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Friday, December 16, 2016

Good beer in Shamokin. Yes, you read correctly.

About two years ago, I met the owner of a tiny brewery in Catawissa, PA (which is located near our old stomping grounds of Shamokin and just a stone's throw away from Knoebel's Grove Amusement Park) through a mutual beer friend, Kramer. The brewery, Covered Bridge Brewhaus, was started by homebrewer-turned-pro Eric Kuijpers, a friendly Dutch guy who brings and old-world style of European brewing to Central PA. (You can read a bit more about Eric and Covered Bridge on the River Rate Brew Trail site if you're so inclined.) This was a few years after the region started booming with small breweries such as Old Forge in Danville, Turkey Hill and Marley's in Bloomsburg, Berwick Brewing in Berwick and a few others. I was excited that a brewery existed so close to my hometown. However, I quickly learned that this was only a production brewery with extremely limited hours. While I was able to try some of Eric's beers (he's the owner and brewer of Covered Bridge, by the way) at a few of Kramer's annual gatherings, I was glad to see that he was on the right path. The Coconut Porter was a standout, which has ultimately become Covered Bridge's flagship beer. At any rate, I followed Covered Bridge peripherally through Facebook but (aside from Kramer's parties) the beers eluded me.

Wooden tap handle at Covered Bridge.
About a year or so ago, I heard that Eric was opening a small tap room on 8th Street in Shamokin (part of the same building where Brewslut used to rent VHS videos... remember those days?) about a block away from the house she lived in when we started dating. I thought, "This is too cool!" The problem was the hours of operation: Thursday only from 5 to 9 p.m. I seldom had a reason to be in Shamokin on a Thursday night. God knows there aren't too many reasons to even go to Shamokin. So the beers continued to elude me.

A few weekends ago, I had a free Saturday with no gigs or other obligations, so we decided to visit my mom and hit Selin's Grove on the way home. (I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'll use any excuse to stop by the Pub for a few pints and some grub!) On a whim, I decided to check out Covered Bridge's Facebook page to see if they perhaps added some expanded hours for the holiday season. We all know how people love to get their drink on during this time of year... myself included! My instincts paid off, because they had recently added Saturday hours at the tasting room from 6 to 10 p.m. Booyeah!

We arrived shortly after they opened at 6 p.m. and had planned to have a few samples and head down to Selin's Grove for a late dinner. When we entered, I was delighted to see Eric as well as a chalkboard filled with a dozen offerings on tap! I was only expecting maybe 4 or 5 beers, so this was a treat! The aforementioned Coconut Porter was present, and we had already tried the Dim Wizzy as well. We decided on the following flight of four sampler pours:
  • KW-IPA - I seem to recall Eric mentioned this was brewed with local Central PA hops, but I couldn't find additional information on-line. 
  • Koekie Claus - Our favorite of the four! This one was a darker ale and brewed with "Dutch spices," as Eric informed us. This had a nice molasses note with hints of anise, nutmeg and Grandma's spice rack!
  • Pumpkin Beer - This was a pleasant pumpkin ale brewed with real pumpkin and not overly spiced. 
  • Strubarb Wit - Belgian-style Witbier with tart rhubarb and sweet strawberries. 

Full draft list at Covered Bridge during our visit.

While we were working on our samplers, a couple walked in and the woman looked very familiar. After a quick double take, I realized she was our long-lost friend, Mary, who we'd been close friends with during our later years in high school and first few years of college. Turns out she and her husband had got bitten by the craft beer bug a few years back, and were stopping in for some samples and a growler fill. We hadn't seen Mary in about 20 years, so it was great to catch up with her. I also remembered her husband, who was a year ahead of me in school. Needless to say, we ended up staying a bit longer than anticipated so we could catch up. We traded stories and Facebook info over a full pour of the Cherry Triple, which was pretty tasty. I appreciated that Eric brewed this one with sour cherries to help keep the sweetness of the base Triple at bay. I love me a good Triple, but sometimes they can become cloyingly sweet after several sips. This was a pretty solid interpretation of the classic Belgian style. 

We honestly could have stayed until they closed, but we were pretty hungry by then, and I was eager to try the brand new draft Mule cocktails at Selin's Grove (which, by the way are off the freakin' charts)! Much like my description of one of Laddsburg Mountain Winery's port wines, it was easily one of the most amazing things I'd ever put inside my mouth. Go ahead. Feel free to make a few jokes about that. I'll wait...

A sight to behold while you're making fun of me.

Seriously, though, this was nothing short of amazing. Think of the absolute best mule you've ever tasted that was hands-down leaps and bounds better than any other you ever had. Well my loyal readers, this was even better than that. This thing could cure cancer! Apparently, Steve and Heather change up the batches with different ingredients. This particular concoction was made with cranberries, real juiced ginger, vodka, and I swear the nectar of the Gods. It was garnished with a lime wedge and a few cranberry floaters on top. As if I need something else to tempt me away from ordering a beer there (i.e. their amazing nitro cold brew coffee). Is there anything this place can't do? Answer: Nope.

I won't go into detail about the rest of our visit, because I give them enough love on here and elsewhere. Next time you hit up "The Pub," do yourself a favor and order a mule. Holy shitsnacks, are they good! 

Until next time, this little Dutch girl bids you a fond farewell...

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The Pour Travelers thank you for reading about our beer travels!