and the Biergarten which serves the Bottle Works menu. Finally, Alois is the original bar and dining room in the hotel. We ate in the Biergarten.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have a ton of pictures of outside. It was getting dark when we got there, and honestly, the three of us were having such a good time with each other and our fantastic server, Clint, that I forgot. Trust me when I say the Biergarten is adorable, and you should try to get there before they close for the season in October.

Here’s a brief rundown of what’s important: the food and beer.

All three of us started with Bube’s own Vanilla Cream Ale. It was unlike any other beer I’ve had, and had a very strong vanilla flavor. Whenever I see a vanilla beer, I try it, but this one by far had the strongest vanilla flavor I’ve had. It almost reminded me of a cream soda, but alcoholic, so obviously I loved it.

For food, I was pretty undecided. The menu has a lot of bar food and a few entrees. Clint convinced me to try the Ultimate Grilled Cheese — a crabcake tucked between American cheese, tomato and bacon on Texas toast. It was very flavorful and decadent — a good choice for a birthday dinner. Hannah got the cheesesteak also on the recommendation of Clint and said it was good. Jordan picked out the wings, which I tried and were really crispy, juicy and flavorful.

The best part, though, was after dinner.

The place was pretty dead. Not only was it a Monday, but, full disclosure, Bube’s recently closed down due to a cockroach problem. Hannah and I debated it, but we decided to go because a. it’s in a cave so bugs shouldn’t be a shocker and b. they had just passed inspection. This actually worked in our favor.

The Catacombs are several stories beneath street level, where the brewery used to be located. It has a pretty great history, and we asked if we could get a tour. Typically, this is reserved only for those with reservations to eat in the Catacombs, which has a more expensive, fine dining menu. But Clint (seriously, he was the best!) got Richard, the in-house tour guide, to take us down since they were so slow. Side note: don’t ask them to do this if it’s a busy night. They won’t.

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We winded our way down the wobbly steps and got a full tour of the area, which is about 50 feet below street level. Down there, Richard told us about rumors of the place being used as a stop on the Underground Railroad, since it’s equipped with several tunnels that lead to nearby houses, and it’s use as a speak-easy during Prohibition. It was fascinating.

Oh yeah, another fun thing about Bube’s? Their events! After the tour, Richard and some other staff members told us about Bube’s numerous parties, murder mystery dinners and feasts they host throughout the year, which all end up giving you dinner and a show. It’s also, apparently, one of the best places in PA to celebrate Halloween… and not just because it’s super haunted (Ghost Hunters even filmed an episode there).

I can’t recommend it enough. It’s one of the weirdest, coolest places I’ve gotten dinner in a long time. It’s creepy, everyone’s a character and there’s even a possibility that Casper will join you for your meal.

With October just around the corner, who’s up for some dinner?

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