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6.02.2016

A Tour of Straub Brewery: America's Third Oldest Brewery, St. Mary's, PA, Elk County

Today we visit Straub Brewery, the third oldest family owned brewery in the country. This is one of only a few legacy breweries that remain in facilities dating back to the 19th century and pre-prohibition. We are fortunate to have two of these great breweries in this state, Yuengling and Straub. Yuengling is the oldest brewery in the country, and Straub being the third oldest. While there are a number of brands that trace back to the 19th century, they've long abandoned their original breweries. Straub is a gem for it is intact from its earliest days and they make incredible brews at its home in the PA Great Outdoors Region.
Straub is home to the famed "Eternal Tap" that you can get a fresh draught of some of the brewery's fantastic offerings.  Their brews, especially their lager and amber beers, are phenomenal. Straub does not take any shortcuts. They've been in this business for close to 150 years, and that is not by accident. 
The brewery has a number of artifacts that show this institution's illustrious history.
The bottom of the brewhouse operations. This brewery is fully gravity-fed, meaning that the beer starts on the top floor of the building and once it reaches the bottom, the beer is ready to be chilled, loaded into a keg, and into bottles. The brewery's location on a hill in St. Mary's is due to the availability of a nearby spring. The operations have exceeded what the spring is able to supply, so the primary water source is from a nearby reservoir. With Straub being located atop the Continental Divide, the water that comes to the plant is amongst the purest that there is, with multiple rivers originating near this point.



Here are some of the older style kegs that the brewery once used. The band of red on the keg was used for branding and to distinguish the beer. 
A collection of the current kegs. Notice the traditional red bands across the kegs.
Roseanne was our tour guide and she did a great job being both informative and hospitable. At this point in the tour, on the top level of the brewery, the ingredients are loaded into the tanks. This is where the process begins, where the water, malted barley, and corn flakes are loaded and blended.
Looking down at the tank.
There is so much beauty in the remnants of the old machinery. At one point, the entire tanks were copper. In the last few decades, the bulk of the tanks were revamped with stainless steel. The marquees on the tanks are beautiful.
Throughout the tour, you are allowed to carry around a drink from the eternal tap. This brewery really felt like hometown place. Countless generations of people from the region have worked in the brewery and even more have drank and enjoyed the products. As soon as you walk into this place, you know that it is different. Through all of the upheaval in the American beer industry, this place has stood the test of time as fellow Pennsylvanian stalwart brewing company, Yuengling. These places need to be treasured. Their beers are as good as any out there.
This is where the next step occurs. Any remaining mash is given to local farmers, where it is utilized as feed for their livestock. 
I love the copper on this machinery. Functional and beautiful.

This is where the kegs are filled and chilled.
One of the coolest things about the brewery is the way they have these chutes for different purposes in production. 


Now we head over to the bottling area. In these boxes are refundable beer bottles. This is the only known operation that uses this system. These boxes came from the old Stoney's Brewery that was once located along the Yough River in Smithton, PA. Seeing these, from another old local brewery that was recently closed, shows us how important it is to preserve these old breweries. 
Here is the washing machine for these returnable glass bottles. I wish we could return to this sort of system, to cut down upon all of the waste.
The filling machine
Lots of glass bottles!
And the final product!
The brewery sells its product right out of the front of their building. All of their products are available for purchase there, and in areas throughout Western PA and Eastern Ohio. We highly recommend their products and taking a tour with them. For more information about their products and tours, visit their website.

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