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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Where's Clearfield? You'll wanna know after reading this!

Since we had so much fun extending the boundaries of our last trip to the chalet, we decided to go this route again and explore uncharted territory with a visit to Clearfield, PA. More on that in a bit.

Like every trip to the chalet, the weekend began with dinner and drinks at The Pub (that's Selin's Grove Brewing Co. for those who aren't regulars). Although we live over an hour away, I think we've solidified ourselves as "regulars" here. We've met so many people at the pub whom we now consider our friends. This was an especially fun night, as Mayor Reed was parked in his usual spot, and a few other friends were in attendance as well. Typically, I limit myself to three beers during any given visit to the pub. Occasionally, I one-up myself and have a fourth.

Well, on this particular evening, I was feeling the quintessence.

Yup... it was a five-beer night, beginning with one of my favorites, the IPA. I followed up with a pint of the Pilsner (an underrated beer at the pub, in my opinion). Next was a Snake Drive Stout, a dry Irish stout. I opted to infuse it with the delicious cold brew coffee on nitro, which is always a good decision. For dessert, I went with a pour of Framboise. Anyone who knows Selin's Grove has likely had one (if not all) of the fruit beers (the other two being the Phoenix Kriek and Saison de Peche). These three beers form the trifecta of the pub, in my opinion, and are world-class beers that should be uttered in the same breath as New Glarus Raspberry Tart and Wisconsin Red. Yeah, they're that good! I finished up the night with a pour of Stealth Triple... my kryptonite! Brewslut always has to take the keys to the CRV after I've had one of these bad boys. Somewhere in the midst of all of that, I managed to crack open a bottle of the latest Tröegs Splinter Series release, Freaky Peach, a bourbon barrel-aged peach and nectarine sour ale, to share with our friends. It's pretty damn yum-tastic! Although we brought a few beers with us to enjoy at the chalet, by the time we arrived, it was already pretty late and I was feeling a bit schwilly (my new favorite term for "drunk") so we hit the sack. We knew we had a longer day than usual in store for us on Saturday.

Saturday began like every trip to State College from the chalet - with a stop at Elk Creek. I was excited to see a brand new IPA on tap called Crickwalker. Since this was a one-and-done stop for us today, I obviously went with the newbie. I've enjoyed both the Double Rainbow and Hairy John IPAs from Elk Creek, but this was easily my favorite IPA from them thus far. This one struck me as more of an American style IPA (The Double Rainbow is an English style and Hairy John, while a DIPA, is fine but a bit malty for my preference) with a nice balance of citrus, earth and pine amid a cleaner yeast character than English yeast. This one is a winner and I hope to see it on tap frequently during subsequent visits.

Pleeps concurs: Crickwalker is a winner!

After a quick visit to Inglebean (just down the street from Elk Creek) for an iced coffee to go, we headed off for Happy Valley. However, we'd be skipping Happy Valley Brewing Company this time in lieu of a brand-new-to-us brewer called Race Street. More on Race Street in a bit.

We opted for Otto's over Happy Valley this time only because of the tap lists. Checking both in advance proved that Happy Valley didn't really have anything new or exciting on at the moment. Otto's, however, featured the new Red Wheat IPA as well as Jolly Roger (a fantastic Russian Imperial Stout) on cask. Looks like Otto's wins out this time!

When we arrived, Brewslut made a B-line to the front bar, which I thought was peculiar since we typically sit in the back bar area. Of course, it wasn't quite as crowded as it typically is during our visits. We always tend to get the same seats every time we sit at the front bar. We opted for 10-ounce pours of the Red Wheat IPA (me) and Night Owl Coffee Stout (Brewslut). For a snack, we went with our go-to: tofu wings with spicy peanut sauce. Pleeps enjoyed some admiration from nearby patrons after we plunked him down on the bar shortly after we arrived. Since Jolly Roger was on cask, we couldn't pass it up (despite its high ABV%) so we split a snifter. Ross, the friendly neighborhood bartender, kindly gave us separate snifters to enjoy. He must have assumed that Brewslut didn't want any of my "Jeffrey Germs" as my brother used to tease me about many moons ago.

Sorry for the lack of pictures thus far, but I tend not to take a lot of pictures of places we'd been to many times. (Our next stop will more than make up for it, I promise.)

I'd stumbled upon our next stop after consulting the trusty web site prior to the weekend. I was surprised to find a brewery situated in Clearfield, PA. Additionally, I was excited to learn that Clearfield was less than 40 miles west of State College. After enjoying our last road trip to Mansfield and Horseheads, NY, we were game for another extended venture this time around.

When we arrived, it appeared that the brewery was situated on some kind of military compound or industrial park. We spotted the sign for the brewery and pulled into the parking lot, which was huge and completely empty. A car pulled in after us and looked on as we were now doubtful if the place was even open. Brewslut moseyed up to the door and, thankfully, it was unlocked.

Entrance to Race Street Brew Works.

Upon entering the building, we were greeted by a long hallway leading up to what we'd hoped was the brewery. I immediately commented that the inside reminded me of an old school. The sign above the entry way confirmed that we were on the right track.

On the right track...

