THE CRAFT BEER INDUSTRY is a multibillion-dollar, growing industry. Each year, craft beers are taking a larger percentage of the entire beer market. The craft beer craze is especially evident in Pennsylvania, with 16 new craft breweries founded in 2013 alone, which brings the total to more than 100.
According to the Brewers Association, there are four distinct markets in the craft beer industry: microbreweries, brewpubs, regional craft breweries and contract brewing companies. A microbrewery produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer per year and sells 75 percent or more of its beer off-site, while a brewpub-a restaurantbrewery- sells 25 percent or more of its beer on-site. Regional craft breweries are independent and have either an all-malt flagship or at least 50 percent of their volume in all-malt beers or in beers that use adjuncts to enhance, rather than lighten, flavor. Contract brewing companies are businesses that hire another brewery to produce its beer.
So hop on the bandwagon and hold your next meeting or event in one of Pennsylvania’s craft breweries.
Tröegs Brewing Company, Hershey
Tröegs, located about 1.5 miles from Hersheypark, is one of the major production breweries in Pennsylvania. It offers guided and self-guided interactive tours through the brewery, which is built for visitors. The guided tours, offered seven days a week, are extremely popular during the summer; the weekend tours fill up about three months in advance. The guided tour is $5 and includes a pint glass, three samples of tap beer and a sample of green beer, which is not green in color, but is "green" because it is not yet fully fermented.
Tröegs features a fantastic snack bar and a menu that consists of a variety of small and large plates, with items such as duck confit and pork belly. All of the menu items are sourced locally. Tröegs has two private rooms: the Barrel Aging Room and the Anthology Room. The barrel aging room is where the brewery hosts private sit-down dinners (max of 20 people) and its famous chef’s beer dinner, which is a three- or four-course dinner for which the chef expertly pairs food with beer. The Anthology Room is part of the tasting room and can host up to 100 people for cocktail-style beer events. "Our brewery is built for visitors, it is extremely interactive and features a top-notch tour with great food," says Jeff Herb, media and communications coordinator.
Yards Brewing Company, Philadelphia
Yards Brewing Company, located in the heart of Philadelphia, features amazing examples of classic beers. "Yards’ tours and the beer keep people coming back. The tour guides all have such different personalities and are all very personable," says Zachary Artz, events manager. Tours are typically held on Saturday and Sunday when brewing is closed.
Yards features private tours (10 people minimum with a max of 35) that cost $15 over the weekend and $20 during the week. Tour guests are given a pint of their choice and one other taste throughout the tour. Private events for up to 120 people begin at 7:30 p.m. after the tasting room is closed to the public. Yards uses outside catering with menu items that feature its beer in the recipes.
Lavery Brewing Company, Erie
Lavery Brewing Company is one of the newer breweries in Pennsylvania, opening in August 2009 and serving its first beer to the public in February 2010. President/brewer Jason Lavery started as a home brewer and grew his passion into a profitable company. The company makes many small-batch beers, which are either canned or sold in 22 oz. bottles.
Lavery recently started hosting private events for up to 70 people in its pub, which opened in September 2013. Even wine connoisseurs can enjoy the local flavor, as the pub features wine made from 6 Mile Cellars in Erie. "Our events are unique, like our beers," Lavery says. "Our pub does not have any TVs, but we have lots of board games to create the perfect networking event."
Appalachian Brewing Company, Harrisburg
Appalachian Brewing Company is another large production brewery, with six different brewpub locations. Interestingly, the company purchased its headquarters for $1; it was a warehouse that was completely rundown and in need of a tremendous makeover. Appalachian put in the work and transformed the building, which now produces incredible beers. "We have been a partner in this community and created a magnificent brewery from a dilapidated building," says Mike Parker, marketing manager.
The brewery features two different private spaces, both with full-service bars: The Abbey Bar, which features a stage and overlooks the brewery, can host events for more than 200 people; while the Gallery Room can host up to 150 people.
Appalachian Brewing Company features seven flagship beers and creates many seasonal beers, too. Craft sodas are produced on-site.
Triumph Brewery, New Hope
Triumph Brewery is a quintessential brewpub with locations in Philadelphia, New Hope and Princeton, New Jersey. Aside from strictly serving its own beer, Triumph also offers a full-service bar. "Our main focus is the beer, and then the menu," says Paul Foglia, general manager at the New Hope location. The menu is sourced from local farms and is always changing. "Everything that we do, we try to do locally," he adds.
Triumph also focuses on live events; there’s something going on every night from live music and poker tournaments to trivia. With three distinct rooms, the brewery can host customizable private parties for 25 to 200 people.
Triumph, which always has seven beers on tap, sells beer in growlers and glasses.