Brewing Adventure on the AT

Beer is flowing like water along the AT in Pennsylvania.

Beer. There, I have your attention.

The Appalachian Trail is soon to have another brewery literally feet from the trail in Duncannon, Pa. In January, Lindgren Craft Brewery purchased a historic bank in downtown Duncannon and is, as I write, in the process of renovating it to be the brewery’s permanent location and tasting room.

The bank building, on Duncannon’s Market Street, is maybe a maximum of 50 feet off the AT’s path through Duncannon, right next to the historic Doyle Hotel. Where the AT turns left to follow High Street through town, you want to head straight.

Now, beer for weary thru-hikers is not hard to come by in Duncannon. Besides the Doyle (obviously a must-stop location for any AT hiker), there’s several other bars near by, including The Pub and Sorrento’s. But once, Lindgren is open, you’ll want to stop in and sample some of Perry County, Pa.’s homegrown brew options.

When I spoke with father-son team Clifford and Michael Lindgren in early January, they estimated the new location would be open by the fall of 2020, so maybe a little late for the majority of thru-hikers traversing Duncannon in June, but if you’re planning your thru-hike for 2021, then it will be open.

Clarks Ferry Swankey is a traditional beer style from the 1700s that Lindgren Craft Brewery produced in 2019 to help finance the preservation of the historic Clarks Ferry Tavern in Duncannon. The tavern is one of the oldest buildings in Perry County and just a block off the AT.

They’ve been banking on (pun intended) the trail traffic as part of their business. Sound plan. In 2016, outdoor recreation economy was 1.4 percent of U.S. GDP or nearly $374 billion. The next year, it grew to 2.2 percent and $427 billion, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The AT’s 2 million (ATC number is at 3 million) annual visitors spend around $27 million in local communities, according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. That was from an article on their site promoting the AT Conservancy’s trail community program as a model (along with the Great Allegheny Passage) for connecting local communities and rail-trails for a vibrant local economy. However, there’s no date on the story and the group didn’t cite where they got the number from. I’m reaching out to the ATC to see if they ever completed the impact study they started in 2018.

But, it makes sense that the AT, beer and local economic growth would be good bed-fellows. There are festivals in AT trail towns up and down the path. In Duncannon, that’s the Duncannon Appalachian Trail Festival that brings hikers, locals, and businesses together for a fun day.

In the past, I’ve written here on AOJ about Duncannon’s partnership with The Nature Conservancy, as well as TNC’s work to preserve the Kittatinny Ridge on Cove Mountain in Marysville.

But maybe you’re in town and you want to go a little further? Maybe explore central Pennsylvania beyond Duncannon. No problem. If you call an Uber, Lyft or find a ride another way, there are two other breweries in Perry County: Liquid Noise Brewing Co. just opened in Marysville (about 8 miles south of Duncannon), and River Bend Hop Farm & Brewery is up in Newport. That’s a little farther, but not out of the question.

A little Google search and you’ll find about a dozen or more breweries in the greater Harrisburg area, as well as local vineyards and wineries. See below:

And Pennsylvania is the place on the AT to be for craft breweries, which have a huge economic impact themselves. According to Forbes, the state’s craft brewers add $6.3 billion to the economy, second most in the nation behind California.

So, the next time you’re passing through Duncannon on the AT, stay for a while and have a beer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.