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North Hills Monthly

PA’s Food and Beverage Trails Offer Ample Opportunities to Explore, Imbibe

Sep 24, 2019 10:55PM ● By Kathleen Ganster

The Harmony Inn

Fall is the perfect time for a drive through the hills of western Pennsylvania, and following a food, brewery, wine or whiskey trail can make it even more fun. 

The Laurel Highlands Pour Tour was just launched in late September by the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau (LHVB) which includes Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties. The bureau has partnered with 14 breweries, 11 wineries, four distilleries, one cidery, and a meadery to highlight the rich heritage, agricultural diversity, and entrepreneurial spirit of the region. 

A special passport is available for participants to track their stops along the trail; they receive a sticker when they visit one of the tour locations and purchase a beverage. Prizes are awarded for various completion levels, and those who complete the entire tour by January 2021 are eligible for a beverage-themed Laurel Highlands getaway worth $1,000.

The free passports can be ordered online at www.lhpourtour.com, or by calling 724-238-5661. They are also available at the LHVB’s administrative offices, visitor information centers and other locations throughout the region. There is also a free Laurel Highlands Pour Tour app available to help plan the tour and take advantage of other nearby events and sites. 

The Whiskey Rebellion Trail shares a history of the area coupled with spirits. 

“Our region has been a hotbed of alcohol ingenuity from its start as the birthplace of rye whiskey and home of the 1790s Whiskey Rebellion,” said Meredith Meyer Grelli, co-owner of Wigle Whiskey and founder/chair of the Whiskey Rebellion Trail. “We wanted to reclaim the whiskey heritage that only our part of the country can claim and celebrate the burgeoning craft distilling producers making whiskey, gin, rum, vodka, amari, and more.” 

The trail allows participants to learn about 75 craft distilleries and cultural institutions in the greater Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Baltimore area, showcasing the prolific and award-winning spirits producers of the mid-Atlantic, according to Grelli.

“Visitors can follow a curated itinerary to travel along a multiday Master Trail, taking them through the heart of the Whiskey Rebellion and through each major city in the region,” she said.

Weekender and one-day passes are available for each region. For more information, visit https://whiskeyrebelliontrail.com.

Hungry? How about creating your own food tour along the National Road using the new Grub to Gourmet cookbook by Chef Joe Carei and local historian Ben Moyer? The book features recipes and history from several restaurants, wineries and taverns along the historic highway that traverses the western Pennsylvania countryside. 

“From the birth of the National Road, the goal of tavern owners and the restaurants that would follow was to have their guests enjoy the food so much that they not only had to return, but would recommend the stop to the next person coming down the road,” said Carei. “This still rings true today. From the roadside diner to the opulent resort, restaurateurs and chefs are dedicated to their craft, providing high quality, heritage food and service to everyone who is seeking a foodie experience.” 

Visitors can combine excellent food stops at places such as Nemacolin, The Historic Summit Inn and Christian Klay Winery with stops at historic and cultural sites, according to Donna Holdorf, executive director, National Road Corridor. 

“One can dine in a former stagecoach stop or tavern where the menu offers a taste of typical fare served to travelers during the National Road’s heyday (mid 1800s) and the auto touring/vagabond camping craze in the early 20th century,” said Holdorf, adding that travelers don’t need to limit themselves to food as opportunities to explore the artisan crafting of spirits also dot the road. For more information, visit http://nationalroadpa.org.

The Passport to Hoppiness helps track brewery visits in the Beer Circuit in Butler County. “We’ve developed the Beer Circuit to highlight our local breweries, and we want to let people know that they can get great craft beers right here in Butler County,” said Jack Cohen, president of Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau. 

The Circuit just expanded its trail to 10 microbreweries throughout the county. Passports are available at the tourism bureau, participating brew pubs or brochure racks. Guests receive a stamp when visiting a participating brewery and purchasing a pint or flight. Completed passports can be redeemed for a commemorative mug and other items. To learn more, visit www.visitbutlercounty.com/BeerCircuit. 

The Pittsburgh Brewer’s Guild created the Pittsburgh Brewery Trail that highlights more than 30 microbreweries in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Matt McMahon, owner and brewer of 11th Hour Brewing and vice president of the Brewer’s Guild, said the organization was formed to create a collective voice for the breweries in Allegheny County. Thanks to a grant from the state to promote craft beer tourism, they went one step further. 

“We, as a board, felt that a brewery tour would help to increase tourism and would help to grow the reputation of Pittsburgh as a craft beer destination for travelers from out of town,” he said. 

The guild website helps visitors plan their routes and brewery stops, and a passport book keeps track of visits. The passports were so popular that they sold out of their second printing, and the guild is working on another printing soon. Those who visit all 30 breweries receive a commemorative glass. Visit https://pghbreweryguide.com for more information.