It’s no surprise that Pennsylvania is the largest American producer of German-style beers, and home to the oldest, largest American brewery. The state’s rich German heritage has ensured its place of honor as a mecca of quality beers, particularly lagers. This identity is so synonymous with the state of PA that the German Society of Pennsylvania celebrates the fact every February with its annual Briefest.
The Best of the Best
The state boasts over 100 brewpubs and breweries, with many of them producing world-class, celebrated craft beers. Here are a few of the best breweries to which Keystone State lays claim:
Yuengling Brewery – the oldest brewery in the United States, Yuengling began as the Eagle Brewery in 1829, started by German immigrant David G. Yuengling. The beer company underwent its share of trials, including a fire that completely destroyed its building just two years after opening, and during its 100th year in business, Prohibition. Yuengling, however, survived – producing near beer and also opening a dairy in order to survive the industry-devastating period. The brewery survived and thrived, and today offers visitors a chance to tour their facilities in Pottsville, getting a peek into the production of – and sampling – their popular products.
Church Brew Works – this brewery, though fairly new, has possibly one of the most interesting histories of any brewery in Pennsylvania. The building that houses the brewery is a 100+ year old Catholic Church that was put out of commission in the early 1990s due to disrepair resulting from a decline in parish population over the previous years. The building was eventually renovated and in 1996 reopened its doors as Church Brew Works. The beers produced there have names almost as interesting as the building’s story:
- Celestial Gold – a light, bubbly golden brew with a mild malt taste
- Pious Monk Dunkel – a mellow lager that finishes crisp and clean
- Kenyan Sunrise Summer Coffee Pale Ale – a lightly spicy, fruity ale with Kenyan coffee added
- Pipe Organ Pale Ale – medium-bodied ale made with caramel malts and Galaxy hops; finishes citrusy and crisp with hints of passionfruit and peach
Erie Brewing Company – the maker of a variety of craft brews such as Oktoberfest and Bayfront Blonde, EBC started out in 1993 as Hoppers Brewpub, housed in historic Union Station. Over the years their production and distribution has grown from just over a thousand barrels to 6000 barrels over 14 states. The brewery has a tasting room, open Wednesdays through Saturdays, with tasting glasses available for purchase.
Stoudts Brewing Company – this Adamstown based company, established in 1987, boasts two industry distinctions – it was the first microbrewery in Pennsylvania, as well as being owned by the first woman to open a brewery since Prohibition. Ed and Carol (known as the Queen of Hops) Stoudt reign supreme over their 10,000 barrel a year facility, which not only houses a restaurant (Stoudt’s Black Angus Restaurant and Pub) but also caters weddings and other events. Ed Stoudt hosts tours of the brewing company on Saturdays and Sundays.
Immerse Yourself in Beer History
Whether you’re meandering through the Pennsylvania Wilds or enjoying a trip to busy and historically rich Philadelphia, take time to visit one of the state’s many fine breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs. Pennsylvania’s German roots shine through bright and delicious in its indulgent selection of craft beers and lagers.