Monday, March 20, 2006

North Country Brewing Co. in Slippery Rock, PA

Making our way slowly across Pennsylvania to Pittsburgh brings us from Denny's in Clearfield to North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock. Ever since being a young guy, I had to laugh at the name. Still today, I'm not sure exactly what happens in this town other than the university. Now, you can add finely crafted beer to the list. If you're heading across Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania (perhaps from Ohio to New York, for example), North Country should be a must-stop for any beer lover. If you think I'm nuts, go visit Lew Bryson's site, where he went as far as to award it with the tag of "Best New Brewpub in Pennsylvania in 2005." Scroll down on this page and you'll find it. (Two smart guys can't be wrong, eh?!) The brewpub is basically at the crossroads of Main Street and Franklin Street in the center of town. It's hard to miss their building, as you should be able to gather from the picture they have outfitted the front of the building with a western theme.....lots of wood. And, the theme continues inside. The interior was certainly designed to be aesthetically pleasing. First, as I've already alluded to, the wood theme....everywhere! Then, the multiple levels between the entrance, the main bar area, and the restaurant seating area. It is a very comfortable environment. Since we were on a somewhat accelerated time schedule (needed to get to Pittsburgh), Matt and I opted for the 6-variety sampler while Dennis committed to the Firehouse Red . The space at the bar is a bit awkward, especially considering that we could only get waitress service if we were ordering food....huh?! (Unfortunately, we weren't there long enough to really judge the service, but the interaction that we did have was pleasant enough.) Well, anyway, we retrieved our beverages from the bar and dived into a couple of decent brews followed by some very good beers. My favorite, hands down, was the porter. In fact, a growler full of it made it to our hotel room for a nice nightcap to the weekend. Though, I agreed with Matt and Dennis that the ESB and the 5 Rings Ale (a more substantial version of the Red) were also very good. On the other hand, we were surprised by the thinness of the stout. It certainly didn't live up to its nose or its description. The Other One (old ale) was also quite flavorful and the only house brew over 6% ABV. Overall, North Country's handiwork certainly proves that beers do not need to be high in alcohol to be high in quality. For nice weather days, there is a porch attached to the front of the building.....where they are dog friendly too! I could definitely envision relaxing on the porch with some more North Country brews!

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