An Ode to Zeno’s

Onward State published a feature this morning wherein various staff members profiled their favorite local watering holes. Kevin Horne contributed a truly poetic paean to Zeno’s Pub, that famous purveyor of craft beer “located directly above the center of the Earth.”

Kevin earns extra points for shouting out the Nittany Valley Press book, The Birth of the Craft Brew Revolution. We chose Zeno’s for the cover of the book precisely because of its special, long-standing spot in the hearts of so many Penn Staters.

Celebrating the full spectrum of our community’s culture unavoidably touches on the local bar scene, which Kevin admirably demonstrates in this tribute. I have included the full text below, and for more on the favored tap rooms of 2014, you can read the entire article here:

“When vessels of hand-crafted quality beer are touched together and the eyes of the men and women who hold them meet, something magical happens—a long and frustrating day brightens, worries soften, stresses chill, and friends (or soon to be friends) connect, and The Life becomes La Vie.”

Those words, written by Ken Hull in the forward of Ben Novak’s authoritative book “The Birth of the Craft Brew Revolution,” made a considerable impact on my development as a beer drinker. It was not so long ago that my alcohol palate consisted almost entirely of whatever warm, one-dimensional, mass-produced yellow fizz I could get my hands on in the basement of a fraternity house or from a friend. That’s college I suppose; keg stands, beer bongs, and questionable inebriated decisions seem to be as much a part of the university ethos as anything. And that’s okay—I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy such indulgences with unspoken degrees of frequency.

But we’re living in a world with an essentially limitless selection of high-quality spirits, and the act of having a good beer and a conversation is one of the most powerful experiences two people can share with each other. Taste a well-crafted, delicately brewed Porter, Stout, or Belgian, close your eyes, and you can travel across the world in an instant, experience new culture, and engage in meaningful fellowship.

Zeno’s was one the first bars to fully embrace the so-called craft beer revolution—certainly the first in Centre County—and it’s still the only place in town craft beer drinkers need to go. With a knowledgeable bar staff eager to provide the most experienced beer drinkers with their fix or introduce newly minted 21-year-olds to their first high-quality beer, there’s no better place to have a beer in State College.

Zeno’s, and bars like it, allow those who wish to experience beautiful manmade art from all over the world to do so without leaving their own communities. To appreciate the craft is to exist in a state of timelessness. Lovers meet, world-altering ideas are spread, and lifelong friendships blossom from across the bar table, eyes locked, pint in hand.

What could be more virtuous? La Vie, indeed.

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