Observer Journal of the Pennsylvania Liquor Industry October 1990

Pennsylvania's Newest Brewpub Opens in Happy Valley

by Rich Wagner

In November 1989, the Samuel Adams Brew House opened as Pennsylvania's first brewpub. Last fall, the Dock Street Brewery and Restaurant went online and now Pennsylvania is home to another brewpub called Happy Valley Brewery in State College. What a concept: a brewpub in Nittany Lion Country!

Happy Valley opened August 4, 1990 and has been well received by local patrons with four brews on tap. The establishment is the brain child of two investors from King of Prussia, who have been getting the business underway since December 1989.

Al May is general manager who oversees the restaurant and Dennis Miller is the brewer who makes sure Happy Valley beers are the best in Centre County. May has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant field while Miller came to Pennsylvania via the City of Angels Brewery in California.

May describes Happy Valley as a place to talk and enjoy good beer. The local clientele have obviously discovered the gem and since Penn State classes started in the fall, the students have had no trouble finding it either.

The fare is described as food that goes well with good beer and conversation and ranges from salad and nachos to pizza and sandwiches. The pizza is out of this world and is baked in a wood burning stone oven imported from Florence, Italy.

Dennis Miller adopted a Pub System to the needs of Happy Valley and is brewing with malt extract. One seasonal brew is Nittany Lion Lite Ale, which contains wheat and barley malt. An Octoberfest Beer and a nut brown Christmas ale were also on tap for the winter.

All beers are served in 12 oz. Glasses for $1.25. Samplers consist of four beers in 6 oz. Glasses for $2.75.

Happy Valley brews are also available in five-liter kegs for $19.75 for the take home trade.

The sampler is a must for the beer connoisseur. Local home brewers have found the brewpub a great place to sample beer and get tips on how to improve their own brews.

This writer suggests the Hawaiian pizza and the sampler. Lion Lite Ale is probably the beer most like regular light American lager while the Golden Lion Ale is a somewhat more malty beer which is well balanced with hoppy bitterness.

The Nittany Amber Ale is bound to become the favorite of those in search of “alternative brews.” Its amber color and hop nose are a winning combination, and this one is even dry-hopped for the best flavor possible.

Of course, if your taste runs towards the darker beers, Penn Porter is dark and rich with just a hint of honey sweetness.

If Happy Valley is successful we could very well be looking at the first in a chain of brewpubs in Pennsylvania. Only time will tell.