Just off Route 80 in Central Pennsylvania, DENNY’S BEER BARREL PUB will please any burger-lovin’ beer pounder. Founded by owner Denny Liegey in 1977, this barnstable-like Clearfield landmark was gutted and re-done during January 2016.
Always known as a terrific burger joint (with a TV-enhanced sportsbar atmosphere), its current brick-walled oak bar setup includes 40 taps loaded with hard-to-find local stuff, nationally recognized craft brews and eight well-known macros.
My wife and I head to the 20-seat bar for some late-night brews, June ’17. A separate left side dining area suits families. The BBQ-sauced Paterno Burger, dedicated to the legendary Penn State football coach, leads a fine menu including steaks, pub sandwiches, seafood and salads. I ate the juicy Kaiser-rolled PA Wilds Elk Burger while my wife enjoyed the batter-dipped Mac And Cheese Wedges.
Tonight’s draught selections included five previously untried beers (reviewed in Beer Index) from the Keystone State plus one Oregon-based bourbon-aged beauty. I thoroughly enjoyed beechwood-smoked, cherry-soured Bullfrog Smoked Cherry Farmhouse Wheat, ‘rowdy’ fruitful pale ale, Yards Sons Of Ben Belgian Pale Ale, lemon-soured, banana-cloved Robin Hood Bierfass Hefeweizen, easygoing citric-spiced Rusty Rail Train Wreck Imperial Pale Ale and coconut-toasted mocha confection Spring House Skull #1 Coffee Coconut Porter.
Wonderful West Coast dessert treat, Deschutes Black Butte XXXVIII Bourbon Aged Porter, coalesced bourbon vanilla serenity with sweet orange peel and peat-smoked malts.
A definite destination stop for any Route 80 bound denizen, Denny’s world famous burgers and revolving draughts can’t be denied.
On tap at Denny’s Beer Barrel, fulsome dessert treat tastes like a Mounds Bar with its toasted coconut upheaval, dark chocolate sugaring and nutty coffee retreat. Beneath the mocha-coconut assemblage lies mild cocoa nibs, marshmallow and salted peanut illusions. Decadent.
On tap at Denny’s Beer Barrel, decadent 28th Anniversary Imperial Porter tweaks molasses-sapped bourbon vanilla with milk chocolate-y cocoa nibs and peat-smoked wheat malts. Sweet orange peel adjunct seeps below the mix. Subsidiary toasted coconut, roasted tobacco, pureed raspberry, blueberry and port illusions add resilience to boozy (11.5% ABV) to oak-barreled dessert.
On tap at Denny’s Beer Barrel, quirky amber-reddish saison appeases smoked beechwood aspect with sour cherry tartness and sourdough wheat base. Lemony strawberry-cranberry bittering and vinous white grape subtlety settle softly behind cherry rhubarb pie continuance.
On tap at Denny’s Beer Barrel, easygoing Citra-Cascade-hopped pale ale brings spicy grapefruit, pineapple and orange tang to delicate carapils malting, leaving light phenol tones at the finish.
On tap at Benny’s Beer Barrel, ‘rowdy’ pale ale lets subtle candi-sugared Belgian yeast further sweeten tropical mango-peach-pineapple punch above lacquered pine hop oiling, sedate floral notions and pale wheat malts. Not as untamed as advertised, but enjoyably fruit-juiced.
“Burgundian” dubbel contrasts laidback candi-sugared dried fruiting and sweet orange peel subtlety with sharp peppery hop bittering and wispy tobacco roast. Stylishly embedded prune, raisin and plum tones gain mild honey-spiced chocolate malting as distant licorice-rooted anise star adjunct gains tingly coriander and cumin accents.
On tap at Midland Ale House, well-rounded dry-hopped medium body brings floral citrus pleasantries to the fore as its moderate piney hop bite contrasts candied caramel malting. Brisk orange-peeled grapefruit rind bittering gains tangy mango-peach-cantaloupe subsidy.
Refreshingly fruity summertime medium body loads juicy tangerine peel sunshine atop grassy citric hop astringency. Its tangy tangerine tagline gains sweet orange peel luster and wispy vodka nip. Convincing tangerine candy.
Chameleonic medium body connects herb-tinged yellow grapefruit and orange zest entry to mildly spiced caramel malts. Lemon-juiced tangerine tang picks up phenol residue. Mild grassy hop astringency lingeringly contrasts baked biscuit malting beneath the herbal fruited surface.
Understated English-style barleywine offers lovely toffee-spiced sweetness and butterscotch-candied sugaring to earthen hop astringency. But mildly boozy Scotch, brandy and sherry licks become slightly oxidized, causing lesser vanilla, praline and pecan niceties to falter.
Less enthusiastic L’il canned version gets a tad washed out as easygoing lemon-soured raspberry puree adjunct gains mild acidity above clean-watered minerality. Musty cherry wisp falters and light white wheat spine falters.