Location: Douglassville, PA
Food: Yes; paninis, small plates, and snacks. Locally sourced farm/table seasonal.
Kid Friendly: Yes. Various books and games to keep them busy. No kids menu available.
The quality of beer: Untappd scores for most beers consistently rate high at 4+ bottlecaps. Usually don’t brew the same batch twice.
Beer to go: Their priority is to have beer on draft for the pub. Their loose policy is 16 oz and 32 oz growler fills on Thursday and Sunday, and 32 oz cans on Friday and Saturday. Fills are first come and first serve and variable depending on any given beer on hand.
What else to drink? Rotating variety of house-made sodas and wine from Manatawny Creek Winery.
Contact info: 484-273-2266 www.hiddenriverbrewing.com
Hidden River Brewing Company can be summed up in two words, unique and complex. Unique, because you won’t find this gem tucked into an industrial park somewhere, this “haunted” house turned craft brewery is brimming with character. Hidden River, located in the Historic Brinton Lodge in Douglassville, PA, is a historic site that has warmed guests by its fires for over three hundred years.
A visit to Hidden River is a multi-sensory experience. We followed the signs for “beer” leading us directly into the brewery, greeted, at first by the aromas of hops and barley, second by a friendly face waving us into the bar area. The front room holding the bar is cozy, warm, compact and inviting. If more space and a bit less bustle are what you are looking for there are several additional rooms for you to choose where you feel like settling down. Each historically decorated dining room had a warm fire burning, bookshelves lined with a wide variety of well-borrowed reads, and board games to entertain all ages. The craziest ( and best ) thing about Hidden River…. No TV! ; talk, read, engage. Just like old times.
We decided to settle into the back dining room which gave off a cozy mountain lodge vibe. Smooth jazz was playing softly in the background. There are several mounted hunting trophies including a lamp, made from what appears to be the leg of a goat? My daughter found the lamp fascinating and snuck a chance to pet it whenever we passed by. Hidden River has a limited menu, but it is all very good. They seem to be focused on being a farm to table brew pub. All of their items have been sourced locally, and in some instances repurposed. The cookies and soft pretzel plate are made with spent grains from their brewery. We decided to go with the Soft Pretzel plate ($5), Buck’n Mole Press ($12), Cheese Plate ($13) and Greenery & Shrooms Press ($12).Overall, I enjoyed the originality of their food offerings. I feel like every brewery has their burgers, wings, fries, etc. Which is fine, except here. Hidden River embraces the farm to table concept by creating local offerings into a delicious meal. I honestly didn’t think the “Greenery & Shrooms” would be for me. However, for once, it felt good to be wrong. In addition to great beers, they make their own soda on site. The kids enjoyed an elderberry ginger soda, deciding they would wait for next time to try the blackberry hibiscus soda.
So far, the atmosphere, vibe, and food were all remarkable. What about the beer? It is, after all, a brewery. That it is, a complex brewery indeed. I was fortunate enough to chat with one of the head brewers at Hidden River, Doug Reeser. After a brief conversation, it became quite apparent how different this brewery really is. He told me that they don’t have a flagship beer at Hidden River, they just pretty much, brew whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like it. Otherwise, you’re brewing the same thing week in and week out (sounds like work). Seems crazy, but it makes sense. This will keep their creative juices flowing and not restricting days to just “brewing the flagship” and that’s it.
The beers we sampled were quite good. We had the Excess Access, Neoplatonism, Rituals and Virtues, Mutatis Mutandis and Kindling.
As I read through the names and descriptions to the beers it struck me that this is not a place that does “simple”. It’s not a glorified homebrew kit here. Everything is complex, and that’s how they like it.
The Neoplatonism is a hoppy pale ale brewed with Galaxy and Motueka Pale Ale with peachy notes, sweet orange and a bit of mango. I found this to be very easy drinking and quickly found myself wanting another one. It also seemed very thick, almost like a pale ale smoothie.
The Kindling is a unique smoked porter with hints of dates. To be honest, I am not a fan of smoked porters. At all. However, I feel the dates, plum, and apricot takes off the smoke and ash on the back end.
I could go on with the beer descriptions, but it’d be a waste of time. They usually don’t brew the same batch twice. Its, “here today, gone by the end of the week”.
In conclusion, I feel this is a must stop brewery for anyone visiting Berks County for any stretch of time. The relaxed ambiance mixed with the ever changing tap list is a reason to go back again and again. I’m looking forward to coming back in the summertime to check out the deck, which overlooks a small hidden river.