The somewhat long drive warranted a quick pit stop in the bathroom, and I had to chuckle when I came across this old-school communal fountain:

Quick pit stop

I hadn't seen anything like this since elementary school when I was a kid. Another point for my "this place is definitely an old school" theory.

Along the way, we encountered some old lockers, which lent credence to my theory that this was, in fact, an old school building. as we approached the brewery, the decor turned more festive with strings of lights and paper machete decorations akin to flowers, lawn orbs and umbrellas. I had a feeling I was going to dig this place.

Better... closer... warmer...

My instincts were correct, for when we turned the corner and entered the tasting room, we were greeted by one of the coolest, most eclectic-looking places we'd ever encountered.

Inside the dimly lit Race Street Brew Works.

Deuane had already given me a head's up (and thumb's up) on this place a few days prior to our visit, and he suggested talking to Bob, the owner and brewer. Turns out Bob and his wife are pretty much the entire staff at Race Street. Bob turned out to be one of the friendliest, coolest, and talkative owners we've encountered over the years. His personality mirrored the decor of the space as well as the music that was playing (all groovy funk music from the 70s and 80s). After our introduction, it was time for beer. But first, a few more pics of the interior, with which I was enamored!

Cool awning and wall adjacent to the kitchen.
First floor seating area.
The room I dubbed "the tarot-reading room."

With at least 16 beers available (including a pair of Pizza Boy guest taps), we each opted for sampler flights. Here's the low-down on mine:
  • Polish Pilsner - a Czech-style pilsner
  • Susquehanna Pale Ale - dry-hopped with Citra and Amarillo
  • Loud Mouth Oaked IPA - barrel-aged IPA
  • 10 Pound Torpedo - DIPA
  • Rauch Street - classic German Rauchbier aka smoked lager
While none of the beers carried me off to beervana, they were all solid, well-done, and enjoyable. My favorite was probably the 10 Pound Torpedo, and we joked with Bob about getting a cease and desist letter from Sierra Nevada. 

Pleeps got tangled up in our sampler flights!

Later, Brewslut and I shared a pour of Comrade Conrad, a tasty Russian Imperial Stout aged in rye whiskey barrels. However, by then we had encountered two couples sitting at the bar next to us. Of course, we began chatting and they asked about Pleeps. Turns out they also traveled with a "mascot," in their case a severed baby doll head they dubbed "Creepy Baby Head." I was immediately intrigued. Much like our own Pleeps, turns out Creepy Baby Head was also into beer, as evidenced by this photo:

Pleeps meets his match: Creepy Baby Head!

Half a Comrade Conrad and a sample of Hop Hash Brownie (a tasty hoppy brown ale,) later, this happened:

One of my favorite pics EVER!
All in all, it was a memorable first-time visit to this fun, eclectic brewery. We'll definitely be back to Clearfield on future visits to the Happy Valley area. Of course, I need to get a pic of me with the group and Creepy Baby Head herself.

Me and Pleeps with Creepy Baby Head's caregivers.

We had to swing back into State College for a stop at Zeno's. Since it was later in the day than when we typically visit, it was more crowded. After getting carded (gotta love it!) and finding spots at the bar, I spotted Fat Head's Head Hunter IPA on tap, one of my favorites! Brewslut opted for a pint of Man Full of Trouble Porter from Dock Street, a brewery we seldom see on tap outside of the Philly area. By this time, we were pretty hungry (despite each having a panini at Race Street) so we ordered dinners (me, the salmon and Brewslut, the turkey dinner). I forgot how awesome the food is at Zeno's! This doesn't surprise me, though, because they share a kitchen with The Corner Room, known in Happy Valley for its simple yet tasty cuisine. The prices are really reasonable too! For dessert, I ordered a pour of Coconut Mudbank Milk Stout from Neshaminy Creek. Turns out I kicked the keg, so it was free. It'd been quite some time since I got a "spider" (that's Shamokin slang for a drink on the house when the bottle or keg kicks). 

Back at Chalet, we were able to split a pounder can of the newly released Pizza Boy Bourbon Barrel-Aged Vietnamese Coffee edition of Sunny Side Up (thanks Jamberg), which caused Brewslut to fall gently asleep on the couch shortly thereafter (a kind way of saying she passed out). I followed suit shortly thereafter.

On Sunday, it was time for another lunch-time stop at the pub for what I call the "Selin's Grove sandwich" (bookend visits on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon). The temperature was in the upper 60s, so we hung out with Dalton & Co. outside, who was on his way back home after repping Tröegs at Bloomsburg's Taming of the Brew beer fest. American Pale Ale was back on, so I snagged a pint and followed it up with more Framboise. Gotta have it while it lasts! Afterwards, it was time for more Snake Drive Stout with cold brew coffee and a soft pretzel to ease the pangs of hunger.

On the way home, we stopped at Pizza Boy to pick up Sunny Side Up cans, but the Rush podcast I was doing went long, so I sat in the car and finished up my interview while Brewslut enjoyed a beer and a slice. We had to jet back home to head on down to the Vette for Rock Music Trivia, where I enjoyed a few pints of Sunshine Pils and capped off the night with a Bell's Java Stout.

Thanks for reading! Until next time...

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