Carlisle, Pennsylvania might not be high on your list of places to visit. If you’ve even heard of it at all, you probably know it because of it’s renowned Car Shows. I used to work at those back in the day. Punching tickets on a stool in the sun for a few hours is actually a pretty sick set up when you’re 16. Or maybe you’re familiar with Dickinson College or the Army War College. Anyways, these days it doesn’t seem like it’ll be too long until Carlisle, and the surrounding Central PA region, is known for something else; Craft Beer. There’s been quite a few breweries popping up in the area with the likes of Molly Pitcher Brewing Company, Ever Grain Brewing Company, Appalachian Brewing Company, and the now famous Troegs Independent Brewing. That list is continuing to expand with the new Desperate Times Brewery.
During my last visit back home, I finally got to visit the new spot my dad had been talking to me about. I had heard about the new brewery opening near the Carlisle Fairgrounds for what seemed like well over a year by that point. The holidays were jam packed, per usual, so I didn’t get the chance to visit then. Luckily we had a few extra hours on the Sunday afternoon before I was to head back for New York, and got to stop in to Desperate Times at last, which opened this past November of 2016.
The brewery’s name, design, and beers are all crafted to convey the essence of the prohibition era. You’ll find brews on the taplist such as Kinky Thompson, a pale ale that pays homage to William Harvey Thompson, a prohibition enforcement agent who was commonly referred to as “Kinky” due to his curly hair and, in an ironic twist of fate, was shot and killed by the police for public intoxication. There is also the Honest Lawbreaker, an oatmeal stout named after William “Bootleg” McCoy, a non-drinking rum runner who referred to himself by the same name. Even the name, Desperate Times bears tribute to all of the great lengths, risks, and acts of desperation that smugglers and bootleggers took to distribute beer and liquor to their patrons during those dry years.
When my family and I walked into the expansive taproom space, we were immediately greeted with a friendly hello from the waiting bartender. After perusing the menu we decided that flights were the best option to cover as much sampling ground as possible. We also placed orders for lunch from their wonderfully appetizing food menu. To wash down my Cuban hot pressed sandwich I ordered a flight consisting of the following:
- SMaSH Beer No 1 – Gambrinus pale malt, and Simcoe hops
- Honest Lawbreaker – Oatmeal Stout
- German Weizen – Wheat Beer
- Desperate Measures – Red IPA
As a lover of Oatmeal Stouts, my favorite of the bunch was easily the Honest Lawbreaker. But everything I tried that day was really good! My dad wasn’t a fan of the sweeter Turtle Stout, which is definitely more of a dessert beer with notes of chocolate and pecan, but I liked it for what it was! I really wish that we could have gotten a brewery tour in that day, it would have given me the chance to learn even more fun facts, but it was unfortunately not open for tours at the time. All the more reason to go back, I guess!
Like I mentioned earlier, this place is really big. Tons of room around the bar, tables and high tops galore, and plenty of extra space in between. And the location couldn’t behoove them more come this Spring and the impending car shows. If anyone reading this is heading to Carlisle this show season, I would definitely block off some time to be spent escaping the heat and sampling some cold brews at Desperate Times, just a stones throw away from the Fair Ground’s entrance.
I’m really excited that Carlisle, and the surrounding Mid State, are becoming such a well rounded craft beer destination. I’ve always loved where I’m from and having more and more reasons for others to love it too is something I’m really looking forward to. Desperate Times is another great addition to all of the current unique and inspiring Central PA Craft Breweries. And I can’t wait to get back for that brewery tour!
Desperate Times Brewery
1201 Carlisle Springs Rd.
Carlisle, PA 17013