Schuylkill County, PA.

 

Named for the Schuylkill River

The crown. The mark of royalty. This symbol denotes a tavern with an overall excellence that exceeds the norm.

 The foamy mug marks a specific  feature that is noteworthy.

Normally when a bar goes out of business the location will never again house a tavern. Often the liquor license is sold to a distant entity.  The phoenix marks pubs that have defied the odds and reopened after having been silenced.

Not every pub that says its Irish is Irish but the ones that are and the ones that have great St Patrick's Day events will be identified with this brand.

The screw. The sign of gross injustice or disservice.  AmericanTom believes that people go to their local watering hole to escape their day to day grind and troubles.  In a way, servers and barkeeps are like actors - orchestrating a great play whose cast are their customers. Some of the things that can generate a screw are: great disparity between how regulars and visitors are treated, rudeness or utter incompetence.

Most businesses have a neutral attitude toward motorcyclists.   The HD logo marks taverns that openly welcome those who arrive on scooters.

Inflation sucks. It sucks away your buying power.  If you can still buy a beer for one dollar - you will see this sign.

Seafood is a class of food all by itself.  Clams have little competition - few foods are better when done well and few foods can cause more problems when improperly served. See the clam next to a bar's name and it shows where tasty clams have been enjoyed!

I like Reading, PA. In spite of being Pennsylvania's most dangerous city there are a lot of cool things to do here. One of the best is that "our" beer is back. You can have your big, national (and often foreign-owned) brands.        I  am happy that Old Gus has come home!  Taverns serving this delicious brew will have this icon.

Have a cold one on the deck!

 

tom@americantom.com

 

BLUE RIDGE HOTEL
1270 South Route 183   Schuylkill Haven, PA   17972   570-754-7259

   

3: Quite possibly the fanciest furniture I have ever seen in a barroom

 

[12-2007]  The Blue Ridge was a stop on my snowy drive today.  Surprisingly, the place was pretty empty - I think I was a bit early for the crowd that was knocking off work early.

The unique building was warm and inviting inside and the bar was being tended by Bud, the owner's brother. They have just about every type of Yuengling beer - something that just seemed appropriate.

The TV was tuned to a hunting show.  Someone blasted a giant wild boar and they were describing the meat they would get from it. While I think they were a bit optimistic about the quality and tenderness of what a sinewy old hog could produce, it made me hungry nonetheless.

So, I ordered two foods that were homemade at the Blue Ridge - 2/$1 red beet eggs and a slice of $1.50 pizza that reportedly used their own dough and sauce. Both were really good.

This is a nice bar - clean and a good place to sit and watch the world go by.  When they have music they clear out 1/2 the tables in the dining room so people can get their groove on.

Someday I hope to return during live music but for now I will be happy just slugging Lagers and eating those great eggs and pizza!

 

MAROON'S SPORTS BAR & GRILL
556 North Centre St    Pottsville, PA  17901    570-628-4625

 

[3-2008]  Maroon's stands at the edge of Pottsville - at night, glowing like a beacon in a dim section of town.  I finally got to stop in and loved the incredible amount of local sports memorabilia that is on display.

If you do not know the story of the Pottsville Maroons you should do some research. Its a fascinating tale and I fully expected to see an effigy of Joe Carr hanging from the ceiling. 

I am a big fan of stamped tin ceilings and wood strip floors. Maroon's has the floors.

Our barmaid was the cute and personable Rhianna - 1/2 Polish, 1/2 Irish - a good combination for a Skook girl.  She was friendly and attractive and fit well with the atmosphere of this pub.

The waitresses didn't have a lot to do as things were slow - "people are probably still recovering from last night (St Patrick's Day)".   I think the referee shirts are a bit hokey.

My $7 Cheesesteak Supreme was HUGE. The delicious roll was crusty and reminded me of a bread bowel.  Normally I drink only Yuengling products in Pottsville but I am on a Landshark Lager kick.  The $3.25 bottle was a quarter more than one I had earlier this week in Lancaster but its a very good beer and that eases the pain somewhat.

The next time I am here I want to photograph some of the interesting sports stuff inside.  Nice bar. Nice barmaid!

[12-2008]  The glowing beacon in the night look that I like so much about Maroon's is only enhanced by the Christmas decorations and tree in the 2nd floor windows. Very cool looking.  Their parking lot across the street now has an awesome mural covering the entire wall surface. Well thought out and interesting when you read the legend that explains who each figure is.   There is no way I am drinking a non-Yuengling beer, especially a FOREIGN-OWNED beer like so many people do, in Pottsville so I ordered a Premium.  These did NOT give me the painful side effects that Lager has been giving me.  I wonder what the trick is?!?!?

 

 

MICHAEL B's
RR1 (Route 61)   Orwigsburg  PA  17961   570-366-8655

 

 

MUSTANG INN
formerly The Major Purpose

82 S. Tulpehocken Street    Pine Grove, PA   17963 

  

[5-2007]  One of the best things about trying bars in Schuylkill County is that the Lagers are almost always very fresh.

