Lion Brewery - New Brew? - Opinions Wanted!

27 October 2008

I've heard from Leo Orlandini and Bob Klinetob (Brewmasters @ Lion Brewery). Leo and Bob are interested in hearing from the local beer and craft beer community in NEPA. Obviously the above beer label is my creation, and who knows what direction this will ultimately go....BUT...

Leo and Bob would like to know, "what style of beer would the craft beer lovers of NEPA like us to brew?"

Please add your comments (click on comments below), OR e-Mail me your opinions at and I'll pass them on to Leo and Bob. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for the beer lovers in NEPA to have their opinion heard by the guys brewing the beers and by the very guys that play a major role in deciding what future beers Lion Brewery may brew. Speak up NEPA beer lovers!

81 comments (click to read or post):

sam k,  27 October, 2008 19:41  

I know that it's off the table, but the Caramel Porter was one of the beers that made me sit up and think differently about what can come from a regional brewery, It was a job well done despite sales figures. Give me some time to think about this one.

We can be very creative here without being redundant or extreme, and I'm hoping that's where the suggestions lead.

Many thanks to the production team at my favorite regional for their willingness to listen. Oh, and don't just send clandestine e-mails to mybeerbuzz without copying your thoughts here. We ALL want to see them!

Anonymous,  27 October, 2008 19:53  

I think they should go the route of Schlitz with their new gusto campaign and brew the 1960's formula Stegmaier Beer - back when it was a big local seller.

More than likely the recipe has changed a lot over the years from the original Steg -

Also - a Steg Stout would be a nice winter beer and I believe would be well received

Anonymous,  27 October, 2008 21:21  

I know you had a Pocono Pale Ale....but I'm thinking a better Pale Ale would be a great staple beer and an opportunity for Lion to reach further into the craft beer market.

John H

stingo 27 October, 2008 22:13  

What about trying a one-off series like Troegs' Scratch Beer series? Beers that make the grade can get a spot in the production run.

ClockworkOrange 27 October, 2008 23:54  

If they could brew something that closely mimics Coniston Bluebird Bitter, that would be a really nice beer to have fresh on cask from time to time...We need more well made, low alcohol bitters and milds.

Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 03:39  

a solid medium pils ( like a full bodied Steg 1857 with a finish in the neighborhood of Stoudt's and Troeg's)


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 07:59  

A solid IPA would be the way to go. Their anniversary IPA a few years ago was a quite good double IPA.

professor bartels,  28 October, 2008 08:40  

Agreed regarding the caramel porter (a wow beer) and a retro-sytle stegmaier from the old recipie.

Since a cream ale is apparently in the works I am voting for a whole retro series, steg gold medal from the 60's, a steg porter with the 70's/80's recipie. You can release these in a series (like troegs scratch) and use them to play up your fantastic history.

Gibbons pipin porter is another one. Retro is very hot right now and you guys dont have to mimic because you were/are!

Yuengling has said they want to recreate recipies from their vaults, so why not beat them to the punch?

Dan Cercone,  28 October, 2008 11:03  

Right on Professor! I vote for a Wurtzburger type, a brown stout,or a sparkling ale.

Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 11:15  

How about an old ale or a barleywine? Both niche products but I bet the lion would do either very well.

Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 12:16  

I disagree with many of those urging Lion to brew a "retro" beer. I think Lion has suffered because of a negative perception of there products as being popular among older beer drinkers. They should try something new. Experiment a bit with some styles that they are lacking. For instance, they have no stout, IPA, barlywine, brown ale, ESB, or wheat beer to name a few. They do, however, have pilsners and a porter.

Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 12:59  

I would recommend that Lion brew a true Classic American Pilsner CAP); beer like the American Breweries made before Prohibition.

I am a homebrewer and I brew this style (my recipe is based upon Jeff Renner's recipe for a CAP). It is a nice pilsner with noticeable hops (bittering, flavor and aroma). Everybody who has tried this type of beer really liked it and they all ask: "Why doesn't some commercial brewery make this style of beer?". My only answer is "I have no idea." The Lion Brewery should brew this kind of beer!

mybeerbuzz,  28 October, 2008 13:29  

Thanks...please keep the comments coming. I'd agree with many that I'd like to see Lion step outside the typical Lager-style beers that they've already done, and brew a solid flagship top-fermenting Pale Ale. I'd love to see the specialty brews, and unique beers as well, but I think the financial and economic reality dictate a brew that will appeal to both craft beer lovers AND non-craft beer lovers who know and trust the Stegmaier name. For what it's worth, my vote would be to START with a slightly hoppy Pale Ale with a citrus-y hop like Nugget or Warrior, a drinkable full bodied flavor and a reasonable 5-6% ABV. This would be a desirable beer for a venture into a new market. From there then I'd agree with the unique beers like an Oatmeal Stout or ESB. I think Lion has "been there and done that" with Lagers and it's time to take the experience they've gained contract brewing some great Ales and create one of their own.

