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Hard to find a drink in Beersville

Hometown U.S.A.: Beersville, Pa.

The small Pennsylvania town once had a lively hotel bar, but today doesn't even have a grocery store.

February 09, 2013|By Bill Landauer
  • It’s easy to miss Beersville, a small town on Route 248 in Pennsylvania. Historians say it’s named for a family of early settlers, not for the beverage.
It’s easy to miss Beersville, a small town on Route 248 in Pennsylvania.… (April Bartholomew, Morning…)

The name of the town sings out from a plain green road sign on Route 248 in eastern Pennsylvania.

Beersville. One mile ahead.

No giant stone pretzels or statues shaped like suds-filled steins mark the entrance to the Northampton County town. Instead, the highway signs stop saying Beersville and start mentioning Klecknersville. Did you miss it?

Turns out Beersville, about an hour and a half northwest of Philadelphia, is easy to miss. It has a Facebook page. On it, BeerNerd Beer, Stewart Kraft Brewer, and a guy who calls himself Rickie Bobbie who went to "Nasbar University," all claim to live in Beersville.

That's about it for publicity. Several local historians have heard of Beersville, and they're reasonably sure it's named for someone called Beers instead of the drink.

Philip Holderith of the Marx Local History Room of the Easton Public Library could find little on Beersville, but said a family named Beers was among its earliest settlers.

Edward Pany, curator of the Atlas Cement Co. Museum (yes, there is such a thing), remembers when Beersville fielded its own baseball team. They used to play Northampton Borough. "I'd always been told it was a name," he said. "That's a common name."

But the question remains: Where can you get a beer in Beersville?

From the small town of Bath, take West Main Street and cruise for a few miles past woods and pastures. Eventually, a parking lot full of yellow school buses will appear, flanked by a collection of slate-sided houses overhung by ancient maples. The cross streets are West Beersville Road and Pool Road.

Is this Beersville?

"Yes, it is," said Betty Creyer. The 84-year-old has lived on Pool Road for 34 years. The address on her mail might say Northampton, but the town has always been Beersville to her.

Across the street, there's a white-sided building with six apartments; it used to be the grocery store. Creyer couldn't remember the name. About a block up the street, Clinton Stover ran a barber shop.

It's a quiet town. A lot of the people who lived there when she first moved in have passed on, and the newcomers all seem to keep to themselves, Creyer said.

Where can you get a beer in Beersville?

"I don't drink beer," Creyer said. "I guess my husband had one or two, but that's it."

So why do they call it Beersville?

"I don't know," she said.

Norman and Carol Zader, who live up the street from Creyer's place, have been Beersville residents for 48 years. They were regulars at the Beersville Country Hotel. It had been Beersville's prized watering hole since back when Pool Road was a dirt track crossed by horses and buggies. The hotel offered square dancing, shuffleboard and hot pastrami sandwiches.

Carol drank snake bites — Yukon Jack and splash of lime. Norman had Neuwiler or Schaefer's — whatever they had on tap.

"It was great," Carol said. "You could go out there, get loaded and not have to worry about driving."

In 1985, the hotel burned to the ground. A modular home sits on the lot where the hotel once stood.

Things have largely quieted down since those days, Zader said. Clinton Stover's barber shop closed, and the grocery store left town.

There were few signs of beer in Beersville, as if it all dried up when the hotel died.

To the rear of one house on West Beersville Road, an old trailer sits on cinder blocks, the logo for Michelob fading on its sides. On the porch of the house, there were two empty Yuengling cases. Nobody answered the front door.

Towns like Beersville are as common as bubbles in a mug of ale. Most of them have old hotels. There's Pennsville and the Pennsville Hotel, for example, which was an old stagecoach stop also in Northampton County.

That's where Beersvillians go for beer.

Jim Bealer and his wife, Shannie, live on West Beersville Road in a modular home.

Asked where the beer is in Beersville, Jim Bealer pointed to the red shed behind his house. That's where he keeps a supply.

"Keystone Light," he said.

blandauer@mcall.com

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