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My final stop on the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail was Molly Pitcher Brewing. Named after the legendary Revolutionary War heroine who brought pitchers of water to colonial soldiers on the battlefield. Molly, who’s real name was Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, famously jumped in to man a cannon during the Battle of Monmouth, earning the respect and admiration of those soldiers she fought with, and creating the legend of the fearless patriot in a petticoat.
This place had the feel of a true neighborhood pub. The staff greeted me when I walked in, and asked what I’d like before I sat down. Everyone seemed to know each other, but still made you feel like you were one of them. There was even a young woman there celebrating her last night as a single woman with her maid of honor and bridesmaids. She’s the one wearing the veil in the picture above.
The place was accented with items from colonial America like a tri corner hat, a musket, and tap handles made from flintlock pistols and wooden beer taps.
The Patriot Pale Ale had a bright golden hue with a fruity and floral aroma and a hint of citrus. The hop bitterness was nicely balanced by the malt with a touch of citrus. Delicious.
The Billy Haze-Jucy IPA had a hazy golden color and had a fruity/citrucy aroma, and a sweet but not too sweet tropical fruit flavor with a light citrus taste. Excellent.
Unfortunately, like all good things my time on the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail finally came to an end. I had tasted some truly remarkable beer, had some good things to eat, and met some great people, but I was only able to visit a handful of the craft breweries on the trail, and sample only a tiny fraction of the beer. But that just gives me a good reason to come back, and something to look forward to.
Until next time, may you always have good health, and may your cup never run dry.
As I continued my journey along the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail our pizza lunch was beginning to be just a distant memory, so my group head to downtown Carlisle to the Market Cross Pub and Brewery.
This English style pub has been around for nearly 25 years, and was voted “Simply the Best Local Pub” 4 years in a row from 2014 to 2017. However it didn’t start brewing its own hand crafted beers until 2002. They brought a 10bbl brewing system over from England, and use it to produce 12-14 styles a year with 3 or 4 on tap at a time. In addition to their own craft beer, they also offer a variety of local, regional, and national craft beers, as well as some imports.
In addition to a comprehensive selection of beer, they also have a very impressive food menu with classic pub fare, assorted sandwiches, burgers, and a number of dinner selections such as crab stuffed salmon, prime rib, rack of lamb, and New York Strip. I ordered the New York Strip, and began sampling beer.
They had 3 of their own craft beers on tap, so I started with the Pub Daddy Pale Ale. It had a light amber color and an aroma that reminded me of pines and evergreens. There was a good balance between the hop bitterness and roast malt flavor with notes of evergreen and caramel malt.
The English Red Ale had a deep red color and thick dense head. It had a very malty, slightly sweet bready aroma and flavor.
The Dublin Your Luck Irish Stout was my favorite. The head wasn’t very thick, but it lasted. It had a nice chocolate and coffee smell, and a dark, malty flavor, rich, faintly sweet, with a hint of bitter chocolate.
After finishing my delicious steak and another round of beer, we headed out to our next stop, Burd’s Nest Brewing.
Just a couple of block away from Market Cross, the Burd’s Nest was very open and welcoming. They had 4 of their craft beers on tap, and food being prepared and served by local eatery Spoons Cafe’s off-site location inside the brewery.
One of the brewery’s owner’s, Dave Hamilton, was still there when we arrived, and was more than happy to talk about the brewery in which he obviously took great pride. They have seven 10 bbl fermenters, which double as serving tanks, and a control system which allows them to set temperatures, and transfer beer from on tank to another at the touch of a button. And while co-owner Josh Hood is responsible for most of the brewing, Dave, an avid home brewer, is not afraid to step in and brew, or just clean tanks when needed.
Their Cold Infused Citra Pale Ale had a slightly cloudy golden hue, a grapefruit/citrus aroma, and a fruity profile with a light caramel malt character.
This place had a very relaxed and comfortable atmosphere and a staff that was friendly and fairly knowledgeable. This would be a great place to sit and relax with friends any day of the week, but they are only open Thursday through Saturday.
