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.

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