Across the pond (aka the Susquehanna River) from Harrisburg lies perhaps the greatest thing to happen to beer in the Capitol Region since Troegs. I'm referring, of course, to Al’s of Hampden. Located right off I-81’s Wertzville Road exit, Al’s has been in business since 2002, primarily as a pizza joint (and a great one, at that). Legend has it that owner and proprietor Albert Kominski got attacked by the craft beer bug (a very large, dangerous one) and decided to bring in mixed six packs and, later, a selection of twelve draughts. Fast-forward to 2011, and Al’s now boasts twenty-four tap lines (including several selections on nitro), three (yes THREE!) beer engines, coolers of take-out sixers and mix-a-six bottles, plus a fine selection of singles, bombers and 750mls. Al’s beer menu is a virtual scoreboard of available brews on tap, including stats like the beer’s name, brewery, style category, prices for pint, 1L and standard growler fills, and even its BA score! A growler filling machine (similar to Victory’s) will be coming soon as well. Sheesh!
One of my favorite things about Al’s is the special “Murren” events (named after BA Cmurren25), whereby Al fills a vessel with a specific beer and throws in additional ingredients, such as fruit, spices, etc. Past Murren events have included a Hopsickle Murren (a hollowed out watermelon with Moylans Hopsickle), a Mad Elf Murren (Troegs Mad Elf with cherries and vanilla beans), and a Pumpkin Murren (a carved out pumpkin filled with DFH Punkin Ale and accentuated with cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans). Stay tuned for the upcoming Choklat/Peanut Butter Murren, which will feature Southern Tier’s Choklat Imperial Stout blended with emulsified peanut butter. You will also be able to order a PB&J version, which will have a splash of Lindemans Framboise mixed in. Al was gracious enough to let me sample both versions in advance, and let me tell you, this is going to be off the hook! Hey, you got your Choklat in my peanut butter!
In virtual land, Al’s website features an up-to-the-minute list of everything on draught and cask (even the ones that are kicked) even lets you vote for the beer you want to be put on next. At Al’s, it’s a “DemHOPracy!” You can also sign up for daily or weekly email updates so you know what’s coming and going. Be sure to stop in on Troegs Tuesday, where you can get cheap growler fills as well as discounted Troegs draughts and bottles. If you stop in on any given Thursday between 4 and 6pm, you’ll be sure to see yours truly enjoying a grilled chicken sub and one of the fantastic beers on tap or handpull.