Over the past year or so, Thrillist has become one of the sites I check daily. It started because it had great travel articles, but what really gave it the boost is the way their food and beer writers are able to exist in a plane that’s almost the exact spot between high and low brow eating and drinking that I call home. I like that they’re obviously food and beer enthusiasts, who like and appreciate variety, good ingredients, and trying something new. I like that they have no problem admitting to be fans of Wawa, fast food breakfast sandwiches, and going against popular opinion. I especially love when they take down the borderline pretensions craft beer culture which frankly, is a very annoying first world problem I’ve been trying to fight for some time.
Maybe it’s just that I find myself siding with a lot of their same opinions, like stout being underrated, waiting for a rare brew to be annoying and unnecessary, or being ok with the fact that sometimes you’re not in the mood for a carefully crafted brew, but just want to get a little buzz on. Regardless, I found myself reading “The Only Beer Bucket List That Matters,” by Andy Kryza the other day and silently cheering in solidarity; I love, love, love that rather then focusing on the IPA-du jour of the moment, or flying to far flung beer meccas like Oregon or California, this revolves around the social moments which define the crux of reasons sitting down for a beer is so satisfying (although, to be honest, my go to beer-induced Hall & Oates jukebox selection will never not be “You Make My Dreams Come True,” and mind you, this was before I ever even saw that Step Brother’s montage). So, like any good writer on internet, I’ve decided to jack their idea, put my own spin on it, and hope it goes viral (although you’ll see the former English teacher in me is ensuring I give credit where credit is due). So in that spirit, I present you with “One of the Only PA Beer Bucket Lists That Matters:”
Go to a Bar, order an unspecified “lager,” and proceed to enjoy a Yuengling: you’re not a PA beer drinker until you’ve done that.
Sneak some beer into a drive-in movie: Theses set-in-a-50’s-movie staple are swiftly disappearing, yet PA happens to retain a decent amount. BYOB, sit on the hood of your car, and crack open a cold one (pour into solo cup for an authentic high school experience). *Editor’s note: As a youth in Pennsylvania, I did this approximately twice, so while I’m not sure how accurate this really is, the nostalgia factor is high.
Buy a Case of Lion’s Head and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out the puzzles on the caps: There’s a cheat sheet for once you’re done…or given up.
Find a bar that has Keystone Light on Tap or in Bottles: This is something akin to finding a unicorn, so if you do happen across it, don’t complain that Keylight is trash. Rejoice that it’s trash that tastes like water, and that you’ll probably spent a grand total of eighteen dollars, even if you stay the entire afternoon (I forgot to mention that this is best enjoyed while it’s still daylight).
Tailgate a Penn State Game: Penn State football can rightfully be divisive subject in Pennsylvania these days, but let’s all agree that the kids playing up there in Beaver Stadium today are far removed from the problematic situations that went down in the not so distant past (could we also agree that one can both support Penn State football, while condemning the actions of some individuals involved it it? Is that too much? *I promise this will be the only pseudo-social justice crusade of this post). Game day in State College is an experience in itself, and whether or not you follow football (I personally don’t), there an electricity there that’s undeniable. Bonus points if you shotgun, dizzy bat, “ice” someone, or spend any time making bad decisions on the sketchy back “porch” at the Lion’s Den.
Attend the Scranton St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Good old Scranton hosts the 3rd largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country, and despite what your holier than thou Facebook friend bitches about, you’re not too old for the fun. Dress like a green idiot, get down there early, and enjoy the festivities. Pro tip:the smaller, out of the way bars will be much more fun, and much less young then Kildares or the Radisson.
Tailgate, literally: As in, find someone with a pick up truck or SUV, and actually have a beer on the tailgate. Editor’s note: as a youth growing up in Pennsylvania, this is very much authentic and I did it too many times to count. Also, trunks, and car hoods can be used in lieu of tailgates. To make this really authentic park on a dirt road, or in a field.
Susquehanna Brewing Company Tour: This has been rated one of the number one brewery tours in the country, and while the brewery is rather new, their PA roots run deep. Check it out for the history, stay for the good beer.
Partake in Philly’s Citywide Special: You can find variations of this shot and a beer combo all over Philadelphia. No matter where you partake, it’s always going to be a steal (although this handy chart shows you where exactly has the BEST steal).
Have an Iron City in the Iron City: It’s not fancy, unless it’s summer and they add the mango. *Bonus points if you do so while eating a salad topped with fries.
Float, Tube, Raft with a Full Cooler: This isn’t about getting exercise, rowing, or making it to your end destination on time-it’s about enjoying the float (or if it rains, it will become about rowing, getting to your destination asap, and unfortunately working those arm muscles, unless it is a warm rain of course). Pro tip: if you do this in a lake, you don’t have to worry about rowing, or a destination.
Have a Beer by a Fire: Bonfire, campfire, firepit, or fireplace. Chose one, or all of the above.
Have a Beer with “Accoutrements”: I don’t mean locally sourced bacon jam, or almond butter. I mean pickled eggs, hot sausages floating in unidentifiable liquor, or for those less adventurous, a Slim Jim.
Partake in an Egg Beer: An egg beer is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a raw egg, cracked into a beer. My family has a tradition of consuming these every Easter, however I’m fairly certain that this is not a Pennsylvania ritual. That being said, my grandfather was fond of telling us how back in his day, this was the norm.
Hang out in a Picnic or Block Party Beer Tent: Beer tents were some of my first exposure to seeing adults drinking and having fun. They were also some of the first places I drank in a multi-generational environment.
Embarrass Yourself in Philly’s Old City, Manayunk, Pittsburgh’s Southside or Harrisburg’s 2nd Street: They may not be ideal places to drink, but they are rites of passage.
Take a 6-Pack Home From the Bar: I never realized that this was such a Pennsylvania thing. A lot of states don’t allow you to purchase beers in a bar. In PA, we are allowed to exit with a 6-pack. So next time you hear last call, grab one and keep the party going.
Plan a Party Where you Have to Stop at the Distributor, Bottle Shop, and Liquor Store: PA’s antiquated liquor laws may be going the way of the dodo soon, so for old times sake, make a booze run that involves having to plan, and stop, at three different locations.
Drink at a Bottle Shop: My college friends used to laugh when they’d come to visit and we’d drink in a “beer store,” but I’m telling you, it’s one of the best ways to try new beers, and the selection almost always outweighs any bar.