Not Your Average College Student’s Drinking Destination: Where to Find the Best Craft Beers, Top-Notch Wines, and Grown-Up Cocktails in Downtown State College
Photo: © Dante’s
It is no secret that whether you are a cash-strapped Penn State student or an alum looking to relive your college days, you can always find $2 PBR cans at the Phyrst or a $5 Monkey Boy at The Saloon or the legendary "Case of Rocks" at the Rathskeller. But with a growing emphasis on craft beers and classic cocktails throughout Happy Valley, downtown State College has become more than just your typical shot and cheap beer college town.
Across Central Pennsylvania, new microbreweries and wineries continue to open and existing operations continue to expand. But if you don’t want to set aside an entire day to visit each different winery or brewery in the area, head to downtown State College where you can find the best of everything without having to move your car.
Here is a look at some of the best bars and restaurants in Happy Valley where you can try regional craft beers, local wines and unique cocktails:
The Dining Room at the Nittany Lion Inn
200 W. Park Ave., State College; 814-865-8590
For wine drinkers, there is certainly no better destination downtown than The Dining Room at the Nittany Lion Inn. The Dining Room is one of the top destinations for fine dining in State College and is perfect for special occasions or any time you may be in the mood for a really good glass of wine. In addition to their regular menu, their one-of-a-kind educational wine pairing dinners, Tastes of the World, are each themed to a specific wine region, and give guests an opportunity to learn about the cuisine and wines of these regions while they wine and dine.
The Deli Restaurant & Z Bar
113 Hiester St., State College; 814-237-5710; www.dantesinc.com/locations/the-deli-z-bar/
Ask anyone around town where to find the best sandwich, and odds are they will direct you to The Deli for their (arguably) world-famous Reuben. Couple that distinction with their awesome beer, wine and spirits selection and the Deli Restaurant & Z Bar become a can’t-miss spot. The Z Bar has 57 drafts, a cask-conditioned "real ale" hand-pump beer engine and bottle list featuring upwards of 150 different beers. And if you’re looking for a nice wine, the Z Bar rotates a stock of over 30 respected wine selections by either the bottle or glass.
The Deli Restaurant & Z Bar just finished booking and finalizing their line-up for the 2017 Meet the Brewery series, which typically runs from January through April. This is the longest running craft beer series around and gives patrons a look behind the curtain of how their favorite local and regional beers are brewed. Stay tuned to their web page for the official schedule release!
Liberty Craft House
346 East College Avenue, State College; 814-954-4923; www.dantesinc.com/locations/liberty-craft-house/
With over 40 taps and a delicious menu, the Liberty Craft House is one of the best and newest destinations in downtown State College for dinner and a beer. Beer lovers can expect to see a great rotation of Pennsylvania craft brews from breweries like Troegs, Victory and Yards.
Liberty Craft House is always hosting special events and partnering with different breweries to offer some very limited run brews and different special events. Perhaps the best holiday beer event in Happy Valley will be held on Thursday, December 1 as Liberty Craft House teamed up with Hershey’s own Tröegs Independent Brewing to throw The Most Wonderful Beer of the Year event. We can guarantee you that you will be one Mad Elf if you miss out on The Most Wonderful Beer of the Year party!
The Field Burger and Tap
1 Country Club Lane, State College; (814) 234-8000; www.toftrees.com/restaurant
If you haven't tried the burgers and fries at The Field yet, make plans to do it the next time you are in town. From the minute they put wax paper on your table and pour out a bucket of fresh-cut fries out in front of you and cover it with decadent toppings like white cheddar and crab sauce, you'll know why they got voted best burgers and fries in the area.
Their Pennsylvania tap collection makes your burger experience even better. You can choose a flight of four PA drafts for only $6, choosing from favorites like Yuengling Lager and regional specialties like Lancaster Brewing Co. Milk Stout, Otto's Red Mo Red Ale, Elk Creek Brookie Brown Ale and many more.
107 East Beaver Ave., State College; 814-272-6831; www.localwhiskeybar.com
Throughout downtown State College, you can find dozens of bars with great wine lists and extensive craft beer choices, but only Local Whiskey boasts over 200 different whiskies featuring Irish, Scotch, and bourbon from across the globe. The knowledgeable and experienced bartenders are more than happy to find you the perfect whiskey. In addition to every kind of whiskey imaginable, Local Whiskey also features 12 beers on tap – including local selections from Happy Valley Brewing Company – and over 70 bottled beer selections to satisfy the craft beer enthusiasts. And while you’re enjoying a nice scotch, don’t forget to try one of Ernie’s Famous Cheesesteaks on the menu!
Zola Kitchen & Wine Bar
324 W. College Ave., State College; 814-237-8474; www.zolakitchen.com
Zola Kitchen & Wine Bar meshes the perfect combination of atmosphere, food and wine to make any night special. Their wine bar and state-of-the-art wine room provide an extensive selection of wine by the bottle, as well as premium by the glass selections from their Wine Keeper preservation system. Zola’s Sommelier is always available to help you make your selection or answer any questions about their wines. And while it is a wine bar, Zola also has an extensive selection of craft beer, liquors and specialty cocktails.
Still want to know more about the breweries, distilleries and wineries throughout Central Pennsylvania?
If you’re interested in visiting the local breweries and wineries throughout Central Pennsylvania, consider booking one of the great experiences offered by Happy Valley Tour Adventures. Built on the idea that Centre County is home to some of the best breweries, wineries and distilleries around, they have a tour fit for every palate. Visit www.happyvalleytouradventures today to book your own food and drink pairing tour for 10 to 14 of your closest friends at either our local breweries, wineries or distilleries.