Professor bartels,  28 October, 2008 14:08  

Anon... everything old is new again. Look at yuengling. What turned that brewery around and made it the force it is today was introducing a prohibition era lager.

The lion's heritage is *exactly* what they should be playing too. There are few breweries that have existed since before prohibition and hundreds (thousands) that have started since the craft beer revolution. That earns them distinction and "reputation old" rather than one of the pack.

That having been said, a style not previously done is a good idea also.

Herr Esslinger,  28 October, 2008 14:16  

ABC in harrisburg is doing a tremendous rauchbock right now. It's a good break-in beer for people not used to rauch beers as it is just mildly smoky. I dont think many have done that commercially.

If that's too esoteric then about brewing a pale ale marketing that and simultaneously marketing a half and half combination of the ale and porter. Dont call it black and tan and dont mix the porter with lager.

Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:33  

As well as brewers in PA do German beer you mainly have to go to New England for an Alt that is a year round beer. I vote for Alt and/or Sticke.


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:34  

I think a stout would be great, but I'd also love a nice IPA. At their pricepoint either would be a very welcome option.


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:35  

Not from the NE but I'd like to see a big beer series stout. Or maybe a BA Stegmeier porter


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:36  

Well, over on Lew Bryson's STAG blog, I mentioned ( in the "Comments" section of the Liebotschaner Cream Ale entry), that I'd like to taste again the old 1960-70's era Stegmaier Porter than had licorice as an ingredient. Of course, with a "new" Steg Porter already in the line-up, they'd have to call it something else. There was a "Gibbons Peter Pippin Porter" for a time which, best as I can recall, was the same brew as the Steg Porter back then...

Another beer style I miss from that era is the classic American "Golden Ale"- an adjunct, top fermented (usually) beer with a great hop nose and aftertaste. Not particularly malty and, tho' it's ABV was a bit higher than normal US "light lager" of the era at between 5 and 6%, it was a very "sessionable" style. ("Sessionable" in the US sense- a beer to "...have when you're having more than one", not the true UK definition.)

The classic example, of course, was Ballantine XXX Ale (from Newark and Cranston) with it's hop oil addition but many other Northeast examples existed, from Cranston stable-mates Croft and Pickwick Ales to McSorley's Ale (from Rheingold, Ortlieb and Schmidt's), Schmidt's own 20th Century Ale, even Yuengling's Lord Chesterfield. Tho' some of these still exist as "labels", NONE are anything close to what they were a generation ago.


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:37  

I never had a chance to try their Centennial IPA and I heard that was very tasty. An IPA would be great. Also, a Keller beer from them would be fantastic!! Charge a premium and serve it in ceramic bottles!


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:38  

How about a tasty sessionable brown


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:39  

I would like to see:

Imperial/Baltic Porter
Scotch Ale
IPA (they had one a few years ago as a DIPA which was pretty good!)

Steg Porter used to be offered at Cooper's at $2 a pint when I was in college. That was a good deal and a good average beer!


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:43  

In no particular order:

Oatmeal Stout
Cherry Porter
Double IPA
Belgian Double


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:45  

My vote is an IPA or Pils.


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:45  

Just coming back with the Summer Stock Lager would be a huge plus. They know how to make that one!


Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 14:52  

alt... good idea.

a few years ago they contraced Neuweiler stock ale. How about a similar "stock ale."

I also agree with JessKidden, an ale that harkens back to the pre-craft days, sessionable but with purity, body and spirit but not a knockout hop blast like ipas.

Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 15:18  

I agree that the Centennial IPA that came in at 8% abv was a nice tasty brew - and is one that would be a welcome addition to the line up.

I had a six of it in a wooden box christmas sampler and that was the last I saw of this brew.

Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 16:24  

why try and "get away" from lagers? They do them so well- schwarzbier or dunkel!

mybeerbuzz,  28 October, 2008 18:07  

I'll agree that Lion does Lagers well. Personally I think there are audiences (like myself) that prefer the various styles of Ales over Lagers. I think reaching out to this crowd may open a new audience opportunity for Lion. I also believe that with the recent Ale-style contract brews they've been doing, that it would be nice to see them take that experience and use it to brew a flagship Ale under the Stegmaier name.

tazio 28 October, 2008 18:24  

In no particular order:

Hoppy, herbal, Pilsner

Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 19:06  

i would like to see a double ipa


sam k,  28 October, 2008 19:43  

There was an ale brewed under the Stegmaier name after Prohibition, and considering that Bud is marketing their ale heavily, