Our second road trip for 2015 found us sampling some fine micro-brewed ales and eating flatbread appetizers and salads at Boxcar Brewing Company’s Brewpub in lovely downtown West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Granted we live in West Chester so the only rubber we wore out on this trip is the soles of our shoes, and the wear was minimal. Boxcar’s brand new brew pub, which officially opened for biz in February 2015, is located at 142 East Market St and is only 7 blocks, a short 10 minute walk, from our doorstep. 7 blocks from a unique local brewpub? Bring it!
Some Cryptobrewology readers will recall this short video we did with the then co-owners of Boxcar, Jason Kohser and Jamie Robinson, during their 2012 Philly Beer Week Ride The Rails event. Jamie now owns the brewery and brewpub with his wife Kymberly.
Boxcar Brewpub occupies the building that was home to The Note, a used-to-was popular music venue in West Chester co-owned by Brandon “Bam” Margera of Jackass fame and Don Moore who has subsequently opened The Social Lounge. The Note closed it’s doors in January of 2014 and a little more than a year later Boxcar charged up their taps.
The one very cool thing about Boxcar is that they are the first genuine, homegrown West Chester brewery and brewpub. Yes, other breweries do exist in this town but they either did not originate here or were officially declared after Boxcar began operations.
Iron Hill is one example, but the Iron Hill chain of breweries and gastropubs first began in Newark, Delaware, in 1994, and the West Chester Location opened in 1998. A younger brewery in West Chester is Levante Brewing Company, I’ll throw them a link. Levante began operations in 2011, technically the year after Boxcar’s official announcement of their brewery. So it stands, and I declare it here: Boxcar Brewing Company and Brewpub is THE FIRST Original West Chester Brewing Company! Congratulations to them on making beer history.
By the way, I just noticed that Boxcar was missing on Wikipedia’s List of Breweries in Southeastern PA, so I added them.
Fairly unassuming from the street, once you step inside Boxcar’s new Brewpub you seem to walk into a different time.
Described on Boxcar’s website as having a “Speakeasy Feel,” there certainly is a cool old-time atmosphere about the place. It has an upscale kind of vibe to it.
It’s interesting how it makes you feel. As you look around at the cool vintage decor, rich wooden bar tops and sleek but classy tables and chairs you get the idea that cool, smart people hang out here.
There is ample dining downstairs, but take a walk upstairs and you’re really in a cool spot. Pick your seat for the night and a friendly server steps up to take your drink order and bring you a menu.
The upper floor is open at the back, so you overlook the large stage below from a balcony of sorts, complete with a variety of chairs and tables to enjoy your evening. It was quiet when Cindy and I stopped by but if you’re interested in a sophisticated dining experience without too much interruption you might want to avoid Thursday Game Night when people are playing MarioKart on the massive screen, unless you want to give it a go yourself.
Check out the Boxcar Facebook page for updates on events and other happenings at the brewpub and brewery. For the musically inclined, they host an open-mic night from 7-10 (sign up starts at 6) on Wednesday nights.
Food and Brews
Immediately we ordered a flight of beers so we could sample as many as possible, then we perused the menu and settled on a couple of flatbreads. Cindy had the Margerita flatbread, I had the Pesto with Tomato and Feta and a Caesar Salad. Food was served pretty quickly, and was very good. The flatbreads served as an absorber for the samples and subsequent glasses of our choice selections, which were served in cool beer can-shaped glasses. Of course we had to buy two of those.
The only offerings they had on hand during that rail trip were the “Original” pale ale, now their Passenger Ale, Boxcar Boomer Brown Ale, and a Mango Ginger Pale Ale. They were all winners. Cindy absolutely loved the Mango Ginger Pale Ale, it’s just so damn good.
There is something pure and clean yet perfectly unique and very tasty about Boxcar beers. I can honestly say that, in my experience, Boxcar beers stand out as very drinkable. “Approachable” some might say.
Seriously though, each beer is very well balanced, never over the top with any ingredient. The Mango Ginger Pale Ale has a little mango and ginger hints, which set it apart from the others.
The brewers at Boxcar know their craft and it shows. The IPA is killer, and even though I’m not a Shandy fan, it was good too.
Now, Cindy is partial to Belgian style ales, more specifically Trappist ales. Since I began shifting her taste buds from wine to appreciating a good IPA or other ale, she has really taken to Belgians. Her favorite of course being Raging Bitch, as mentioned in my last post. She’s practically a connoisseur of Belgian style ales, including Tripels. Of course she enjoys Chimay and others too. She absolutely loves the Boxcar Tripel, and so do I! It’s an awesome tasting ale.
I rave, the Boxcar standard offerings and Tripel we sampled are very tasty and well balanced beers, but to be honest the coffee-, or espresso- I think, stout we sampled that evening on tap just did not grab my attention. It was so clean there was almost no flavor to speak of, no bitter from black malt, and barely a hint of coffee. I love a good coffee stout, unfortunately this one didn’t bring it for me.
Hey, it’s all a mater of opinion but, stout opinions aside, Boxcar shines as a great brewpub to visit and enjoy some very fine tasting beers, good food and a very cool atmosphere.
You can find a link to their current menu and get more information at BoxcarBrewingCompany.com.