Mount Gretna Craft Brewery throws a party every night. At least that’s what it feels like to owners Brad Kleinfelter and Todd Holsopple.
I sat down with head brewer Kleinfelter and business partner Holsopple in the brewery’s lounge—in what looks like a cabin living room complete with leather chair and couch, a shelf stocked with books and games, a mounted wildebeest head over the large brick fireplace and hardwood floors.
There, I got a sense of where the party happens. The place is deceptively large with a pub, event room, windowed brewery room where patrons can watch the process and outdoor seating area.
Breakfast and lunch are served along with specialty drinks and locally baked goods inside the attached Red Canoe General Store, which is a coffee bar and a small market. Coffee—roasted in the large coffee roaster nestled in a corner—also winds up in the beer. As far as the suds go, Kleinfelter considers himself more of a traditionalist.
“I like a medium-body beer,” he said. “But, we have everything from pale ales, IPAs, ambers, porters and Belgiums. I just tapped a honey basil pale ale this morning.”
“Did you taste it?” Holsopple asked Kleinfelter.
“Oh yeah,” Kleinfelter responded with a smile. “It was pretty good.”
Love of Movement
Holsopple said they looked at other sites before buying the former Leed’s Corner, conveniently situated at the corner of routes 322 and 117.
“The first location fell through when the owner decided not to sell, and the second didn’t work due to zoning rights,” he said. “This spot wound up being a blessing.”
Kleinfelter piped in.
“Every corner of this place has a story. Let me show you the bathroom.”
He led me toward the men’s room, where old kegs serve as urinals and the bathroom sinks are antique feed troughs.
Back at the bar, one of the original Leed’s Corner signs hangs on the wall. The lone television played a video showing the 30-foot long, 2-foot wide and 3-inch thick bar top, community table and window ledge being cut from the same slab of oak. The oak slabs were dried right inside the unfinished brewery in a kiln. Cabinets behind the bar are reclaimed wood from an Elizabethtown barn. The wood on the walls came from Kleinfelter’s property, and the floorboards came from trees cut down on Holsopple’s property.
And the bicycle shop next door to the brewery is not there by chance. The space was originally an auto body shop when owned by founder Harry Leed and was later a gun shop. Holsopple, who has lived in the area for 30 years, is a cyclist, and he said he always liked the idea of a bicycle shop next to a brewery. According to Allison Kleinfelter, they sought out a bike shop to reinforce active outdoor values.
“We also are expanding our yoga offerings through our general store and brewery,” she said. “So, we really bring in the love of movement indoors and out.”
Although Kleinfelter and Holsopple bought Leed’s Corner in July 2016, Kleinfelter said he’s been brewing for more than 20 years.
“I had bought a pilot home brew system,” he said. “Then I used friends and family as guinea pigs.”
Given the positive reaction, he thought he was onto something, but it took a long time before seriously considering going pro.
“Five years ago, my wife Allison and I had this crazy idea to get into brewing,” he said. “We live in Mount Gretna and liked the idea of having a brewery here. Mount Gretna is all about art, refined products, and a craft brewery fits that idea.”
Leed’s Corner boasts tremendous local history. For decades, people swung by for such diverse goods as gas, shotgun shells and baseball cards.
“People stop in and share good memories from when they used to come in here as a kid,” said Kleinfelter. “It was a hub.”
Kleinfelter and Holsopple still think of it that way, and they reconstructed the building to include a centralized area where the brewery regularly hosts book readings, musical performances, art classes for kids and adults, ladies nights out, craft classes, yoga and more. People stop by in the morning for coffee and breakfast, afternoon for lunch and evening for family entertainment, dinner and a craft beer.
“All the food will be locally sourced with local vendors,” Kleinfelter said. “We want to keep the menu small and continually rotate with the seasons.”
The pair recruited their chef, Marc Achenbach, from Hotel Hershey.
“He’s a vital part of the operation,” said Kleinfelter. “He’s very creative.”
Achenbach offers upscale pub food, like gourmet pizza and burgers, fries, salads and soups. Additionally, he plans to always have something new to draw interest.
“The chef will come up with a weekly item along with a seasonal item,” Kleinfelter said.
The food should get people coming back to the brewery, even after the craft beer phenomenon has peaked, Kleinfelter said, as should the strong sense of community.
“Our unique niche is this corner—our sense of community,” he said. “If you’re from the area, you know Mount Gretna. People come here to unwind. We can offer that relaxing lifestyle with our coffee shop, bike shop, comfortable environment and restaurant. And really good beer.”
Mount Gretna Craft Brewery is located at 2701 Horseshoe Pike, Palmyra. For more information, visit www.gretnabrewery.com.
Author: Cathy Jordan