The Major Purpose sits on Main Street and has about a half dozen guys loafing around next to it. Kind of odd for a middle of the day, middle of the week visit.

Anyway, this is a good dive bar. Dark enough that when you walk in it takes a few seconds for your eyes to adjust. There were only two people in during my visit and both were playing pool.

The barmaid was cute and wearing a miniskirt as she engaged in playing the sole customer. I didn't want to disturb her train of thought so I didn't get into what this bar's name means. That is something I will do the next time I visit.

And yes, the bottle of Lager was very tasty.

[12-2007]  Slogged my way through snow and ice today and arrived in Pine Grove to find The Major Purpose is now under the flag of the "Mustang Inn".

Sat at the bar and was waited on by the owner. Several guys came and went and of course the weather was the topic of conversation.

The owner's son passed away and his favorite car was the Mustang so he named the place in honor of him.

 

O'NEALS PUB
112 South Tulpehocken St   Pine Grove, PA  17963  
570-915-6093

       

[11-2007]  O'Neals is open Wed & Thurs 3-10P. Fri & Sat 11a-10p.  Odd hours.  I plan to get to O'neals sometime over the holidays.

[12-2007]  I got to O'Neals today in a snow and ice storm. Unfortunately, they didn't open until 3PM.  A week or so  later I got an email from the owner of the Mustang Inn about my visit to his bar.  It says a lot about a place when the competition publicly says nice things. This is what he wrote about O'Neals:   "If you  haven't yet, you should try O'Neil's Pub again.  He has a great chef that makes some real kick-ass meals."

I will be back.

[1-2008]  Saturday night and our small band of hungry and thirsty folks headed to Pine Grove.  The door opened and I was met by the sights and sounds of people eating, drinking, laughing and having a good time.  Copywriters would say it was a 'warm' atmosphere.  I think someone greeted us. 

There were no tables available but there just happened to be enough seats at the bar.  As the bar is closest to the beer we had no problem commandeering the space for ourselves.

I tried, and remained with, the "O'Neals Pub Porter" - brewed for them by Stoudts.  Quite good and cool that they make it in the name of specific customers.

My chicken cheesesteak was good but the quesadillas were better. They somehow sync'd with my porter - a style of beer I do not normally drink.

My buddy had the scallops and said they were done perfectly although I suggest serving them in a smaller dish.  Its always good to have the dish filled up with the food.  They looked lost in the large dish.

Everyone in our party enjoyed their food and beer and the cute servers.  Erin, the barmaid, didn't say much as she peered at us through her catgirl spectacles. Probably because she was kept really busy by the thirsty hordes. I had to laugh when I asked if Owner Mike was here and she replied that he was standing by the door - "the guy in the O'Neals shirt".  When I went over to meet him he wasn't wearing an O'Neals shirt.  I guess I wasn't the dumbass she implied I was when I didn't see a guy standing by the door in the aforementioned shirt! 

The sassy blonde hostess turned out to be the owner's significant other. Personality is everything in service industries and she has it.   Several other servers were more than easy enough on the eyes.

   

After we finished our food we retired to one of the coolest features - a mini-lounge area consisting of two couches facing a big screen TV in the dining room.  As this was a football night it worked out famously.

Mike, a much younger guy than I expected, told me that this building has been a tavern for a long, long time.  Sadly, it sat empty for about 7 years before he bought it and remodeled before opening it in its current configuration.   The funniest thing he said was how some people told him he was crazy to open any Irish-themed bar in Pine Grove as it is quiet devoid of Irish.  "15 minutes north of here - loads of Irish but not here".   I am glad he didn't listen to the naysayers.

Great job on this place!  I am definitely going to return again and I recommend it to anyone who is hungry and thirsty - for food and drink or just a good time!

 

PEACOCK BAR
Peacock Street, Pottsville, PA

 

  PEP'S PUB & HOTEL
Pike Street   Port Carbon, PA  

           

 

[8-2005]  I returned to Port Carbon looking for an Irish pub that I had once seen on a passing journey.  Unsuccessful, I parked on the main street and approached PEP's Pub.  I was beckoned by the beautiful Yuengling Eagle in blazing neon in the window.  As soon as I opened the door I was hit by good vibes.  The dart league was in full swing in the back room as I ordered a Lager draft from the owner, Rose Pepe. 

This building has been a tavern for at least 96 years and it has been in the Pepe family for 19 years. Sadly, her husband passed away two years ago.

I wasn't paying attention when my beer was rung up on the antique brushed chrome cash register. I did notice that I got $9.40 back from my $10 bill. The register confirmed that my 8oz draft had indeed cost me a mere 60c!  Very nice.

After the dart league disbanded (they were playing the team from the "Rollover Inn" which had been the pub I was looking for) Rose came over and told me several interesting tales.  Her son went to school with one or more of the Yuengling girls.  Dick Yuengling will occasionally stop by and the idea for Yuengling Lager Light was born here. Someone told Mr Y that he was getting fat drinking so much Lager and that the world needed a lighter version. Two years later it was rolled out and Pep's was the first tavern in the county to serve it.

