79 S. Wilson Ave. | Elizabethtown, PA 17022
Moo-Duck Brewery in Elizabethtown, PA is owned by husband and wife team Mike and Kristen Brubaker. Kristen bought Mike a pale ale homebrew kit 8 years ago. After only 6 months of homebrewing, Mike switched to all-grain and started forming his own recipes. He then began entering homebrew competitions and winning medals and ribbons frequently.
Moo-Duck was the name of Mike’s all-star bird watching team when he worked at the Pocono Environmental Education Center. The team was trying not to take themselves too seriously, yet managed to place in the top 10 at The World Series of Birding event. The nickname stuck, and Moo-Duck seemed like a fitting name for the brewery since they are all about making fun beer and not conforming to the stylistic guidelines of beer.
Mike is originally from Ephrata. After working environmental jobs, mostly in the Poconos, he moved to Elizabethtown about 8 years ago. Mike and Kristen chose Elizabethtown because there was no brewery here, and they love the area. The brewery is located directly across the street from the Amtrak station and just a few blocks from the main street.
The former warehouse was a blank canvas for Mike and Kristen. Mike’s dad made the hand-poured concrete bar and Kristen hand-painted the chairs. The repairs and construction done in the space were a family effort and a labor of love.
Moo-Duck opened the doors on November 1, with the official Grand Opening on November 14. The celebration featured a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Elizabethtown Chamber of Commerce, brewery tours, and a small batch of Hoppy Toad IPA aged with Thai Chili Peppers, also known as “Spicy Toad”.
As you walk through the door, be sure to pause at the “Today’s Lineup” board that lists what’s on tap. The story behind each beer is listed, and you’re sure to get a kick out of each one. Beers can be purchased in flights of 4 or pints. While I was bummed that I missed out on Spicy Toad, I did sample some delicious beers during my visit:
- Honey! Basil Blonde – 5% ABV, 20 IBU blonde ale brewed with orange blossom honey and fresh basil leaves This flagship beer is Kristen’s favorite, and it’s named after the authoritative “HONEY!” she yells when she needs something from Mike.
- Mistopheles Chocolate Stout – 6.3% ABV, 35 IBU stout aged over cocoa nibs named after their intimidating and often misunderstood cat, Mistropheles.
- Purple Carp Irish Red – 4.8% ABV, 20 IBU deep red, malty beer for reminiscing about the time they drove a Camaro through a creek…
- Hoppy Toad IPA – 6% ABV, 70 IBU hop-bursted IPA brewed with Warrior, Centennial, and Cascade hops. This one is named after the summer evenings spent searching for “hoppy toads.”
- Pumpkin Kicker Ale – 6% ABV, 20 IBU amber ale brewed with real pumpkin, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spices. This beer is a nod to when Mike tried to kick a 100-pound pumpkin, but instead landed on his back.
- Senescence Red IPA – 7.5% ABV, 70 IBU fall hoppy seasonal brewed with Chinook and Nugget hops.
A new beer that was just tapped this weekend is Better Than A Lottery Ticket Holiday Ale. The 7.5% ABV, 40 IBU imperial brown ale is a small batch winter seasonal brewed with orange peel, ginger, and cinnamon then aged on oak chips. Apparently Mike’s family has a long tradition of giving lottery tickets for Christmas.
Mike prides himself on brewing beers with fresh ingredients bought locally when possible. The recipes are perfected homebrew recipes that respect traditional brewing practices, yet embrace the non-traditional. Mike likes to get funky, but remain well-balanced. He currently brews on the weekends on his handmade 1.5 barrel system. Both Mike and Kristen continue to work full time jobs during the week.
Some interesting beers to look for in the future from Moo-Duck include a return of the chili pepper IPA, an imperial mango IPA that comes in at 12% ABV, a maple pecan brown ale, and a honey chamomile American wheat. One imperial IPA is named after Mike’s brother John (or “Bru”). “Bru” and his girlfriend Eileen were helping out behind the bar during our visit.
Moo-Duck has received a lot of support from the local community and breweries. They have purchased used equipment from Liquid Hero and St. Boniface and have built relationships with Columbia Kettle Works and Tröegs.
For now, Mike and Kristen look to keep up with production at the pub, then explore bottling or canning in the future. For now Moo-Duck brews are only available at the brewery, but they hope to expand to local bars in the future. Look for a saison with honey and ginger to be on tap at Lucky Ducks Bar and Grille this summer. Mike also looks to acquire some barrels in the future.
Supporting the local community is important to Moo-Duck. There is always a charity brew on tap, and fifty cents of each pint sold is given to a local charity. The current charity brew is Hoppy Toad IPA, chosen by Conewago Creek Initiative. A new charity is chosen every 3 months. PAWS, a local animal welfare charity, will be up next.
Do yourself a favor and check out Moo-Duck Brewery. The beers are creative and delicious, and Mike and Kristen are wonderful people. Just make sure to give me a heads up if you see Spicy Toad on tap!