Boxcar Brewing Company in West Chester has been a regular stop for me when I travel out to the area. I always enjoyed swinging by the old brewery located in a small industrial park. I would pick up a couple growler fills and later as they grew, some six packs. Boxcar’s Mango Ginger IPA was always a hit and worth the stop by itself.
Recently, Boxcar opened a pub/restaurant a short drive from their brewery. It took over a club, The Note, which was owned and operated by Bam Magera of Jackass fame. I never had the pleasure of visiting the old haunt but the new place, completely remade by Boxcar, is a wonderful establishment for grabbing a beer.
Delicate winks to the train and hobo themes they use in naming their beers are carried out smartly for a warm atmosphere. Antique luggage and train memorabilia throughout, along with wooden train whistle tap handles provide a nice touch. It has a prohibition feel with enough consideration towards the namesake to make the theme different than other 20’s era brewpub decor.
When I visited, the place was playing an excellent mix of swing, Rat Pack and Ska music. Seriously, great music selection. I have a soft spot for Save Ferris.
My first beer was Coal Runner Stout (Nitro) served in a beer can glass. This Irish Dry Stout had plenty of coffee notes in the nose. Roasted malts and chocolate flavors in the middle were accompanied by a creamy and thick mouthfeel. The finish was very dry and easy.
Dolly Flopper Season IPA was the best part of my trip. This floral and citrusy IPA was phenomenal. It had an orange marmalade like finish that was long and sweet and unlike any other IPA. I asked the friendly bartender (Nicole) what hops were used in this beer or if orange peel was incorporated. She did not know.
So she just picked up the phone and called one of the owners, Jamie Robinson. He got on the line with me and we talked about Dolly Flopper for about ten minutes. Five hops were used in the boil; none particularly remarkable or unique except for the last one… German Mandarina Bavaria.
German Mandarina Bavaria is an experimental hops strain that has strong tangerine and citrus notes. Jamie was really happy with how the beer turned out and he should be. Dolly Flopper was an excellent beer and is highly recommended. The orange marmalade finish completely made the beer. Jamie taking the time out of his busy day to talk with me about his beer and Boxcar’s brewing process was much appreciated and showed the level of interest they have in the consumer.
The other seasonal beer that day was Citrus Wit. Cloudy and refreshing this beer is just as advertised. Lemon and orange in the nose and crisp and dry in the finish. Light-bodied and perfect for a hot day or with a light lunch.
Boxcar’s flagship beers are all worthy of your consideration but especially the previously mentioned Manger Ginger Pale Ale (especially good when fresh) and Boxcar Passenger Ale. Passenger Ale is a light-bodied mildly hopped drinking beer. A classic pub ale, this one clocks in at 4.7 ABV and goes down easy all day.
Taking the next steps and transitioning from brewing and locally distributing beer out of what was an industrial park sized garage to opening a restaurant/brewpub is fraught with issues. The financial implications are serious and the expansion and growth can cause various headaches, if not fatal flaws to a business. To see Boxcar take this big step with aplomb and early success is great news going forward; and good for the area.
If you are in West Chester I hope you take the time to check out Boxcar Brewing Company. They are making some interesting beers, not just the exceptional Dolly Flopper. Their hours and offerings are on their website.