While at the local YMCA yesterday, I overheard two women conversing about IPA’s much the same as you would have expected them to converse about their favorite red wine. Has craft beer reached a saturation point? Is the craft beer apocalypse upon us? Have you noticed the proliferation of local breweries? It’s a welcome sight for a beer geek like myself!
When traveling, I love being able to ﬁnd a brewpub to enjoy fresh, local beer with my lunch or dinner. With all the various ﬂavors and styles of beer, I can always ﬁnd one that I like and one that pairs well with the dish I ordered. So, when I was asked to write which was my favorite local brewery, my initial thought was that this was going to be easy. Not so fast. There are so many great local brewers in our county and in Southeastern PA that this article may take some research. Call it an occupational hazard or a perk, I’ll tackle this assignment with a smile. I don’t think I’ve ever been more prepared for anything else in my life. Let’s get brewing.
The ﬁrst brewery on my list is Saucony Creek Brewing in Kutztown, PA. This was the ﬁrst local brewery that I watched grow from concept by original owner Matt Lindemuth to a shared partnership that just recently added a second location in downtown Reading, PA. It’s been a tremendous journey for the crew as they have developed several popular beers such as their Maple Mistress and Unicorn IPA’s. Early on, they even produced a gold medal winner at the Great American Beer Fest. If you get a chance to try their peach and ginger saison, you will understand why it won such a prestigious award. Simply delicious and pairs well with almost anything on their menu. It is brews such as these, the variety of their line up and the locally sourced menu items that has enabled them to grow and prosper in a crowded craft beer market. Saucony Creek Brewing has always been one of my favorite brewpubs and I look forward to my next visit.
My next two breweries I’ve combined since they are both located in West Reading, PA. Chatty Monks Brewing Company and Broken Chair Brewery are within walking distance of each other which is so nice on a warm summer evening. My wife and I will often head to Chatty Monks for dinner and a beer. Their lineup may not be as large as some brewpubs but what they lack in quantity, they make up in quality. Pale ales to stouts, it’s all good. Their menu is also one of the best brewpub menus in the area. Hop fries? Yes, sir! Always fresh and evolving, Chatty Monks will often add seasonal specials to keep us coming back. After dinner, we’ll take some time enjoying the shops on Penn Street and eventually ﬁnd ourselves at Broken Chair Brewery. They don’t serve food but have snacks available and bringing in food from several of West Reading’s ﬁne restaurants and take out joints is encouraged. With 16 beers on tap you’ll always ﬁnd a brew to pair with your lunch or dinner. If you’re like my wife and I, you’ll want to bring in a dessert from G.N.A Ristorante which is located directly across the street. No matter your dessert choice, there’s a beer to pair it with. One of my favorites this time of year is an apple cobbler paired with one of Broken Chairs’ decadent stouts or porters. A perfect ending to an enjoyable evening in West Reading.
Finally, the last brewery I’d like to mention also happens to be my favorite. It is not quite local but when Mad Elf, Nimble Giant, and Field Study to name a few are within an hour’s drive, it’s close enough and well worth the trip to Troegs Independent Brewing. The beers are amazing and the menu options purposefully paired so you can enjoy the best of both worlds. Beer loves food and food loves beer. This is so true at Troegs. They do their homework and research not only the ingredients and ﬂavors in their beer and food but also how they interact and inﬂuence each other. This results in the most delectable beer pairing experience. As if this was not enough, the beer tours whether guided or self-toured, are equally enjoyable. With this attention to detail in their brewing process, beer-menu design, and overall customer service experience, it’s easy to say that Troegs is one of the best breweries on the east coast if not the entire country. To beer loving adults, Hershey, PA is no longer “Chocolate World,” it’s “Troegs World.”