Nestled one hour north of State Capitol, Harrisburg, in a commercial farming center just off the West Branch of the Susquehanna River lies the pristinely detailed 19th century-styled town of Lewisburg. Home to Bucknell University and the famous Campus Theatre (a treasured Art Deco movie palace), this middle Pennsylvania suburb also houses Market Street’s rewarding SMILING CHAMELEON DRAFT HOUSE, opened for business September 2010.
Serving decent pub food and great drafts while mantaining a comfortable downtown atmosphere, the wood-paneled bar offers 30 tap handles plus a nice bottled beer selection. Its rustic interior features an antique mirrored right wall sidled by booths and tables across the stone-walled 20-seat bar (with 3 TV’s). A Bison insignia promoting Bucknell sports is above the tap handles. Fine local beers from Stoudt’s, Troegs, Victory, Yeungling and Elk Creek are interspersed amongst Guinness Stout, Boddington’s Ale and Moosehead Lager.
On this cold Saturday evening in early November 2012, my friend Paul and I grab a few seats at the bar to watch the Alabama-LSU college football game while consuming two previously untried beers. As Robert Johnson’s blues classic “Going Up The Country” plays in the background, our waitress brings over Old Forge T-Rail Pale Ale, a refreshingly soft-toned citric spritzer with a mild IPA bent. Afterwards, I down Elk Creek Johnson IPA, a richer offering displaying piney fruited juniper bittering.
Though Smiling Chameleon may be small in stature, its friendly neighborhood feel will attract both locals and travelers. And the quickly revolving taps do a great job serving the community with some of the finest elixirs the Keystone State could offer.