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As part of our DiscoverNEPA Brewer’s Loop Series, we’re hitting the road – yes, all 390-plus miles of it. We’ll be taking brewery tours, sampling stouts, lagers and IPAs, and tasting taproom grub all over Northeastern Pennsylvania. Follow along as we bring you a firsthand look inside the region’s exploding craft beer scene, and let you know how, when and where you can experience it for yourself.

A Slight Deviation from the Norm


As we rolled over the river and into the Columbia County end of the Susquehanna Stretch section of the DiscoverNEPA Brewer’s Loop, we came upon Anomaly Craft Brewing.

We’d been hearing tales of an old Ford ladder truck cruising around Berwick – “Beer Dept.” emblazoned across its wings. Initially, we shrugged and figured, “Well… it’s NEPA.” But just the idea of it – Could it really be an actual beer truck?… Like an ice cream truck, but with cold, tasty beer?  – slowly began to poison rationality. We caved. Gimmick or not, this one needed to be chased down.

March was near an end. We set out west dogging after the last of the winter sun as it rounded toward a steel horizon. It would rise a spring star and with it hope in longer, warmer days and vernal catharsis in splashy greens and blues. Maybe this day technically still belonged to winter, but you’d have to take that up with the stoneflies. From our angle, the skies were blue, our tires tracked an easy beat and the road promised a sunny hill or two. At about the point when our brains began to liquify into interstate monotony, we scooted onto PA 93. And as we bounded sharply west over Nescopeck Mountain, the Susquehanna River Valley rolled out like a beat rug.



We crossed the swollen river and stalked along the streets of Berwick in search of this now mythical vehicle. And there it sat. Unassuming. Posturing as just some other car among the late morning buzz of Front Street. It was indeed a bright, red firetruck with “Beer Dept.” on its doors. It was not, however, a beer truck, a` la Mister Softee (cue sad trombone). Maybe someday.

We found the truck standing sentinel outside a curious old storefront – traces of an art deco entryway peeking out here and there in colorful cracked tiles. Its thick display glass rendered cloudy with steam invited curiosity. And then… the smell. Through some small crack or seam in the façade, we were treated to that familiar floral, fruity, hot funk. Someone inside this beautiful old building was makin’ beer. Yeah. Turns out, the beer truck, the smell of a young beer brewing away inside, the sign on the front of the building perhaps – all these clues brought us to NEPA’s newest craft brewery.



The old downtown building wears its history in layers — sturdy, fire brick, tilework, paneling. Decades of add-ons and take-offs and fixes adorn the otherwise charming, old-fashioned storefront. Angular, built-in glass display cases entreat the imagination. What wonders they once held? How many little noses must have smudged the polished sheen?

There’s an entire story of a place here in this one frame. If you allow the invitation of a daydream, you can see a happy, gruff old man positioning trinkets and antiques in the display – each with a long story he’d be all-too-eager to tell. Forward a beat, his darling wife, now carrying on, turns it to a beloved, hip coffee shop. Skip a generation or two and one of the grandkids has gone and made it a micro-brewery. Nonetheless, through generations, through tragedy and triumph, the rise and fall and rebirth of the American dream, the fickle nature of the 21st century consumer, they kept it in the family. They keep it alive.

And they call themselves Anomaly Craft Brewing. Let’s pop in for a pint, shall we?


The Brewery



Big things/small packages… you know the story.

There is a clear division of work and play space at Anomaly Craft Brewing. A long wall running front to back keeps the separation tangible. The building, via dual storefronts, presents that quintessential peek at the process. A tease, in a sense. It’s just enough to maintain the mythical connection between the ingredients, the machinery, the steam and sweat and the beer in your hand (and that manly beard on your face — Nods approvingly in the direction of shiny metal things).



The brewhouse, nimble as it is, takes up only half of a room. Sturdy-legged, steel fermenters pose in the u-shaped display windows like chubby, little mannequins in stylish flex jackets. Each wears its own little label – Helles, IPA…etc. Rubber hoses hang unceremoniously. The east-facing wall of windows inhales the late morning sun electrifying brew kettles along the wall.

