Across the county line: Berks

By on May 4, 2016
Beer reviewer Michael Upton drove to Reading with the goal of viewing a statue of Frederick Lauer in City Park. Lauer was an influential Reading brewer and the first president of the U.S. Brewers Association.

Beer reviewer Michael Upton drove to Reading with the goal of viewing a statue of Frederick Lauer in City Park.
Lauer was an influential Reading brewer and the first president of the U.S. Brewers Association.

 

I crossed the county line looking for a statue and ended up drinking a few beers.

No, this is not the start of one of my infamously bad jokes; the two are actually — seriously — related.

On a recent bright and beautiful Saturday, I made the trek to Reading’s City Park looking for the statue of Frederick Lauer. The statue, the first one erected in Reading, dates to 1885. More importantly (for those reading this column), Lauer was an influential Reading brewer and the first president of the U.S. Brewers Association.

I heard from the Brewers of Pennsylvania that the statue was in need of repair and some beer-centric folks were looking to change that fact. So, before I headed to Reading I made a call to Dan LaBert, the BoP’s executive director.

“We were always aware of the statue, because in the brewing industry it is iconic,” said LaBert who is spearheading the campaign to raise funds to repair the statue. “Once we heard how bad the vandalism was … we started the ball rolling.”

The ball gained a lot of momentum with a recent donation of $25,000 to the City of Reading from the Brewer’s Association (who are holding the Craft Brewers Conference & Brew Expo in Philly this week). The monument is in bad shape. The life-size, bronze figure doesn’t look bad, but all four placards describing Lauer’s close association with the brewing industry, his public and private virtues, and his fight against Prohibition have been forcibly removed.

“It’s not just replacing the placards; we have plans to reface it, clean it, polish it, and rebuild out the concrete,” said LaBert. “We have half the money we need, and that will make it presentable. The rest of the money … will preserve it for the future as well.”

 

Chatty Monks nano-brewery in West Reading featured a Belgian white with blood orange.

Chatty Monks nano-brewery in West Reading featured a Belgian white with blood orange.

Then, beer happened…

Presently, Berks County offers a number of great breweries. So, while I was across the county line, I thought I’d check out a few beer spots. My first stop was for a brew and a bite (or chill and chew as they would call it) at Chatty Monks. This nano-brewery in West Reading is on most every beer enthusiast’s radar, and rightly so. I had the Belgian white with blood orange (5 percent ABV). The cloudy, unfiltered draft is infused with the juice of mandarin oranges and tangerines. After lunch, I headed down Penn Avenue to The Barley Mow.

 

Boulevard’s Hibiscus Gose pays tribute to the pleasantly sour, slightly salty wheat beers that originated in Goslar and became popular in Leipzig, Germany, around the late 1800s. A great introductory sour beer, Hibiscus Gose receives coriander and sea salt during boiling, and is steeped with dried hibiscus flowers at the end to create a vibrant pink hue. The result is a tangy, sweet and sour ale with a refreshing citrus character.

Boulevard’s Hibiscus Gose pays tribute to the pleasantly sour, slightly salty wheat beers that originated in Goslar and became popular in Leipzig, Germany, around the late 1800s. A great introductory sour beer, Hibiscus Gose receives coriander and sea salt during boiling, and is steeped with dried hibiscus flowers at the end to create a vibrant pink hue. The result is a tangy, sweet and sour ale with a refreshing citrus character.

 

Named after the Irish drinking song, The Barley Mow is a combination draft house and bottle shop with a cozy biergarten. They stock more than 750 different beers and I found gose I hadn’t tried yet. Currently, the Barley Mow is tapping Ballast Point Wahoo Wheat (with Thai chili, lime, and ginger); Captain Lawrence Fresh to Death Philly Kolsch; Sole Artisan Ales Turbo Nerd; and seven other unique drafts.

Due only to timing, I did not get a chance to stop in at Oakbrook Brewing Company, although it came highly recommended. I also ran out of time to learn more about Coal Cracker Brewing. Looks like I’ll have to head back to Berks County for more beer, but up next in Hop’in Around, “Across the county line: Dauphin.”

Michael C. Upton works as a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure, covering subjects ranging from funk punk to fine wine. He invites your comments and suggestions at facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

 

The Barley Mow, on Reading’s Penn Avenue, was named after an Irish drinking song.

The Barley Mow, on Reading’s Penn Avenue, was named after an Irish drinking song.

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