Cumberland Valley Beer Trail pt 3- Harty Brewing and Desperate Times Brewery

146 Walden Way Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

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!

1201 Carlisle Springs Rd, Carlisle, PA 17013

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.

Cumberland Valley Beer Trail, Pt 2- Pizza Boy and Ever Grain 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.

2240 MILLENNIUM WAY, ENOLA, PA 17025

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.

4444 Carlisle Pike, Camp Hill, PA 17011

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.

The journey continues….

 

 

 

 

Cumberland Valley Beer Trail, Pt 1 – Roy Pitz and Gearhouse

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.

104 N. 3rd St, Chambersburg, PA

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!

253 Grant St, Chambersburg, PA

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.

Next stops, Pizza Boy and Ever Grain Breweries!

To be continued…

Scott’s Addition In RVA!

If you are planning a mini-vacation, a weekend getaway, or just a night out, I can’t think of a better place than Scott’s Addition in Richmond, VA. This historical district currently boasts 5 craft breweries, 2 craft cideries, a meadery, and a craft distillery, not to mention over a dozen restaurants, coffee houses, and even a bakery: all within a 4-block radius!

Scott’s Addition was originally planned as a residential neighborhood. However, in 1927 it was re-zoned for industrial and a number of large plants, commercial buildings and warehouses were built, sometimes replacing the existing homes. The area thrived for a time, but then it started to decline. More and more buildings became empty as businesses began to close or relocate to larger and more modern facilities.

Fortunately, in 2010 a renaissance began in this mostly forgotten neighborhood. Buildings were renovated and turned into apartments, new apartments were built, and businesses began to return. Seeing the potential of this revitalizing neighborhood, Isley Brewing Company was the first craft brewer to move into Scott’s Addition, opening their doors on Oct. 23, 2013.

Since then they have been joined by Ardent, The Veil, Väsen, and Three Notch’d craft breweries. Buskey and Blue Bee cideries also moved into the neighborhood, as well as Black Heath Meadery. And of course, we shouldn’t forget Reservoir Distillery who opened their tasting room doors in 2009!

But there are more than just craft beverages in Scott’s Addition. Each brewery is likely to have a gourmet food truck parked right there, and if you’re looking for something a little different, there’s the Urban Farmhouse Market & Café, Peter Chang’s, Lunch|Supper, ZZQ Texas Craft Barbecue, The Dairy Bar, and many more restaurants. No matter what you are in the mood for; Chinese food, barbecue, seafood, burgers, sandwiches, or even a hearty breakfast, it’s there.

And did I mention The Circuit? It’s an arcade bar and, while it’s not a brewery, it does feature 44 self-service taps with both craft and non-craft beer,  ciders and wines, and an arcade with pinball machines and some of the best classic arcade games like Crazy Taxi, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, Defender, Frogger, Galaga, NBA Jam, Guitar Hero, Packman and more!

If you’re into award-winning craft beer or cider, mead, finely crafted distilled spirits, good food, live music, and/or vintage video games, you should check out Scott’s Addition.

So, what are you doing this weekend?

Ode’ To Craft Beer

I remember my first beer. It was mid-summer and I was about 12 years old. My friend grabbed a couple of bottles of Old Milwaukee when his father wasn’t looking, and we put them in the creek to chill. When we finally drank them, I found it wasn’t as cold or as tasty as I thought it would be.

Years later when I turned 18 it was legal for me to purchase and drink beer (they hadn’t raised the drinking age for beer to 21 yet). Having very little money, I bought and drank Red White and Blue, and Black Label because they were the cheapest beer I could get. I eventually got a real job and began earning a decent wage. This enabled me to move up to Miller Lite and Coors.  At the time I was pretty happy.

Then sometime in my late 20’s I was sitting in a bar and a friend pushes a pint of what looked like coffee to me and says “Try this.”

Despite serious reservations I did try it, and something called Guinness changed what I thought of as beer forever.

This beer had flavor- not taste, but flavor! And the aroma!  It was like nothing I had ever had. It made me wonder, what else I had been missing, and I began to look a little more closely at the taps behind the bar. I tried Killian’s, Yuengling, and a few others, and discovered a world of flavor I hadn’t known existed. I tried to drink Miller and Budweiser again, but couldn’t. I branched out into imports like Becks, Heineken, Harps, Stella, New Castle, and more!  I had been living in darkness and had finally come into the light! There was color and texture in the world I had not known existed.

And then the craft beer revolution happened, and my head nearly exploded.

Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, Goose Island, Dogfish Head, Brooklyn Brewery, New Belgium, Deschutes, Stone, Loose Cannon, Steamship, Hardywood Park and, and so many more! Small mom and pop craft breweries opening everywhere. Microbreweries, Nano breweries, new flavors, new aromas, new styles, and even experimental beers like Oreo Cookie, peach cobbler, fried chicken, key lime pie, and bacon!  If it can be imagined, for good or bad, a craft brewer will probably try and brew it.

Craft beer represents limitless creativity, imagination, and so many choices. Craft brewers are rediscovering hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of years of brewing tradition. Alewerks Brewing in Colonial Williamsburg teamed up with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to recreate 3 colonial beers from the 1700’s. Off Color Brewing in Chicago, working with the Field Museum of Natural History recreated beers of the Wari Empire in Peru from the 11th century.  Great Lakes Brewing Company in Ohio revived a   5,000-year-old Sumerian beer recipe!

Today, everywhere I go, when I’m asked what I would like to drink, I always ask, “What do you have that’s local?”.

I’m always looking for the best beer I’ve never had.

Domestic vs Craft and Specialty Beer

You ever notice that beer menus in restaurants and bars are usually divided into 3 categories: Domestic, Craft, and Imports? Yes? Then have you ever thought about the fact that all the “Domestic” beers are actually owned by foreign companies, and that the only actual domestic beers (beers brewed by American companies) are labeled as Craft or Specialty?

Maybe you think that it really doesn’t make a difference. If it is brewed right here in the USA, then it’s a domestic beer. If you believe that then  I have another question for you.  Toyota builds their cars here in the USA because it’s cheaper than building them somewhere else then ship them here.  Since they are built here in the USA by American workers, would you consider Toyota an American product?  Is it a domestic vehicle?

“Domestic” brands such as Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Ice, Bud Light Lime, Busch, Michelob, Michelob Ultra, Landshark Lager, Goose Island, 10 Barrel, Blue Point, Elysian, Redbridge, Natural Light, Shock Top, Wild Blue, Johnny Appleseed Hard Cider, and others are owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev- a Belgian company.

“Domestic” beers like Coors Banquet, Coors Light, Extra Gold Lager, Icehouse, Keystone, Killian’s Irish Red, Miller Genuine Draft, Miller High Life, Miller Lite, Miller 64, Milwaukee’s Best, Steel Reserve, Blue Moon, Leinenkugel’s, Redd’s Apple Ale, Crispin, Smith & Forge, and others, are brewed by MillerCoors which was a joint venture between SABMiller (Owned by South African Breweries) and Molson Coors (a Canadian company) until they were bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2016.

So I ask the question again. If Toyota is considered to be a foreign brand, despite being manufactured in America, then why are Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob, Landshark, Goose Island, Blue Moon, Coors, Miller, Milwaukee’s Best, Icehouse, and the others considered domestic?

Why are all the American owned beers considered “Specialty”?  When did something made in America by American companies stop becoming domestic?