|Wacker Brewing Company
417 W Grant St | Lancaster, PA 17603
Wacker Brewing Company was established in 1853, brewing beer in the heart of Lancaster City, PA until 1956. After 58 years, the brewery has reopened by Bryan Kepner (owner and great grandson of a Wacker Brewing Company employee) and brewmaster Michael Spychalski, re-establishing the historic brand.
In 1868, Lancaster City was known as the “Munich of the United States.” Breweries were opening up all over Lancaster from Cabbage Hill to the 7th Ward. The quality beer was highly sought after from as far away as Baltimore and Boston, including Wacker Brewing Company’s Little Dutch and Old Bohemian.
Joseph Wacker purchased the Eagle Brewery in 1870, which was established in 1853 by the Sprenger family. The brewery was located at the corner of Water and West Walnut Streets in Lancaster City. Today, Rachel’s Cafe & Creperie is located where the original Wacker Brewing Company saloon was located. Some of the brewery’s buildings are still standing, but most were knocked down or destroyed by fire.
The original Wacker Brewing Company would eventually become one of the four biggest breweries in Lancaster County. In 1912, the big four city brewers (Wacker, Rieker, Sprenger, and Haefner) combined to make 200,000 barrels of beer per year! It was only seven years later in 1919 that the Prohibition Era began in Lancaster.
The Wacker family sold the brewery in 1938, but brewing continued under the name Old Lancaster Brewing Company until 1941. John Duschl bought Wacker Brewing Company in 1941, but they closed in 1956 due to economic troubles.
Many breweries were no longer able to compete with the large breweries in St. Louis and Milwaukee. Wacker was the last Lancaster County brewery before Stoudt’s Brewing Company opened in Adamstown more than thirty years later.
Today, Wacker Brewing Company brews German-style ales as an homage to Lancaster’s brewing history. They currently offer two beers:
- Wacker Kölsch (a style native to Cologne, Germany) is a 5% ABV smooth and crisp brew with low hop aroma and bitterness with slightly fruity and sweet malt flavors.
- Little Dutch Dunkel is a 5% ABV dunkelweizen (or “dark wheat”) that combines the yeast and wheat character of a Hefeweizen with the maltiness of a Munich Dunkel.
The year-round offerings are brewed in the 10 barrel brew system with 300 gallon fermenters. They also have a single barrel system and 20 gallon fermenter for test batches of future brews and small batch beers to be on tap at the brewery.
The brewery shares a 100 year old former tobacco warehouse with Thistle Finch Distillery. The entire brewing system is located in the basement, and grains are milled on the third floor. Wacker’s tasting room is also located in the basement. Square One Coffee currently roasts its coffee in the building, but will be moving soon. Wacker will open a taproom upstairs in the spring.
Wacker began filling and selling growlers on site on October 22, 2014. They are currently open Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, selling growlers for $7 and growler fills for $10. Brewery tours with beer samples are available for $5.
If you are looking for drinkable, everyday drinking beers, you will certainly enjoy Wacker Brewing Company. While you’re there, be sure to checkout Thistle Finch. They make rye whisky, vodka, and gin, and a variety of cocktails are available at the bar.