Taste of the Month: Central PA Tasting Trail

Centre County has become a hub for the microbrewing and microdistilling movements. It also has seen a boom in the winery business, making this area popular for everyone who has a taste for wine, beer, spirits, and hard cider.
April offers a month-long celebration of those tastes with the first Central PA Tasting Trail. With the purchase of a $20 Tasting Trail ticket at the Centre County/Penn State Visitors Center, you will be able to get your ticket stamped at the 11 participating locations from April 1 to 30. In addition, many locations are offering special giveaways and promotions to Tasting Trail ticket holders.
Once a ticket is completely filled, it can be dropped off at any of the participating venues or at the visitors center and be entered in a May 8 drawing for prizes that include concert tickets, gift cards, gift baskets, and free nights at local hotels and bed and breakfasts.
The trail invites you to take a tour of the award-wining venues and sample the one-of-a-kind craft beverages from Elk Creek Café + Aleworks, Happy Valley Brewing Company, Otto’s Pub & Brewery, Home D Pizzeria & Robin Hood Brewing Co., Big Spring Spirits, Good Intent Cider, Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery, Keewaydin Cider Mill, Mount Nittany Vineyard & Winery, Seven Mountains Wine Cellars, and Nittany Mountain Distillery, which is opening soon and will be pre-stamped on tickets.
Big Spring Spirits is the first LEED-certified distillery in the country. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, a green-building certification that recognizes advanced-building strategies and practices. It takes into account water efficiency and energy use, occupant health, and comfort. The more than 5000-square-feet boutique distillery, named after the water from the Big Spring in Bellefonte, is located in the historic Match Factory complex. Opened in July 2014, owner Kevin Lloyd and business partner Paula Cipar made extensive renovations to the building but still maintained its architectural charm. Eight spirits are offered — Big Spring Vodka, Rum, Silver Lion White Corn Whiskey, Spiced Rum, Coconut Rum, 7 Governor’s Age Gin, Silver Fox White Rye Whiskey, and Silver Hare Wheat Whiskey. Tastings are $2.50 for three (10 ml) pours or $5 for six (10 ml) pours, but there is no charge for Tasting Trail ticket holders.
“We also have a full cocktail menu using locally sourced shrubs from Tait Farm Foods and house-made cordials and syrups,” says tasting-room manger Lucy Rogers. “Since we have a distiller’s license and not a liquor license, we can’t serve beer or wine, or use any alcohol that we don’t produce.”
The cocktail menu includes the Milesburg Mule, the Centrepolitan, and the Bellefonte Iced Tea. Big Springs Spirits also serves a charcuterie plate featuring Hog’s Galore meats and Calkins Creamery cheeses. Other menu items include quiche, pickled eggs, roasted-garlic hummus, and sweet-onion and bacon jam.
Also in Bellefonte is Good Intent Cider, which started with a few gallons of cider produced by Adam Redding in his parents’ house (on Good Intent Road) in Gettysburg after he took a five-day course at Cornell University in 2010.
“We started making small batches of 20 gallons at a time and fermenting it in my parents’ hallway closet, and we served it at my wedding in 2011,” he says. “Some of our friends said it was pretty good, my wife, Jenn, liked it, and I was impressed, too. So by 2012, we had a pretty good idea what apple blends would make a good cider and started applying for licenses.”
By 2013, Redding started producing 120 gallons and sold out of his two varieties at the time — Adam’s Apple and North Meets South.
Unlike hard ciders that are sold commercially at beer distributors, Good Intent Ciders are between 7 and 11 percent ABV. Opened in October 2014, Good Intent Cider offers four ciders in bottles and six on tap. It now produces more than 1,700 gallons of cider every year.
The Adam’s Apple is the flagship semidry cider made with freshly pressed juice and no added water. In remembrance of the Battle of Gettysburg, the North Meets South is a bourbon-barrel-aged cider. The Good Charmât is a close relative of champagne and is twice fermented with notes of vanilla, red berry, and grape flavors. The Calebasse Bosc is made from the Bosc pear. It is lightly effervescent and semidry with hints of ginger.
“Coming this spring, we will have a New England-style cider made with honey and raisins. … We are going to do a Cyser, which is like the New England style but made with just apples and honey,” says Redding.
Mount Nittany Vineyard and Winery in Centre Hall is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and it offers free tastings of its more than 25 award-winning wines, which range from dry to sweet. Some wines to try include the Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nittany Mountain White, Nittany Mountain Blush, and Tailgate Red. For sweeter tastes, try the winery’s luscious fruit wines such as Raspberry, Blueberry, and Cherry. For the Tasting Trail, Mount Nittany Winery will be giving away stem-less logo wine glasses to ticket holders.
Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery in State College has more than 25 wines, including the recently released Meritage, a premium dry red wine, and a red-spiced wine of German tradition. Other wines to try include the Fox Point, Blue Luna, and Ruby Throat Rosé. A few lucky ticket holders will win a chance to be part of a catered winemaker’s dinner in the winery’s barrel room.
Seven Mountains Wine Cellars in Spring Mills offers more than 30 wines, and coming this spring, try the new un-oaked Chardonnay. Wines to try include the Ten Point, Vidal Blanc, Traminette, and Cranberry. Also this spring, look for Seven Mountains Wine Bar to open on the Diamond in Boalsburg.
Otto’s Pub & Brewery in State College always has 10 to 12 house-brewed beers on tap, including Slab Cabin IPA, Red Mo Ale, Mt. Nittany Pale Ale, Apricot Wheat, and Spruce Creek Lager. Coming in April, try the Maibock Spring Lager. For a taste of something different, visit Otto’s each Friday at 5 p.m. for Firkin Friday. A Firkin is a British-style cask of ale that is conditioned in the cask and gravity-poured for a real ale taste.
Keewaydin Cider Mill, owned by Otto’s, currently offers three hard ciders — a semisweet, semidry, and cherry hard cider.
Coming this spring, Otto’s will be opening Barrel 21 Distillery & Dining, a tapas dining experience featuring small-plate fusion cuisine with local flavors influenced by various cultures.
Happy Valley Brewing Company in State College has 13 different styles of beers brewed in-house, including the Tsar Bomba, the Hop Goblin, Nitwit, and Singletrack.
Home D Pizzeria & Robin Hood Brewing Company in State College and Bellefonte, has 13 to 15 of its own beers on tap, including the Nobility Blonde, Peasant Pale Ale, King Richard Red, Bulls IPA, and Blueboary Wheat. Coming in April, the relaunch of the Robber Rye. Tasting Trail ticket holders will get a free sample of beer shampoo made with Robin Hood Brewing Company beer as well as a $10 gift card to Home D Pizzeria if you join the Bow & Arrow Brew Club.
Elk Creek Café + Aleworks in Millheim offers six house-standard beers, and in April it will tap the Yarrington’s Best Bitter, a British-style beer served on nitrogen to ensure a creamy smooth texture. Other beers to try include the Big Trout Oat Stout, Hairy John’s IPA, Little Village MFA, Tail Dragger Imperial Stout, and My-O-Maibock.
For more information about the Tasting Trail, visit centralpatastingtrail.com.
Tasting Trail Participants
Big Spring Spirits
198 Match Factory Place, Bldg. 10, Bellefonte
(814) 353-4478 • bigspringspirits.com
Thurs. 5-9 p.m.
Fri. 4-10 p.m.
Sat. Noon-10 p.m.
Sun. 2-7p.m.

