By Arielle Sniffin
Imagine your favorite meal in the entire world. Whether it is mac and cheese, corn on the cob, baby back ribs, spaghetti and meatballs or General Tso’s chicken, it holds a special place, or shall I say, plate, in your heart.
College campuses are a melting pot comprised not only of students, but also of places to get some one-of-a-kind grub. Universities in urban areas may have easy access to tens of hundreds of gourmet food trucks on their campuses, but downtown Kutztown has some special joints of its own.
As the upperclassmen living in Kutztown already know, there is plenty of beer downtown. College students have the tendency to stick to cheap, domestic beer, like Miller Lite, Yuengling, Hamm’s and occasionally even Natty Ice during the toughest of times.
However, not all of-age KU students stick to pilsners and lagers. Some have grown to love and appreciate beer so much, they have moved onto a new level of beer: craft beer.
Craft beer is as diverse as it is hard to define; it is beer that is artfully created by small, independent breweries rather than breweries that mass-manufacture their beers.
The abundance of styles, flavors and tastes allow for even the pickiest of beer-drinkers to find a draft they will enjoy.
For people who enjoy tart tasting beer, there are sour beers. For enthusiasts who enjoy the taste of hoppy delight, there are India pale ales, otherwise known as IPAs. For current fans of Blue Moon or Shock Top, one might enjoy a wheat beer, such as a Hefeweizen or Witbier. There is no limit to these delicious infusions.
To dig deeper into Kutztown’s realm of craft brews and unique grub, I chose to visit places that concentrate on both local craft beer and original dishes. First up: Kutztown Tavern.
I stepped into the Kutztown Tavern on a late Thursday afternoon. The bar was decently empty, but filled up the longer I stayed. In front of me was a placemat with twelve different beers to go along with the twelve taps on the bar made by Golden Avalanche Brewing Company, the Tavern’s own brewery.
To try half of the beers on tap it costs $7.95, but I decided to go with the Campfire Ale, a Smoked Pale Ale at 5.4% ABV.
If it is possible to burn an actual campfire inside of one of the many brewing tanks on-site, head brewer Vaughn Quinter certainly mastered it. A veteran bartender assisted me during my time spent at the bar, giving me the all I needed to know on the history, menu and brews of the Tavern.
In 1999, Mathew Grider and his four partners opened the doors to the Tavern’s college club, Shorty’s Bar, and the beer brewing began.
All of the equipment used at Golden Avalanche is originally from Germany. The first brewer to brew Golden Avalanche beer was a man by the name of Allen Young, who became the inspiration for Youngallen’s Lager, a Vienna lager you will always see on tap at the Tavern.
The Tavern keeps particular favorites on tap year round, such as: Blonde Lager, a refreshing Munich-Style Helles; Youngallen’s Lager, a German-recipe by Allen Young; Hop Hat IPA, brewed with Citra and cascade hops; and Blueberry Lager, Youngallen’s Vienna with blueberry puree, a true fan favorite.
Seasonal brews change by the season. The current seasonal brews being featured are: Campfire Ale, a lightly hopped smoky IPA; Oktoberfest, a malty to dry, satisfying German Marzen; Project 921, a Belgian Strong Ale for coffee lovers, reaching peak ABV at 8.0%; and the highly anticipated, Country Bumpkin Pumpkin, which you will have to sample for yourself.
The food menu is large with plenty of different options from traditional bar food to authentic German fare. To start, I decided on a Tavern favorite: hand-rolled Buffalo Egg Rolls. They were unlike any egg or spring roll I have had before, and by far the best, putting traditional Chinese egg rolls to shame.
For my meal, I chose another Tavern favorite: French Onion Steak. The beer menu recommended steak with the Campfire Ale, and I had not one regret. The open-faced sandwich hit all of my sweet spots, or the ones I had left room for after the Egg Rolls.
The food and beverage experience at the Tavern was a solid 10/10 from the panel of judges that is my taste buds. I would definitely recommend supporting this local brewery by stopping in and sipping on a one-of-a-kind, true Kutztown brew.