As part of our DiscoverNEPA Brewer’s Loop Series, we’re hitting the road – yes, all 390-plus miles of it. We’ll be taking brewery tours, sampling stouts, lagers and IPAs, and tasting taproom grub all over Northeastern Pennsylvania. Follow along as we bring you a firsthand look inside the region’s exploding craft beer scene, and let you know how, when and where you can experience it for yourself.
True to Nature, True to the Craft
At the southeastern end of the 184-mile Endless-Pocono Run on the DiscoverNEPA Brewer’s Loop, sits the ShawneeCraft Brewing Company.
This bold, innovative brewery positioned rather fortuitously on a stubby peninsula claims little but a lush valley, the dense Pocono jungle and a panoramic Delaware River view as its nearest neighbors. Yeah… That’s all.
It’s difficult to tell just where the beer, the brewery and the tap room begin and the natural artistry of the Poconos ends. A long visit, however, reveals that it’s perfectly plausible there is no true division of each separate thing. The formidable mountain to the west insulates and quiets the mind. The rolling Delaware inspires fluidity of thought. Crisp air swims over the river and the electric green grass. It fills the lungs with purpose. You think — this is the perfect place for a walk, a long ride, a round of golf, or a gentle paddle downstream. And these things must be celebrated with good friends and great beer. And here, at the ShawneeCraft Brewing Company, they have it all.
Let’s go take a tour and drink some beer.
Where beer is conjured like magic, you need only a small space.
There is a stark contrast between the vast natural expanse right outside their doors and the relatively small ShawneeCraft brew house. In a dedicated space, just behind the tap room and the little arcade and a sliding barn door, simple, natural and mostly local ingredients are turned into beer. It’s a small room. The glow of overhead fluorescent lighting bends around burly steel tanks. The warm, familiar aroma of spent grains and liquid heat permeates – a conjurer’s lair, of sorts. So far as we could tell, no eye of newt, or toe of frog in sight. Perhaps, though, a bit of homegrown honey, locally-sourced fruit, or maple syrup occasionally makes it into the pot.
There are few digital readouts, and quite a bit of water, steel and wood. Notes scattered about reveal a true practitioner at work. Trial, error, and accidents mark the floors and walls and illegible scribbles hide little secrets. The brew master here relies little on fancy, new tech. His is a method of somewhat forgotten handiwork – learn from mistakes, be humbled by success. It is in this old meets an inevitable new type of ethic that brilliance is born. And alongside it many a great, clean, tasty beers.
Again, like the brew house, the taproom tends to close in around you. It’s a small space, though a happy, small space. For what it lacks in square footage, it more than compensates with a warm Pocono charm. A hearty craftsmanship lingers in every corner. It’s designed to welcome folks untroubled by notions of refinement and singularly motivated to gather with friends, drink beer, share stories and laugh.
Raw, scruffy boards, misshapen and inconsistently sized, adorn the walls. A wood top bar and comfy, locally handcrafted stools take up one end of the room. One long, communal table, and a smattering of round tops resting on spent wine barrels fills the remaining space. A little corner hides a few classic arcade games, and yet behind another you’ll find darts and a frustratingly addictive Bimini Ring set up. If you can’t hook it, that’s alright. They tell me the odds increase with each pint.
The taproom at ShawneeCraft is like the ultimate cool friend’s basement. And instead of a washer/dryer combo in the far corner, there’s a chill performance space for local musicians. There’s always a better crowd, and nobody’s mom ever comes down the stairs with a plate of pizza rolls. But there is food. Let’s get to it.
Take a Look Behind the Scenes
Pretzels and pizza – simple, local, delicious.
ShawneeCraft is all about beer. They do realize, however, that where there is beer, there must be pizza (and/or pretzels). There are no pretentious chefs, or convoluted menus. No one here is attempting to elevate bar food to some kind of life experience. They have four choices of fresh, artisan pizza and pillowy, jumbo pretzels you can almost sleep on. That’s it – plain and simple.
Now, if you were looking to sit down for a full meal, it also might be helpful to know that ShawneeCraft brewery is located conveniently within the grounds of the famed Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort. The resort features several amazing dining options. Stop by the River Room Restaurant all day for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You can also opt for the more relaxed atmosphere at the Gem & Keystone Brewpub. Both locations feature locally sourced products, many grown right on the resorts own farm. You’ll also be happy to find one-of-a-kind ShawneeCraft beers that are unique to each restaurant. Speaking of beers…
Old school meets new school.
A little bit of the Poconos creeps its way into each pour at ShawneeCraft Brewing Company. Nimble pine branches swishing in the air like a frail wizard’s arms swirl underneath the perfect head of their ultra-drinkable Session IPA. The crystal-clear Delaware draining distant mountain tributaries feeds every drop of Kolsch as it rolls cool and clean up the sides of a pilsner glass. We can wax poetic about these beers all day. They’re fresh, clean and often complex. Even the simplest varieties here trace bloodlines back to the Old World. You’ll find humble homages to European styles like Kolsch, Biere Blanche, Saisons and even a honey ale.
This reverence for the history and the artistry of brewing has marked each beer, regardless of style. And they don’t stop there. ShawneeCraft also taps the modern beer palate with their Mosaic IPA. It’s a hazy, east coast IPA that dances on tropical and citrus notes. They also crank out occasional heirloom varieties like Bourbon Barrel-Aged Porter and many fruited sours.
The taproom always features 10 beers on tap, and you can get many of them to go in growlers, six-packs and even kegs for your home bar.
It’s kind of automatic… You just want to hear some music in this space.
When it comes to fun, you can’t really beat great beer, a great bar and good people. However, should you add to that a kick-ass band, and some really cool events, you just might blow all earthly notions of the word F-U-N into the stratosphere. It just so happens that is exactly what they do here at the ShawneeCraft Brewing Company tap room.
ShawneeCraft Night Run – Thursdays at 6 p.m. (followed by Open Mic from 7-10)
Rhythm & Brews – Every weekend starting at 7 p.m. (various local bands)
Open Mic with Jeremiah Williams – Thursdays at 7 p.m.
Free Brewery Tours
All tours meet in the Main Lobby of The Shawnee Inn
Wed., Thurs., & Fri. — 4 p.m.
Saturday — 12 p.m. & 5 p.m.
Sunday — 12 p.m.
Renegade Sour Ale – Slow, creeping sour allows flavor up front – robust Cabernet, oak and blackberry
Kolsch – Floral, Light and easy-drinking, expertly balanced malt /hops profile
Session Porter – Beautifully dark and slightly creamy with perfectly balanced notes of bittersweet chocolate.