Every year, I tell myself I’m going to drive to another road game. The last couple years have been rough in the motivation department, especially since I keep showing up in East Lansing and it’s gone rather poorly. But it always helps to have stuff to do besides the game, and as a college town in basically the middle of nowhere, State College fits the bill nicely.
You’ve got all your major entertainment options, including State Game Lands #158, State Game Lands #60, State Game Lands #33, State Game Lands #103, and State Game Lands #92, right around the corner. And there’s always the Pennsylvania Furnace Co. and a couple forests and such. If you’re looking to go really wild, and are willing to drive a little farther out of town, State Game Lands #295 isn’t that much farther out, and I hear it’s well worth the effort. Sure, James Carville once said that "Pennslyvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between," but he meant it as a compliment, because Alabama’s State Game Lands are top-notch and Carville’s a noted State Game Lands enthusiast.
It is at this point I have to remind you that Pennsylvania’s beer and liquor laws are complete bullshit. Even if you commit to enjoying State Game Lands #295, your choices are buying booze from a state-run wine and liquor store, or going to a beer distributor and buying a case of your chosen beer. This is almost the worst idea on the planet. Allow me to point my pinkie finger in the air and simply state: We are not savages. This aggression cannot stand.
Almost everyone I know who went to school in a PA border area went somewhere else to buy their libations. So if you’re road tripping in and want something other than beer by the case (which, we wholeheartedly endorse volumetrically, but 24 of that Russian Imperial Yuengling’s gonna get a bit old) just save yourself the hassle and buy your stuff elsewhere.
State College is actually an excellent college town, which you’d hope to be true given its name, but it’s legit. There’s tons of bars and everything is cheap and people are friendly. It’s a solid Big Ten town. I’m glad their football team is starting to recover from its NCAA-mandated nuking, because they seem like solid folk down there. Oh, and the creamery. Penn State is an agricultural school at its core, as many land-grant universities were, but they aren’t a bunch of recidivist slackers in that they take the "State" in their name and give back to the world with incredible ice cream from the cows they raise to be parts of their families. My all-time favorite creamery flavor is Peachy Paterno, and I don’t care what you say about JoePA - that ice cream kicks so much ass. They’ve also got roughly 100 other ones that are delicious including peanut butter marshmallow and one called "Happy Happy Joy Joy" which literally does all of those things well. Just go there someday. I think they ship, too.
Your Beer Of The Week: Happy Valley Brewing’s Craftsman Brown Ale
One of my favorite parts of roadtripping to away games is finding the beer scene in towns, and with the exception of Evanston (which gets a pass because Chicago’s beer scene is pretty solid) every B1G school I’ve visited has great beer. And Penn State is no exception. Happy Valley Brewing is a brewery that also serves pork, which is f’ing great.
They serve an excellent oat stout and some cool rotating stuff, including a loftbier (think - tweaking pilsner), but the star of the show is their Craftsman Brown Ale. It’s darker in color than most browns I’ve had, but comes across as extremely crisp. They use a ton of different malts and not too many hops and it’s nutty and sweet. Think Newcastle with a lot more body and a little more malt. Really good, really complex.
Enjoy the weekend, wherever you may end up. And until next weekend, Cheers, Michigan Faithful!