A Toast to Pennsylvania Distilleries, Breweries and Wineries

Food & Beverage

PA’s liquid heritage runs deep, and Pennsylvania distilleries and boozy businesses offer, group tastings, brewery tours and unique events

In 1794, an uprising of farmers and distillers in Western Pennsylvania rebelled in violent protest against the federal government’s whiskey tax. The Whiskey Rebellion helped shape liquor laws and the future of Pennsylvania distilleries. Beer also holds a special place in the state’s history, with brew traditions dating back to the 1680s and William Penn. Upon arriving, Penn shared barrels of beer with indigenous people and subsequently built a brewery on his estate. Today, Pennsylvania is the number one beer-producing state in the country.

Let’s explore some of Pennsylvania’s extraordinary craft beverage businesses, brewery tours and tasting experiences, and don’t forget to subscribe for free to Leisure Group Travel for more tasty destinations.

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Philadelphia Brewing Company (Philadelphia)

Free brewery tours every third Saturday are happening at the Philadelphia Brewing Company. The more than 125-year-old brewery is a city staple producing more than a dozen unique styles of ales and lagers using only the freshest ingredients. On your group tour, hear stories about Philly’s early brewing days and how the company has adapted over the decades. Sip on a Working Cat Pale Ale or Session IPA while your group enjoys Quiz Night or Open Mic Night.

Specialty brews include Black Cat Lager and Space Cowboy IPA, and guests can shop at their online store for everything from hard seltzers and ciders to their craft beer and Philadelphia Brewing Company merchandise. (Philadelphia Brewing Company)

Brewery Tours, LLC (Lancaster, York and Hanover)

Brewery Tours, LLC offers a peak into the beer-making process. Photo courtesy of Brewery Tours, LLC.

Central Pennsylvania’s craft beer scene has exploded and Brewery Tours, LLC founder Glenn Smith is highlighting the beer movement with exceptional tours. Offering “the Ultimate Craft Beer Experience,” Brewery Tours, LLC provides many ways to sip, savor and learn about the world of craft beer. Take a Walk-a-Bout Tour of Lancaster City or hop on a Brew Bus and tour exciting York County featuring 32 independent craft breweries.

Ales on the Rails is a quarterly brew tour collaboration with the historic Northern Central Railway. Visitors can also charter private group experiences and tours in all three locations. Motorcoach parties are always welcome. (The Ultimate Craft Beer Experience with Brewery Tours, LLC)

Mason Dixon Distillery (Gettysburg)

Small-batch spirits are made with care at the Mason Dixon Distillery in Gettysburg, one of the top eastern Pennsylvania distilleries. Reminiscent of an old German beer hall, the distillery is housed in a refurbished century-old furniture factory displaying industrial architecture with exposed bricks and original wood beams. During wintertime, groups can reserve a one-of-a-kind Dining Igloo, an outdoor enclosed private space equipped with heaters.

All spirits are made onsite using locally sourced ingredients when possible while using a grain-to-glass process. They produce high-quality vodka, white rum and aged white rum made from 100% molasses, classic Americana corn whiskey, and aged whiskey that includes single barrel and barrel proof choices of Bourbon, Rye, and Single malt.

To find out when their brewery tours are scheduled to resume, call 717-398-3385 or visit their website. (Mason Dixon Distillery)

Blackbird Distillery (Brookeville)

Blackbird Distillery moonshine. Photo courtesy of Blackbird Distillery.

As the first and only distillery in the U.S. to handcraft moonshine onsite from grain to bottle the old-fashioned way, Blackbird Distillery offers an unparalleled experience for groups. They produce 29 different flavors of “shine” and three flavors of crème liqueur. Taste award-winning moonshine that rivals competition from around the world. With interesting flavor combinations like chocolate banana, smoked butterscotch, salted watermelon and peanut butter, there’s a taste for everyone.

Blackbird also sells homemade smoked meats, cheeses, specialty pepper mixes, pickles, kraut and more. Join the friendly owners and staff for tastings and ascertain the authentic moonshine-making process. They also offer craft cocktail recipes using their delicious concoctions. (Blackbird Distillery)

Wigle Whiskey (Pittsburgh)

The family-owned and operated Wigle Whiskey distillery is located in the Strip District neighborhood in Pittsburgh and was the first distillery in the city after Prohibition. Savor creative whiskey flavors like Eau de Pickle and Hopped Zombie, or take home a bottle of their craft vodka, absinthe or rum.

Every Saturday, groups can learn about the Whiskey Rebellion on a tour of the distillery led by knowledgeable staff. Sip award-winning rye and bourbon and ascertain the distilling process during a seated tasting. Private events are available for booking, and guests can partake in cocktail classes, enjoy a Phil-A-Palooza event with drinks and food, or groove to a live music performance. (Wigle Whiskey Distillery )

Barn & Barrel – Mount Hope Estate & Winery (Manheim)

Mount Hope Winery in Manheim PA wine tasting photo cred. Mount Hope Winery

Mount Hope Winery in Manheim PA wine tasting photo cred. Mount Hope Winery

As Pennsylvania’s original libations producer, Barn & Barrel at the breathtaking Mount Hope Estate & Winery in Manheim is all about creating memorable group experiences and making award-winning spirits. Although the property’s history begins as far back as the late 1700s, the business began in 1980. Since then, Barn & Barrel has been producing acclaimed ciders (Lancaster County Cider), wines (Mount Hope Estate & Winery), ales (Swashbuckler Brewing Co.), and spirits (Spirits Distilling Company).

The expansive property boasts Mount Hope Winery and the Spirits Distilling Company offering group tastings and winery tours led by knowledgeable staff. The estate also hosts grand events, including weddings, bus tour groups, corporate retreats and private group tastings. Additionally, the beloved Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, which runs for 13 weekends from August through October, is held here. The grounds’ 35 acres are transformed into a modern-day jousting tournament presented by the Maryland Jousting Club. (Barn & Barrel – Mount Hope Estate)

Find More in Pennsylvania

Consider a visit to Brew: The Beer Museum located in Pittsburgh after touring some of the featured establishments for an in-depth 10,000-year history of beer.

Follow Pennsylvania’s brewery trails and winery trails to find more hot spots and don’t forget to subscribe for free to Leisure Group Travel for other delicious group activities.

By Heather Dale, Managing Editor

Header photo courtesy of Philadelphia Brewing Co.

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