Any true beer lover cruising down Route 80 in Central Pennsylvania a few miles north of Penn State must make the journey to ROBIN HOOD BREWING COMPANY. Situated inside Home D Pizzeria in a well-designed freestanding building in the Victorian-housed borough of Bellefonte, the friendly sportsbar-related beer and wood-fired pizza joint take their homemade craft brewing and popular pub fare seriously.
Open since 2014 and already on their 500th beer batch by my March ’17 visit, Robin Hood Brewing dominates its bucolic rural region since the closest competition lies twelve miles south and many more miles further in any other direction. A small enclosed green-furnished wood deck sidles its stone-walled entrance side and a separate left side dining section serves families well. The 10-seat L-shaped bar area includes several booths and tables as well as 12 big-screen TV’s and a host of blackboard beer menus. Several round stickers with proprietary beer emblems cover the green side wall.
Brewmaster Chris Schell concocts a well-rounded selection from light lagers to bourbon-barreled Imperial Stouts and I try thirteen during dinnertime. Wine lovers should be informed of the 700 bottle selection.
Smooth Munich-malted L.J. Lager let dank grain pungency affect mild hop toasting for simple blue collar fare. Another easygoing moderation, English-styled Peasant Ale, brought light citrus souring to musky grains, sweet toffee and biscuity malts. Conventional King Richard Red spread toasted caramel malts across rye-spiced apple and fig sweetness.
Enjoyable moderation, Blueboary Wheat, spiked its prominent blueberry lacquering with subtle floral-perfumed hops and sweet wheat malts. Easy drinkin’ moderation, Pomegranate Wheat, draped pomegranate-soured blueberry and rhubarb tartness atop wispy white wheat breading.
Subtle grapefruit and orange rind bittering graced Blooming Spring IPA, an approachable moderate body with piney-hopped honeysuckle herbage. Dryer and bitterer Bulls IPA presses sweet ‘n sour grapefruit, pineapple and mango tropicalia against bark-dried wood tones and musky grains.
Soft-toned Long Bow Imperial IPA hid its hefty 10% ABV behind sugar-spiced fruit juicing, caramelized pale malt sweetness, resinous earthen pine bittering and evergreen freshness.
Dry-malted and suggestively named F-Tuck Porter brought dark-roast black chocolate malting to caramel-burnt coffee tones and earthen musk.
Next, three rich stouts helped bring a climactic height. Nitro Maiden Milk Stout contrasted milky bourbon chocolate and vanilla sweetness against dry cocoa tones. Unorthodox Axehole Russian Imperial Stout brought Baltic Porter-like dewy cellar musk and dried prune acridity to black-malted dark chocolate, cocoa and coffee tones.
Perfect mocha-bound digestif, Black Barrel Bourbon Stout, caressed beautiful Elijah Craig bourbon warmth with lovely chocolate-vanilla-coconut sweetness.
Another luscious dessert treat, Major Oak Wee Heavy, saturates caramel-malted vanilla, coconut, molasses and fudge tones with bourbon-barreled Jack Daniels whiskey sweetness for a wholly involving Scotch ale.
During 90-minute April ’17 stopover on the way to Cleveland, sampled two more IPA’s and two more dark ales.
Refreshingly clean Robin Rocket IPA allowed sticky pine resin to latch onto tangy orange-peeled grapefruit, pineapple and lemon briskness as well as less affluent sugar-spiced pale malts.
Sharper Blooming Spring Double IPA let grapefruit and orange rind bittering get soaked by musky alcohol phenols above oats-flaked caramel malts.
Dry black malt bittering ushered in Brawling Barrel Porter as dark chocolate, burnt coffee and ashen nuttiness led the way over charred hops.
Mocha-smoked St. Hood Cafe Coffee Stout merged pleasant espresso coffee overtones with chalky dark-roast chocolate malting (as dry whiskey-burgundy subtleties and spicy cinnamon-curry wisps evaporate).