Opposite the “wet” side of the room, a brewer’s desk, dressed in that typical brewer’s chaos, reveals the tools of creation — lots of scribbles apparently, some rudimentary math, plenty of pens, wrenches and hose clamps. It’s a uniquely singular space designed specifically for the use of one mind only.



This leaves us in the intermediate – that fascinating space between things. Messy desk, ideas on one side. The work — hands and head and back in service on the other. The energy swirling in this nebula between is thick with creativity, innovation, curiosity, fear. Here, is the artist, minute, diminished, before the daunting white of an empty canvas. The poet clawing and crawling toward daylight through the rubble of a million words. A musician strumming furiously against the Symphonic Haze of influence. Daily, this space echoes with a thousand prayers shouted to a thousand gods. Supplicants all – each in service to one simple desire – individuality.

And the beers produced here just happen to come about as close as you can get to achieving such an end. But before we get into the beer, let’s have a look at this taproom.


The Taproom



Calm, coffeehouse vibes meet “Zicke Zacke, Zicke Zacke Hoi, Hoi, Hoi!”

The taproom at Anomaly Craft Brewing blends so seamlessly what, in most realities, would be two wholly oppositional ideas. It is at once both cafe and brewpub. In the air, freshly roasted coffee mingles curiously with boiling wort wafting in from the brewhouse side. An aroma of bacon and toast and soup and smoked meats emanates from the kitchen. It’s a whirling vortex of everything that is good. And, of course, it all works.

Nonetheless, this is a beer blog. So, the extent of my deviation into the world of hot/cold lattes, Americanos, mochas and such is thus: They have them. They excel at preparing them. And, if that’s what you’re looking for, this is the place where you should obtain them.



Daylight sun stretches long into the deep, spacious interior. All of Berwick buzzes by on Front Street casting shadows like the fingers of a giant across a long white, communal table. Smaller bistro tables and four tops flank the elongated gaze from front door to service station. White walls sandwiched between the black ceiling and dark-toned floor seem to lengthen everything in the room – distance, conversation, time, perhaps.

The style screams comfort. There’s a bit of wear on everything and a story tagged to every piece of art and furniture and in the small cross-section of untouched, original wall at the entryway. At Anomaly, it’s clear, upon entering, that you soon may find yourself, with the good people behind this joint, with every sip of beer, with your fellow travelers, in conversation with ghosts of another time and place.



The theme here is rebirth – what was old is now new. It’s about a reclamation, in a sense, over and over, of some lost family jewel. The old building itself has witnessed many iterations and about just as many coats of paint. Beneath it all, though, under the layers of change, each new idea carried with it the specter of individuality and, perhaps, just the right amount of peculiarity.

Here, we have a brewery owner who’s never drunk a beer. Before that a darling grandma running a young, hipster-centric coffeeshop. And, before that, Grandpa — the town’s own Mark Twain, selling more often the stories rather than the actual antiques to which they were attached. It can be said, I guess, what truly haunts this place is not necessarily some form of entrepreneurial spirit. Rather, it seems, this family is possessed by some gracious angel of consonant conviviality.

Just partake with caution. For it is rumored that every pint here brings you ever closer to being called family.


The Beer



An agile waltz between process and play.

Most breweries the size and scope of Anomaly pride themselves on their ability to adapt and change at will. Freedom is the name of the game for the brewer. And nuance is what regulars come to expect. Change, variation and subtlety become the most crucial ingredients. After all, why dance with giants when you’d only spend your time and energy climbing out of their footprints? That’s no fun at all.

The art of brewing, in many respects, is a lot like creating music. There’s a process to follow – a specific way that a song comes together. And, within that framework, there is built in space for improvisation. It’s experience that guides these things as they, at times simultaneously, connect and oppose each other. I guess it makes sense that the man behind the beer at Anomaly is, in fact, both a musician and a well-tenured beer nerd.



When it comes Anomaly’s tap list, it’s all about balance. While the limits of their micro system tie them to a more boutique approach, there is certainly nothing small about their beer. The slate presents a range from dark and rich to light and floral. The ale program covers stouts, porters and IPAs. They even offer a lager for good measure. And, they occasionally round it all out with something experimental (like an Irish Red).

