North of Philadelphia near the Delaware River lies historic steel town, Bethlehem, a popular arts community with a large casino and spacious brewpub. Visited December ’05, friendly Main Street Commons Mall corner pub, BETHLEHEM BREW WORKS, is marked by windowed street corner copper kettles.

Upon entering, bar and peculiar metal-enforced seating booths are situated to right side while quieter dining area is leftward behind glass-encased brew tanks. Unique ‘Beer Infusions’ (liqueur mixers), excellent single malt Scotch selection, fine wines, martinis, and Christmastime ‘hot buttered rum’ contend with choice Belgian beer assortment (at downstairs bar) and several estimable Lewis Thomas-handcrafted brews.

Soft-toned grapefruit-lemony Hallertau-hopped Valley Golden Ale, raw-honeyed rye-dried tea-hopped dry-bodied Fegley’s ESB, and tame dry-fruited sugar-malted toffee-tinged Doppelbock soothe neophytes. Viscous brandy-wined orange-bruised apple-candied fig-slicked Big Bad Barleywine, mild espresso-fronted coffee-roasted black chocolate-dried walnut-quipped Steelworkers Oatmeal Stout, and especially, perfect 9.5% alcohol candi-sugared brandy-soaked Belgian-styled Rude Elf’s Reserve (with its cinnamon swirl and nutmeg-coriander twist) suit connoisseurs.

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