Elk Creek Café + Aleworks
100 West Main Street, Millheim
(814) 349-8850 • elkcreekcafe.net
Wed. & Thurs. 4-10 p.m.
Fri. & Sat. Noon-11 p.m.
Sunday Brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Good Intent Cider
167 South Potter Street, Bellefonte
(717) 778-8171 • goodintentcider.com
Fri. 3-9 p.m.
Sat. Noon-9 p.m.

Happy Valley Brewing Co.
137 Elmwood Street, State College
(814) 234-4406 • happyvalleybeer.com
Open every day, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Happy Valley Vineyard & Winery
576 South Foxpointe Drive, State College
(814) 308-8756 • thehappyvalleywinery.com
Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.Sun. 1-6 p.m.

Mount Nittany Vineyard & Winery
300 Houser Road, Centre Hall
(814) 466-6373 • mtnittanywinery.com
Tues.-Fri. 1:30-5 p.m.
Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sun. 12:30-4 p.m.

Keewaydin Cider Mill
2235 North Atherton Street, State College
(814) 867-6886 • ottospubandbrewery.com
Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.
Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Otto’s Pub & Brewery
2235 North Atherton Street, State College
(814) 867-6886 • ottospubandbrewery.com
Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.
Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m. -11 p.m.

Robin Hood Brewing Co. (Brew Site)
1796 Zion Road, Bellefonte
(814) 357-8399 • robinhoodbrewingco.com
Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-midnight
Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-1 a.m.

1820 South Atherton Street, State College
(814) 237-7777
Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-1 a.m.

Seven Mountains Wine Cellars
324 Decker Valley Road, Spring Mills
(814) 364-1000 • sevenmountainswinecellars.com
Sun-Thurs. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Coming Soon
Barrel 21 Distillery & Dining
2235 N. Atherton Street, State College

Nittany Mountain Distillery
201 Elmwood Street, Lemont

Recipes from Good Intent Cider:
Summer Sangria
½ lemon thinly sliced
1.5 c berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries)
½  c brandy
3 T simple syrup
1 bottle Adams Apple
Combine lemon, berries, brandy and simple syrup in pitcher.  Just before serving add Adams Apple.  Serve chilled over ice.

Fall Sangria
2 tart apples thinly sliced
2 pears thinly sliced
½ c bourbon
1 c fresh apple cider
1 750 ml bottle North Meets South
Combine apple, pear, apple cider, and bourbon in pitcher.  Just before serving add North Meets South Serve chilled over ice.
Recipe from Big Springs Spirits:
The Trail Head:  Root, Nut or Berry:  All three cocktail will have vodka, amaretto and orange juice as the base. Root will have a splash of Tait Farm Ginger Shrub, Nut will have a splash of hazelnut syrup, and Berry will have a splash of cranberry.

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