Rumspringa Brewing Company

Just back from Pennsylvania and the Elizabethtown College Amish conference. Lest you think I was on campus all week, I share a few photos here proving I ventured out.  Early June is a beautiful time in Lancaster County, and though it rained the first two days of the conference, Saturday and Sunday the weather was just dandy.

Lancaster County June

I spent some time with the youth over the weekend. On Saturday I drove a friend’s son to a large volleyball tournament for the Eagles youth group.  The next day I attended a singing of the Hummingbirds group.

The Hummingbirds are a more traditional group, reflected by their dress at least. Boys at the Eagles event sported short-sleeved shirts in bright patterns and colors (green, yellow, even hot pink) from trendy outlets such as Aeropostale and American Eagle.  The Hummingbirds youth wore traditional Amish clothing at their adult-supervised event the next day.  I think we might hear more from Rich Stevick on this when the new edition of his book Growing Up Amish: The Teenage Years comes out.

Rumspringa Beer

Speaking of the youth, that favorite semi-mythical coming-of-age period, Rumspringa, has landed on the labels of a certain Lancaster County brewery.  It was only a matter of time I suppose.  The self-described “nano-brewery” (“Sow your wild oats at Rumspringa Brewing Company in Intercourse, PA!”) resides on the second floor of the Lancaster County Beer & Wine Gallery.

Rumspringa Brewing

This sign greets you from both directions while going down highway 340 (Old Philadelphia Pike), plastered on the sides of a barnlike structure along the main thoroughfare between Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse.  Seeing this reminded me of a question: Do Amish ever brew beer?  The person asking figured they might, given the German heritage.  I’ve never heard of it, though wine is made by some Amish.

And while some brew the alcohol, others craft the containers.  I spotted this business somewhere south of 30:

Bens Woodshop Barrels

I’m not sure if Ben is Amish, but the Rumspringa Beer people, as you’d expect, are not.

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    1. Fran Handrick

      Growing up Amish

      Erik, You mention a new edition of Growing up Amish, that sounds exciting to me! It was one of the most exciting ‘textbooks’ I’ve read. I could hardly put it down. Do you have a publication date?

      1. Rich could probably tell us better, but I do know his manuscript is due in to Johns Hopkins right around now. Would that make it sometime next year?

        I have read sections of it and it is revised with some important new information. Rich has done some excellent work in drawing attention to issues and challenges centered around the latest technology and the web.

        In fact I was telling some Amish friends at breakfast yesterday that I think it would be good for Amish people to read, especially parents of teens or soon to be teens.

    2. Katrina

      Rumspringa Beer and Those Whisky Barrels

      Reading this article, I had one of those “I’m surprised someone didn’t think of that beer title sooner” moments. Don’t assume the whisky barrels are for drinking. In my part of Indiana, the half barrels are used for landscaping-planting flowers in them is popular. The full barrels can be used for collecting rainwater running off the roof and used for watering.They can also b used for storing stuff.

      1. Yes I doubted anyone uses them to store whiskey…looks like there is an example of the planter right under the sign (funny I didn’t “see” it until I read your comment though).

        The Rumspringa logo has what looks like a menacing? enticing? city skyline in the background of the fields.

        1. Slightly-handled-Order-man

          Please drink responsibly - Bishop's orders

          I don’t know, I for one would go in and buy a case of Rumspringa beer and keep one emptied bottle and add it to the collection of interesting beers that I’ve tried, if I had such a collection (I don’t). I like the novelty of micro breweries, although some of the ones in Ontario can be pricey, I imagine the same is true in NY or PA.

          I can see the symbolism in the city scape in the background of the logo, maybe they are playing up the choice a young Amish has between his/her Amish life and perhaps moving to the city and enjoying some Rumspringa beer with little guilt.

          I think it should have a little tag line underneath it that notes
          “Please drink responsibly – Bishop’s orders”

          1. Shom I think that’s the idea. The city lurking in the background, beckoning over the verdant pastures of Amish country. It actually fits pretty well the English concept of Rumspringa.

    3. Debbie H

      I didn’t see the barrel under the sign either. Think thst brewer is trying to capitalize on the Amish or the youth or both?

    4. Anne, the mom!


      It actually makes me sad that others in the local community would try to entice the Amish youth away from their wholesome lifestyles. In Ed’s community they don’t allow Rumspringa, though the DO allow their young folks to make their own decisions about what and who they are going to follow. But there is no formal period when the youth are expected to go out and run around…it’s considered ungodly, a breach of one’s commitment to God and community, to do such.

      And BTW, I’m so sorry I’ve not written in, in a very long time. I’ve just been overwhelmed with the spring real estate market here in Virginia!

      1. Amish youth parties and Rumspringa

        Anne I think this is marketed more towards the English, though I should ask what youth think about the popularization of the “Rumspringa” concept, or at least some people’s idea of it.

        Some other communities are firm about controlling wilder youth behavior. The New Order seem the most adamant about this across the board, though other communities take a similar stance.

