Friday, August 26, 2016

Two Great Pennsylvania Beers

A recent visit to northeastern Pennsylvania resulted in not so many wine experiences as I would have liked, but a couple of really great beers came my way.

At each bar I visited, I first scanned for local wines, and finding none, asked about local brews. It was surprising to me just how many bartenders in the Wilkes-Barre area don't seem very well-versed in either. The wine I understand. It’s fairly hit-and-miss with Pennsylvania wines. But Wilkes-Barre, Scranton - those are beer towns. A little knowledge about the wealth of great craft brews in your area is not a lot to expect from a barkeep.

Nimble Hill Vineyard and Winery in Tunkhannock, PA makes beer as well as wine. Their beer is so good, I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to sample their wines. Their Hop Bottom IPA has a nice medium brown color and the one-finger head holds nicely and laces well. It has a great hoppy flavor with slightly bitter finish, right up my beer alley. I ordered this winner at Bar Louie in the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre.

Susquehanna Brewing Company's Hopfive IPA was a staple each evening at the hotel where we stayed. It was at that tiny lobby bar where we discovered a stray relative of my wife who happened to be working there. That sort of thing never happens in my tiny family. Thanks for the SBCs, Barbara, and we'll see you next trip!
 
The Hopfive IPA is caramel colored and has a floral, citrusy nose and a refreshing palate. A rather low head shows only slight lace on the sides of the glass. It employs five different kinds of hops. For the true beer geeks, they are Bravo, Willamette, Mount Hood, English Progress, and as-harvested whole-cone Liberty Hops.

The brewery is in Pittston, PA. My wife and I have been to Pittston for a tomato festival, or some such exotic event. We were shocked when one of her friends who lives in the area told us that Pittston is now "fabulous" after some sort of gentrification makeover. If the beer is any indication of the town, "fabulous" is a pretty fair description.