Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 5/3/15
Dona Rehm, a 5-foot-tall Lilly Pulitzer fanatic and member of sorority Alpha Omicron Pi, doesn’t exactly look like a stereotypical beer drinker. However, since the Long Valley native moved to Easton, Pennsylvania, after taking a job at Lafayette College in January 2014, she has certainly become one.
“I rarely ordered beer before I moved here, but after going to beer tastings at Weyerbacher Brewing Company, working on my mug at Porters’ Pub and exploring the local restaurants, the local scene in Easton had turned me into a beer connoisseur,” she said.
Rehm isn’t the only one who has been transformed into a beer nerd after a move, or even a visit, to Easton. Larry Porter, co-proprietor of Porters’ Pub, a craft beer bar at 700 Northampton St., said that he sees it a lot, partly because Easton pubs are able to show them that beer isn’t just Budweiser and Miller Lite.
“One of my favorite challenges is when someone says they don’t like beer but I say, ‘Well, you probably just haven’t had the right beer,’” he said. “I can give them all types of beer, even one that tastes like a flavored champagne.’”
Today, Easton is a hot spot for those looking for out-of-the-ordinary brews and makes for a great day trip or weekend getaway because of its plethora of beer bars, breweries and beer events.
Weyerbacher Brewing Company at 905 Line St., which specializes in high-gravity beers, offers tours, a bar area and a busy events calendar. It has recently been accompanied by Two Rivers Brewing at 542 Northampton St., which opened in late 2012 as a restaurant but has begun brewing its own beers — some named after local Eastonites — about one year ago.
Two Rivers Brewing meets Porters’ Pub and Black and Blue, the newest venture of the owners of Porters’ Pub, to form what has been dubbed the “Beermuda Triangle,” since the three establishments form a walkable triangle for those looking to pub-hop.
Porters’ Pub, which maintains a rotating list 150 craft bottles and drafts including many rare beers, is perhaps most famous for their “Mug Club,” where visitors work on finishing a list of 60 beers representing varying styles to eventually earn a pewter mug with personalized engraving, hung from the ceiling of the pub. So far, 4400 people have earned their mugs with another 10,000 currently working on completion.
Other local craft beer establishments include Pearly Baker’s Alehouse at 11 Centre Square which has 26 beers on tap and Maxim’s 22 at 322 Northampton St. which has 22 beers on tap. For beers to take home, Eastonites head to Daddy’s Place, a Mediterranean restaurant where visitors can also create their own six- or 12-pack from a 1,200-beer selection.
It’s obvious that today, Easton is a haven for beer lovers. However, by no means has it always been this way, although with Easton as the home of historic breweries such as Kuebler Brewery and Seitz Brewery of the 1800s, the history does seem to be ingrained.
“There was nothing else in Easton in 1990 when we opened,” said Porter. “There were a few restaurants in center square — and by that, I mean two, a sweet shop and a bar — but that was about it. Over the years, other bars and restaurants have opened up. Now, there are places opening up with 20 or 50 taps.”
Since Porters’ Pub didn’t serve domestic mass-produced beers when it opened and had only six taps, Porter said he was told that he would probably be out of business in six months. That was 26 years ago.
Joshua Lampe, chief operating officer of Weyerbacher Brewing, said that when they opened 21 years ago, they chose Easton because incentives were being offered in attempts to revitalize the downtown area. Only a few other beer bars were around. Years later, Weyerbacher had to move to the outskirts of the city just to make room for brewery expansion.
Amy Boccadorro, Easton Main Street assistant manager, marketing director and Easton resident, said that she has seen an Easton beer — and food — upswing during the last 10 years, and during the last five years, she has seen even more of an explosion.
“I think Easton blows other small cities out of the water when it comes to beer and food,” she said. “Long-standing beer enthusiasts want to be here and it’s got a really good track record so far.”
Rehm said that before she moved to Easton, she thought of it as a small town known primarily for the Crayola Factory and Lafayette College and she didn’t think there would be much to do in terms of entertainment or things to do on the weekends that did not include college students or small children. Today, she knows better.
“Many of my friends and family members have commented on how impressed they are with the little town I now call my home,” she said. “It only takes one visit for people to be blown away by all that Easton has to offer, especially in the beer and food department.”