        Interestingly the arguably most traditional Amish, the Swartzentruber people, have supposedly the wildest youth. “Higher” Amish in Holmes County have commented on this themselves. A friend of mine in Wayne County was explaining some of the wild things that had happened in their area via the activities of the local Swartzentruber youth (kegs of beer and so on). I had long heard this though I wonder if it is similar in more isolated and smaller Swartzentruer communities compared to the big Holmes Co. settlement.

        Glad to hear from you Anne and I hope houses are selling like hotcakes for you.

      2. Katrina

        Reply to Anne

        I thought you might be interested to know that here in Las Vegas, we are hearing about how the real estate market in Virginia is very bust right now. Have a good week!!!

        1. Katrina


          That should be “busy “, not what I typed. My apologies.
          Erik, can we get an “edit” button, please?

    5. Al in Ky

      I wonder if the Amish ministry in the districts in the locale
      of the brewery are concerned about using Rumspringa in the name of
      the brewery and… if so, if they have shared their concerns with
      the brewery’s owner.

      I enjoyed the picture of the countryside. That corn will be much
      more than “knee high by the Fourth of July”.

      1. Amish objection to Rumspringa brew?

        Al I don’t have info on that but I would kind of doubt it. It’s not like it’s a sacred term or interfering in how the Amish live their lives, and for that matter a lot worse has been done using the Amish name or spinning off an Amish concept or custom.

        And traditionally the stance as you know is not to involve oneself in matters of the world, especially what they probably would see as a silly English marketing tactic (though one which I would bet is probably successful, for what it’s worth).

        Also this area is basically ground zero for Amish tourism, not just in Lancaster County but America as a whole for that matter…you see a lot of interesting things on the 340 highway.

        1. Al in Ky

          Thanks for your reply; helped me understand things a little better.
          I’ve never been to Lancaster County and think if I went, I’d have
          to stay away from the 340 Hwy. Just as when I go to Holmes County, Ohio, I stay away from State Hwy 39 and have an interesting, enjoyable time.

    6. Alice Mary

      Dead giveaway to me...

      To me, the fact that the skyline is included in the (English) logo for the Rumspringa Brewery tells me right away that it is a “NON-Amish” company. I’d be more “concerned” if an Amish company (though most likely NOT a brewery!) used a skyline in advertising their wares. In fact, maybe more “English” companies who set up shop in Amish areas should use a skyline in their logo/advertising—then we’d be forewarned they were not Amish, if we were looking for “true Amish” merchandise/ownership.

      The first photo is so bucolic…so green, clean & peaceful. I also noticed that healthy corn (it’s already well-beyond MY knees!).

      Anne–glad to hear business is thriving for you!

      Alice Mary

    7. Anne, the mom!

      Erik, I’m glad for your insight, that this is not targeted at the Amish youth…and I feel bad for jumping to conclusions. But like Al, I wonder how the Amish feel about how this business has co-opted the word. And it’s so interesting to hear about how the communities differ, especially that the most restrictive communities are known for having the wildest youth. I sure there’s a shrink out there who would love to explain that one to us!

      And thanks for the good wishes on our RE market here. It is nice to be busy, but I miss having interaction with all of you more frequently. We are planning a trip with Ed and Ruth in the fall of the year. Should be interesting as they will take a train and meet us in Colorado, then we’re visiting friends along the way as we head south to Amarillo, our original home. Lots of family there and some who’ve not yet met Ruth. I know I’ll have some stories to tell after that trip!

      1. Defending the Amish

        I’m suppose it might be annoying, at the least…on the other hand, the Amish in that area are so subject to tourist forces and activities that I don’t know if they even pay it much mind.

        If the question is whether they would take action in some way against the business (objecting in some way), I seriously doubt it. However others might take it upon themselves to do so in their stead. English people have done this in various ways, acting to “speak” for the Amish when they are seen to be abused or slighted…going back to the parochial schooling issue through Witness and beyond.

        If you ask me I kind of think that with Amish Mafia and other mainfestations of pop culture around the Amish these days, this is relatively tame.

        Sounds like a good adventure with Ed and Ruth planned…I hope you’ll share some more with us when the spirit moves you.

    8. Sadie

      I love hearing about the youth groups ( I may be old but not THAT old haha ) and the various names they choose, and which group does what, which push the boundaries and which stay more traditional. It’s just really interesting, and I wonder how the parents of the Aeropostale-dressed ( well, shirted, ha ) boys feel about that. And I’d guess that, to a total outsider, a casual observer who knew little to nothing about anything Amish, the differences in the youth groups would never even be noticed. Well, perhaps the hot pink, as that’s not such a common color that one sees!

      1. Parents' tolerance of Amish youth activities

        Parents’ feelings certainly vary but I think the trendy clothes are probably fairly low on the list of concerns compared to the internet, alcohol, etc. I wonder and maybe Rich Stevick or someone would know, whether parents who were in “faster” groups tend to have children that end up joining faster groups, and same question with slower groups. Are the parents who once behaved in similar ways themselves more tolerant of boundary-pushing behavior?

        If I had to guess I’d lean to saying “yes”…On the other hand, those who had wilder youths may be more aware of what goes on and therefore more restrictive of their own youth.