Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shawnee Craft Brewery

Located in the Pocono mountains, a stone's throw from the middle of nowhere is Shawnee Craft Brewery. Shawnee on Delaware Pennsylvania is known mostly for river sports and hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter, and the formerly-PGA golf course, but up until now the beer selections have sucked.

Last year when we were up to do the tasting for our wedding (at the inn) we were delightfully surprised to find out that the old ice rink has been converted into a brewery. Leo kindly took part of his day to show us around and answer questions, but I may have over-imposed on his hospitality. This brewery is quite spartan at the moment, and probably won't be doing tours for some time.

I learned that being connected to the inn was ideal, since being a historical relic it still relied on steam. Leo is able to use this steam for some of the hot water processes involved in beer making. He's also extremely energy conscious, recapturing and preventing the waste of heat at key points in his line. Aside from what is going on inside the building, he also has a garden somewhere on the golf island where he grows some of his own ingredients (including pumpkins for pumpkin ale.)

Since an old skating rink isn't the ideal place to sell gourmet brew pub fare (unless you're really into hot dogs and thawed pizza slices) the primary place to get these beers is across the street. The restaurant is called "The Gem and Keystone," and would be considered casual fine dining. It mainly serves the patrons of the golf course, so little beanie's and collared shirts are quite common during the day.

Quality and conservation are admirable qualities, but how's the beer?

The short answer is: very good. I've tried a lot of his brews over the past two years and have been impressed with the quality and variety he's been able to produce in such a short time. I especially enjoyed their Bourbon Cask Porter, but I do generally prefer dark beer. He's usually got some kind of Blanche which isn't my thing, although I can see that it's high quality.

The only thing I think that is keeping these beers from being "excellent" rather than "very good" is some kind of signature style. You always know a Dogfish Head or Stone right away. There's some kind of unifying flavor across nearly all their beers (with the exception of Peche maybe, which tastes like hell.) I'm sure this will come with time to Shawnee Craft; it's probably inevitable with any master craftsman. I know I'll make a point of trying something new each year I'm at Shawnee.

If you're interested in trying any of these brews and find yourself in east nowhere, (aka. Shawnee on Delaware) stop on by the Gem and Keystone or the Shawnee Inn and try a pint. You won't be disappointed.

They also have a blog with updates.

1 comment:

  1. Quality and conservation are admirable qualities, but how's the beer?