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Taste of the Month: Federal Taphouse

by on August 31, 2017 11:22 AM

This past July, Penn State alums Corey Fogarty and Judd Goodman opened their fourth Federal Taphouse, in State College.

On the second floor of the Fraser Centre downtown, next to the lobby of the Hyatt Place Hotel, the restaurant offers a draft count of 100 craft beers and 10 wines on tap. The restaurant’s scratch kitchen makes everything fresh with as many local products as possible, and uses natural fuels such as hard woods and mesquite charcoal.

The other three Federal Taphouse restaurants are in Harrisburg, Lancaster, and Camp Hill.

As the craft brewing landscape continues to evolve, so has Americans’ tastes in beer. Produced in small quantities compared to mass produced beer, craft brewers use more malt and hops to create full-flavored beers. True beer enthusiasts will rejoice at the wide selection of beers available at the Federal Taphouse, which are carefully organized by the different styles such as IPA, sours, Belgian, wheat, and stout, just to name a few.

“We are bringing in beers from solid, reputable breweries that are hard to get in the area,” explains Brad Hash, Federal Taphouse’s beer educator. “We always keep an eye out for specialty beers, one-offs, and limited-release beers while balancing that with a good mix of solid go-to beers that people are familiar with. We brought in a lot of beers from breweries in the Philly area like Vault, Conshohocken, Levante, and 2SP. I recommend people getting a few short 5-ounce pours when they come here, so they can get a good sampling of the unique beers we have on tap.”

The most recent style to rise to prominence is sour beer. It’s named for its surprising and undeniable tartness. Although a recent trend in the United States, monks in Belgium and Germany have been perfecting the tradition of sour beers for centuries. Sour beers are fermented with naturally occurring wild yeast, and many are aged in oak barrels, most of which previously held wine or whiskey. The barrels help amp up the funkiness and deepen the flavors of the sours, some of which will be aged anywhere from a few months to four years before release.

“Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales’ Biere de Mars is very mild on the sour component, but tart with caramel and citrus flavors and a dry aftertaste,” Hash says. “The New Belgium Apple Felix and Love Blackberry Oscar are nice, smooth sours, and you get a little oak flavor from the barrel aging. The Free Will’s Olly Sour Brown Ale is blended from 1-, 2-, and 4-year-old vintage oak-aged brew with notes of dark fruit, caramel undertones, and a pleasant sour finish. Sours will have characteristics that are similar to certain dry red wines.”

Executive chef Joe Mishler, a Hershey native, commands the scratch kitchen at the Federal Taphouse, preparing house-made pretzels and pickles, as well as all the sauces and dressings. “Our pizza oven was brought in especially from Italy and assembled here on-site and every pizza is made-to-order,” he says.

Some of the must-try items on the menu include the bison burger, wood-fired salmon, coal-fired barbeque wings, duck confit grilled cheese, grilled pineapple salad, coal-fired swordfish tacos, and lump crab cakes.

“Our artisanal pizzas have been very popular as well as our signature appetizer, devils on horseback, which are bleu cheese stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates,” says general manager David Chubb. “The nice pungent flavor of the bleu cheese tames down the sweetness of the dates and then you get the salty and crispy bacon, all in one bite!”

A family- and kid-friendly environment with seating for 280-300 guests, the Federal Taphouse can accommodate small and large groups. A private dining room with seating for 20 is also available for reservation.

Coming up this fall, stop in for Sunday brunch. For more information, follow Federal Taphouse on Facebook or visit federaltaphouse.com.

 

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