STATE COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA
Inside a spaciously remodeled beige-yellowed barn house just down the road from Penn State University’s campus lies HAPPY VALLEY BREWING COMPANY. A massive brewpub-restaurant open since 2013, this rustic wood-furnished edifice benefits from its diverse interior.
Using exposed floor joists as ceiling beams and dimly lit by low-volt pendant lighting, the centralized 30-seat bar at its cement-floored lower level provides the perfect Irish pub atmosphere. A separate brewing room allows for ample tank space and a community-tabled side deck near the backyard grain silo offers bucolic outdoor splendor.
Upstairs at street level, a large sportsbar atmosphere gets reinforced by multiple TV’s at all sides. The wood lacquered 12-seat bar (decked out in white tiles) utilizes Edison lights and a huge astronomy mural covers the front wall.
Sandwiches, steaks, pizzas, fish and charcuterie (Gernelli-breaded cured meat, cheeses, pickled veggies) sport the rounded menu.
My wife and I grab a table in front of the red fluorescent Happy Valley Brewing sign on a sunny Saturday at noon in late October ’17 to try a dozen fully realized and well rounded brews. I chow on charcuterie while slipping some suds down the gullet.
Light pink-headed ruby-bodied aperitif, Nitro Zerbert Raspberry Summer Ale, brought a nitro-creamed raspberry tartness to wispily sweet vanilla spicing. Its soft raspberry-seeded piquancy picked up subtle blueberry, huckleberry and gooseberry snips.
Stylishly nebulous but nonchalantly likable, mild nitro-injected Stratus Loftbier lets light peaty earthiness and wispy rye breading bring a mossy ESB-like brown tea likeness to the fore.
Another lightly creamed nitrogenated offering, Phyrst Phamily Stout, draped dry roasted coffee over dark chocolate, vanilla, charred nut and earthen mildew subtleties.
Light-bodied Wheat Ale, Hayday, let “bright citrus overtones” gain a mild grassy hop musk and pale wheat-flaked cereal graining.
Halfway nutty Craftsman Brown Ale sidled earthen grape esters with sour coffee undertones and biscuity nuances.
Slightly sweet Tailgater Blood Orange Pale Ale allowed bittersweet blood orange zest to rejoice above lightly spiced pale malts as mild clementine, tangerine and curacao orange wisps complement the carbolic citric spritz.
Happy Valley’s most popular variety, sessionable India Pale Ale, Knuckleball, caressed “vibrant citrus hops” with mild pale malt spicing, leaving sparkly orange, peach and mango juices upon the tongue.
Another sessionable softie, Space Wheelie Intergalactic Sour, featured lemon-soured pink guava tartness dried out by horse-blanketed straw astringency.
Tropical India Pale Ale, LeMonster, reined lemony pineapple and mango zest atop light pine needling, honeyed pale malts and calm chamomile herbage.
“Classic” IPA, Barnstormer, glazed its juicy grapefruit-orange-pineapple tang with coniferous piney hops, spritzy citrus spicing and terse herbal notions.
Brazen Black IPA, Bongo Fury, buried black grape and grapefruit illusions beneath charcoal-stained dark chocolate bittering and ashen hop-charred acridity.
Local Café Lemont coffee provided a dark-roast java intensity for Joe, a medium-bodied dark ale with lightly milked coffee creaming, vanilla bean bittering and latent charred nuttiness.