Rusty Rail Rail Spike IPA, Mifflinburg, Pa.
Date: January 29, 2018
The Story— Mifflinburg is a tiny town in the Susquehanna River Valley that has had to reinvent itself as its core industries melted away over the years. The owners of the Rusty Rail Brewery point out that unlike most small towns with successful 21st century breweries, there’s no university, no hospital and no serious tourist attraction here. If you don’t live here, you’re probably here to visit Rusty Rail Brewery.
The people at Rusty Rail have bet the farm, so to speak, on a “if you build it they will come” destination brewery, restaurant, event location and sort-of hotel. From what we could see, they are winning the bet. On a pleasant spring Saturday only a few spaces in the three large parking lots remained open and empty seats were even scarcer.
A sizable stainless steel brew kit gleams from the floor below through a large glass wall. The main hall is enormous, rivaling a German beer hall in its expanse, with a long bar and separate bar area in the center. A good sized patio with rows of picnic tables fills in good weather. A gas fire pit helps on a cool evening. On the second floor a pub-like game room features enough stuffed heads to make a PETA person pass out; a sign warns that they bite.
One of the most spectacular suites we have encountered in writing our Mid Atlantic guide to beds and breweries looks out on the Mifflinburg countryside from the sky-high third floor of the old brick building. You can’t forget you’re in a former industrial space as you walk the long hallway leading to the eight suites. High ceilings and post- industrial décor at a four star level grace a living space that would be quite sufficient as a residence. It’s all open, but along its enormous length are separate areas for sleeping, eating and living. The amenities are remarkable: a king size bed, full size two door refrigerator-freezer, dishwasher, microwave, large center kitchen island, two large flat screen TVs that display one of the most extensive channel lineups we have seen in a hotel. The refrigerator contains a variety pack of Rusty Rail beers, which you can drink in the logo glasses provided. You can also bring beers from the bars downstairs. No wonder they enforce their 11 AM check out so rigidly — we’d stay on and on…..
A wide range of beers give you plenty of choice and plenty to talk about over an evening’s self-guided beer tasting. Food is quite good, which is fortunate since you really don’t want to get in your after settling into this beer palace. Almost all the beers are good craft versions of the style, though if you can find a reason why God created cockroaches, you might be able to explain why someone thought producing an Imperial Peanut Butter Hefeweizen was a good idea.
The Beer— Five hops and most of them show up for roll call. Some metal, some soft fruit, some grass and a touch of spice over an even clean malt with light toast. We could happily drink this all night if it had a lower abv than its 7.1%, but what the heck, the only vehicle you’re driving is the elevator to the third floor. We drank it all night and took one to the room.
Value — Very good. $5.50 for an honest full pint is a good price for an average beer, and this beer is well above average.
Values: “fair” is a good beer at an above market price, “good” is worth the money, “very good” is a bargain, and “excellent” is a steal.
For a couple of weeks, we’re presenting some fun towns to explore and have a beer. There’s all within a few hours drive if you live in the Mid Atlantic. Most are near enough a place to stay that you can walk back to your room. We’ve found these in researching out first US Beer publication: Brews and Snooze-– Breweries you can visit and walk back to a fine place to spend the night. Look for it later this year.
Did you miss our Ten Beers for the New Year? Links are below.
Jailbreak Coffee Dusk Till Dawn, Tröegs Mad Elf Grand Cru, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Boulevard Manhattan They’re Cask Still Ale, Ommegang Game of Thrones Series: Mother of Dragons, Lickinghole Creek Carrot Cake Imperial Amber Ale, Colbitzer Heide-Brauerei Schwarz, Lickinghole Creek One Lion Imperial Stout, Founders Dank Wood, Stone Woot Stout.
We’re often asked to share our tasting notes on over 33,000 beers; this blog is in answer to those requests. Not all our notes, though. The great beer writer Michael Jackson admirably followed the Thumper Rule, and we’ll try to do the same. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”) All the beers we post are from the top half of our ratings and most are from the top quarter. Of greater value, we think, are the stories behind the beers, and we try to give you enough about the brewery, the style and the places to find great beer to help you on your own beer journeys. At CulturAle Press we try to write books and publish posts that will help you “Drink Well and Travel Safely.”