Talk about your successful traditional family-run neighborhood joint! Serving agrarian mining villagers, local businessmen and familial denizens living inside the inconspicuous uphill Sheatown section of Nanticoke with authentic Cajun food since 1984, MARTY’S BLUE ROOM expanded its red brick-fronted, white clapboard-sided residential boundaries under the guidance of convivial husband-wife Jim and Joanie Schonfeld. By 2010, Schonfeld’s son began brewing operations under his own name as BENNY BREWING COMPANY, utilizing a single-barrel Sabo system with four fermenters.
Formerly one-room saloon, Roman’s Cafe, Marty’s rustic country comfort proves to be therapeutic. Entering the diner-styled homestead for a two-hour jaunt, May ’13, my wife and I grab a table across the left side 14-seat bar where twelve taps pour Benny’s current four libations (fermented in the windowed brew tanks) plus Bud, Labatts, Yuengling and Hofbrau for the macro-brew masses.
The blue-tiled ceiling, Harp lager signpost and Blackboard Beer list capture the eye as we settle into the cozy cafe. Though we don’t ‘Go Cajun’ this afternoon, Maryland crab soup and garlic-breaded parmesan-cheesed bruscetta provide excellent fodder for Benny’s appealing fare.
Brisk citric-spiced perfume-hopped spritzer, Summer Ale, opened the session with easygoing splendor. Centrist-like Amber Lager enticed honeyed malt sweetness with chestnut, pine nut and resin variables.
Gose-like beige-hazed moderation, Wit, brought herbaceous notions (lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppercorn) to sweetly perfumed orange peel, lemon zest, mandarin orange and yellow grapefruit crisping. Its coriander salting and fern-like freshness add further delicate luster.
Hopenstein India Pale Ale layered woody Simcoe hops atop dry grapefruit-peeled juniper berry bittering and juicy tangerine-orange-peach tang.
Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, soft-focus Oatmeal Stout (nitro version) mingled black coffee bittering, creamy cappuccino frothing, chalky cocoa coarsening and wood-burnt chicory.
Coal mining posts, dirt roads and farming mules may be a thing of the past in this rural northeast Pennsylvania hideout, but Marty’s peaceful easy feeling re-creates Concrete City’s abandoned smalltown atmosphere.