At the new Lovedraft’s Brewing Co., a sign posted on the door reads, “No sports, no politics, no religious discussion.”
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill suburban brew haunt.
Lovedraft’s prides itself on in-your-face uniqueness. You might say that the devil is in the details—from skulls to dancing skeletons to graffiti art and black walls that horror fiction writer H.P. Lovecraft might well appreciate.
Owner Justin Browning introduces himself as, “Browning, like the gun,” before agreeing to explain the method to his madness, starting with the name.
“Justin-Browning-loves-draft-beer,” he said, no doubt describing the origins of the JB Lovedraft’s moniker for the umpteenth time.
Conveniently, the name also pays tribute to the aforementioned author who he holds in high regard.
Browning described the demographics of the denizens of his establishments.
“I’d say they’re truly alternative,” he said. “I’m a heavily tattooed individual, dress in a certain way and have a certain lifestyle that doesn’t conform with the office crowd. We want to be a haven for those who maybe feel like they don’t fit the traditional mold.”
Lovedraft’s cultivates a following comprised of people dedicated to art, culture and music, he explained.
“Mostly punk, hardcore and metal,” he said.
Gamers, too, embrace the new brewery.
“We have a dozen televisions with video games, with everything from Atari to Nintendo Switch,” along with an assortment of pinball and arcade games, said Browning.
Control Your Heat
Justin and Loren Browning opened their snug bar, JB Lovedraft’s Micro Pub, in downtown Harrisburg in 2016. With over 50 microbrews on tap, it became a haven for craft beer-lovers, so the couple kept looking to expand.
“We soon ran out of space,” Browning said. “By December of that year, we were remodeling the second floor and, when COVID hit, we decided to redo the third floor.”
The silver lining in the COVID cloud was that, in 2020, they were able to focus on another dream, a brewery in the former Quaker Steak and Lube building in Hampden Township. Their new brewpub seats 290 inside, with additional seating at 12 picnic tables outside.
The couple tapped Terry Hawbaker from Pizza Boy Brewing Co. to be head brewer. Hawbaker has won awards for his brews and was known for his wild and sour beers.
“He will be brewing every style of beer, and there will be 24 taps that will be constantly rotating,” Browning said. “We have a seven-barrel direct fire system, which sets us apart. You can control your heat better.”
To give customers other choices, they also offer a variety of Pennsylvania-crafted spirits to make unique cocktails.
“We call them kiddie cocktails, and they taste like children’s drinks, with flavors like fruit punch and Yoo-Hoo,” said Browning.
As for food, smoked items are prominent.
“We are working with Chris and Sarah Heilig, who used to run ShakeDown BBQ in Grantville,” said Browning.
Although the menu is heavy on smoked meat, there are also vegan and vegetarian options. Other selections on the menu include items that might be served at a gastropub, like fig and gorgonzola flatbread, a salmon BLT and croque madame sandwiches.
Browning is extremely pleased with the extra room that the new space allows for live music—long an issue at the tight downtown location—and he’s eager to attract national acts.
“We are working with a few different production companies and will be working with Mc Hyser who runs a location in York called Skid Row Garage,” Browning said. “He books events for us, as well.”
Food & Tunes
Long-time customer Reni Valentine credits JB Lovedraft’s with turning her into a craft beer drinker.
“When I started going to the Harrisburg location, I wasn’t into beer at all,” she said. “Now, I’m a beer snob and a stout and porter drinker.”
The new brewery, she said, has several advantages over the downtown micro pub. First, it’s less than a mile from her house. Secondly, there’s so much more space for events and to socialize.
“If you gave a group of people with eclectic interests a space to meet and gather, this is what you would come up with,” she said.
She said that regular patrons have become part of her extended family.
“They were there for my son’s graduation,” she said. “We’ve become this close-knit, weird little group. It’s amazing how something as simple as beer does that. Who knew?”
Steve Belle of Camp Hill said that his band has played at the Harrisburg location and that music is part of the allure of the new brewery.
“The stage is rated for national touring and local bands,” he said. “They’ll get some heavy hitters in there for sure.”
Belle is also a fan of the food.
“The burgers are amazing, and the tots are to die for, along with the smoked meats like ribs and pulled pork,” he said.
Belle said that he would describe Lovedraft’s as “a bar for people who don’t like going to bars.”
“I can’t say enough about the place,” Belle said. “They’re really gonna rock the west shore!”
Lovedraft’s Brewing Co. is located at 165 Gateway Dr., Mechanicsburg (Hampden Township). For more information, visit www.lovedraftsbrewing.com or their Facebook page.
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