We five gather for this righteous trip to Tröegs at The Pub Chip Shop in the heart of the South Side.
It’s 9 a.m.—uncommonly early for a pack of freelancers. The unsurpassed draft list at Piper’s Pub next door beckons, but for now we dine on doughnuts, and coffee — so much coffee. In the truck, it’s Zappa and Floyd on the stereo as we embark carefree and eager as boys. The Commonwealth stretches easterly before us, and we have some exploring to do.
December, 1965: 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh a freball scorches across the sky and slams into Earth near tiny Kecksburg, Pa.
Shocked residents report a car-sized, acorn-shaped UFO, its base ringed with hieroglyphs. The Army moves in, cordons of the site and reports finding nothing. Today, on a grassy knoll near the crash site stands a giant acorn-on-a-stick, a monument to whatever fell on Kecksburg that cold December night. We leave before long, saddened to learn we are two weeks early for the UFO Festival and hot dog-eating contest.
Climb the cliffs, they said …
Up, up, up we plod to a quartzite outcropping in Michaux State Forest known as Pole Steeple. It’s a short hike —less than a mile — but steep, and you can cut the humidity with a knife. We reach the summit breathless, cursing our doughy physiques. Earlier that day, at the Pine Grove General Store, we met some hikers attempting to consume a half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting. The store is near the Appalachian Trail’s halfway point, and the ice cream challenge is a tradition. Back at Pole Steeple, some friendly AT hikers offer us their whiskey. The setting sun ignites the rolling hills and reduces us to whispers as the sky hues technicolor shades. We leave the fireworks behind for MTO and the Dream On Ranch where tonight we’ll rest, while visions of Sunshine Pils dance in our heads.
Somewhere amidst Pennsylvania’s rolling hillsides lies a hidden place the Instagram cognoscenti refer to as the #TrolleyGraveyard.
Brave backroads and circumvent a gate or two and you may fnd yourself alone in an #overgrown #scrapyard punctuated by #abandoned #trolleys and #streetcars. They say the owner wants to preserve them, but #grafti writers and #the #elements have left their mark. There’s a strange, #postapocalyptic beauty to it all, but if you go at night there is a #verygood chance that you’ll be #haunted by a #headless #conductor.
Sweet, merciful crap that was fun.
I mean, we knew it’d be fun, but this was a lot of fun. We arrive early to Tröegs and the Drinking Partners, Ed and Day, greet us at the door. First up: brewery tour. We try Wild Elf aged in enormous, 23-foot tall, Italian-made oak foeders. We sip snifters of sour nectarine ambrosia destined for the halls of Valhalla. For lunch: charcuterie boards — what more can be said? Not long after, founding OG beer brothers John and Chris Trogner join the Drinking Partners ‘cast and share their wisdom on what it takes to remain vital in the frenzied craft beer marketplace. We rest, then return for the Art of Tröegs gallery opening and Naked Elf tapping. The rest is a blur, not from over-excess but a whirlwind of laughter and swapped stories between new friends and old. We return in the morning, less than 60 hours since we first left, equal parts exhilarated and exhausted. We came, we saw, we Tröegenated.