Over the period of a week in late June, we were on the road drinking beer to support charitable causes – a beer festival, a pub crawl and a special beer on the menu were the impetus for our travels.
On June 21, Tröegs Brewery teamed up with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Central Pennsylvania to put on the annual Harrisburg Brewers Fest® – an outdoor beer and music festival downtown. There were two sessions to reduce the crowds of people filling Locust and Third streets and a special VIP session, complete with gift bags.
The festival was advertised with 35 breweries. We know that some didn’t show up, but there was no lack of beverage to be tried. D had to work, and I had a child’s birthday party to attend, so we worked very hard to stick to just the things that were new to us and/or special beers. And with the small plastic sample mugs, it was easy to remain sober.
We had a few favorites from the day, including Lovitz Lager – a watermelon lager from Roy Pitz Brewing Company, Coconut Stout from Church Brew Works, Lichtenhainer – a sour, smoked Berliner Weissbier brewed as a collaboration between Marzoni’s and East End Brewing Company and is based on an obscure German style, Barrel-aged Beekeeper (part of the bottle-conditioned collection at Bullfrog Brewery, and previous to aging, known as the Beesting Saison) and a firkin of Scratch #12-2008, an English-style IPA from Tröegs.
It was good, clean fun in downtown Harrisburg. Live bands played, including one that we really like at the early session (Herbie), and people were generally polite. I picked up an Otto’s tattoo, which finally wore off last weekend, and my favorite tshotshke was the heavy-duty bottle opener from Straub.
At the Harrisburg Brewers Fest®, we learned about the Bavarian Ramble – a fundraiser organized by Mike Hiller, Chief Barbarian at Bavarian Barbarian Brewing Company, to support the Uptown Music Collective. Since we planned to be in the area for the weekend of June 28 anyway, we decided to join in on the ramble around downtown Williamsport.
For a $10 donation, we received 5-10% discounts off food and beverages at The Pub, Rumrunners, Franco’s and the 4th Street Grille and Ale House. The evening ended with a private party at the Bavarian Barbarian Brewing Company where we were treated to a terrific performance by students from the Collective.
We met up with Mike at The Pub – one of my college hang-outs. This complete dive bar for college kids has transformed into a pretty nice little place. In addition to Bavarian Barbarian beers, there were several other very decent brews on tap, and a sizable bottle selection (for Williamsport) behind a large, beautiful honey-toned bar. I couldn’t get over the cleanliness of this place in comparison to my days of hanging there. Even the bathroom was clean and bright, and while I didn’t check it out, I understand there is outdoor courtyard seating.
Rumrunners is a Caribbean-themed restaurant with a huge selection of shelf drinks. I had only been in this building once, and it was so dark I couldn’t see my own hand. Now it is bright and cheery, and the menu looks serviceable. We ate at Franco’s out of nostalgia, but were thrilled to find Tröegs Nugget Nectar on cask there. I enjoyed a wonderful fresh gazpacho and an artichoke and olive salad with balsamic vinegar. We shared the chicken liver and toast appetizer, and D had a pesto with garlic pasta dish. With our discount, it was amazingly inexpensive, and as always, the staff at Franco’s made us feel welcome.
We managed to get a hotel downtown on Priceline, so it wasn’t expensive to stay downtown, walking to all of the Ramble locations, and we got a ride home from the party at Bavarian Barbarian. Kira and Mike were such wonderful hosts, and the guys in the band were so professional. It was a really nice night out for a really good cause, and also a good opportunity to let me stroll down memory lane a bit (I love Bullfrog Brewing dearly, but I miss exploring all of the other wonderful food opportunities in Williamsport.)
We ended our weekend with scenic drives through the mountains, taking Rt. 445 from Lamar to Millheim, and then driving a back road north of Winkleblech and Sharpback Mountains as a long way to Selinsgrove. In addition to a nice little hike, we stopped at the breweries (Elk Creek Cafe and Selin’s Grove, respectively.) At Elk Creek, we were drinking Old Bertha’s Red 99 – a beer created to support the Millheim Fire Company which has been assisting in the community for 99 years. 50-cents from each pint sold goes to the fire company, so we were happy to help (AND it was a good beer to go with my brunch!)
What a great week of drinking beer for the benefit of others!