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The Beer Circle » Selin's Grove Brewing Co., The Beer Circle, Tröegs Brewing Co. » The Beer Circle Central PA Second Tour Wrap Up

The Beer Circle Central PA Second Tour Wrap Up

The Beer Circle Brewery Tour of Central Pennsylvania kicked off at 11AM at Al’s of Hampden / Pizza Boy Brewing just outside of Harrisburg. We would’ve loved to have started earlier, but Al’s opens at 11 and we had to have something resembling respect for our livers. We had the usual group of degenerates from The Beer Circle and were joined by a few other drinking buddies for a great day of food, friendship, and beer. Feeling nostalgic? Check out the recap from our Eastern PA tour and tell us which was better!

Al’s of Hampden / Pizza Boy

First taste of the new Blueberry Sour

The tap list at Al’s was very extensive. Bob took advantage of trying something from Pizza Boy and went with Arck Angel, a 4xIPA, and a slice of the appropriately named Pork Heaven pizza. Paige had a glass of Thirsty Dog’s Wee Heavy with cherries, which was a fairly solid offering from a  brewery she’d never had before. Russ paired up a Turkey Burglar, Pizza Boy’s Berliner Weiss, with a buffalo chicken pizza (which has huge slices of delicious chicken breast with a buffalo sauce coating on top of their normal pizza and is delicious).

Terry – Love the Lancaster Milk Stout shirt.

Talk quickly leaned towards the brewery downstairs as Terry Hawbaker, the Pizza Boy brewmaster, invited us for a tour and tasting of upcoming releases. We grabbed our beers and some tasting glases and headed on down. Terry is a sour beer genius who previously worked for Bullfrog Brewery and even has his own strain of yeast.

The first beer that we tasted was a blueberry sour still fermenting away in the stainless steel tanks. The head was a very gentle, almost pink hued color with many large bubbles. You got a sweet and fruity aroma with a slight sourness. The fruit really came through well on your tongue. After swallowing, the sourness really came through. I can’t wait until this beer is done so that I can try the finished product.

Reader Kenton Martin cleans out his tasting glass with an industrial sized hose.

Lucky for us, there was more to taste. Next up was Pizza Boy’s Grasslands Saison, which was very refreshing with spices and fruits galore.

Last, but definitely not least, we were treated to a Golden Ale aging in viognier wine barrels. This beer didn’t just hit a home run…it hit a grand slam. The wine barrel adds a fruity sweetness to the ale and imparts an amazing depth and complexity on your nose and tongue. We all agreed it was a really delicious beer, and one that will appeal to many more than the “typical” beer drinker.  The characteristics it shared with a dry, crisp white wine were numerous. When this beer is released the Virginia contingent of The Beer Circle will definitely drive up.

As we learned from the last tour, time is relative and the schedule quickly went out the window!

Golden Ale in White Wine Barrels

Selin’s Grove

Selin’s Grove’s door

Someone actually came up with a smart idea of car pooling up to Selin’s Grove Brewing. The drive up from Harrisburg was pretty interesting. We passed through an Amish settlement seeing a farmer on a horse-pulled plow working the fields. Also, there was interest by both cars to be the first at Selin’s Grove. Bob doesn’t want to brag but his car got there first and got a parking space right in front. Russ took the Clark Griswold approach, and parked far enough away that it would be easier to get out.

It was a little crowded when we got there and had to wait a little bit for a large table. By this time the tour had grown to 10 people when Colleen, Mike, and Tierney joined us so the wait was worth it. During our visit the great aroma of roasted malts would come wafting out of the brewery located across the parking lot.

Selin’s Grove Shade Mountain Stout

The pretzels are definitely worth it even if you don’t use their homemade stone-ground mustard: very light and doughy. Russ went with the Curry Chicken Sandwich, which went really well with his Shade Mountain Stout. The Indian flavors and pita bread played off the roast of the stout really well.

They were out of a few of the beers but we still had our choice of a number of highly rated brews. One of the highlights was the Shade Mountain Stout, an oatmeal stout. It was dark brown where only a little light passed through the bottom of the glass and topped with a 1/4″ creamy head. One noticed dark roasted malts and hints of coffee in the aroma. The taste imparted a nutty, roasted malt flavor also with hints of coffee and chocolate. The stout was perfectly carbonated.

Other beers sampled included the American Pale Ale. One could drink this beer continuously, but its 5.7% ABV puts it a bit outside the session beer range.

yummmm fresh hops.

As we were heading out we noticed the trellises of hops growing all around the parking lot. We were all like kids on a candy shop: taking pictures and smelling the hops. Rumor has it that Bob may have even used one of the hops as a cologne and rubbed it on his neck. The aroma from the hops was oily, citrus goodness.



Bell’s Black Note at Arooga’s

Arooga’s in Harrisburg was not originally on the tour but we heard that Bell’s Black Note was on tap. After an extensive deliberation of 1.5 seconds we decided to add this stop to the tour itinerary. Arooga’s is your typical sports bar in terms of food and decor, but their draft and bottle has a number of craft beer gems. The only downside was that it took forever to get our beer order delivered. We were a little worried that perhaps the kegs had ran out during the pour, at which Paige and Kenton were already sipping away because they arrived first and ordered theirs from the bar.  A few of us we’re preparing to fit it out in Thunderdome if necessary. Luckily there was no need as the beers eventually arrived. Bob noticed that growlers were hanging from the ceiling so Russ did his best to convince our server to allow growler fills of the Black Note. Alas, it was to no avail.


Our last stop on the tour was Tröegs Brewing Company in Hershey. If you remember our visit during the first Beer Circle Tour was pretty eventful, as the power at the brewery went out soon after we got there. There was some talk about crashing a car into a transformer to relive the experience but wiser heads prevailed. The current Scratch offerings were the beers of choice below.

Troegs Scratch 71 Dimwit, 73 Fest Lager, 74 American Brown

Troegs Naked Elf 6er


Paige had the Dimwit and the American Brown Ale, and much to her surprise, she liked the Dimwit more. It was really crisp tasting, without overwhelming flavors of banana. It was really just enjoyable to drink. The brown was also very good, but didn’t hit the spot quite as well. The group split a case of the Scratch #73 Fest Lager, which Russ found to be refreshing and a nice improvement over last year’s edition, which he thought was forgettable.

At the end of the night, those who were staying in Harrisburg for the night gathered at Jeff’s house for a bottle share. As usual, we brought way more than we could drink.  A sampling of the beers were shared include: Hugs and Nugs by Burley Oak Brewing, Endeavor from Saint Arnold, the Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Pizza Boy, Pozharnik from Pennichuck Brewing Company, Sans Pagaie from The Bruery, Love Buzz Saison from Anchorage Brewing, Horals Oude Gueze Megablend, and Lincoln IPA from Lincoln Abbey Brewing, located in Jeff’s basement.

We all had a great time on the second beer tour.  We hope that you join next time we have one!

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Written by Bob Pack, Paige Deckert, Jeff Kupko and Russ Beck

Simply put, Bob is a beer lover. He goes out of his way to try new beers whenever he can find them. The love of trying new beers had resulted in a beer label collection of over 1400. When it comes down to it, Bob is a hop head. He loves IPAs (including double and black). Stouts are a close second. His tweet reviews on @nova_beer are simple and approachable. Let him know what you think. Find Bob Pack on Google Plus

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