My next stop on the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail was Harty Brewing in the Silver Spring Township in Mechanicsburg, PA. This little nano brewery located in the tiny community of Walden is owned and operated by Michael Harty and Lauren Ishaq. But don’t let the small size of their tasting room fool you. Their beers are big on taste.
Their American Pale Ale was clear with a golden amber hue and a light citrusy aroma and a hop forward flavor with a light malt presence.
The IPA was cloudy yellow with an orange/citrus aroma and taste, and a slight sweetness that balanced well against a roasted malt backbone.
The Coffee Irish Red had a deep amber red color with a woodsy/malty aroma with a hint of coffee, and a deep malty flavor with a light coffee taste.
The Oatmeal Stout tasted and smelled as dark and rich as it looked with a malty, caramel/maple aroma and taste with a hint of coffee.
And last but not least, the Coffee Cake Blond Ale had a hazy yellow color and and a smell and taste that reminded me of peaches and cinnamon, with a light sweetness.
Talking to some of the other patrons, Harty Brewing is apparently known for its many experimental beers. Several spoke about a recent jalapeño ale which they claim was unbelievably good. Lauren, who was manning the bar agreed that a lot of their regulars had been asking for them to make it again.
This was a great little craft brewery, with a warm and inviting atmosphere, a real sense of community, and very good beer!
Desperate Times Brewery opened it’s doors in 2015 and has become a local favorite. This craft brewery located near the fairgrounds has a prohibition era theme, but a strong German vibe. They have a kitchen with a pretty good food menu with an assortment of German sausages, German potato salad, a schnitzel sandwich, sauerkraut, and giant pretzels, along with an assortment of sandwiches and other items.
They also seem to specialize in German style beers such as a lager, bock, German pilsner, Kölsch, and a Hefeweizen, but they also had other styles like stouts, IPAs and porters.
The Black Forest Schwarzbier was a dark lager with a light malty and slightly smoky aroma. It had a nice malt profile for a lager, with toasted notes.
The Desperate Measures Red IPA had a dense creamy head with a mild sweat malt smell. It had a solid malt presence with a not too hoppy flavor.
The Citra Rye IPA had a clear deep golden color, a sweet malty aroma, and a good malt/hop balance with hints of citrus.
Honest Law Breaker Oatmeal Stout had a strong roasted malt presence, with coffee notes. It had a lot of flavor, but a lighter mouthfeel.
The tasting room is very spacious and open, and the staff was friendly and the beer was quite tasty. I can’t wait to go back again.
Next stops: Market Cross Pub and Brewery, and Burd’s Nest Brewing.
My journey along the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail continued with a visit to Pizza Boy Brewing just outside of Harrisburg, PA, which is also known as Al’s of Hampden. If there is one food that is meant to be eaten with beer, it would have to be pizza. There is just something about the combination of crust, sauce, melted cheese, and the assorted toppings that just begs for a beer.
Pizza Boy Brewing has taken the relationship of pizza and beer to the next level. Not only did they have 30 of their own beers on tap, but they also had an additional 69 guest taps serving local and regional craft beer and ciders, as well as craft beer from all across the country! Now if you or that special someone prefer wine, they also have a wide selection of wines from across the US and around the world. If you wanted to take some beer home, they have a number of beers available for sale in 6-packs and cases. And while they don’t sell growlers, they do offer growler fills. Now if the craft beer or cider you had your eye on is not available in a 6-pack or case, and you don’t have a growler, they do have crowlers which are 32 oz cans they fill and seal on site.
And did I mention they had pizza? I particularly liked the Steak and Onion pizza, but a close second was the Hot Hot Hot pizza with pepperoni, bell peppers, jalopenos, onions, and garlic. If you like pizza and beer, this place is about as close to heaven as you can get without becoming living impaired.
I had the Pizza Boy Flying Laserbeam IPA, and the Country Lager.
The Laserbeam had a golden color, light citrus aroma, a hop-forward flavor with notes of orange citrus with mild malt backbone. Good hop presence, but not a lot of malt.
The Country Lager had a bright clear golden color, with a crisp refreshing flavor with a hint of toasted bread.
Both beers were solid and very tasty. Paired with their pizza, they were outstanding.
