Anniversary Party at Yergey Brewing
First things first with big cheers to medal winners at the annual Great American Beer Festival held earlier in October. Representing Pennsylvania (outside of Philadelphia) as they crossed the stage were: Full Pint (silver for Night Of The Living Stout); Penn Brewery (gold for Penn Gold, go figure); Roundabout (silver for Heini’s Good Cheer); Rivertowne (bronze for JFP); Desperate Times (silver for DTB Schwarzbier); Sly Fox (gold for Grisette); Stickman (bronze for Cousin Stoopid); Bonn Place (silver for Mooey and bronze for Nemo); Weyerbacher (bronze for Riserva); Neshaminy Creek (bronze for Croydon Is Burning); 2SP (gold for The Russian); and Iron Hill’s Media location (silver for Solzhenitsyn and silver for Russian Imperial Stout).
Now as for all the continuing work back home at the breweries, I have a nice handful of updates to get you through until the next print edition. Leading off out west in Beaver Falls is, you guessed it, Beaver Brewing Company Owner Dan Woodske is expanding the brewery’s sour offerings and three separate Gose-styled beers are being tapped in October and November – a traditional Gose, a passionfruit Gose, and a raspberry Gose. Woodske says the best selling one will most likely get a permanent draft line in the tasting room.
Tröegs Independent Brewing continues to fill in every nook and cranny of its 90,000 sq. ft. destination brewery in Hershey. They recently added eight outdoor fermentation tanks to make room for more small batch Scratch and Splinter beers inside. Otherwise, it’s beginning to look a lot like Mad Elf. October is seeing the release of the annual holiday ale first in bottles, then on draft later in November. Blizzard of Hops, too, returns in November. In conjunction with the November draft release of Mad Elf, they are also queuing up The Mad Elf Grand Cru that serves to celebrate Tröegs’ 20th anniversary. It is due as a limited 750-ml cork & cage bottle release that features tart Balaton cherries, wildflower honey, and demerara sugar. I, for one (and hopefully one of many others), am very pleased to hear of a limited (we take what we can get!) brewery release in 12-oz cans of “old-time” favorite Rugged Trail Nut Brown Ale. Providing it goes over well with brewery visitors, they hope to revisit other “retired” beers in the future. Finally, be on the look out for Scratch release #307, a Cherry Chocolate Stout featuring sweet cherries, cocoa nibs, lactose, and vanilla.
Justin Lee returned this past spring to Stoudts after a couple years as production brewer at Victory. He’d brewed previously at Stoudts for around five years and is back now and filing his first report here as Head Brewer. The brewery is nearing the end of its year-long 30th anniversary celebration with its annual Oktoberfest weekends that have run from September throughout October and are being followed by Howloween Bark and Brewfest on October 29; proceeds support the Humane Pennsylvania Shanty Town Cats. Seasonal favorites Old Abominable (on draft and, for the first time, in 12-ounce bottles), Smooth Hoperator, and Double Bock are all due out in early November. Look for a small batch of Weizenbock to be released on draft in December.
Newest to the suburban Philadelphia brewing scene (although that could quite easily change by the time you read this!) is East Branch Brewing Company which opened in September in the heart of Downingtown. Do you realize that means that there is now a 1.25 mile beer walk that makes perfect sense in Downingtown? Take the train to Downingtown (SEPTA regional or Amtrak, that’s a beautiful thing). Hail a ride to Victory for lunch and a couple beers. Walk to East Branch to check out their new beers and brewery. Need homebrew supplies? Artisan Homebrew is just doors away. Then, finish the walk back to directly across from the train station where you can have dinner and a few beers combined between Station Taproom and The Bottle Room. Or done in reverse, your choice. Come to think of it, this looks like a great autumn to-do list item.
On the business side of things at East Branch, owners Dylan Meanix and Kevin McGovern (a former brewer at Victory) have an experienced taproom staff with brewery, spirits, and hospitality experience serving his beers. They’ve hit the ground running with a little something for everyone coming out of McGovern’s brewhouse. A 3% Dark Mild? Check. Need an 8% Double IPA? Got you covered there too. They’re also finding the Kölsch and West Coast IPA to be very popular as well. Out and about, you may have seen them recently the Kennett Brewfest and can look for them at the upcoming Pottstown Brew Fest on October 28.
The Lehigh Valley is buzzing with new breweries. One of the newest is Yergey in Emmaus. Owner Jim Yergey, hired his son as head brewer back in April. They’ve worked to create a rather informal new beer release schedule every “3-5 weeks”, according to Yergey, such as the blonde ale recently released on the weekend of October 20. In September, YergFest brought out the loyal, local following the brewery has developed and celebrated the first year in business.
Another new Lehigh Valley brewery is in Bethlehem close to Lehigh University and has made a big splash with its recent award-winning ways in Denver. And, for the record, I couldn’t be more pleased to see Bonn Place Brewing Company win for Nemo Dark Mild and Mooey Ordinary Bitter – talk about breathing life into some classic/”forgotten” styles. Now, to find my way to their tasting room. Sam Masotto, owner/brewer, checked in to share with us that they recently brought on Josh Fryauff to the brewing staff. He was previously a maltster and pilot system brewer at Deer Creek Malthouse. They’re keeping the draft lines busy in Bethlehem with new beers constantly flowing. Skootch Strong Pale Ale (NEPA, 7.4%) and Savage Glory Buckwheat Grisette (all PA-sourced with malt from Deer Creek, hops from Wasser Hop Farm, and local sage) are just two that should be grabbing your attention this fall. If you want to check out Bonn Place in person, you could do well to look them up at the Deer Creek Malt-A-Palooza Field Day event on November 4 at the malthouse in Chester County or back at the brewery to celebrate its One Year Ribbon Cutting Anniversary on November 17. It may be called St. Bonnlord’s Day.