Great Beer Weekends in the Mid-Atlantic #1: Williamsport, Pa. and Bullfrog Brewery. Bullfrog Brewery Bockle Dub
The Reasons to Visit: Little League World Series and museum. “Millionaire’s Row” of gorgeous 19th century houses. A historic hotel and a walkable city center. Very good beer choices.
Date: January 16, 2018
The Story— Williamsport, Pennsylvania has been a fine city for beer for a long time. It attracted several good brewers in the first craft beer surge in the 90s and continues to be a great place to explore.
The historic Genetti hotel is now part of the Best Western chain and is none the worse for some outside evaluation. It’s a lovely small town big hotel that has welcomed legendary guests for decades. A fine pub serves a range of beers but not all will be in prime condition. A breakfast buffet, served in the same room in which you were drinking the night before, is well above average.
If you’re a baseball fan, you know Williamsport as the home of the Little League World Series and there’s a ball park and a museum to explore. It’s a fine example of small Town America; much of it is easy to walk and even some of the breweries outside the downtown area are easy to reach by bus. Our book will feature at least 5 breweries (if there’re still there) but we’ll feature the original here.
Our Beer of the Day is from the Bullfrog Brewery, a short walk from the Genetti or from modern chains closer to the river. For many years Terry Hawbaker was the head brewer and impressed us from our first visit so much we invited him to be a part of the legendary Brickskeller Tasting series in the 90s. We understand he still is on good terms with the current brewers, though he’s gone on to be the force behind Pizza Boy brewery (so much more sophisticated than it sounds) in Enola, Pennsylvania.
Bullfrog is still an impressive brewpub and a fine place to drink some beers. In a visit last spring we rated each of the ten of the beers we tasted as “good craft” or “better than good craft”. is a great match for chillier weather. And in Williamsport, chilly is what passes for spring.That rarely happens in a range this broad. We could have picked any of several of them for our Beer of the Day, but the Doppelbock was the pick of the litter.
The Style: Doppelbocks in Germany a re chewy rich and sweet beers brewed specifically for Lent, but increasingly available during much of the winter and in some cases such as Paulaner’s Salvator, available at the brewery year round. At their best there’s a balance to the intense roast and boozy richness, but some can be cloyingly sweet. Bullfrog’s version was hoppier than an average German Doppelbock. but we thought that was just fine with us.
The Beer— Big chewy malt that is s sweet and almost husky followed by even fruit sweetness and just a kiss of hops. I liked it better than most of the real German Doppelbocks because the depth and clarity of the grain. The 8.5% ABV is high for the style. Ellie objected to a sharp late bitter, which, granted, you wouldn’t find in Bavaria, but I found that bite nicely balancing in a beer this strong.
Value — Good to very good. It’s $5 a US “pint” which puts it at about 14 Euros a liter — a little more than you’d pay in Germany for a similar beer. But in Germany the beer would be sweeter, less interesting and, really, not that much cheaper.
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 fifteen days, 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? These are full flavored chewy beers for a winter’s night and a good fire — even if it has to be on your cable station. The links are below.
Jailbreak Coffee Dusk Till Dawn, Tröegs Mad Elf Grand Cru, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Boulevard Manhattan 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.”