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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring House: Not Just for Stouts Anymore!

Spring House is one of those breweries that I've been enjoying right out of the gate. Brewslut and I were early visitors to the Spring House tasting room housed at the production facility in Conestoga, PA, which is just a few miles outside Lancaster city limits. Over time as Spring House got more and more popular, they opened their very own Tap Room right in downtown Lancaster. We tend to visit Lancaster quite often, so naturally we make it a point to swing by for at least one beer every time we're in the area. I've often called brewer/owner Matt Keasey "The Stout King of PA" due to his penchant for making amazing stouts. If you don't believe me, go to the Spring House Tap Room in Lancaster and try Planet Bean... or Kerplunk!... or Big Gruesome... or, well, you get the picture. But despite his ability to brew these delectable dark beers, I've always been a bit underwhelmed with his hoppy offerings. Sure, his flagship Seven Gates is a solid Pale Ale any way you look at it. But I was never bowled over by his Beyond the Gates DIPA or Mango IPA. This, I later found, was largely due to a sub par hops contract he was locked into, which only allowed him access to a limited variety of hops.

Well, I am pleased to say that Matt has since secured a new hops contract, and let me tell you, his hoppy beers are now every bit as good as his stouts... and that's saying A LOT!!! On the recommendation of my good beer compatriot Dan (aka BA FooFaa), I decided to give it another shot during one of our more recent visits. Well, I can honestly say that it is indeed one of the better East Coast DIPAs that I can recall drinking in the last several years. It's bright, crisp, and hoppy without bludgeoning you over the head with tons of alcohol heat. Sure it's assertive and bitter, but it's also very balanced for a DIPA. The new and improved Beyond the Gates has quite the - dare I say it? - West Coast vibe.

I love the artwork and overall vibe of The Tap Room!
Same goes for the Mango IPA. On previous visits, I always found the Mango IPA to be good, but not earth shattering. The combination of ingredients gave the beer an almost chalky texture (if you can imagine) and the hop flavor seemed slightly medicinal with not much of a tropical fruit character. These days, the Mango IPA (recently named The Astounding She Monster) is brimming with a fresh mango juiciness, tropical fruit flavor, and citrus-forward aroma. This new recipe is clearly a major improvement over the original release. Matt's willingness to experiment with his beers and tweak his recipes is without a doubt one of my favorite aspects of Spring House. Matt never seems to get stuck on a recipe just for the sake of keeping a beer on tap regularly, and he constantly strives to hone his recipes and improve his beers. With that said, I feel that he consistently makes forward strides with his beers. The last two times I visited, I did not drink a single stout. I simply was too thirsty for Beyond the Gates and Mango IPA. OK, I also got a Smoked Porter, but hey, it's not a stout, right? If you haven't tried the new-and-improved Beyond the Gates or The Astounding She Monster, then you are definitely missing out on something special.

This bitch is mangolicious!