Before commencing 40/40, I did painstaking researching comprised of at least 12 minutes of extensive investigation about microbreweries. In those excruciating minutes, I staggered across a website that listed 50 of the “Best Brew Pubs 2010.” It is always heartening to have dogged and determined research rewarded.
On this list, Selin’s Grove Brewing Company, was tagged at numero ten. Got to love the “We are the World” pic on their web page.
OK, OK, I know that this is a stretch and not exactly U.N.-like, mostly white folks. But, there is an African-American man with a young child and what appears to be an Asian guy.
Release the hounds!
There is a story about the dog graphic on the SGBC website….supposed stray dog labor powered a local hooch factory in Selinsgrove in the 1800’s…before PETA I surmise…
Back to the ranking thing. I am always a little suspect of lists and the like where there is no explanation of how the compendium was determined. Could have been one dude at a computer searching the web and posting for all I know. Also listed in Pa, by the way, are Otto’s Brewpub in State College and Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown. Throwing in my two cents, there are other Brew Pubs in Pennsylvania that I would list higher than all three of these, Earth Bread and Brewery in Philly and North Country Brewing Company in Slippery Rock. “Brewpub” connotes both beer AND food.
As far as food, let me just say my piece and move on…I have made better Jambalaya (IMHO) than what they served that day. I mean, it was fine and didn’t make me gag or anything, but it was tame, not spicy, and had little Creole flavor. It was like flat beer. No Jam and Aya, just the deflated “Bal.”
Selin’s Grove Brewing Company does a dish weekly that is not on their typical menu (listed under Events), so to be fair, this is not their specialty. Generally, the ratings for the food on Yelp and Google are good. So, maybe stick to the tried and true unless you have a hunch it is going to be great.
I was just disappointed in the Jambalaya , and even a lot of this could not save it:
Well, onto better things…the beer itself.
Truly, their beers were among the best that I have had for 40/40. I am not certain what sets them apart, yet there is little doubt that the SG beers are among the best. Ingredients, craft, that undefinable and nuanced vibe of knowing what to do because of years of experience. The owners Steve and Heather have been at brewing for quite some time and have done microbrewing stints in both in Maine (their own) and Colorado (for New Belgium Brewing Company). I have had NBBC’s Fat Tire. Impressive. Colorado sets the gold-standard for microbreweries but Pennsylvania is either silver or the bronze right now.
The day that we visited, Steve (the Masterbrewer at SGBC) Orson Welle’s-like, assessed that a Belgian was not yet best to drink, and he decided to wait another week before serving. I was disappointed. I, like most people who love beer, adore Belgians. Yet, I appreciated the willingness to not serve it until it met his expectations…until it was time. With exacting standards like this, it is easy to see why their beers taste so good. It does make me want to go back…unrequited love causes the heart to grow fonder.
Here are the brews….
They were running a little low because of recent college Commencement activities in the area. Although Selinsgrove is not a one horse town, it is hardly a place for a stable of restaurant thoroughbreds. So, methinks it might get busy and the supplies get depleted. Others rave about the Shade Mountain Oatmeal Stout and I think it could give Lancaster Brewing Company’s award-winning Milk Stout a run for its money. My drinking preference that day sided with the Scottish Style. I believe this is her unless I am mistaken:
The real test of a place that I have visited for 40/40 is whether I ever plan to go back. Some places are a definite no. Some places are a definite maybe (I love hedging) if I am within driving distance. Other places, are a yes. I would place Selin’s Grove Brewing Company as a yes.
As an added bonus, the drive up to Selinsgrove is quite lovely with the Susquehanna River and all.
This picture does not do the river justice. We got this shot at the McKee’s Half Falls Rest Area in Snyder County.
There were even some purdy flowers in the rest area:
That would make a fine bouquet to give to a lovely paramour. I would actually prefer a flight of lovely SGBC beers!
One last piece, as noted by another person on Google, SGBC needs to rethink its pricing on growlers. In a post titled “World’s Most Expensive Beer?” the person noted that the $27 for a 64 oz filling of a growler induced “sticker shock.” I don’t recall the specific pricing of all of the growler brews but I did start to get the same feeling at SGBC that I had when my wife walked around Tiffany in NYC when gazing at diamond rings
I know of no other microbrewery in Pennsylvania that has such exorbitant pricing. The website “Beer Advocate” also ranked SGBC high for quality and the methodology is clearer. So, its reputation for beer excellence is well-deserved….SGBC just have to watch expecting anyone, except the most wealthy among us, to pay $ 80 for a case of beer (minus the cost of the growler). Ridiculous. If microbrewers are going to make a dent in the market, pricing cannot exclude the non-diamond crowd.