York – America’s Thirst Capital
Back in my restless beer days which may or may not have been just last year, a friend and I took a “beercation.” Over the course of three days, we hit eight states from Massachusetts to Virginia stopping at 15 breweries and a dozen bottle shops. It was a good trip, I’ll admit, with one or two good memories. At the end of the day though, do you want know what I really got out of it? Tired.
Something interesting and unexpected happened along the way. I started comparing every brewery to York; the quality, the consistency, the aesthetic, the crowd, and most importantly the downtime. It was no small amount of driving as you can imagine. So driving two hours to your next stop to find it hum-drum at best and knowing you have two more to the next was wearing a bit thin. These “local favorites” were turning out to be just “local good.”
Somewhere after Massachusetts, which has some formidable breweries to be sure, I realized I was spoiled…and it was York’s fault. There’s a time to drive seven hours and stand in line in sub-zero temperatures and there’s a time to appreciate what is right outside your front door.
In just over one mile of walking in downtown York, you can visit five breweries. That’s about ten blocks total for you city people. Add another three blocks and you can get back to where you started, which is nice after five breweries. Along the way, you will pass building-sized murals, an outdoor cantina, a 140-year-old firehouse, two craft beer bars, a dozen restaurants, Central Market, a street full of merchants, and you’ll get dangerously close the Uncle Traveling Matt’s secret stash of beer.
As far as I know, there are no other cities this size in this country with that sort of concentration and walkability. Most cities need a “beer bus,” we just need a fun walking tour guide. Five breweries serving York made beer. There’s even a sixth on the way and its Kolsch is almost as good as its nachos.
If you’ve had a beer with me or sat near me while I tout our local breweries, you’ve heard me say these things or heard about some of the festivals we run through CrocodileDog Marketing.
One of those festivals is Brew Kids on the Block. Brew Kids on the Block is unique for many of the same reasons I love York’s beer scene. We bring together many of the breweries in York and put them all in one place with 20 others in the region – all under five years old. We have them bring out their best beer and their best people, so you have a chance to get to know your local brewer. And then you vote for your favorite. Brewers get to vote for their own award, too. In all the years we’ve been doing it, a York brewery has taken a trophy. If you press your face up against the glass outside Gift Horse Brewing Co. as we all wait for them to open, you’ll see they currently hold both trophies – People’s and Brewers’ Choice. They sit under the spotlight behind the sign that says opening soon. And you’ll think, “I loved Gift Horse before they were open.”
What you’ll see at Brew Kids, and around York’s local breweries, is a community. It’s brewers who visit and try each other’s beers. They attend each other’s openings. They bid at their raffles to support our community – even if it’s to name a competitor’s beer. They eat together, they drink together, and they openly challenge each other as the best of the best that York has to offer. And often times when they win. They win for who they are, not just the beer they brew.
So stop standing in lines and start walking in doors. Or join us May 19 at Brew Kids on the Block where you can meet many of them (at least the newbies).
You can find out more about Matt and his beer adventures on his facebook page