This past weekend Mike and I spent a beautiful fall day in Allentown exploring three of the best spots for beer in the third largest city in Pennsylvania: HiJinx Brewery, Cork and Cage bottle shop, and grain. restaurant. Allentown has been experiencing a bit of a revival through an influx of new restaurants and businesses in addition to the shiny new PPL Center in the middle of the city, which hosts the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, our professional hockey team. Our three stops highlight some of the best of Allentown for beer enthusiasts, but there is far more to check out in the city if you find yourself in the area.
We started our journey at HiJinx, which is located in an unassuming small business incubator building, the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, on the outskirts of downtown Allentown. With humble roots in a 400-square-foot garage, Hijinx brewmaster Curt Keck has expanded from a single barrel brewing system to a 10-barrel system in 2014 with distribution with many bars in the area. His beers have also grown in complexity and originality over the years, which was clear during our visit. We recently enjoyed their offerings when we attended the Lehigh Valley Brewers’ Guild Beerfest several weeks prior. At the brewery, they offer a (very affordable) sampling flight of all six draft beers, which we happily imbibed.
We especially loved the CitraSqueeze IPA, which is brewed with only the Citra hop variety, giving it a bright, bitter and full-bodied flavor profile. We also loved the Mischief Night Pumpkin Ale, which is an imperial pumpkin that was not overly spiced, as many pumpkin beers can be. It was dark, smooth, and malty with just enough pumpkin spice flavor to remind you what season we’re in.
All that beer sampling gave us quite an appetite, so we then headed over to grain. restaurant on Hamilton Street in the center of Allentown’s downtown district. The restaurant scene in the Lehigh Valley has been steadily growing and improving over the years, with many options for everything from cozy pub fare to fine dining throughout the region. We had been excited to try grain., as we are longtime fans of the Bayou in Bethlehem, which shares the same owners. They offer a unique menu with classed up comfort food, like soy glazed pork belly (a must!), chicken and waffles, and root beer glazed brisket. Their beer menu is a real winner with plenty of beers you don’t typically see in your average local restaurant. Moreover, they have 24 beers on tap and a solid bottle list, so you will definitely find something you like. We hit up the draft list – Mike enjoyed some Sole Turbo Nerd, which is a fantastic IPA from a local brewer. I was smitten by an experimental beer from Victory, the Blackboard #4 Hazelnut Oatmeal Porter.
The hazelnut flavor was overt in smell and taste, which, paired with the chocolatey porter backbone, made the beer taste like it was infused with Nutella. My fingers are crossed that Victory will send this experimental beer to the bottling line!
One of the best parts of dining at grain.? Cork and Cage, which is the bottle shop right next door to the restaurant. Cork and Cage is owned by grain. and is jam packed with an unreal selection of beer, ranging from local PA varieties to hard-to-find Belgians. They even have a couple of taps to offer growler fills in addition to their bottled selection. Mike and I were like kids on Christmas morning in the store, and before we knew it, we had armfuls of different cans and bottles to take home. The staff at Cork and Cage was knowledgeable and helpful in directing us to limited edition or difficult to find items. Check out our finds below!
If you find yourself in Allentown, be sure to check out one-or all- of these awesome stops for beer lovers. Swing by these Allentown gems and let us know what you think!