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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.

Brewing Life’s Passion

 

Just as the Southern Reach section of the DiscoverNEPA Brewer’s Loop buttonhooks from the Pocono Mountains into “Stone Coal” country, we happened upon Mountain View Winery & Brewery.

By late autumn, NEPA’s Arcadian landscape had taken on strokes of gray. What little color was left behind had been washed in evergreen and the inky black of naked tree trunks. But there’s a charm to this abrupt change. Here, the seasons paint. And the approaching winter is but the coming of a deserved sleep. Blankets of brown leaves and snow are pulled across the ground. The hardiest of roadside weeds and flowers fold closed their shutters and turn from the wind.

Like clockwork, this artfully gloomy palette turns the mind toward the labor of making warmth. We climb into heavy sweaters and socks. We’re drawn to the welcoming red glow of a snapping fire. A hot meal in a comfy place, surrounded perhaps by a few close friends, warming the blood with a pint or two reaches high into the ranks of places we need to be right now.

 

 

We swam in these thoughts as we crested southeast on PA 115 into the belly of the Pocono Mountains. A few early frosts had crusted over the ground along the old Sullivan Trail. The remains of a light, evening snowfall scattered over the hilltops. We were back out on the Brewer’s Loop. A unique, local winery/brewery/distillery in the bustling hamlet of Stroudsburg was our target.

We thought we’d missed the mark as we shot past the busy county seat and into the outlying hillsides. But no, I was assured, this was indeed Stroudsburg. Only it wasn’t. It may as well have been another planet. The roads wound upward, snaking through groves of oak and maple. Here and there, wide-open fields drank up the late morning sun. There were no commuters, no packed gas stations, or parking meters. You could hear these things if you listened intently. You could sense their energy, but they were only there if you wanted them. We found this place on a bald mountain top – a perch at eye level with the tree tops and a view for miles around.

They call themselves Mountain View Vineyard, Winery, Brewery & Distillery. And for the sake of brevity, we won’t (it’s a mouthful). Now let’s go see if we can’t shake these good folks down for a tour and a few cold ones, shall we?

 

The Brewery

 

 

It’s kind of a Field of Dreams type of basement… but with like beer and wine and no baseball whatsoever.

If you sneak through a side office near the back of the taproom, past a few eager keyboard smashers doing all kinds of behind-the-brewery things, you’ll find an unassuming door. It’s almost warm to the touch. A funk seeps from the its gaps. As you swing it open, that familiar swirl of must and wort, of grape and hop cloud the brain. This is where it all goes down.

A white fluorescent glow ping pongs from rows of fermentation tanks to the steaming mash tun. Thinning paint on the concrete floor marks the brewer’s daily pace. Hoses hang exhausted and limp over the shoulders of polished steel giants. The racket of a two-man canning line lays down an undercurrent of rhythm.

 

 

The room stretches out like a hall of mirrors. Beer is boiling and cooling. Wine is patiently waiting, maturing. Special brews stew away in bloated oak barrels (more on this later). An army of kegs stands at the ready. It’s part mini-scale production line, part laboratory, part painter’s studio. If you pay close enough attention, you’ll notice these dividing lines in the brewmaster’s brow.

 

 

It furrows into a seriousness as he gazes into his rows of tin soldiers. He’s calculating hours, days, weeks. It then jumps into playful curiosity as he pulls samples from a holding tank. And it waivers back and forth a bit as he ponders the rightness or wrongness of it all. Then, it lies straight in puzzlement as he plunges a syringe into the crust of a barrel-aged Brett Saison. That very same puzzled brow remains through the tasting. My two cents: the funk was just right on this one, but Brett beers aren’t for everyone (our friendly brewer included).

 

 

In sum, what we found in the Mountain View brewhouse was an unexpected kinship between two often disparate worlds. Here, wine making and brewing shook hands like awkward cousins at a family reunion. The requisite mind space for each found a way to mix in some ethereal garden of ideas. As a result, each tended to make the other just a little bit better, or a little bit different. And that, in our opinion, is the provenance of craft beer.

Speaking of beer, let’s go see if we can find some in that taproom.

 

The Taproom

 

 

Essentially Simple / Quintessentially Pocono

The taproom at Mountain View Winery & Brewery methodically embraces its setting. Honestly, it almost feels as if the place has opened up and swallowed the Pocono Mountains. A full day’s sun electrifies the expansive floorplan via windows… windows everywhere! Skylights project the playful geometry of the raw timber trusses. The building’s position in the crown of the mountain reveals a scenic mixture of sky and tree from every seat.

The cavernous space reveals, in little touches, a deep appreciation for craftsmanship. Exposed Douglas Fir timbers inspire an airy, open aesthetic. While the peg and tenon joinery offers a small treat for the keen-eyed observer. One side of the space serves as a small market and houses a massive stone fireplace with a chunky timber mantle. Warm wood tones from floor to ceiling and hanging candelabrum drive the comfort level to places typically not explored in the confines of pole barn design.

 

 

At the hub of it all, the round, central bar creates a circular sense of movement throughout the room. It’s not end-to-end, or corner to corner. The idea is to mix, to feel communal – for beer drinkers to meet wine drinkers, for old to meet young, etc. This notion radiates from the bar to tables large and small. In a way, much like this place has essentially reached out its arms and pulled the wilderness inside, so it does with guests. To be here enjoying a pint of beer or a flight of wine is to be embraced by the Pocono Mountains.

