Black Forest Brewery Opens Its Doors

Black Forest Brewery Opens Its Doors
Black Forest Brewery
301 West Main St. | Ephrata PA 17522
(717) 450-7217

Black Forest Brewery in Ephrata, PA officially opened its doors to the public on Saturday, December 13, 2014. Owned by husband and wife team Bob and Denise Harter, the pair also owns the 1777 Americana Inn at the same location.

Originally from Wernersville, Bob worked in corporate America and Denise was a teacher. They both wanted a career change. During a visit to see their son at Clarion University, the pair enjoyed staying at a local bed and breakfast. This visit inspired them to open their own B&B.


Bob and Denise originally looked to build in the Jim Thorpe area, but couldn’t find the right spot. They looked at about ten spots in the Lancaster area and ended up buying the 1777 Americana Inn at 301 West Main Street in Ephrata this past March. The inn offers four rooms plus a cottage house. The Harters live on the third floor of the inn.

The idea of opening a brewery came during a family backpacking trip. Bob, along with his sons Ryan, Ross, and Reese, were hiking the Black Forest Trail in Tiadaghton State Forest in parts of Lycoming, Potter, and Clinton Counties. Bob and Ryan began homebrewing and became instantly addicted to the hobby.


Cool birthday gifts

The map on Black Forest Brewery’s logo is the actual shape of the 42-mile loop of the Black Forest Trail. Coincidentally, the founder of Ephrata, Conrad Beissel, was born and raised in the Black Forest area of Germany.

The Harters broke ground for the brewery in July, a brand new building constructed on what was a plot of grass. A 900 square foot space was all zoning ordinances would allow. The walls and ceilings inside are covered in rough-cut pine. The bar seats nine people and there is additional seating for about 18.


Commercial brewer Scott Morrison, formerly of Dock Street Brewery and most recently brewing for Barren Hill Tavern, did some consulting with Bob and helped to tweak Bob’s homebrew recipes into 3-barrel recipes. Bob also brewed on the Barren Hill system to test out his recipes. Scott helped Bob on his first brew day on the 3.5 barrel Black Forest system.

Black Forest currently offers 4 beers on tap.

  • Americana Pale Ale – 5.5% ABV generously hopped flagship beer named after the 1777 Americana Inn.
  • 42nd Mile IPA – 7.6% ABV India Pale Ale brewed with the house blend of hops named after the challenging 42-mile Black Forest Trail.
  • Shreck Tavern Stout – 5.5% ABV stout with roasted barley and malt aromas and distinct mocha undertones named after the notorious Shreck Tavern that once called the Green Dragon home.
  • Whistle Stop Amber Ale – 5.6% ABV copper amber ale named after “Whistle Stop” station.


Look for The 5 o’clock Heffy in a few weeks. The citrusy hefeweizen is named after Benjamin Franklin who was nicknamed Beer O’Clock Benny. Apparently he didn’t wait for five o’clock to enjoy a brew.

A small food menu is also available including trail mix (spicy or traditional), soft pretzels, and a cheese and meat board. Sandwiches include a Ham and Cheese Panini and a Pulled Beef Ciabatta.

Starting in January, Black Forest will be hosting a “Sixth Tap Homebrew Competition.” For an entry fee of about $20-$25 (a portion of which will go to charity), homebrewers can enter their creations. The winner will brew their beer with Bob, and then the beer will be on tap at the brewery. The competition will take place quarterly, supporting a new charity each time. Watch Black Forest Brewery’s Facebook page for more information.

Black Forest Brewery is a welcome addition to the Lancaster County brewing scene. The spot is cozy and comfortable, and the beers are drinkable and delicious. Bob and Denise are sure to make you feel welcome!

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1 comment

  1. John Brinton

    Beer is ok a little warm could use to be chilled a little more. They tend to their friends more then the patrons. No WiFi unless you rent a room in the bed and breakfast. Prices ok for beer but dollars for a sandwich. Black forest brewery.

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