After sleeping in on Saturday morning, we had plans to head north to Williamsport. But first, we decided to hit a pair of new places to us in nearby Lewisburg. First up was West Branch Brewing Company. Situated in the renowned Bull Run Tap House on Market Street (the main drag), this place is a favorite among Bucknell students and craft beer fans alike. With 47 taps (mostly local and regional craft) and a solid bottle selection, Bull Run is also the de facto tap room for West Branch. During our particular visit, I was happy to see five house brews on tap. Coincidentally, their sampler flight consisted of five 5oz. pours. How convenient for us!
|Sampler flight and growlers at West Branch (courtesy of Google Images)|
|Beer and cider offerings at Civil War Cider|
|Civil War's tap tower looked like an old tree stump|
After hitting these two new places, it was time to venture onward to Billtown. Home of the Little League World Series, Williamsport, PA is also home to one of my favorite brewpubs in PA, and one of the first places I came to love the IPA style. Bullfrog Brewery first came onto my radar when my band, herbie, used to play there back around 2004. I had just started getting into craft beer, and playing at breweries and brewpubs really allowed me to dive into trying different styles, as I typically drank for free. Once I met Deuane, we then became friends with Terry Hawbaker, who was brewing at Bullfrog at the time. We liked Bullfrog so much that Brewslut joined the pub club, which gave us lifetime access to cool events like Halloween and Christmas parties. Although we were sad to see Terry eventually move on (even though he landed much closer to home at Pizza Boy), his successor, Nate, hasn't missed a beat and has been churning out unique concoctions including smoked wheat-based fruit beers, crazy sours, and ciders. He's also kept Edgar IPA alive and well, one of my all-time favorite IPAs!
|The carved wood tap handles at Bullfrog have long been some of my favorites!|
|Pleeps was digging the Smoked Berry Wheat!|
After Bullfrog, we always head down the road to Newberry (although technically part of Williamsport) to Riepstine's Pub. Owner and brewer Bart Rieppel has been part of the local craft beer scene for many years, getting his start at Abbey Wright Brewing in nearby Duboistown. It was there that I first had his Alpha Deuce IPA, and I knew he was legit. After a few years at Abbey Wright, he moved on to River House Brewing in Milton, bringing along with him not only Alpha Deuce but also his exceptional Vanilla Latte Stout, which is still one of the best stouts brewed in PA I've ever had. After a short stint there, Bart realized that he needed to be his own boss. The rest is history.
|Riepstine's Pub exterior shot (courtesy of Google Images)|
By now, it was time to start heading back to the Chalet. On the way home, we swung by Rusty Rail in Mifflinburg, which is just a few miles from home base. Since they've been cranking out Sidetrack Series beers (similar to Tröegs Scratch Beer Series), they always have one or two different beers on tap when we visit. This time, they had Sidetrack #5 - Grapefruit IPA and #6 - Chocolate Hazelnut Porter. We ordered one of each and sat outside by the awesome fireplace. Both beers were a marked improvement from our last visit. I'm all about revisiting a brewery several times to track their improvement and see how they are growing (or devolving) as a brewery. We were glad to enjoy both of these beers outside on the patio under a lovely starry night.
|I'm gonna lay you down by the FIRE!|
|Our view from our seats at the bar at Elk Creek.|
Soon, we were off to Happy Valley. First stop, Happy Valley Brewing Company. I must admit these guys have been knocking stuff out of the park lately. We've been there a handful of times since they opened and have routinely been impressed, save for a clunker of a beer here or there. The brewery is situated in an old converted barn, which makes sense as their tap handles are topped with weathervanes and most of their beer labels feature farm animals. As with most breweries, they have around six year-round beers available and a handful of seasonals and limited beers. This time around, I went with a pint of Summer Camp, an Imperial Citrus Wheat as they call it. Basically, it was a citrus-forward IPA brewed with wheat. I had this once before, but damn was this beer tasty! Brewslut opted for the Scream, a pumpkin ale. After consulting our Untappd beer history, we realized we also had this during a previous visit. We decided this would be a one-and-done visit so we could get downtown to Zeno's.
|Tap handles at Happy Valley.|
|Bathroom Literature 101 at Zeno's.|
Funny story aside, we were pleased to see Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Stout on tap. At only $8 for a 10oz. pour, we thought this was reasonable. I ordered one. Brewslut made the mistake of getting a Stone Americano Stout instead. Not to say it's a bad beer, but Bourbon County Stout it ain't. She had no qualms sharing some of mine, though. Hey, that's what marriage is all about, right? (Inside joke alert: Especially if you're a frequent visitor of TJ's: A Private Club.) Speaking of sharing, we decided to split a pint of the tasty Zeno's Rye, a beer brewed especially for them by Otto's.
|Pleeps can't stop Joe'kin around!|
So it was back to the Chalet for a few late-night beers and some couch time, followed by a good night's sleep. Since Selin's Grove was closed on Monday (m'wah!), we skated down Rt. 11/15 South to Al's of Hampden for some Labor Day libations. I don't visit as often as I'd like, but each time I do, there are a few new beers on tap that sound tasty. I went with Stay Handsome, a new IPA brewed with peaches and hibiscus. This one was particularly delicious and left a ton of lacing all around the glass (see pic below).
In addition to about 25 house beer at any one time, Al's is known for his unparalleled tap selection in the area, boasting 101 different beers on draught, nitro, and cask. They've also become what might as well be called Tired Hands' West Shore location, because Al has been featuring anywhere from 4 to 8 Tired Hands beers on tap at any given time. Since I make it to Tired Hands even less than Al's, I always make it a point to try a new beer if I hadn't already had it. On this day, I sampled Hoi Oligoi, a cloudy IPA brewed with spelt and rye and hopped with Cascade, Hallertau Blanc and Columbus. I followed this up with Confrontation of the Unconscious, a barrel-aged saison. One of Jean's fortes is brewing complex farmhouse-style ales, and this one was no exception. This one featured a blend of a fresh, citrusy Saison base with a 1-year aged red wine barrel fermented "red" Saison. Delicious!
|Pleeps' Confrontation of the Unconscious|
With an extra day of drinking, it was time for a much-needed rest. Stay tuned for more scenes from Portlandia. We're about halfway through our adventure. Thanks for reading. Until next time...