Cheers to the breweries that shined on Pennsylvania’s beer scene in 2023

Cheers to the breweries that shined on Pennsylvania’s beer scene in 2023

Photo courtesy of Robot Brainz

By Kalena Thomhave

January 8, 2024

Using data from popular online beer resources like Untappd and BeerAdvocate, we’re highlighting some Pennsylvania beers that had really good years in 2023.

Pennsylvania is home to more than 500 breweries pouring both classic and innovative brews for the people of the commonwealth. Some of these craft breweries are known nationally, like Yuengling (yes, Yuengling is considered a craft brewery) and Victory Brewing Company. 

Others are known regionally, like Tröegs Independent Brewing, while others still are small microbreweries mainly serving their communities. Whatever Pennsylvanians are drinking, we know they love their beer. 

Untappd, a social media site for beer drinkers, collects all sorts of data on the drinking habits of beer aficionados. So, in an effort to find out what homegrown beers had a really good year in 2023, we took a look at Untappd’s best-of lists for the year, the site’s general beer and brewery rankings, and data from sister site BeerAdvocate to highlight some of Pennsylvania’s best in beer for 2023. Let’s raise a glass to these Pennsylvania brewers:

Tired Hands Brewing Company – Ardmore

Untappd included Tired Hands Brewing Company on its list of the breweries worldwide that created the most beers in 2023. Tired Hands, which is known for its innovative and creative brews like the much-loved double milkshake IPA, has more than 1,600 different beers. Tired Hands generally has highly rated beers on Untappd, like its popular pale ale HopHands.

Referend Bier Blendery – Kutztown

According to the Untappd ratings of all breweries in Pennsylvania, the Referend Bier Blendery has the lead as the highest-rated craft brewery located (only) in Pennsylvania, according to the folks at Breweries in Pennsylvania. While Referend Bier Blendery wasn’t born in Pa. — its roots are in New Jersey — the brewery moved to Pennsylvania in 2021. Certifiably Pennsylvanian with its location in Kutztown, Referend is certainly a brewery you need to try. They use locally-grown grain and fruit to brew their beers, relying only on “spontaneous fermentation” (no yeast cultures are added) so that they can “produce a beer of depth and character inimitable through technological shortcuts or chemical interference,” as their website states. The appealing prose transfers to the names of Referend Bier Blendery brews, like the Pomes Penyeach 2019, a pale wheat ale refermented with cider, and the In Praise of Air IPA.

Bullfrog Brewery – Williamsport

Based out of scenic Lycoming County in central Pennsylvania, Bullfrog Brewery has been a Pa. craft beer staple since 1996. Bullfrog’s inclusion on our list is thanks to BeerAdvocate. And according to BeerAdvocate, Bullfrog’s sour brew Le Roar Grrrz is ranked as the best beer in the state, scoring a whopping 98 points out of 100. (A handful of variations of Le Roar Grrrz, which include different fruit flavor concoctions, also feature on BeerAdvocate’s list of the top 100 beers in Pennsylvania.) Le Roar Grrrz is a fruited wild ale that takes three-to-four years to condition, which is why Bullfrog calls it “a rare and special treat.” It is, however, currently on the Bullfrog Brewery tap list — so go grab it while you can!

Brew Gentlemen – Braddock

Brew Gentlemen is based along the Monongahela River in Braddock, a short drive from Pittsburgh. The brewery’s flagship beer is the General Braddock’s IPA, a soft, balanced brew, but the brewery also claims five of the top ten best-rated beers in Pa., according to BeerAdvocate’s list. These five are the Albatross, a New England IPA that’s the second-best rated beer in the state, along with the DoubleMex stout, the FOSHOMO New England IPA, the Mammoth imperial (double) IPA, and the Recertified New England IPA. Pick up a case of Brew Gentlemen near you, get it shipped , or visit the tasting room in historic Braddock.

Tröegs Independent Brewing – Hershey

Of the top 100 beers in Pennsylvania according to BeerAdvocate, one stands as an outlier with the most ratings of all: Tröegs Independent Brewing’s Nugget Nectar. The Hershey brewery produces the hoppy Nugget Nectar just once a year; this unique imperial IPA is only generally available between January and March. The popular beer has nearly 9,000 ratings on BeerAdvocate and more than 164,000 ratings on Untappd.

Imprint Beer Co. – Hatfield

One of the top Pa.-born local breweries according to current ratings on Untappd is Hatfield’s Imprint Beer Co. The brewery is pretty young, having opened its doors in 2018, but you wouldn’t know it given its long list of brews. Imprint makes an assortment of beers, whether it’s hazy IPAs or fruity sours. The sour program, which Imprint calls SCHMOOJEE, is particularly popular — and yes, these beers are smoothie-style sours. Imprint was busy in 2023. Along with maintaining its lengthy tap list, the brewery also opened an arcade on its premises. The GNARCADIUM, as the arcade is called, has retro video games, shuffleboard, darts, and other games all for free. Imprint also has its own restaurant, a cantina that serves some traditional bar food in addition to an interesting fusion of brewpub-style bites and Mexican food.

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