They had five on tap when we visited. Of course, we’d be remiss not to try them all. we started with Grandma’s favorite, the Cold Brew Stout. This traditionally-styled dry Irish stout exploded with notes of freshly roasted coffee and finished with delicate touches of dark chocolate in a characteristically smooth texture. For what it’s worth, Grandma says, if she could, she’d replace her morning coffee with this one.

Next, a notch down on the spectrum of beautifully dark beers, Anomaly’s Criollo Porter blended almost perfectly the rich body and flavor of chocolate with a masterfully measured dose of sweet vanilla.



The seasonal Irish Red sang with crisp, clear notes of toffee and caramel. A healthy dose of classic English hops balanced the slight maltiness with a bright earthy, floral infusion. And at 5.4% ABV, it’s certainly a long-distance runner.

On to the sole IPA. They called it Angels Wings. Word is, it was inspired by some legendary local band. And, in true Rock n Roll fashion, it came on a little heavier than the others. Every note with this beer seemed to play a little louder. The floral and citrus at the forefront electrified the tongue, while the beautifully balanced malty background played through with consistency and humility (like a true bass player). Just be careful with this one. It drinks a little too easy for a 7.5.

Finally, the Helles. The delicate balance between sweet and tart were matched here only by the lager’s perfectly golden appearance. Notes of bready sweetness rolled right along into an effervescent, yet muted bitterness. It’s simply an easy drinking, true-to-form lager weighing in at 5.4%


The Food



Breakfast (and beer), lunch (and beer) and dinner (and beer).

What good is an evening/afternoon with elbows bent on the long table without a bit of sweet/salty/tasty grub? Alongside their delicious beer, Anomaly Craft Brewing also offers a respectable menu of soups, sandwiches, salads, sides and more for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The café-style menu ranges from pressed hot and cold sandwiches and wraps like the Jean Chicken Supreme, the Spicy Chicken Wrap and the ever-popular Smoked Meat Sandwich. Yeah, they locally source their own smoked pork and brisket. And, yeah, it’s ‘bussin.

And whether you’re stopping in for the beer or the coffee, the menu is designed to work with either option. The breakfast menu features egg sandwiches and omelets along with sides like bacon, sausage and toast. There’s a little something for every appetite (even the little ones).



Of course, our visit to Anomaly almost assuredly required an order of Smoked Brisket Nachos and an impressive, hubcap-sized bar pretzel. The smoked brisket nachos literally descended from heaven with a chorus of angels. The sweet/salty and tender, smokey brisket was piled high atop a mound of golden, crispy seasoned tortilla chips. Here and there, you’d find little pops of freshness in sliced cherry tomatoes, peppers and olives. And, of course, it was all smothered in the brewery’s famous, homemade beer cheese.

We rounded out our mini-tour of the menu with the massive warm, soft, fresh-baked pretzel. It was clearly big enough to split four ways. The perfectly crisp outer shell broke open to reveal a velvety soft, warm interior (Real talk: Is there a name for the inside of a pretzel?). And though this pretzel could easily stand on its own, it was that damn soft, creamy beer cheese that stole the show. I’m sure if you ask politely, they’d sell you a pint of it (with a straw).



We stopped by Anomaly Craft Brewing on the last day of winter. And while the bright blue skies and the river hatch and the hint of summer on the breeze had run off the foreboding gray, it was the warmth we found with the good people behind this place that brought our spirits around. There are quite a few stories behind these doors. And no one too shy to tell ‘em. From a four-year-old’s cross-country firetruck adventure to the bald eagle that seems to watch over it all, there’s that and then some. And you can get it all for the price of a pint – not a bad deal by any standard.

Next time you find yourself strolling through Downtown Berwick, please do your best to check this place out.


Must Try:

Cold Brew Stout –Irish Style Stout – Deliciously black and creamy with strong roasted coffee aroma and back notes of bittersweet chocolate – 4.8% ABV

Criollo Porter – Porter – Deep cacao flavor trailing into light/sweet notes of vanilla — 6.7% ABV

Angel’s Wings IPA – Mildly hoppy rounded out with distinct notes of citrus and stone fruit — 7.5% ABV

Spotlight On
Anomaly Craft Brewing
Anomaly Craft Brewing Image
Brian Johnson
Tara Kavanaugh