On a crisp autumn day, it’s tough to beat a fine craft beer sipped out on the deck.
And few decks in the region can compare with the one at the new Cold Springs Inn & Brewing Co., located directly above the Yellow Breaches Creek, about halfway between Dillsburg and Mechanicsburg.
Partners Chris Crowley and Dennis Mulroy may not have opened the business if it weren’t for the permission to add the two-story deck.
“The fact that they allowed us to build it over the creek is what sealed the deal,” said Crowley, explaining that the structure needed approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection. “The place ran as an inn during the early 1900s and, years ago, there was a lower deck, so the piers already existed, and we were grandfathered in.”
He added that workers first had to put up netting to ensure that nothing fell into the creek.
“That is sacred ground there,” he said, with a grin.
During the warmer months, the business attracts kayakers, so special accommodations have been made for them.
“We offer changing rooms, dryers and lockers where they can store their stuff,” he said.
The Yellow Breaches is also famous for its fishing, and Crowley is hoping that families will come out to take advantage of it.
“The kids can fish from the lower deck, as long as they are supervised,” he said.
Mulroy said he learned of the availability of the inn after bumping into the former owners, Brad and Barb Maxwell, who informed him that they would be selling the establishment.
“After 28 years, they were ready to retire,” Crowley said.
After purchasing what some have referred to as a “dive bar,” the two set to work.
In addition to building an upper and lower deck, the partners went to work renovating the interior. Among their many changes were ripping out a drop ceiling and adding wood floors, low- and high-top seating, a new bar, attractive lighting fixtures, flat-screen televisions and windows to transform what was once dark and gloomy to a space filled with natural light.
“There was not a window in the place,” Crowley said.
The extensive work took about two years to complete.
“It took 12 months to rip it apart and another 12 to build it before we were ready to open in June of this year,” Crowley said.
On the Menu
The pair has been ramping up the food side of the business slowly, Crowley said.
Among the choices are pulled pork and pit beef sandwiches, along with a small selection of salads and finger foods like fried pickles, mozzarella sticks, tortilla chips and salsa and chicken fingers.
The greatest attraction, though, may be the inn’s own craft beer.
The Maxwells sold their liquor license separately, so Cold Springs Inn now operates under a brewery license.
“Mom-and-pop joints are affected by the cost of liquor licenses, and they are being bought up by the supermarkets,” said Crowley. “So, we decided to operate under a brewery license, which allows us to sell Pennsylvania beer, wine, cider and spirits.”
The owners tapped award-winning brewers Kristen Richards and Steve Nott to take on the challenge. Nott had experience in home brewing and competing against others to hone his skills.
“I enter competitions primarily for the feedback,” said Nott, who also worked at Bube’s Brewery in Mount Joy.
Richards has also been active on the home-brew circuit, winning numerous awards over the years. She credits a friend for getting her started by buying her a home brew kit.
“It’s how I got bit by the bug,” she said.
The pair brews twice a week using a three-barrel system to keep up with demand.
“We have over nine beers on tap, including a stout on nitro, which helps to soften the beer on the palate, making it a little softer and creamier,” Richards said.
Additional beers include an IPA, a hefeweizen, a pale ale, a Belgian saison and an interesting sounding habanero-based smoked wheat called an “endorphin enhancer.”
Richards said that, when she started, she was relegated to learning by reading books.
“What’s changed over the years is that more people are doing it,” she said. “Now, I can have conversations with other brewers and get information from them on tips and tricks of the trade.”
Both brewers like that their beers are being well received, even if it does mean maxing out the three-barrel system.
“We fill them as much as we can,” Richards said.
Thus far, Crowley has hired some 40 people, mostly part-time, to keep things running smoothly. He added that business is brisk enough to rely on word-of-mouth advertising for now. As far as changes are concerned, he may tinker around the edges of the menu as the weather cools.
When asked what he enjoys most, Crowley said the answer is easy.
“It’s the people,” he said. “I just enjoy meeting new people and interacting with them.”
Cold Springs Inn & Brewing Co. is located at 993 Park Pl., Mechanicsburg. For more information, call 717-790-9395 or visit www.coldspringsinn.com.