A Brewpub for a Dollar
Just south of downtown Harrisburg is the Appalachian Brewing Co. (50 North Cameron Street). It’s one of America’s largest brewpubs, occupying over 50,000 square feet in a three-story brick structure that dates back to the turn of the last century. Over time. it’s housed a printing company, a railway company and even a WPA office during the New Deal. Two major fires—one in 1930, the other in 1993—almost brought out the wrecking ball.
Hoping to revitalize the area, city officials sold the property for one dollar. The owners, as well as Friends of the Brewery, did the restoration work. Watch out for the plaque honoring the folks who literally did “work for beer.” Their handiwork is inviting: lots of wood and brick, high ceilings, and even a Brewopoly game on sale in the gift shop.
At the L-shaped bar, we enjoyed an eight-beer sampler that came with a house root beer on the side. It was a nice mix of styles, ranging from a lager to a big hoppy IPA with a seasonal Belgian ale thrown in. Behind the bar, there are rows of glasses belonging to mug club members. Brite tanks and fermenters stand guard behind glass windows.
State College, smack dab in the middle of the state, is the home of Penn State University. It’s also home to Otto’s Pub and Brewery (2105 N. Atherton St). Otto’s is housed in an unassuming structure along a strip highway, but don’t judge a book by its cover. The brewing equipment is visible through the front picture window. You enter on the side and see dining areas on either side of the hostess stand.
But the place to go is the bar room. During our visit we saw a good representation of Pub Club members, whose beer arrives in oversized glass logoed mugs. There are ten or so taps on one side of the back bar, and two hand pumps opposite on the bar. A blackboard lists what’s on tap. Otto’s serves up eight house beers, along with several seasonals. Every Friday is Firkin Friday, with the tapping at 5 p.m.
The bar room is decorated with breweriana, most of it from Pennsylvania breweries of bygone days. The roll call included Kaier’s, Reading, Old Dutch, Leitz, Cresson Springs, and our favorite item, a wooden case of DuBois Budweiser. DuBois is said to be the last “Budweiser” brewery in America to be sued into oblivion by Anheuser-Busch. Even the restroom doors had amusing signs: Ortleib ads, one depicting a baseball player, the other a woman on a swing, each with the slogan “Be a Real Swinger.”