I have this
fascination with old regional breweries. You see, there was a time when
breweries were easy to find across America, and local beer was as common as
local cuisine or local accents. Prohibition did a good job of killing many
of them off, and the rise of the mega-breweries (which actually already
begun by the dawn of the twentieth century) finished the job.
A few regional brewers, however, tenaciously hung on. In Rhode Island there
was Narragansett, in New York FX Matt, in Oregon Blitz Weinhard, and in
Pennsylvania Yuengling and of course, The Lion Brewery. Founded in
1901, the Lion still brews today in its original century old facility in
Wilkes-Barre. It is proud to be an independent brewer, and like many
regional brewers, the Lion has a long history of producing bold and robust
beers outside the mainstream.
The Lion is famous for its Stegmaier Porter, a roasty but drinkable
porter that was for a long time bottom fermented, though is now an ale. It
is a very highly regarded brew among many beer enthusiasts, and also has the
added advantage of being extremely inexpensive, at times selling for less
In addition to its own brands, the Lion contract brews for smaller
breweries, and claims to use most of its 400,000 barrel per year capacity.
Towards the end of the eighties, the Lion brewed the Hope line of
beers under contract for Rhode Island’s now defunct Hope Brewing company.
These were brews of exceptional quality, and gave me a respect for the Lion
that continues to this day.
In the nineties, The Lion decided to jump on the craft beer bandwagon with a
line of its own brews. And why not? They had been brewing wonderful beer for
other breweries for some time, and had only to look to fellow Regional F.X.
Matt to see the success it was enjoying with its Saranac line. And
thus the Brewery Hill line of beers was born. They include:
Brewery Hill Black and Tan
Brewery Hill Caramel Porter
Brewery Hill Honey Amber
Brewery Hill Pocono Lager
Brewery Hill Pocono Pilsner
Brewery Hill Pocono Raspberry
And of course, the beer I’m reviewing today, Brewery Hill Pale Ale.
This pale ale pours to an orange-gold color with a thick foamy head
formation and an enticing aromatic hop nose. The malt body is a bit thinner
in the palate than I would like in a pale ale, but there is a subtle touch
of fruit and a good hop quality. The hops are subtly aromatic, floral, and
citrusy on the tongue. There is a pleasant, balancing bitterness in the
finish. A combination of Mt. Hood, Cascade and Kent Goldings are used. Two
row pale, caramel 60 and carapils malts are used.
This is a very nice, easy drinking pale ale offered at a very reasonable
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.