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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.








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A humble neighborhood joint “inspired by passion for knowledge, skill and small-batch artisan goods,” LIBERTY CRAFT HOUSE is the crown jewel of Penn State’s campus. Tucked into College Avenue across from the main campus in a red brick building, its small front deck with community tables and chairs welcomes patrons to the bustling pub.

Liberty’s 20-seat bar contains over forty draughts, three cask handles and countless bottled-canned craft beers (some of which are one-of-a-kind hard-to-finds) as well as terrific handmade cocktails. Multiple TV’s attract sports fans to the beer-centric bar.

Dining tables crowd the front and left side while the rear open kitchen serves upscale fare. On my June ’17 sojourn with wife and youngest son, the busy Chefs Salad, juicy Crab Cake Sandwich and goat-cheesed Fig and Bruschetta Pizza kept us happy. These dishes went well with a few previously untried beverages (two proprietary cocktails, one hefe, one witbier, one tripel, one strong ale, one coffee ale and a neutral nitro coffee drink).

In a frozen copper goblet, Liberty’s Kentucky Mule bettered a whiskey sour with its lime-juiced ginger spicing, peppery heat and sweet bourbon over tiny ice cubes. Even better, their Moscow Mule brought clean vodka watering to lime-juiced ginger spicing, mild peppery heat, sweet lemonade sugaring and evergreen freshness.

Though Liberty’s collaborative Rothrock Nitro Coffee seemed flat and watery, its light-roast coffee beaning will please softer thirsts.

Reviewed in the Beer Index are Sly Fox Doppelbock Hefeweizen, Bell’s Poolside Ale (a witbier with tart Montmorency cherries), Yards Brewbik’s Cube Tripel, Southern Tier Pittsburgh Left Blonde Coffee and Weyerbacher 22 Anniversary Ale (with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange peel).

Part of the Dante’s Restaurant chain, Liberty Craft House is a natural destination location while perusing PSU.





January ’04 visitation to rural Penn State campus led me to two tiny specialty beer stores handily named Brewsky’s Bottle Shops (one at Days Inn). Zeno’s Restaurant on Allen Street offered wide selection of international finds and local faves. Cricklewood Drive’s American Ale House & Grill was deemed worthy.

April ’06, found OTTO’S PUB & BREWERY north of Penn State campus. Opened 2002, freestanding lodge-styled side-decked wood building had tucked-in left side bar with stool-table dining space plus additional frontal and right side eating areas.

Snacks, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, and nightly specials go well with stylishly diverse beer menu (enhanced by excellent seasonal selections).

Respected standard fare included sharply citric-faded, red-fruited, Centennial-Cascade-hopped, tea-honeyed Mt. Nittany Pale Ale, smooth, biscuit-buttered, banana nut-breaded, pastry-like Hefeweizen, woody-hopped grapefruit-centered wheat-dried Pilsner Lager, and mildly orange peel-embittered, floral-hopped, nut-smitten, creamy-frothed Arthur’s Best Bitter.

Noteworthy seasonal brews quaffed were vibrant Chinook-hopped apple-peach-pear-orange-toned Double D IPA, nitro-injected Irish-styled hop-roasted nutty-bottomed coffee-tinged Black Mo Stout, and elegant Bourbon-Aged Old Fugget Barleywine – a creamy whiskey-doused sureshot gathering overripe fig-banana-cherry fervor above herbal currant nuance.

Upon one-day April ’08 college tour junket, imbibed mandarin orange-fronted, herbal-spiced, peppery-hopped, cane-sugared, peach-grape-tinged Maibock and tangy apricot-lacquered, orange-juiced wheat-cracked Apricot Wheat.

During 2010, Otto’s moved down the street next to Fairfield Inn on North Atherton Street.