May 10 2009 11:07 pm

central PA fishbeer

Fishing at Penn’s Creek is hit or miss.  When it is good, apparently it is very good, though I wouldn’t know.  I’ve never had a great day on Penn’s.  The hatches are complex.  There is so much food in that river, the fish can be picky; a Catskill style #10 March Brown might get the cold shoulder while a #10 Comparadun will catch fish.

The river was up and off-color this weekend and I only managed five or six fish total.  I hooked and lost about that many as well, including one quite fat bank sipper that broke me off on 5x.  I also took a spill in the river and my camera was submerged.  The second time Penn’s has claimed that camera.  The wading there is tough.  But after a few hours of drying in the sun and being held out the window of a moving vehicle, she fired right up, no worse for wear. 

We fared much better in the beer department.  We visited the Elk Creek Café and Ale Works three nights in a row and sampled their fine food and beers.  While I certainly appreciate the Millheim Hotel for what it is and have had my share of their wings and Yuenglings, Elk Creek Café is a welcome addition to Central PA. 

My two favorite beers were the Winkleblink and ReSession Ales.  The Winkleblink is a light to medium bodied ale with a sturdy, warm malt character and clean finish.  The ReSession is a best bitter style served on nitro.  They have a beer engine, but they weren’t pouring any real ale during my visit. This is a truly great beer with a light body, a crisp, floral and citrus hop character, and quaffability off the chart.  I wanted to put the entire glass in my mouth all at once.  Their IPA was first rate as well, coming in at a rather strong 7.5% abv.  The Copper and Brown ales were also quite good.  The Poe Paddy Porter was spot on, showing big, rich dark malts that finished strong and dry.    

Their Pilsner left something to be desired.  It had what I think was a harsh, fruity fermentation character, quite acidic and puckering, not infected, but not right.  Also, all their beers were rather cloudy.  This is fine for the bitter, and really doesn’t affect the flavor of a beer at all, but it has an impact on my overall perception of the beverage.  I just like bright beers.  Perhaps they aren’t fining their beers, not cold conditioning them long enough, or they’re having some trouble with their mash?  Either way, not a huge problem, but something that if fixed, would make their beers better in my albeit inconsequential opinion.         

The food was great.  The grilled meatloaf and steak frites were awesome.  And in keeping with central PA tradition, their hand cut fries were top notch. 

Back in Bloomington Monday night.  Start teaching the beer class on Tuesday.  JL Waters on Wednesday.  Smallmouth on Thursday?


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