First things first.
Bube’s Brewery is pronounced “boo-bees.” Go ahead, make jokes—they do. The landmark stone-and-brick building in Mount Joy, though, is way more than a funny name. It’s a sprawling, Civil War-era brewery, restaurant, hotel, event space, theater and biergarten, all wrapped up in one and duly recorded in “The National Register of Historic Places.”
Bube’s specialty is lager, a traditional German style of beer. Catholic monks learned through experimentation that cold storage slowed fermentation for better tasting beer. And so lager became the beer of Germany in the 1800s.
Enter Alois Bube, a German Catholic and brewing apprentice. He was one of many young Germans who arrived in America in the mid-19th century to work in and open breweries, along with contemporaries like Miller, Busch, Yuengling and Coors.
Walk through the heavy, mustard-yellow wooden doors of Bube’s, and you’ll be transported back to the 1800s—from the furniture to the family portraits to the décor.
Built in 1860, Bube’s remains the only lager-era brewery in its original condition within the United States. The connecting (then six-room) tavern was built in 1879, serving all those farmers and tradesmen hopping off the Mount Joy Railroad.
Alois Bube died in 1908. Shortly after, Prohibition came to town, and the brewery closed. Nonetheless, the family lived in the property until the 1960s and owned it for years after.
It finally landed on the market in 1982. Elizabethtown native Sam Allen, accompanying his father, who was the listing agent for the sale, became fascinated with the 50,000-square-foot property. A Penn State graduate with “2½ degrees,” Allen used the Phyrst and the Rathskeller, both PSU underground bars, as his frames of reference.
“I realized the market was very different [here],” he said. “And so I tapped into my half major, which was theater, and thought, let’s do something different, something theatrical. What really brought me here is how cool this place is on so many levels.”
Bube’s began brewing beer again in 2001. Located within the former icehouse, the microbrewery now keeps six house-brewed beers on tap, which are always rotating. Mitch Romig started as an assistant brewer at Bube’s in May 2017 then took over as the head brewer in October.
“German beers have always been my favorite,” he said. “The original lager beers at Bube’s were based on the German styles but adapted to use the ingredients available in America at the time. I try to always have at least one German or early American style beer on at Bube’s.”
In May, Bube’s will have heller bock on tap, a slightly hoppier version of the traditional German maibock style. Romig also will feature its Market Street pub ale, a traditional English style. Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, he also plans to release Bebo Mexican Lager—a light, crisp lager similar to the ones found in clear bottles.
But it’s not only beer at Bube’s.
Recently, Corinna Killian, the former chef at the Belvedere Inn in Lancaster, became executive chef, and she is upgrading the menu, taking it to a whole new culinary level.
The main floor additionally houses the Alois Barroom, the Bottling Works Restaurant for casual dining and a stage. Original wood, brick, stone and cement constructs remain throughout. However, the bar’s spitting trough, which ran the bar-floor, thankfully has been cemented over. A murder mystery dinner theater is presented by in-house actors, and private banquets are held in the bar and restaurant on this main floor.
The basement offers more fun with a Prohibition-era “escape room.” It’s also the gallery hall and where five of the primary 2,000-gallon barrels of beer are still on display—empty, unfortunately.
Bube’s Brewery is built on top of a cave, and that’s where you’ll discover the lowest catacomb level—43 feet below ground level. Lager breweries needed a conditioning cellar where the beer could be stored and aged. The stone-lined vaults still hold large barrels. Back in the day, the barrels were hoisted up to the main floor, loaded on to a wagon and delivered by horse. There in the catacombs, you can enjoy a candlelit theatrical dinner feast.
On nice days, the biergarten out back, which once functioned as the livery and pigsty, is a popular place to gather with friends. Today, a fire pit is ready for lighting, an outdoor bar remains stocked, a bamboo area supplies shade, and a covered pool table and life-sized chess set beckon for play. An old steam engine—the boiler and smokestack used to create the steam power necessary to run the brewery—is on display under a ceiling of wisteria.
Bube’s also provides a nine-room hotel on the top floor, all individually themed. You get to choose from New Orleans, Arabian nights, Moroccan desert tent, Asian temple, Southwestern, dark princess, good princess, jungle and the penthouse. Bube’s second floor is home to the banquet hall and ballroom.
And, no surprise, given the building’s age and general creepiness in parts, tales of the paranormal abound. So, there’s the requisite (and popular) ghost tour. Do spirits roam the maze of rooms at Bube’s? After a journey deep into the catacombs, you may be grateful for the light of the barroom again—and a freshly poured lager.
Bube’s Brewery is located at 102 N. Market St., Mount Joy. For more information, call 717-653-2056 or visit www.bubesbrewery.com.