Pennsylvania has a rich brewing history and today boasts more than 300 breweries, many of which fall into the categories of craft-, micro-, and nano-breweries. Read on for ten of the best.
The first breweries in Pennsylvania opened in 1683 when the nation was still a series of English colonies, although it was an influx of German immigrants who buoyed beer brewing in the state. By 1794, because of its lager brewing prowess, the small city of Lancaster, PA was dubbed an equal of Munich, Germany. The most recognizable name in PA brewing is Yuengling, which dubs itself as “America’s Oldest Brewery” and relies on its massively popular, hometown Lager beer.
These thriving breweries below are somewhat smaller, each one offering something unique in this popular beverage field. They have anchored themselves in quaint hamlets, important cities, and tourist destinations throughout the state. We’ve picked ten breweries that meet the criteria of serving great beer, having the ability to host an array of guests — from solo travelers to large families — and are located in an area worthy of an overnight stay with things to see and do outside of the brewery.
TATTERED FLAG BREWERY
Veteran-owned Tattered Flag is in downtown Middletown, right outside of the state capitol of Harrisburg. This patriotic establishment proudly displays a collection of local military memorabilia and serves a dedicated line of classic styles as well as beers trending with the popular crowds like New England IPAs and hard seltzers. Not stopping at beer, Tattered Flag distills its own line of clear spirits for cocktails. Tattered Flag is also loaded with fun entertainment options, including board games, darts, conversation starting posters, and classic video games. An in-house restaurant serves a selection of appetizers, sandwiches, and entrees.
1 S. Union St., Middletown
DOCK STREET WEST
In the early years, when the phrase “craft beer” was yet to be in existence, drinkers looked to microbreweries for new flavors. Established in 1985, Dock Street filled the craft beer niche well before demand was at its peak. Located on the first floor of a former firehouse in West Philadelphia, Dock Street West is named in honor of Philly brewer William Frampton’s first brewery in Philadelphia built along Dock Street Creek. After a day of sightseeing around the City of Brotherly Love, beer purists can enjoy Dock Street’s flagship Bohemian Pilsner or Amber Ale.
701 South 50th St., Philadelphia
RUSTY RAIL BREWING COMPANY
A true destination brewery, Rusty Rail itself is worthy of a trip to the Susquehanna River Valley town of Mifflinburg. This massive brewery is located in a circa-1900, converted carriage manufacturing building where almost everything is repurposed and has a new special use or meaning. An upstairs “game” room not only houses a few billiard tables but an extensive selection of trophy taxidermy. As for libations, there is a high level of creativity and experimentation in Rusty Rail beers. Year-round beers include IPAs, a peanut butter Hefeweizen, a stout, a blonde, and a lager. Seasonal creations are inspired by timely ingredients and the weather.
5 N. 8th St. #1, Mifflinburg
LOST IN THE WILDS BREWING
Perched in the woods outside of Shippenville in northern PA, Lost in the Wilds is surrounded by state game lands. An hour and a half’s drive northeast of Pittsburgh, and accessed by Interstate 80 as it cuts its way across the top of Pennsylvania, the small brewery is not as inaccessible as its name implies. Visitors enjoy a selection of IPAs and traditional brews like pilsners, brown ales, stouts, and wheat ales. Lost in the Wilds is a family-friendly brewery where pets are welcome in the spacious, wooded, outdoor seating area.
21964 PA-66, Shippenville
THE CHURCH BREW WORKS
The holiest of beer gathering places in Pennsylvania is in Pittsburgh’s Lower Lawrenceville neighborhood. As its name suggests, The Church Brew Works is located in a converted holy place, specifically the circa-1902 St. John the Baptist Catholic church. The church was dissolved in August 1993 and lay dormant until 1996 when it was restored and reinvented as a brewery. Today, mini-pews and original stained glass provide an air of decorum and brewers create a line of traditional brews and seasonal offerings. Over the years, The Church has been awarded major beer competition medals for its Belgian varieties.
3525 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh
LAVERY BREWING COMPANY
A visit to northwestern Pennsylvania is not complete without a trip to Lavery Brewing Company in Erie (Lavery also operates a Lager Haus in Titusville). Located a short distance from Presque Isle State Park, Pennsylvania’s only “seashore”, this pub-style brewery is surrounded by eateries and other breweries. Lavery creates an array of specialty brews featuring creative ingredients like cherry, mango, and lime; their seasonal offerings are some of the most desired brews in the state. For alcohol-free guests, Lavery produces a full-flavored ginger ale.
128 West 12th St., Erie
TRIUMPH BREWING COMPANY
As a destination for creative fun seekers, New Hope tops the list of places to visit in Pennsylvania. Over the last decade an influx of eateries and libation destinations have made the Delaware River city their home. Of those new additions, Triumph Brewing stands out as one of the best places to relax with a beer and a casual meal. The restaurant is snug up against the scenic New Hope and Ivyland Railroad and patio diners take delight in the antique trains as they roll into the station throughout the day. The beer at Triumph is a collection of standard styles ranging from IPAs to stouts.
400 Union Square Drive, New Hope
EVIL GENIUS BEER COMPANY
It is good to be a genius, but even better to be an evil genius when brewing beer. The mantra for Evil Genius is “very silly names for very serious beers”. Locking in on a pop culture theme, Evil Genius beer names pay tribute to TV shows like The Simpsons, movies like Jaws, and one-hit wonders from 2000s rock bands. Launched in a small, Philadelphia suburb town in 2011 by two Villanova University grads, Evil Genius now occupies a prominent spot on the edge of Fishtown, Philly’s neighborhood for all things cool and is easily accessed via the Market-Frankford subway line (a.k.a. the blue line).
1727 N. Front St., Philadelphia
VICTORY BREWING COMPANY
There are multiple Victory locations, but the coolest spot for destination travelers is the Parkesburg location. It enjoys spacious indoor and outdoor seating areas (complete with climbing hop bines) and is also the brewery’s main production facility. This location offers brewery tours throughout the day. Locally, Victory is known for its Monkey series ranging from the Golden Monkey Belgian Tripel to seasonal one-offs like the wine barrel-aged White Monkey. The brewery aims to meld European styles and ingredients with American creativity. The Spirit Room in Parkesburg carries a full line of Southern Tier Distilling Company’s whiskeys, vodka, gin, and canned cocktails.
3127 Lower Valley Rd., Parkesburg
SPRING HOUSE BREWING COMPANY
What started as Lancaster County’s best kept beer secret has morphed into a full-scale brewing operation with two Lancaster City locations: a downtown taproom and a focused eatery at the brewing location in the Prospect Heights neighborhood. The beer is big and full-flavored. Those looking for concoctions and experiments will thoroughly enjoy Spring House beer, especially flagship brews like Commander Salamander, a kumquat, cucumber, and lime sour. The Limited Artist Series of brews features labels designed by local artists. Upstairs at the brewpub is Hell’s Attic Arcade with retro games. The exterior features a dog-friendly patio.
Brewpub: 209 Hazel St / Taproom: 25 W King St, Lancaster