Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks

Anyone who has ever been out with me knows I appreciate a drinking/eating establishment that pays attention to details; an on-target spot understands good food and drink, nice ambiance, excellent service and all the unspoken little things that work together to create a positive experience. 

A place that meets all these points and thrills me beyond compare is Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks, in Millheim, Pennsylvania. Successful, yes, for paying attention to details, Elk Creek has something far beyond proper preparation and presentation.  There is, with this place I think, a palpable sense of intention.

And when I say intention I mean authentic, positive-focused, value-driven, community-integrated, full-on prayers to the universe stuff; none of this “the road to hell is paved with . .  .” business.

Like many undertakings, this joint was “brewing” in the hearts and minds of folks for many years before it became a reality. And I’m here to tell you, the reality of it feels kinda’ world-changing.

Picture this: a couple weeks ago I made the trip with a friend (more than two hours from home for us) to take in a Cuban band, Sierra Maestra, for what was (as are quite a few at Elk Creek) a sold out show. Family-style seating for the evening encouraged meeting new people, packed in to enjoy the night together.  So amongst hugs and greetings with friends and acquaintances from days gone by, there were also interesting conversations with folks we hadn’t previously known.   We ate and drank and talked and when founding partner, Tim Bowser, introduced the band and they drew up their instruments to play, women from all corners of the room immediately began spilling onto the dance floor.

It didn’t take long for men to join, too, and as the robust Latin energy of the musicians articulated our hips to its rhythm, I caught a glimpse out the window of an Amish horse and buggy dashing down the street.  Seriously! Where else could this happen??

I honestly hope the answer to that question is everywhere. There don’t have to be buggies, but if there were hot spots like this in little towns across the US, there would be a sea change.

Averie with Tim Yarrington

A little heated up with all that dancing, but happy to pose with head brewer at Elk Creek, Tim Yarrington. photo by Ivey DeJesus

The liquid nourishment at Elk Creek is top-notch.  Standards include a host of traditional English-style ales: the Elk Creek Copper Ale, Great Blue Heron Pale Ale, my traveling companion’s favorite: Winkleblink Ale, the Brookie Brown Ale, Double Rainbow IPA, and my favorite: Poe Paddy Porter.  Or, I should say it had been my favorite until I sampled the Big Trout Oat Stout on the hand pull the night of the Cuban shindig.  Hoo-eee!  That was amazing!  (also worth recommending is Elton’s ESB)  Was glad to finally meet and squeeze award-winning head brewer Tim Yarrington to thank him personally for all the great selections.

 In addition to great drinks, the “Nouveau Dutchie” cuisine at Elk Creek is thoughtful, artisitic – and oh, did I mention, as LOCALLY-SOURCED as possible.  Intention!  It’s really cool to walk into a place and be instantly aware that it’s not just another hole in the wall in some one-traffic light, central PA town.  The bar, the stools, the art on the wall, the beer, the food — all crafted/created / grown by people of the community. 

It was an intent of the owners, I believe, to create Elk Creek Cafe + Aleworks as a gift to their greater community.  But no need to take my word for it; go experience it for yourself.  And let me know what you think.


Liquid Heroes Will Run for Beer

How fitting is it that yesterday – National Beer Day — I was able to partake in a fun beer-related happening: accepting a donation for local charity of more than $2,400 raised by members of the local Will Run For Beer running group at York brewery, Liquid Hero (who picked up a portion of the cost of the runner’s new race shirts).

A great bunch of guys, the runners and the brewers posed for some fun photos.


“That good York water”

No dialog about beverages in my neck of the woods would be complete without a nod to our TAP WATER! Yes, I’m serious. According to their web site, The York Water Company provides about 20 million gallons of water every day to more than 180,000 people in 43 local communities.

Founded in 1816, The York Water Company is the oldest investor owned utility in the nation. Their main office at 130 E. Market Street in downtown York is, itself, an architectural gem. The beautifully conserved painted ceiling (by artist Gustav Ketterer*, 1870 – 1953) is a sight to behold; honestly, it makes paying the water bill in person a special treat.

Hoping to make a trip back to the Water Company office in the not too distant future; in the meantime I’ll enjoy a good drink of refreshing H2O straight from the faucet!


*Of Ketterer, local York historian, Georg Sheets, wrote on a discussion board in 2007: “This splendid work combines imagery depicting water delivery from Biblical, Greek and Roman traditions. The twelve signs of the Zodiac circle the vaulted ceiling and the symbols of York County and York City are integrated in the North and South entrances. For 30 years the artwork, rendered in soft blues, yellows and greens with gilded highlights, was hidden above a drop ceiling as the building, designed with classical elements and features such as leaded glass windows, and marble counters, continued to serve water company customers. Today, the company continues to welcome patrons and visitors during regular business hours.”