New Brewpub Opens in Happy Valley
Centre County is no exception to the recent trend in local microbreweries with new ones springing up everywhere. Locals and students alike can already enjoy the delicious craft beer offerings at Otto’s, The Gamble Mill, and Elk Creek Cafe. This past Sunday brought about the opening of another such establishment: The Happy Valley Brewing Company.
The new brewery is located right outside of Lemont, at 137 Elmwood Street, across the street from the W.R. Hickey Beer Distributor. On the outside, the building that houses the Happy Valley Brewing Company might not seem like much. In fact, it looks like an industrial barn on the side of the road. Once you step inside and take in the high vaulted ceilings and plush furniture, you realize this isn’t even close to a barn.
Owned by Scott Lucchesi — who also owns a number of other establishments in the area, including the Phyrst — the brewpub has six different initial offerings in the works. The beer is not available yet, but brewmaster Josh Davis, formerly of Arcadia Brewing Co., has been hired to lead the way in developing HVPC’s products. The in-house beer is expected to become available within the next month.
The entire atmosphere is very warm, relaxed, and friendly. It’s like being in a hunting lodge-themed luxury hotel. As college students, we definitely felt a bit out of place among all that leather and wood, but as soon as we were seated the flannel clad waitstaff put us at ease.
The HVBC has two levels. The top floor has high ceilings complete with frescoes of ancient Greek figures enjoying a nice beer. There are intimate seating areas scattered around, creating a more casual feel. The bottom floor can be accessed by going down a flight of stairs -- the glass windows that make up the stairwell giving you a nice view of the brew tanks. The bottom floor is darker and much more what I expected out of a “pub” atmosphere. All and all, the two sections of the restaurant give patrons flexibility in atmosphere and taste.
The beer menu is very large, even without its own products, and includes a wide array of local and international offerings. The food, however, was what made the trip for me.
The menu alone was staggering, consisting of choices ranging from venison chops with pumpkin risotto, to boar pizza. Our group decided on the short rib nachos, brew onion soup, fried ribs, potato’d scallops, the frisky brisket sandwich, and a side of risotto.
My scallops were perfectly cooked and lovingly wrapped in bacon before being smothered in a tangy coffee BBQ sauce. They were accompanied by a crispy potato pancake sitting atop a bed of caramelized onions. Although my portion seemed small at first, it was just enough.
The fried ribs were tender and delightfully crispy, and came along with a side of Korean BBQ sauce that I had to stop myself from drinking. The frisky brisket sandwich was also a home run, and proved that the Happy Valley Brewing Company sure likes their beef.
Although the place might be a little out of the way and perhaps a bit expensive for most college students, don’t get intimidated. The Happy Valley Brewing Company is the perfect place to hang out with friends while you watch the game and drink a few beers, but classy enough to go to on a first date.
We collectively agreed that the Happy Valley Brewing Company certainly makes Penn State a happier place.