How sweet it is: Beer and chocolate pairings return to York City
General Manager Kristen Snyder mixes Belgian wheat beer-based signature cocktail, The Berry Hoppy, at Stone Grille & Taphouse in York Township, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017.
With the newest addition of Crystal Ball Brewing Co. in February, downtown York City's craft beer scene continues to thrive.
One of the city's upcoming events, a returning favorite, is Downtown Inc's Sweetest Pint Tasting Tour series, presented by Brewery Products, on Saturday, March 24.
The upcoming edition is the Downtown Beer & Chocolate Tasting Tour, which features craft beer and small plates incorporating chocolate.
Beginning in 2012 as the Sweetest Pint, the event was created to highlight Wolfgang Candy Co., which used to have a store in North York, according to Downtown Inc communications director Andrew Staub.
Past pairings included a Mexican hot chocolate chili with chocolate granola crunch paired with a double chocolate milk stout and a lava cake with ice cream paired with Deep Sea Stout from Mudhook Brewing Co., he said.
"The reason it's so popular is it isn't the same old tasting event," Staub said.
The tour is unique in that it's not just a tasting tour — it's also a walking tour of York City.
It's also a more unusual pairing, Staub admits. Unlike chocolate and wine, "it's not often that you see chocolate paired with beer," he said.
The tour is "directed by knowledgable and fun guides who know the city and its beer scene," Staub said. "(York is) really becoming well known for culinary creativity."
One of the guides is Gift Horse Brewing Co. owner Jason Snyder, who plans to open a location in York City soon. Others are actively involved downtown or are food or beer aficionados, Staub said.
"It’s a great way to create more ambassadors for Downtown York," he said.
The tour will have seven stops, including new stops Crystal Ball Brewing Co. and Hamir's Indian Fusion, with seven groups of 20 people who rotate between each stop.
"At each stop, you'll enjoy a small plate chef's creation, made with chocolate in some way, paired with a 5-ounce craft beer sample provided by a local brewery!" according to Downtown Inc's website.
Designated driver ticket-holders will receive a gourmet soda sample in lieu of beer, and for those who do not care for chocolate, the tour also will feature pumpkin and berries as pairing options.
Thriving scene: Mudhook Brewing Co. opened in 2010, according to its website, and "it’s really been a great catalyst for the craft beer scene in downtown York," Staub said.
Now the city has four breweries downtown, with several new additions in recent years, including Collusion Tap Works, which opened in 2016, and Crystal Ball, which opened Feb. 2, Staub said.
With Gift Horse planning to open a location in the near future, York City will have five breweries to draw in locals and tourists alike.
Staub said the city's brewers have several upcoming events as the season transitions from winter to spring.
In Flavors of Central Market, Mudhook has been pairing their beers with market vendors for special tasting events. The brewery's last event will be its vendor's showcase Saturday, March 10.
Go Green in the City will feature brewers in April, and Yorkers should look for brewer appearances at First Fridays, especially with Continental Square programming kicking off in May.
Beer and chocolate tour: This year's tour includes beer from Collusion, Crystal Ball, Mudhook, Aldus Brewing Co. in Penn Township and Wyndridge Farm in York Township, with more to come.
2018 tour stops are:
Collusion Tap Works
Crystal Ball Brewing Co.
Hamir's Indian Fusion with Must Have Chocolate
Mudhook Brewing Co.
Nacho Cabra at Taste Test
Revival Social Club
Sweet Melissa's Dream
Tickets are $40 plus fees, and $20 for a designated driver. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Downtown Inc.
To sign up, select one of the seven groups online at downtownyorkpa.com/sweetestpint. Attendees hoping to tour together must sign up for the same group.
Groups meet at 2 p.m. in Cherry Lane Park, and the tour runs until 4:45 p.m.