James Carville truly earned my enmity when he coined his famous evaluation of my home state: "Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between." (Apparently, it doesn't still apply, if it ever did; see this study of the evaluation by political pollster G. Terry Madonna.) As someone who grew up in between, I take that personally. No slant on Alabama -- oh, hell, yes, it is a slant on Alabama, and I think you know why!
Be that as it may, the beer scene out in the hinterlands -- with worthy exceptions like the state's excellent crop of small breweries and brewpubs like Elk Creek, Berwick, Sprague Farm, Bullfrog and the like -- is pretty damn sad. Yuengling, Schmidt's, and an ocean of Coors Light is what you'll find when you get off the Interstates north of I-80 and west of the Susquehanna till you get to Pittsburgh or Erie (with the booming exception of the Wyoming Valley, and a couple islands like State College and Williamsport).
Nicholson, PA, with my bro-in-law Curt, picking up a bookcase Cathy had purchased the day before at Endless Collections (neat little antique store that also carries Endless Mountains Coffee, which I heartily recommend). We got the bookcase in the back of the Jetta, and then wandered down the hill into town; there was a florist there (The Pinery) that also sold local cheeses, and we got some LeRaysville XXX-Sharp Cheddar that was just fantastic. Two doors down was The Office, a local bar, plastered with Coors Light banners in anticipation of the town fair that night, and they were advertising 13 taps in the window, so we figured, what the hell?
What the... We quickly got a glass of each Tröegs ($3.50 for real 16 oz. pints!), and found them to be cold, reasonably fresh, and delicious. We didn't get any weird looks (although the bartender was a little confused about the Tröegs/Trogenator thing), we didn't catch any crap. Maybe they just put it on, Curt wondered, but I think the chances of us just happening to walk in as that happened were slim.
That's pretty awesome. When you consider that the convenience store down the road from our rental had a pretty respectable sixpack selection (AND sold gasoline...sorry, MBDA, that really isn't illegal in PA), you start getting the idea that things are going on that make the continued growth of craft beer both unsurprising, and likely to be sustainable. People like this stuff. I'm not sure who's drinking it in Nicholson (which is not a tourist town by any stretch of the imagination, although the bridge is breath-taking), but clearly someone is. This is a pretty big deal...in a pretty small town.