One thing to note from any trip to Pennsylvania by a beer fan are some of the strange laws of vending said beverage. Simply put, they try to deter you from doing so by making it difficult and taboo. To buy a six-pack or a 12 pack you have to go to a bar with a sign that says "six to go" or some such thing. Most with the sign looked like they held ammo swaps on Saturday mornings, too. The beer shops you see are only allowed to sell cases of 24. I took a few photos as you can see below but was advised, when I asked if I could take some with the flash, that taking any was illegal according to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. Maybe the guy was pulling my leg but he went on about the Liquor Board and how it makes doing business impossible. As a result, we have a few hazy photos to work with buy you get the idea that rough planking shelves and bare concrete floors are what you can expect. Asking directions to the nearest at one pharmacy was greeted by the adults who owned the place with all the embarrassment as if I had asked a 14 year old to point out where I might locate the condoms.
That all being said, the friendly folk at the Home Brewers Digest directed me to a few distributors of worth such as these noteworthies:
But depending on where you're coming from, or going, if it takes you along I-78 near Allentown, make a side trip to Emmaus, PA and visit Shangy's. This is THE supermarket of distributors, with sections for cases of beer from all parts of the world. A great place to shop for beer as a kid in a candy store. Google them; it's worth the trip.This just illustrates the point that if you want to know anything in the way of ale location information, subscribing to the HBD is the way to go.
I have to say that there is no place greater anywhere on earth than Shangy's
SHANGYS THE BEER AUTHORITY
40 E MAIN ST, EMMAUS, PA 18049
Phone: (610) 967-6793
It is about 75 miles from Hershey and it is worth a 7,500 mile drive. You will never again be at a distrubutor that has this selection of beer. Take a suitcase of cash and leave the car half empty... You will need the space for the beer you buy. C'ya!
The best beer distributor is about 30 mins away from Hershey in Shiremanstown (near Harrisburg) - selection is huge. If you're like me you'll wander around in there for a while trying to deicide which beers to adopt. Def worth the short drive! In PA you have to buy an entire case at a time unless you buy it from a bar/restaurant where you can get 6 or 12 packs (its quite stupid). One of the best beer selections at a pub is Kclingers. Again, closer to Harrisburg than Hershey but well worth the drive. They have 2 locations, the one in Etters is closer to Hershey and the bigger of the two: 895 Old Trail Road, Etters, PA 17319. They have an impressive food menu and brew some beer in house. Both those places are right off interstates so the drive is pretty easy. Hope this helps. Cheers!
So what did I get? Two great Variety Pack 2-4 of four styles of beer from both Tröegs in Harrisburg and Lancaster Brewing in Lancaster. I have only sipped a few on the road of these and can say that Lancaster's Milk Stout is one of the finest beers I have ever had. Milk Stout is a faded variety that uses lactose, an unfermentable sugar from milk, to give it body and roundness. A generous use of chocolate malt makes for a beer unlike but still reflective of chocolate milk. Sounds weird. It isn't. Think of an iced mocha coffee. It's still better than that. I have three bottles left and I have hidden them.
On the way back I also picked up Yuengling Traditional Lager, a six of Red Hook ESB as well as one of Ithaca Flower Power. I have now had Yuengling Lager, Nut Brown and Lord Chesterfield, the latter at the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca (Ed.: as illustrated). I have yet to have the pure porter, a style which is the progenator of our dearly beloved Guinness and all other stouts. Founded in 1829 and a survivor of the dark years of prohibition, Yuengling is a gem. I also had a porter at BJ's Steak and Ribs in Selinesgrove on the mighty Susquehanna and home to Susquehanna University. A little research indicates that this was likely contract brewed by The Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, a century old brewery which sits off highway 309. Eastern Pennsylvania is one of the few spots in the world, along with London and the Baltic Sea, that has had continuous porter production since the heady days of the early 1800s when the brewing industry was something like 20% of the English economy and porter was the majority of that.
Travel and history and diversity not to mention a sterile source for and storage of water and carbs, the things of life. Too bad the Pennsylvania Liquor Board spends its time on shame and perhaps the weirdest kiddies page I have seen on the internet.
By the way, cost of declaring 60 beer at the border? $6.63 Canadian as we two adults had a 48 bottle free pass already. The helpful customs man said you can bring in and pay taxes and mark up on 45 litres beyond your personal limit. As there are 2 litres in a six pack, that makes...ummm...5 and a half 2-4s each after a 48 hour trip. At an extra cost of around 12 to 15 bucks at the border, go ahead...import...declare...feel free. Think Lancaster Milk Stout all winter.