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.
Conjuring the Essence of the Poconos
Far on the eastern edge of the Southern Reach section of the DiscoverNEPA Brewer’s Loop, travelers will find the Pocono Brewery Company.
This welcoming craft brewery, pub and wood-fired pizza joint claims a convenient chunk of roadside along PA Rt. 611 in Swiftwater. The famous roadway offers a most comprehensive tour of the beloved Poconos. It meanders from the central plateaus of Mt. Pocono and catches even the slightest gaze from every town, big or small, on its long journey south to Philadelphia. If you want a true measure of the Poconos, take to Rt. 611. And if you’re looking to try some truly inspired, homegrown craft beers and to challenge all your worldly notions of great pizza, be sure to stop in the Pocono Brewery Company.
At first look, the brewpub bears uncanny resemblance to a classic Pocono ski lodge. A wavy, natural-edge wood siding clads the building. Sturdy, stacked stone pillars bear the weight of a double-pitched roof. The place is built, one can imagine, to look postcard perfect under a foot of snow. Nonetheless, we stopped by under ocean blue skies and the electric green of a Pocono summer – still an incredibly awesome time to visit by the way.
They met us with smiles. They poured their beer generously, shared their incredible story and bribed us with delicious pizza. And, I have to say, if that’s the way things are done around here, you can count me in all day.
Let’s go take that tour and drink some beer, shall we?
Chemistry, craftmanship and an unquenchable thirst for simplicity.
The brewery at PBC takes up only a tiny fraction of the building’s footprint. And though it may be a bit cramped, it’s probably the most delightfully dramatic space in the whole joint. From the outside, the octagonal floor plan, and its tower-like appearance offer the brewhouse a somewhat mystical aura.
A peek through the door reveals a rather imposing vision. Steel tanks corralled like magnificent, beer-producing cattle stare back. A brewer’s hose snakes its way in and around their skinny legs. Light slashes downward along their pregnant steel bellies from the ceiling’s gorgeously exposed beam work. A half days’ worth of sun pours through two stories of eastern facing windows, setting aglow the maze of pipework, valves and knobs. It illuminates a space only a craftsman can claim. Handwritten notes and pencils pocked with teeth marks litter the desk. Screwdrivers and bolts teeter on the verge of being lost forever. A confused mess of inspirational knick-knacks mingles with hastily jotted calculations, formulas and phone numbers.
The brewhouse and canning room are a focal point for sure. They’re also refreshingly honest. It is, after all, a work space. There’s comfort in the occasional dank whiff of spent grain and the sound of empties wracking themselves right as they make their way along the canning line. There’s a well-crafted sensory connection here – a cosmic intertwining of sights, smells and sounds that defies trendy adjectives and reveals itself in simple, honest beers.
Barrels, stone and plenty of Pocono pine.
The brewpub and dining space at Pocono Brewery Company is designed to warm the soul and inspire comfort and conversation. Sure, they could have done that with the beer and pizza alone, but it’s the Poconos. Let’s go ahead and bring all that beautiful outside in.
Rustic, Live edge knotty pine trims the entire space. Hunky, exposed beams and columns map out the perimeter of the dining room. Calming, natural tones assault the eye as you pan from floor to ceiling. Splashes of red mix among the interior walls and the glossy, Cabernet-hued bar and tabletops. Soft light finds its way around the room, warming up walls of stacked field stone and the bar’s classic, brass foot rail.
The space is large and yet somehow inviting and intimate. Dining and drinking take place around two separate, central hubs – the bar and the gorgeous, authentic pizza oven. Each element, equally artistic in its own right, contributes to PBC’s welcoming and familial aesthetic. And the genuine hospitality continues out back on the spacious beer garden patio. Inside or out, you can truly experience the famous Pocono seasons at PBC.
“Pizza and beer are love.”
You’re here for the beer. I know. And we’ll get to that. But first, tribute must be paid to the pizza gods, who have clearly smiled upon this place. The scent of homemade dough meeting an oak fire inside an authentic Italian, stone pizza oven envelopes you as you enter. If you weren’t thinking pizza, you are now.
Fresh basil, tangy, plum tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella, and light, crispy dough is all you really need to get you through a few flights of beer. But this pizza at PBC brings so much more to the table. There’s a delicate smokiness to the crust imparted by the intense wood fire. High quality ingredients, like fresh garlic, imported capers, wild mushrooms, prosciutto and so many more deliver an unmistakable, old-world flavor.
The pizza menu offers over a dozen scratch-made, red or white featured pies. In my experience, you can’t go wrong with the classic Margherita, the PBC Pizza, or the Burrata. And if you’re just not into pizza, PBC’s menu also features pub favorites like fresh salads, burgers and wings. You’ll also find a long list of charcuteries, cheese boards, appetizers and entrees.
Simple, true, inspired.
The beers at PBC draw inspiration from the majestic Pocono Mountains. Some deliver you to a green meadow clearing. A smooth, light crispness leaves taste buds bobbing like black-eyed Susans in a summer breeze. Others, entreat you to a piney kiss, reminiscent of cool, mountain air, fragrant Norway spruce and fresh snow. Each flight offers a remarkable jaunt through Northeastern Pennsylvania’s largely beer-friendly, European roots.
On the lighter side of things… Their refreshing Pocono Pines Pilsner enters through nose with a noticeable pine influence. Mauch Chunk, a light pale lager stands up lean and dry with a level-headed hop character.
Somewhere in the middle, you’ll find a couple of IPAs, each with their own unique Pocono spirit. The flagship Wally Wilson packs a welcome punch for an IPA of mid-range ABV. This classic American IPA leaves behind pleasant tropical notes. Pocono Rhubus, a lighter selection infused with tea and raspberry offers a slightly less bitter take on the IPA. You’ll also find a few heavy hitters, like the 570 Stout, and the coveted Burial Series Oak Stout. Both deliver an ultra-smooth, lingering sweetness behind a rich, dark chocolate creaminess.
In all, Pocono Brewery Company features a rotating selection of 10 drafts. And with the addition of a canning operation, you’ll also find a greater selection of takeout beers. Be sure to look out for their annual burial series and when you’re traveling further south, stop in their Lehigh Valley Taproom in Whitehall.
Take a Look Behind the Scenes
Wally Wilson – solid, tropical leaning, true American IPA
Pokawachne – aromatic, floral, classic golden ale
570 Stout – silky, chocolatey, lingers lightly on the tongue between sips
About the Photographer
Originally from Williamsport, Courtney is a 2019 Marywood grad. She enjoys discovering the often-overlooked beauty of NEPA, making clean Jeeps dirty, and cuddling with her chunky cat, Marley.