Lew Bryson says “I like brewpubs that dare to be different” in his book Pennsylvania Breweries, so having visited the Premium Outlet Mall at Grove City earlier that day we decided to take the short trip to Slippery Rock, PA, and check out North Country Brewing ourselves. The side of the building has an interesting mural and the yellow exterior stands out on Main St.
With it being a Saturday night we decided to arrive relatively early at around 6:15pm to find out that the wait for a table was about 1 hour 15 mins! The downstairs bar, dining areas and upstairs bar were packed with people even standing with drinks in the hallways and pretty much every available space – wow this place is popular…
We took a buzzer for when a table became available and hovered around the bar to see how the beers stacked up. Our first round of drinks included a McCafferty’s Ale (named after the owners Bob & Jodi McCafferty):
This is a true Celtic red ale that’s as faithful as its namesake. With a smooth balance between malt and hops, it’s sure to become a pubhouse favorite.
and a Stone House Stout:
This robust, hearty stout is as sturdy as its namesake. Roasted barley is the trademark of stout, a bittersweet separation from its cousin Porter. The deep character of roasted barley is further enhanced by the addition of oatmeal for an incredible silky finish.
The stout was Nitrogen dispensed and poured with a great head and the body slowly settled from the bottom upwards in the glass – taste wise it had plenty of roast flavor and was very smooth especially given a strength of 4.3% ABV which is quite low nowadays for stouts brewed in the USA. The McCafferty’s appearance was a bit hazy and had an ABV of 4.5% but had that typical toffee/caramel Scottish Ale flavor – an additional 1 or 2% might help give this beer a bit more body and mouthfeel but it definitely tasted good. The McCafferty’s was swiftly followed by a Shakedown Spring Ale at 5.7% ABV which was a bit more hoppy:
A beer specifically crafted to shakedown the end of winter chill. This ale embodies a crisp, malty flavor with a clean, refreshing finish.
Eventually some seats at the bar became available so we took the opportunity to order some food then a 9 x 5oz sampler tray which was great value at $9 (any quantity of beers can be included in a sampler e.g. 6 x 5oz @ $6, all 13 beers x 5oz @ $13 or even just the one for a dollar). Our sampler tray included:
- Station 33 Firehouse Red – 6.0%
- Kolsch 45 – 5.0%
- Breakfast Blend Mild – 4.0%
- Winter’s Gold (keg) – 4.1%
- Something’s-A-Rye – 5.9%
- Buck Snort Stout – 6.5%
- Winter’s Gold (cask) – 4.1%
- Brooke’s India Brown Ale – 5.3%
- Fruit Bowl (peach)
After enjoying the sampler tray the Winter’s Gold on cask kicked and was replaced by the Station 33 Firehouse Red Ale – the difference between the keg and cask versions of both the Red Ale and the Winter’s Gold was a more smoothness with the cask conditioning which also brought out the hop flavor and aroma. North Country Brewing take some wort from the same batch as the keg beer but instead of force carbonating it they let it cask condition.
To cap off our visit to North Country Brewing we went back the following morning to purchase a rather ornate growler which included a fill of a beer of our choice that was currently on tap – the cost was $45 but we received a 10% discount off this price due to having AHA Membership which also helped with the bar bill on the previous night. For our 64oz (2L) fill we chose McCafferty’s Ale because you cannot have anything on Nitrogen – Stone House Stout would have been our choice if it was possible.
North Country Brewing are located in Slippery Rock, PA – visit them at http://northcountrybrewing.com.