RED CASTLE BREWERY

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LEHIGHTON, PENNSYLVANIA

Rustic RED CASTLE BREWERY, an interestingly decked-out Medieval-themed, Polish-influenced restaurant-brewery located in the perfect rural spot across Lehighton’s imposing mountain range abutting the Lehigh River, benefits from busy crossroad traffic, well-priced authentic Eastern European cuisine and easy drinkin’ homemade brews.

Two small parlor chairs and tables welcome local minions and road-weary beer hounds to the cozy aluminum-topped, plank-wooded shack. Roughhewn planks also bedeck the small maroon-hued one-room interior (with left side private seating) and the 14-stool L-shaped bar serves a few front tables as well as a small side deck.

Six draught handles and one nitro tap adorn the flat-stone designed centerpiece at the bar (along with a Polish-American plaque).   Halupki, a cabbage-stuffed pork, rice and spice dish, Haluski (cabbage with noodles and spices), Perogies and Smoked Mac & Cheese went well with the easygoing five original brews on tap this sunny July afternoon, 2017.

Local wines, Kielbasi, gourmet burgers and potato pancakes round out the splendid menu.

For a fruity appetizer, Blueberry Shandy sufficed, with its sweet ‘n sour blueberry tartness receiving lightly vinous green grape esters and teasing cranberry snips above a delicate straw wheat spine.

Soft-toned English pale ale, Smash English Malt, brought raw-honeyed corn malts and mineral grained earthiness to light lemon wisps.

Likable Lancers Lager retained a dryer-than-expected Helles profile as earthen Noble hops gained cigarette tobacco crisping and neutral wheatgrass illusions for its sly citric tones.

Harkening back to English-styled India Pale Ales, Knights Of Mayhem Imperial IPA let malt-smoked Band-Aid astringency and earthen rye graining prosper alongside desiccated orange tartness.

For dessert, laidback Dark Dungeon Coffee Bourbon Stout hit the spot. Sweet bourbon licks affected light-roast coffee, brown chocolate and spiced toffee illusions to contrast sedate hop-charred bittering.

www.redcastlebrewery.com

POCONO BREWING COMPANY

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SWIFTWATER, PENNSYLVANIA

The newly designed old brown lodge housing the rebuilt POCONO BREWING COMPANY increased capacity and benefited promptly from upgrading its pub menu and original beer recipes.

Reopened June 2017, the dynamic freestanding restaurant-brewery just off Route 80 gives fair competition to nearby Tannersville’s Barley Creek Brewery.

The stone-walled 20-seat central bar (with TV’s at every angle) serves brewmaster Jean Luc’s inspired eclectic fare. Meanwhile, traditional Italian-styled pizza and fresh pasta get cooked inside an interesting cement, stone and tiled oak-burning oven at the far left open kitchen.

Well-designed wood furnishings, candlelights and chandeliers give PBC a warm setting. And its semi-private loft area gets utilized on weekends.

An enormous backroom with fireplace and stage area provides plenty of family dining and a redwood back deck with red and yellow umbrellas and green metal chairs gets services by a 20-seat tiki bar. Specialty cocktails are also available along with fine wines.

On my mid-afternoon July ’17 perusal, ate Porto Fino (olive-oiled, feta-cheesed sausage with tomato and basil) while wife enjoyed the terrific Pizza Margherita (plum tomato-sauced, olive-oiled mozzarella with basil).

As for the brews, ‘rustic’ Pokawachne Golden Ale brought earthen hay and wild oats to lemon-soured orange candy tartness and mildly spiced floral herbage.

Rustic raw-honeyed oats and dried orange spicing consumed the dryer-than-expected Magic Bus Dunkelweizen.

“Tropical hops” brightened honey fruited Wally Wilson IPA, a boldly embittered medium body with dewy malts and lemony orange snips battling lingered hop astringency.

Recalling tart raspberry jam, Pocono Rhubus Raspberry IPA gained strawberry rhubarb illusions and berry tea notions while its Noble hop bittering wavered.

Unique basil-seasoned Baison Basil Saison gained a light perfumed cologne waft as its stylish orange-soured lemon and pineapple tartness expanded.

Molasses-sapped black chocolate malting defined hop-charred, oats-flaked 570 Oatmeal Stout, leaving in its wake ancillary espresso and dried cocoa notions as well as earthen floral nips.

BONNIE & CLYDE PUB & GRILL

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LEHIGHTON, PENNSYLVANIA

A quirky narrow Speakeasy squeezed tightly into downtown Lehighton, BONNIE & CLYDE PUB & GRILL opened in the autumn of 2016. Its Prohibition Era copper tin ceiling, Edison lights, old cinematic paraphernalia and multiple wood-barreled tap handles crowd the 15-seat L-shape bar (with 4 TV’s for sports addicts).

A separate right side dining space divided by a lit New Belgium Brewery sign and a Goose Island plaque serves families this Saturday evening, July ’17.

Fine upscale fare included my wife’s Ma Barker Wrap (Swiss-cheesed turkey with cucumber and horseradish) and the generous ham-like Duck (with duck-stuffed ravioli) I consumed.

On tap during my two-hour escapade were three previously untried elixirs plus one Diabolical Wit first encountered at Springhouse Brewery and one Pittsburgh-bound North Country ale.

North Country Station 33 Firehouse Irish Red regaled tea-like earthiness and tobacco-roasted peat mossing with musky apple-pear illusions.

Singlecut Are You Ready Steve? IPA succeeded as a light-bodied “Hawaiian Punch” with fruited cornucopia.

Toolbox Bog Sauce, a tart raspberry-cranberry-infused Berliner Wiess, gained vinous green apple and white grape tannins.

Full reviews at Beer Index.