Zero in on Zeno's
July 28, 2000
By Kurt Epps
Like it or not, college is associated with beer, perhaps to beer's detriment. Keggers, binge-drinking and all the negative things college kids do with beer as a base don't help beer's image. And it doesn't matter a whit that the beer is usually of the bland mainstream variety. Beer gets the bad name -- not the kids who abuse what they call beer.
But Penn Staters and those who visit the neat town of State College, PA have a chance to break that negative mold. Right across from the Nittany Lion's lair on College Ave is a place called Zeno's, which is actually in the basement of a place called The Corner Room.
There's just something about going downstairs to a sub-street pub that appeals to all of us ( The Brickskeller, Beantown's Cheers) and this one is the quintessential model -- a bit dark, but cozy, quaint and appealing.
The bar of Zeno's (claiming to be located directly above the center of the earth) is not big, but it offers an array of quality beers to satisfy even the most persnickitty beer geek. No fewer than twenty-eight quality beers are available on tap -- and another (Yard's Extra Special) is on the hand pump. If they don't pique your interest, maybe one of the 100 or more bottled offerings will, and there is a nice assortment of hard ciders.
There are famous beers from every corner of the beer world here. And the US is also solidly represented by some of the finest craft brews the country has to offer. (Yuengling's, I was told, is the biggest seller.)
The bar managers, Rob and Dave, have divided the selections into three categories--lagers, ales and exotics -- which includes domestic beers like SA triple Bock, Anchor Foghorn, Hair of the Dog and Stoudt's. The imports feature Thomas Hardy (while it lasts), Affligem, Chimay, Orval, Lindemann's, Paulaner's, Corsendonk and -- incredibly -- Rodenbach. Many are available in 25 oz. versions. There is also a nice collection of spirits for those whose tastes run that way.
Perhaps the neatest feature of Zenos' menu, and one that attests to the beer passion of its owners, is that it includes a section called "Cool Places when you're on the road" for real beer fanciers. Denver's Wynkoop is here, as is The Brickskeller (if you have to ask what city, you don't qualify) and Baltimore's Oliver's Wharf Rat. The owners even indicate which places have passed on to malty glory by marking an R.I.P. after the name.
A limited, but certainly sufficient, pub-grub menu is available from the Corner Room restaurant upstairs, and if pub dining is not your style, you can eat upstairs and still get the good beers from the basement.
Anyone who gets to Penn State, whether visiting or attending, should get a proper beer education at Zeno's.
And for beer's sake, don't do it all in one night.
100 West College Ave.
State College, PA
®Kurt E. Epps 2000 All Rights Reserved