My next stop was Ever Grain Brewing in the Hampden Terminal shopping center. The brewery is tucked away inside the shopping center, and a little hard to see, but definately worth finding. It had an open and very comfortable tasting room, with a number of noteworthy craft beers. The staff was cheerful and eager to answer any questions you might have or give you sample of any of their offerings.
The HellYes Lager had a golden orange color and a bready slightly sweet aroma with some floral notes. The flavor was dry and crisp but still had a light malty sweetness and a clean finish.
The IDA 007 IPA had a light citrusy/fruity aroma. It was hop forward with a medium caramel malt backbone.
Surf Breakers was a west coast IPA with a light clear amber color and a bright orange citrus aroma. It was also hop forward but with a lighter malt presence.
I was a little torn between the Udder One milk stout and Dark Necessity Imperial Stout, but finally settled on Dark Necessity. It was dark and opaque, with a thin tan head that didn’t last long. It had a rich chocolate and coffee aroma with a strong roasted malt presence with some bitter chocolate notes and a hint of molasses.
I should also mention they have a locally sourced kitchen called Little Bird Craft Kitchen which has a very eclectic menu with some unusual menu items you don’t see very often, such as venison meatballs, bone marrow, kimchi tacos, dry aged duck breasts, and fried chicken ramen. There were also more common menu items, but why go for something you can get anywhere? I desperately wanted to try some of those items, but unfortunately I had filled up on pizza. I’ll just have to come back another day to eat, and try more beer, of course!
Next stop: Harty Brewing and Desperate Times Brewery.
Near the end of Harrisburg Beer Week I was fortunate to find myself in Carlisle PA, at the very heart of the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail, and was able to sample and enjoy some of the best craft beer Pennsylvania as to offer.
The beer trail stretches from Chambersburg to Harrisburg and currently includes 19 breweries, a distillery and a meadery, with three more breweries, another distillery, and a winery to be added soon.
Of course you shouldn’t explore the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail without a passport. You can get a Beer Trail Passport from the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau or any of the participating beer trail locations. Each time you visit a location on the trail you can get a sticker, and depending on how many stickers you collect, you can redeem the passport for prizes such as a bottle opener, coupons, a t-shirt, and a chance to win a $50 gift card!
According to the Visitors Bureau, beer tourism is growing fast, and the beer trail is attracting craft beer lovers from all across the country. The Bureau reports that 25% of the passports redeemed are from people who live more than 2 hours from the trail, and people from as far away as Florida, Texas, and even Oregon have redeemed passports.
The first stop on my beer trail experience was at Roy Pitz Brewing in Chambersburg, PA. They describe their craft beer as liquid art. I sampled their Barleywine, West Coast IPA, Smoked Porter, and Sour Gose, and to be honest I don’t think they were bragging- just stating the facts.
Not only was the beer noteworthy, they had a pretty good food menu also. The Brew House Nachos have pulled pork, shredded Monterey jack, pico de gallo, and scallions topped with sour cream on a bed of tortilla chips. So good! And have you ever had a cheesesteak egg roll?
The menu also included a number of burgers, sandwiches, wings, and more. And of course no pub menu would be complete without the classic fish and chips!
The tasting room had a comfortable feel, the staff was friendly and helpful, the food was good, and the beer was awesome!
My next stop on the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail was at Gearhouse Brewing in Chambbersburg. This craft brewery is located just around the corner from Roy Pitz.
They had a wide variety of craft beer on tap that would please the most discerning craft beer enthusiast such as a Hefeweizen, Kölsch, amber lager, American and Irish reds, a blond ale, IPAs, and stout.
I had an Angelic Red Ale and the I’ll Be Bock amber lager. The Angelic Red had a beautiful amber/red color, a nice roast malt aroma with a hint of lightly toasted bread and rich malty flavor. The I’ll Be Bock had a biscuity aroma with just a hint of hops, and a fresh, clean, biscuity flavor with a light caramel malt presence. Both were delicious.
They also have an eclectic food menu with a variety of items such as poutine (fried tater tots with cheese curds, beef gravy and beer cheese), fish tacos, mac & cheese, and assorted sandwiches and sliders.
This is a great place to stop in after a hectic day at work, or to unwind on the weekend. Fine beer and pretty good food.