When I tell people I live in Lancaster County, PA, people will shout, almost without thinking, “Amish.” The correlation of Amish and the Lancaster area is somewhat of a cultural/psychological experience ingrained in the minds of people in US.
If someone comes to Lancaster and doesn’t experience the Amish tours, or drive to Philly and doesn’t climb the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Arts or stand on the top to pose like Rocky, a great disappointment will take over. Some might even imagine having done things they didn’t. Instead, they merely read about it or conceptualized it based on the things they fantasized doing while they were younger. It could be considered a type of “Paris Syndrome”. This is something much more common than people realize. You may catch spouses disagreeing about what one says they did on their vacation and the other will firmly disagree, saying “no, we didn’t”. There isn’t a deception here, both truly believe what they are saying. One just imagined doing it because of a lifetime of expectations.
Now when it comes to beer, the places that come first to peoples’ minds are places like San Diego, Denver, Michigan, Asheville…any place but the peaceful and bucolic, horse-pulled buggy lands of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. For the past decade, something new has been taking over of the eastern population of Pennsylvania. Craft Beer! Within 30 to 90 minutes of driving, one can find a more than a handful of breweries, bottle shops, and restaurants dedicated to delivering quality craft beer libations. The beer Scene in Eastern PA has grown so much, it surprises me a stronger beer tourism business in the area has not been developed. Because of taxes and regulations, Pennsylvania is far from being a “cheap” state to get a pint of your favorite brew. Never the less, the craft beer followers are multiplying and are being very faithful to the local breweries and craft beer bars.
There are some well-known breweries in the area or close to Lancaster/Philly that date back to the mid-1990s and the late 1980s: Victory, Tröegs, Sly Fox, Stoudt’s, Weyerbacher, Yards, Iron Hill and some much older like Yuengling, operating since 1829. Among a newer class are some that are making some amazing beer and gaining momentum: Spring House, Lancaster Brewing Co., St. Boniface and and Tired Hands. I love knowing that I can have some friends over for a few days and the diversity of beer available will leave everyone satisfied.
Still skeptical? Eastern Pennsylvania has much more to offer when it comes to craft beer. You can experience more than just what the locals offer. With excellent beer distribution to a sizable number of bottle shops and craft beer bars, you can get brews from Stone to 21st Amendment, from Ale Smith to Six Point, from Lost Abbey to Firestone Walker…you get the idea.
One of my favorites to visit is the Federal Tap House in Lancaster. They offer more than 100 beers on tap. Also in Lancaster, is The Fridge (amazing pizza), or Hunger’n’Thirsty (great food), and a great bottle shop that you will find me in regularly, The Friendly Greek (more than 500 beers!). Take a drive through the country side toward Philly and enjoy more places with great beer. The Abbaye, The Belgian Café, and TJ’s Restaurant and Drinkery (with more than 250 beers on their list) are just some examples of this craft beer culture that has developed in Eastern Pennsylvania. (I could mention so many more bars and Breweries like Dock Street that are amazing). You can even take to the small town of Mount Joy and visit the Catacombs of Bube’s Brewery (pronounce Boobs) an intact historic 19th century brewery and museum complex and their Ghost Tours. In any case, the craft beer enthusiast won’t be disappointed in a visit to the Keystone State, and for those like me that will often travel with the wife and kids, Pennsylvania provides some great craft beer places that have wonderful food and very family friend environment. You want more. Just head to the Harrisburg?York where you will find lots of great places to enjoy craft beers.
You will enjoy the beautiful scenery and have fun exploring the numerous places to drink some wonderful craft beer. And don’t forget to take home some real whoopie pies. Cheers!!!
Sly Fox – Potstown
Stoudt’s – Adamstown
Weyerbacker – Easton
Yards – Philly
Iron Hill – Philly / Lancaster
Yuengling – Potsville
Victory – Downintown
Tröegs – Hershey
Spring House – Lancaster
St. Boniface – Ephrata
Tired Hands – Ardmore
Liquid Hero – York
Appalachian Brewing Co. – Harrisburg/Lititz
Bube’s Brewery – Lancaster
Dock Street – Philly
Philadelphia Brewing Co. – Philly
Triumph Brewing – Philly
Fegley’s Brew Works – Bethlehem
Rumspringa Brewing – Lancaster
Saucony Creek Brewing – Kutztown
Als of Hampden / Pizza Boy Brewing Co – Enola
Manayunk Brewery – Philadelphia
Crime and Punishment – Philadelphia
Conshohocken Brewing Co. – Conshohocken
Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery – King of Prussia