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A newcomer to the microbrewery scene, East Branch Brewing Company opened its doors at the end of September 2017. The name and theme come from the East Branch of the Brandywine River, which flows nearby. The waters of the Brandywine inspire the décor throughout. Painted on the walls using both matte and glossy paint, the logo really pops. The logo carries forward onto the cans, the t-shirts, and even the kegs. I love good branding (maybe because I haven’t figured it out yet for myself!).
Originally refurbished as an Irish pub, East Branch is located inside the former Minquas firehouse in the middle of downtown Downingtown. The back portion was transformed into the ten-barrel microbrewery. Its industrial feel comes from the concrete floor, concrete bar, and hanging lights with Edison bulbs. You also see back into the production area with the brewhouse and fermenters.
The outside stone facade is cool – I love it when older buildings are given new life! An outside patio seating area had a fireplace going but I’m too much of a southerner to sit outside on a Pennsylvania December night!
East Branch Brewing does not feature beer flights but you can purchase 5 oz glasses for $2-$3, so we created our own! A 12/16 oz glass or snifter costs $6-$7, cans cost $11-$13, and growlers cost $22-$26.
We sampled (left to right):
Ferme – A 6.2% saison. Both Allan and I chose this one as our full pint!
Weir – A 4.8% spelt farmhouse. Hurray, not a sour! These days with the popularity of sours, it seems like so many farmhouses have a bit of the sour in them and I’m not a fan!
Morava – A 4.4% Czech pils. Nice and light – a traditional pils.
Slow Friends – A 6% rye stout. Smooth for a stout with a nice coffee finish.
We also tried:
Saint James – A 5.7% oat IPA. Still too hoppy for me (yes, it is an IPA after all).
Severn – A 3% dark mild. I wasn’t sure what to make of this – a bit of a smoky flavor and good for those who don’t really like dark beers but want to try one.
Loch – A 4.75% porter with a strong coffee flavor.
For those that don’t like beer, local wine and cider was available. When we were at East Branch, Modern Still from Dressler Estate Cider, also local from Downingtown, could be purchased for $7. If wine is more to your liking, they have a selection from Wayvine Winery from Nottingham, Pennsylvania. Cabernet Franc $10, and unoaked Chardonnay $9, and Merlot for $9.
The water tap was located next to the beer taps, meaning you have to ask a bartender to get you a glass of water. The good news is that the bartenders were really good about pushing water – whenever they ask if you would like a refill, if you said no, they asked if you wanted water. I like that!
Currently, food is provided through a rotation of food trucks. Georgio’s Restaurant, a Downingtown institution, across the street perhaps benefits from hungry mouths when a food truck is not available. The good news is that coming in 2018, East Branch Brewing plans to expand into the second floor of the building and add a kitchen to its repertoire. Another restaurant is also going into the front of the building, so there will be plenty of food available as the downtown area grows.
This location didn’t seem particularly either child or pet friendly. I think this may be a cold weather thing – breweries are forced inside meaning that animals can’t come in and the smallish tap room isn’t big enough to contain the energy little ones bring!
By far, the biggest disappointment was the lack of free WiFi, which I certainly hope they consider adding soon! Some level of WiFi is pretty ubiquitous these days, so it sticks out when it’s not there. They do have outlets throughout the bar so that you can bring your own cable to charge your phone, which I appreciate.
Because the building used to host a restaurant, the bathrooms are magnificent. Located upstairs, you can choose the wooden stairwell or the elevator. And because it was refurbished for a larger restaurant, you have more than a single stall available – hurray!
We received a great welcome from Dylan, one of the owners, and the two bartenders that night, Stacey and Elisa. Stacey and Elisa knew their beer, made great suggestions, and treated us newbies as well as their regulars. If you’re in the area, I highly encourage you to try this place. I look forward to coming back and seeing how they’ve grown their available menu, both brews and food.
Check out their website for more information.
Annick, The Common Traveler