South of Scranton in the Pocono Mountains lies BARLEY CREEK BREWING COMPANY, a ranch-styled post with exterior canopied tiki deck, fake palm trees, flaming torches, spacious spires, and nearby pavilion visited April ’06 while staying at Tannersville’s Great Wolf Lodge (an indoor waterpark).
Inside, wood booths and upholstered seats bedeck central bar area with TV’s at every conceivable angle. Alongside appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, ribs, crab, and flounder, large glass-encased brew tanks provided gently-hopped fare (bottled versions are listed in Beer Index).
Non-bottled selections served in plastic cups included dry phenol-hopped, wheat-strawed Creek Light and subtle coffee-frothed, toffee-notched, black tea-licked Pocono Bitter. Biscuit-y chocolate-malted, chestnut-hazelnut-eased, woody Chinook-hopped Summit Strong Ale fared OK. On tap, caramel-pale malts soothed Scotch-molasses depth of licorice-doused Swarzbier, Angler Black Lager.
During quick July ’07 revisit, quaffed aluminum-like, lemon-limed, sweet-corned, maize-dried, wheat-strawed Cliffhanger Light Ale and two specialty brews weakened by vinegary cider linger. Iron Arm Belgian Ale brought musty fungi yeast solvency to tart white grape esters, dried orange pucker, lemon-bruised grapefruit bittering, and banana-bruised clove latency. Old 99 Barleywine had oxidized dry burgundy-like 10% alcohol swagger, earthen red grape splurge, green apple souring, and slight charcoal tinge.
On December ’07 jaunt with extended Fortunato family, quaffed acridly fig-dried spice-tingled fungi-etched Harvest Moon Oktoberfest Lager and dry hop-roasted nut-toasted coffee-addled Traveler Foreign Stout (a.k.a. Renovator- an oily, filmy, vapidly creamy Guinness knockoff).
Between my premier April 2011 visitations to Shawnee Craft Brewery and three newish westbound brewpubs, stopped by wood-lodged Poconos standby once again. During one-hour jaunt, consumed sharp grape-skinned raisin-pruned Merlot-wined Old 99 Barleywine in goblet again. Its deeper phenolic hop astringency scraped up against candi-sugared purple grape and cherry undertones.
For my two-hour July 2012 sojourn with wife and youngest son, Chris, investigated several interesting new brews that bettered the flagship beers (which were no longer bottled for consumption but benefited from revised recipes by brewer Joe Percoco).
Indeed, Barley Creek’s revamped lineup served notice, but I was more impressed with the deeper flavor profile of several stylistically disparate newcomers. Though soapy Summerfest Lager was the weakest link (with its lightly creamed crystal malting, corn flaked astringency and teasing citric snare), its sessionable summer seasonality suited softer thirsts, as did phenol Export Ale (a brisk lemony grapefruit moderation with crisply roasted tobacco nuances).
Better were orange-soured, quince-minced, sweet-malted, vanilla-dried Maibock Lager and upgraded, soft-tongued, orange-spiced, lemon-candied Iron Arm Belgian Wheat. Sharp grapefruit-peeled juniper bittering and floral perfuming consumed musky Spring Hop India Pale Lager.
On the dark side, ground coffee-dried, black chocolate-roasted, walnut-charred Bobby’s Breakfast Stout got outdone by nitro-fueled Mocha Latte Stout – with its creamy mocha latte theme, vanilla bean bittering, espresso nicety, hazelnut roast, black licorice snag, and sweet bourbon finish gaining luster over time.
MEETING THE BOSS – TRIP RUVANE – AT BARLEY CREEK, JANUARY 2017.
During my early January ’17 Poconos getaway, got to travel once more to Barley Creek. This time, I met owner, Trip Ruvane, a fun-loving character who has watched his ski barn-styled brewpub grow into one of the area’s most reliable food and beverage joints.
On tap this Tuesday afternoon are five previously untried brews. First up, easygoing Slippery Slope Pale Ale’s crisp mineral-watered lemony grapefruit tang gained mild grassy-hopped juniper bittering above its white wheat spine.
Next, briskly citric-hopped moderate-to-medium body, Citrabellum Double IPA, utilized Columbus, Citra, Simcoe, Cascade and Nelson Sauvin hops to promote lemony grapefruit, orange and peach ripeness over grassy oats-flaked graining.
Perhaps Barley Creek’s finest effort, Super Hop Triple IPA retained a sharp citrus hop bittering and refreshingly clean mineral-watered crisping to its resounding 11.5% fusel alcohol finish. Tangy orange-peeled yellow grapefruit entry picks up pineapple, peach and quince illusions above moderate caramel malt base.
Delightful dark ales ruled dessert!
Mildly creamed Wanderlust Chocolate Porter softly displayed bittersweet black-malted dark chocolate, cacao nibs and cola tones as its Hershey’s chocolate syrup addition thickened the mellowing mocha melange.
As nighttime beckoned, nitro-smooth Sullivan Trail Oatmeal Stout brought rich black chocolate-roasted dark cocoa overtures to charcoal-hopped oats toasting and black cherry wisps while retaining a delicately creamy eclair head.