Yesterday, I was toying around with the idea of doing a two-fer, doing two Microbreweries in the same day. I am no Einstein math-wise, but I am going to be in Minnesota in two weeks for four days in mid-June attending a wedding. Something has got to give in order to reach the goal of 40 Pa. breweries in 40 days. Math is a good checker of goals and intentions. How many people who bought big houses with massive mortgages never did the math…stuff like compound interest, math we should have learned in school but strangely did not.
Yet, math is not all. The human heart’s passion cannot be quantified, dreams and data are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. While it is surely wise to keep an eye on the bottom line, one also has to keep an eye affixed to the stars of audacious plans and goals. I tend to gravitate to people who are risk-takers, the dreamers, the mad ones as Kerouac would write in On the Road “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
So yesterday, doing double duty, I followed the stars out to Chambersburg, Pa. to Roy Pitz Brewing Company, along the the oldest highway in America, the Lincoln Highway. The Lincoln Highway cuts right through the town of Gettysburg and then enters the truly R and R of the state. By R and R, I mean the Religious and the Red Neck. It is possible to be one R without the other, yet it is just as likely that this comes as a two-fer also. But, first, I got the libations started at Appalachian Brewing Company with three fine IPA’s and some food in the gullet in G-Burg (future post), and then packed the mules and headed on out to Roy Pitz’s Brewing Company. Between Gettysburg and Chambersburg, there is not a lot density. One could probably push the intervening miles and materials like games pieces on a board to fit in 20 times less the space.
I started having second thoughts about the drive and the destination. I got nauseous thinking about returning back on 30 through York (a close second the shittiest most-ill conceived road in Pa next to the Schuylkill Expressway). In York, there desperately needs to be an operation on the order of a quadruple by-pass on an obese and dying man. There you count the progress in yards and not miles per hour during most parts of the day even remotely around rush hour. If Robert E. Lee had to take his army up this road to Gettysburg now, I think he would have called it quits.
When I arrived in Chambersburg, it appeared like a colony on the moon. It started to look more like every other mid-sized town in America with its strip malls, fast food franchises, and car dealerships. Civilization, as we know it I suppose. Since I was going to be early at Roy Pitz before the official hours of operation , I had called ahead while in Gettysburg to see if I could not wait until 4:00 to show up. I felt I had nothing more to do in Gettysburg and had close to three hours to fill like an empty growler before Roy Pitz was to open. When I called, as I the to find out later, one of the owners (Jesse) picked up and told me like Bob Barker on the Price is Right to “Come on down.” Like a squealing middle-aged woman, away I went.
Jesse and I had a really good time together. Like Davey Crockett needing to be photographed with his rifle, Jesse filled a glass and hoisted a beer when I went to take a photo of him. It became clear to me as we chatted that Jesse has a passion for brewing beer. He believes that brewing is an art. Art means that you work long days, have emotional melt-downs on a semi-regular basis, and seek to first please the critic inside, knowing that if you do, that your chances of tapping your dream is enhanced. Roy Pitz, a fictional name shrouded in the lore of Chambersburg, is a mystery much like the KFC secret recipe. We all need our secrets, a part of ourselves not privy to the intrusion of others, the sacred place.
There was also a pragmatism to Jesse and his partner and best friend Ryan (they have been hanging out since second grade) in that they have been very industrious about taking the discarded and unused equipment of others to basically boot-strap a brewery literally from the ground up of their old factory building. He told me of a trip to Alaska to get the guts of the brewery from a defunct microbrewery endeavor. This is the stuff of legends and lore. Jesse and I shared a common link to West Chester where he and his best friend and business partner went to school. Jesse schooled me on all aspects of beer-making. Roy Pitz bills itself as the “Freshest Beer in America” as they don’t bottle their brews for sale. Instead, it is all kegged and he tells me that their beers are never more than two weeks old where they are proudly served.
I liked the Truly Honest Ale the best.
Truly Honest Ale
This is our signature brew that started it all. This beer is made with four different specialty malts, including two foreign caramel malts, a pale malt and a toasted malt. These malts impart a subtle toasted/sweet taste. This malty brew is then graced with floral and aroma hops which balance the “maltiness” of this brew and leaves behind a smooth finish on the palate. Top notch ingredients make this a seriously drinkable, not bitter, American ale. There’s no reason to lie. Honest.
- ABV: 6%
- O.G.: 1.063
- Suggested Temperature: 42 F
- Suggested Serving Glass: Basic Ale Pint Glass
- Suggested Food Pairing: Lunch fare; grilled, roasted, or stewed meats.
If old Abe wanted to wet his whistle after Gettysburg, where I am sure consolation was needed after seeing the carnage and horrors of war, a beer like Truly Honest Ale would have fit the bill. I am sure Jack Kerouac would have agreed. On the way home, I went 81 to the Turnpike, so if you do go, and you live on this side of the Susquehanna and you have no desire to see Gettysburg and be stuck behind a tractor trailer for 23 miles, this is the way to do it.
Thanks Jesse. You make Roy Pitz proud.