Unlike my recent trip to Pittsburgh, the locals here were proudly supporting their local brewery and it seemed that 80% of the drafts were Yuengling products.

an antiques dealer from Allentown  recently stopped in and offered Rose $750 for the register and $15,000 for the original stamped tin ceiling. He even offered to replace it with an identical pattern in vinyl. She said " I told him to get the Hell out of here!"   Nice. I can see her doing that too!

Most of the patrons were busy with their darts but the few I did interact with were friendly and several attractive tattooed lasses were in attendance.

I will most certainly be going back to Pep's and you should too!

[1-2007]  Sadly, the antique cash register has died and has now been moved to the kitchen - awaiting someone to come and buy it.  A flat screen TV has replaced the Yuengling sign above the register.

A bulldog was tied at the end of the bar - thankfully on a short enough leash that it couldn't eat anyone. She sure seemed to want to.

I took a wizz and was happy to discover another positive feature of this pub - a galvanized piss trough in the tiny bathroom. And... it was filled with ice!

 

 

THE ROUND HOUSE
104 N 2nd Street    St Clair, PA  17970   570-429-2326

[12-2007]  A reader writes:  "Next time you are around you might want to look into The Roundhouse, formerly Kulichs "Oval Bar". It boasts the largest Oval bar in the county, a retro/modern look, and is both spacious and clean"

 

 

WOODEN KEG TAVERN
1 West Caroline Ave   Saint Clair, PA  17970   570-429-1909

www.woodenkegtavern.com

       

1: A nifty St Paddy's countdown on the stamped tin wall   2: Mandi says "best wings around"     3. The exterior hasn't changed much in many years  

[12-2007]  Sometimes it seems that writing about bars comes in giant cycles.   I will go a period of time without finding things that excite or inspire me then suddenly the tide changes and I encounter things that make me so appreciative that I live where I do.

December has been one of those positive months.

My first thought of the Keg was that the wrap around porch was very cool. The outside table were made from, as you might guess, wooden kegs.  Kind of kitschy but OK.

The taproom is about as old-fashioned as you will find in the 21st Century: stamped tin ceiling, a floor that has both oiled wood boards and  small tiles and a rail for your feet.

This tavern has a interesting link to the area's Molly Maguire history as it apparently is where some Pinkerton detectives met to plot or weasel their way into the organization.  It also housed a brothel at some point in its past.

The walls are covered with photographs and information on the past. I love that.

       

1: Entrance to the "Molly Maguire Tunnel Room   2: Inside the tunnel     3. One of two small Molly statutes - the other in in Sean Connery's living room   4: Hanging of alleged Mollys

The biggest gem of this business has to be the newly opened "Molly Maguire Tunnel Room" - the basement dining room and banquet hall.  It is partly a place to eat and drink but also a museum - of the local history and especially of the battle between Molly Maguires and those who sought to destroy them.

A small Molly statue is in a showcase - one of two.  The other one stands in the Sean Connery's living room.

The neatest thing of all is the tunnel.  I can't recall any other taprooms that can boast a tunnel.  The barmaid, who seemed a tad disinterested in conveying the amazing history of this place, said nobody really knows what it was for - but the speculation ranges from a means of routine transportation from one side of the town to another to a place where escaping slaves could hide on their Underground Railroad journey to an escape route for Mollys.  Either way, its awesome and open to the patrons to explore.

I forgot to ask how many beers they stock but I know I saw 4 or 5 types of Yuengling on tap. My chicken fingers came smothered in BBQ sauce  and my "frips" resembled waffle-cut home fries or homemade potato chips.

The downstairs room is available to rent - charging a fee even when you book a food package - something that I found unusual and surprising.  The website is up to date and informative and I was pretty happy to see that they recently had an Irish band. 

It is a rare occasion when I do not have a camera along.  It is even more rare when I have a camera that has dead batteries.  As Murphy's Law would have it I arrived with the wrong camera - actually one that has been missing for months which explains the uncharged batteries - and immediately began whining and kicking myself as this place has all sorts of things to photograph.

A quick trip to the Turkey Hill and a wallet that was $8 lighter powered up the camera and resulted in the pics you see here.

This is a fantastic establishment. 

I am awarding it both the crown of excellence as well as the mug of "speciality" for the tunnel.

I can't wait to return.

 

   

 

1: Photos of Pinkerton Detectives   2: Pinkerton Detective Agency badges   3: "A Molly Maguire Hangout Since 1866"

[12-2007]  A reader writes: "Read your article on the Keg, and seeing as how I was brought up a scant 200 yards away from it I can help in the dilemma regarding the tunnel. It used to go under the street to what is now a church, but what used to be a soda/beer manufacturer. The name evades me right now"

Very interesting - thanks!