 

 

The taproom naturally flows out onto an expansive covered porch. From here, the eye skims across painted mountain tops and blue skies. The porch wraps the entire building, offering hillside and vineyard views from every table. And in the cooler months, they can enclose and heat the entire space.

The porch also spills out onto yet another seating option — the summer patio. The uncovered space features stunning stone work, plenty of tables with umbrellas and fire pits. The patio is also served by a separate, outdoor bar and the occasional food truck. Pets are welcome on both the covered porch and patio seating areas.

 

The Beer

 

 

A natural progression from grape to hop.

The beers at Mountain View explore an often-overlooked comingling of worlds – craft wine and craft beer. And it’s not just about offering a selection of both for each respective audience. There’s an air of community floating in the ether here. Soon, the staunchest of wine connoisseurs eavesdrops on a discussion regarding the merits of dry hopping or barrel aging. A lifelong IPA head may sneak a quick taste of a dry white. Eventually, these worlds come together, in some way, if only for a moment, and something magical happens. They briefly understand each other.

For the team at Mountain View, a great experience in the taproom begins in the brewhouse. And when it comes to selecting and pairing ingredients and the precision and focus required to get each barrel filled, they employ a bit of that age-old winemaker’s wisdom. After all, anyone can crush a grape, or flip the switch on a grain mill. It’s the delicate hand throughout that leads to perfection, or something at least well within the ballpark.

 

 

We ran through the whole tap list on our visit. They offered five drafts and a selection of canned beers. Our journey began with the Mountain Goat Wheat. This classic-in-every-sense- hefeweizen popped out of the gate with notes of clove and finished slightly sweet like banana bread. It was an easily drinkable 5%. From there, we thought we were taking it easy with a simple shandy – not quite the case with Randy’s Shandy. This blend of toasty Belgian Ale and Mountain View’s award-winning La Crescent Sparkling Wine came in at a hefty 9% ABV. It offered a distinct tart kick, then mellowed out with a welcomed light hop profile and finished with notes of caramel.

Linda’s Lager was up next. It was poured from a can by none other than the beer’s very namesake. This beautiful, dark amber lager delivered a pleasant citrus aroma and dove right into that familiar roasty, nutty flavor. It was another cruiser at 4.5%.

 

 

The slate also offered up four tasty ales. First up, Slightly Sideways, and American Pale Ale. It poured a gorgeous golden orange and right away sang with hoppy citrus notes. It was West Coast all the way with easy references to masters like Sierra Nevada or Green Flash. And it weighed in at a crushable 4.3%. Next, we tried Bite Me Billy, Mountain View’s standard IPA. This one brought that distinct piney, resinous funk underneath a nose of grapefruit. It was decidedly hoppy, evenly bitter and floral, and punched the clock at 6.3%.

Galaxy & Beyond brought us to the heavy and hazy side of things. The perfectly cloudy double IPA registered at 8% ABV. It delivered a near perfect balance between sweet, tropical, stone fruit flavor and classic hoppy aromatics. Finally, we ventured into the dark side with a sample of Shell of a Coconut. This delightfully black stout wafted notes of chocolate and coffee into the air. The roasted malts quickly gave way to a subdued, delicate coconut flavor and finished velvety smooth. You probably can’t find a more suitable sit-by-the-fire beer, and at 4.9%, you may be intrigued to enjoy a few.

 

 

Pretzels and pizzas and beers…Oh my!

Mountain View’s taproom is also home to The Bistro. The menu offers a delectable selection of wine and beer pairings. Couple your flights with sharables like charcuterie, hummus or buttery soft pretzels. The kitchen also offers up a variety of fresh, house made flatbreads, seasonal soups and salads.

We coupled our beer tasting with, of course, Bavarian Pretzel twists. The warm, pillowy treats came with whole grain mustard and Linda’s Lager Beer Cheese, a house favorite. We also tacked on a few flatbreads for good measure. The BBQ Chicken Flatbread combined a tangy sweetness with sharp cheddar and red onion on a light, thin crust. Mountain View’s signature Whisky BBQ sauce takes this one right over the edge. Then, we got a little fancy with the Balsamic Brie & Fig Flatbread. This one obviously speaks to the wine drinker, but we couldn’t help ourselves. The swirl of soft brie, fresh figs and balsamic onion jam will simply get us every time. It was a perfectly delicious combination.

 

 

In all, our trip to Mountain View Winery & Brewery proved a damn near perfect way to waste a chilly near-winter afternoon. The beer flowed just as freely as the conversation – both equally poignant and full bodied. We enjoyed a little late autumn sun, a warm hug from the enveloping Pocono Mountains, great eats, cold beer, and, more importantly, good, interesting people with a passion for beer.

As you set out on your next NEPA craft beer adventure, plan a stop in the scenic hills of Stroudsburg and check out Mountain View Winery & Brewery.

 

Must Try:

Linda’s Lager — Amber Lager – Gorgeously dark with a full body of malty, nutty flavor and a slightly sweet, citrus aroma – 4.5% ABV

Randy’s Shandy – Shandy/Radler – Deceivingly punchy with a tart, white wine kick followed by a distinct toasty malt background – 9% ABV

Galaxy & Beyond – Hazy, Double IPA – Foggy, golden and hop heavy with welcomed notes of citrus and peach – 8% ABV

Spotlight On
Mountain View Winery & Brewery
Mountain View Winery & Brewery Image
Ryan Wood
Videographer