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THE BREWHOLDER: Prism Brewing brings its unique feel to Lansdale

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WRITTEN BY MATT BRASCH
For Digital First Media

After more than a year and a half of planning, approvals, and renovations, Prism Brewing Company’s taps are now flowing in Lansdale.  While the geographic location of the brewery has changed, Prism’s brewing equipment, colorful logo, and speakeasy feel from the original Dickerson Road brewery in Upper Gwynedd has been successfully transplanted into the distinctive space previously filled by La Crest Health Spa in Hillcrest Plaza.

Founder and brewmaster Rob DeMaria first opened Prism in 2010 and has focused on ales with a wide range of flavors including honey, coffee and even jalapeño peppers.  According to the Prism website,  “They treat beer like a chef treats food in that you will only find them using whole, natural and fresh products to create balanced flavorful ales…This is how they achieve more palatable balanced flavors that provide you with diverse tastes, ranging from subtle to bold, but always balanced from the use of these whole natural ingredients, sourced fresh and as close to home as possible.”  www.prismbeer.com.  Prism’s “Bitto Honey” (brewed with a special blend of honey from a Chester county apiary and the motivation for DeMaria to open a brewery) and “Felony IPA” (10% ABV and 100 IBUs) have become well-known regionally.  In addition to an increasing reputation with beer enthusiasts, DeMaria’s desire to work with the community has also generated higher demands for his beer, including his 2015 collaboration with Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown to create the “Zoo Brew Bar,” where several exclusively brewed Prism beers are served to zoo visitors.

 The view of the brew kettle and main bar from Prism's mezzanine, with a Prism flight of course!  Photo by Matt Brasch.

The view of the brew kettle and main bar from Prism’s mezzanine, with a Prism flight of course! Photo by Matt Brasch.

Because of this increase in demand, DeMaria’s move from the old warehouse was inevitable. A Lansdale Zoning Board meeting in April 2015 paved the way for DeMaria to put the plan into action, but that was only the beginning.  According to DeMaria, in addition to removing most vestiges of a gym, the entire space at La Crest had to be rewired for electricity, and of course, a fresh coat of paint was needed throughout. DeMaria’s last night of operation at Dickerson Road was Nov. 12; on Nov. 13, he surprised many by announcing on Facebook that the new location would be open for 2 hours for a free “pop-up VIP event” soft opening / staff training event.

Even though it is tucked back into the corner of a large strip mall, the new location can’t be missed – whether you see the rainbow colored word “Prism” in the Hillcrest Plaza sign on Main Street, or the neon sign over the door.  When you enter through the front doors under the glowing rainbow logo, you first approach a greeting stand that is at once recognizable as a former welcome counter for the gym.  Once past the welcome area, your eye is immediately drawn to the brew kettle behind the U-shaped bar and decorative LED lights hanging from the high ceiling.  Six large windows in the wall behind the main bar provide a view into the brewery operation, where the fermentation tanks from Dickerson Road happily turn wort into beer in their new, roomy home.

Prism's new "Tapas Flight" - small portions, lots of flavor!  Photo by Matt Brasch

Prism’s new “Tapas Flight” – small portions, lots of flavor! Photo by Matt Brasch

In addition to bar stools, the main space has plenty of table seating as well as a comfortable lounge area that includes a couch and two cushioned armchairs.  A game room with a pool table, pinball and video arcade games rounds out the first floor.  Anyone who ever visited the original brewery may feel a familiarity in the new location; the burgundy walls and black paneled ceiling darken the space and provide a friendly reminder of the old Dickerson Road tasting room.

Head up a flight of steps near the welcome area and you will arrive at the mezzanine level with a second bar and even more seating.  From the mezzanine, a clear view of the brewhouse and the bar can be had, and it is an excellent place for families with children.  Another set of stairs lead up to a large area that holds an indoor track and more untapped potential for Prism.

The physical aspect of Prism is not the only thing that has changed.  The menu, just like the space, has increased dramatically.  One of the new additions that DeMaria calls “Fun!” is the tapas menu – 9 different Tapas offerings, “made to be paired with one of our speciality ales.”  But if you find it too difficult to choose just one of the delicious small plates, try the “Tapas flight” – 4 smaller portions of your selection of tapas along with 4, 4 ounce samples of the paired Prism beer for $12.  Burgers ($10), pasta ($12.50) and entrees from Fish & Chips ($18.50) to Filet Mignon ($24) are also available if you would like to pair your beer with more than a few bites.

While the unique setting of the old location will be missed by some, it is clear that DeMaria has attempted to bring some of the Dickerson Road feel into the Lansdale location.  There is no doubt that DeMaria has poured his heart and soul into this brewery; stop in for a tapas flight and see for yourself.  Cheers!

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