This PA Beer Tour was a little on the unexpected side. I had met Jason and Nikki Lavery, husband and wife owners, of Lavery Brewing Company in Erie, PA back in 2013 essentially 1 year prior to this March 17, St. Patrick’s Day visit.
What was intended to be a short visit, simply to consume a few birthday brews turned into a full on brewery tour, traveling sales calls, play time with the kids and dinner at The BrewErie!
Founded in 2009, and fully licensed in February of 2010, Lavery Brewing is owned and operated by husband and wife Jason and Nikki Lavery along with Jason Lynch. Brewing innovative ales in small batches in Erie, PA made it difficult for the people of the Pittsburgh area, where I live, to get their hands on the excellent, high quality and creative beers they brew. But during this visit I recalled my first Lavery experience which was a bottle of the Imperial French Style Ale that I saw behind the bar on the bottom shelf of a reach in cooler hidden behind another bottle at a local Pittsburgh bar. I know I paid an exorbitant amount of money for it, but at the time I was fine with it and in hindsight it was one of the best purchases I ever made. Not just in terms of the great new beer I was introduced to but also in that I have new friends!
So about the trip. I finally arrived in Erie at 11:30am, just 3.5 hours later than I told the Lavery’s I would be there. See, it was St. Patrick’s Day and my birthday and I figured getting there by 8am to have kegs and eggs breakfast inside the new pub facility that recently opened in September of 2013 would make for a perfect experience. While my initial plan didnt quite go according to plan, I couldnt have been more thrilled that the new plan of getting there around lunch, have a few pints, see the brewing equipment and turn and go home didn’t go according to plan either. Jason encouraged me to grab a pint and follow him back to the brewing area.
As per usual we talked about all the geeky things you would expect us to talk about. We talked about the select Weyermann Malts he enjoys using and the different English, German and Belgian malts that he has come to trust when they brew their varying styles of beer. We walked through the different tanks to discuss the very hands on, human approach that is used and to understand the small capacity they have for production. The time spent back here created an even deeper appreciation for every beer I have ever consumed from them. Its always a treat to understand the work that goes in to every last drop that a small brewer puts his name on.
Lavery uses 22oz bombers to bottle their flagship beers and they currently can both Dulachan and Madra Allta, both IPA’s. Its a long process as the current facility doesnt house the equipment for canning and the bottling line is managed completely by hand filling just 4 bottles at a time.
But being friends, we quickly got distracted by our own hilarious conversations and went into story telling and comparison of beer tattoos.
Being a special holiday, Jason felt it only right to make his way around the Erie area to say thanks to the bars supporting the brand and his family by making a few site visits. Its the support of the community that makes the world of craft beer so special and obviously means the world to those that brew it. So I started to say my goodbyes and headed back out to the pub to have a final pint when Jason informed me that I was going with him. I didn’t really have a choice. We headed out on the town with an emphasis on three Irish pubs that lined the streets of downtown. Guess what, I understand Erie doesn’t have open container laws, so you can walk between pubs with pint in hand. That’s not a bad situation. We ended up finishing the beers we ordered while still at each bar so I didn’t get the full experience of that.
Long story short, after sales calls we hung out at the Lavery residence until Nikki came home at which point we all went out to dinner and continued to celebrate the day. What I really want everyone to know, beyond the fun and unforgettable birthday that Jason and family gave me, is that Lavery makes some seriously good beer. So good that I encourage anyone that can make a trip out to see them should do so at your earliest opportunity. Look for it in your local bottle shops, ask your favorite bar about it or whatever you can do to get your lips on ANY of the beer they make. If I have to steer you in any direction, I would highly recommend Liopard Oir, their 2013 GABF Gold Medal winning Farmhouse Ale.
Sorry, not sorry, that this tour isn’t written in excessive detail and insight to the behind the scenes, but if you read carefully you will see that it encompasses the spirit of the company.
Until next time, go find their beer, visit the brewery and tell Jason that PACraftBeer sent you!