By Bobby Bush
Carol and Ed Stoudt founded Pennsylvaniaís first microbrewery back in May 1987 in the
small Lancaster County community of Adamstown. In the intervening years, Stoudtís
Brewing Company has grown into a quaint European-style complex known as
Stoudtburg Village. Surrounding Carolís award-winning (over 20 GABF medals) brewery
are a 100-shop antique mall, situated near a five-story clock tower; a 500-dealer weekend
antique flee market; The Brew Pub, which features sandwiches, Pennsylvania Dutch treats
and German wurst; and more formal Black Angus Restaurant. In the center of it all, The
Beer Garden, a mostly indoor hall, is used for festivals and special events.
It had been a long drive from Philly- 60 miles and seven brewpubs -but we were
hungry and still somewhat thirsty when we slid into a Brew Pub booth. For a late dinner
we ordered Bova Shenkle, hand-rolled dough stuffed with cheese and sausage, and some
of the best crab cakes Iíve ever had. With over a dozen beers to choose from, we took it
easy, ordering a lagery, spritzy Gold (five GABF medals) and cask-conditioned American
Pale Ale. Other brews in Stoudtís regular line-up include: Abbey Double, Abbey Triple,
Scarlet Lady ESB, Fat Dog Stout, Pilsner, Fest, Bock, Mai-Bock and Double Bock.
Carol also finds time to brew a few seasonal selections: Weizen, Weizenbock, Spiced Ale
and Holiday Bock. She certainly has a beer for everyone.
Go to Stoudtís Brewing for the beer. Stay in Stoudtburg for the experience.
Learn more at www.stoudtbeer.com.
The next morning, a Saturday, we were up early and headed toward Reading, PA,
a rough-looking town with a heavy German accent. Not German enough, I guess, to
support three brewpubs. Camelot Brewing and Pretzel City had fairly recently ceased
brewing, although we discovered that the latter was still operating as a restaurant. At our
third target, Canal Street Pub, we found the parking lot full at 11:00 am. Seems the
large brewpub was hosting a business meeting and didnít officially open until 4:00.
Pleading our case, owner Jake Bausher took pity and allowed us seats at the bar while his
staff prepared for a buffet business luncheon.
Over in the corner and partly in the basement of this historic ex-hardware
manufacturing building sat Neversink Brewing, which is the proper name of the
independently-owned brewery inside of Canal Street Pub (arenít Pennsylvania laws
progressive?). Brewer Tom Rupp, once a Stoudt brewer, had the day off, but his beers
didnít. We sampled them all. The Lager was gold and flavorful. Mai-Bock was light, full
of malt flavor with a touch of honey. Kolsch, gold and beautifully clean, was a properly
lagered German-style ale. Pale Ale was wow, with pleasing, somewhat muted hops flavor.
A soft hops kiss graced Fest, done Marzen style, while banana nose was prominent in
ďHefeĒ Weizen. My favorites were the dark dunkel Double Bock and H.N.O. Stout, a
honey nut oatmeal rich and dark creation. The menu, which included an extensive
appetizer list, looked delicious as well. Founded in August 1996, more info on Canal
Street can be found at www.canalstpub.com.
We wanted to get two more brewpubs in before that eveningís beer festival at
Stoudtburg, so we hurried to nearby Kutztown to find Kutztown Tavern/Golden
Avalanche Brewing Company. Open only since July 21, 1999, this young brewpub had
seven brews on tap, as well as Yuengling Traditional Lager, a regional delight, and Coors
Light, for canoe lovers. Finding the Golden Avalanche Birch Beer soda too sweet for our
bitter taste buds, we jumped into samples of sugary seasonal Raspberry Wheat. The
Saaz-spiced Blonde Lager, a thin pilsner, and Bavarian-style Youngallens Lager brought
our palates pleasantly under control. A 50/50 wheat bill made Donner Weiss Bier a
pleasing cloudy gold. Olde Brick Alt was fruity with a short bitter finish while Onyx
Cream Stout was medium bodied with nice mocha aftertaste. Under the capable hands of
ex-Fordham brewer Allen Young, Kutztown is off to a good start.
Our last stop of the day, at Summy House/Prussian Street Brewing in Manheim,
was not pleasant. With a sour, chlorine-laced Raspberry, nearly flavorless Grant Street
Golden, thin IPA, nondescript Susquehanna Amber Ale and harsh Stiegel Street Stout,
this restaurant-turned brewpub, brewing since January 1997, should stick with food.
There's one more segment in this excursion, a swing through more of Eastern Pennsylvania.
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush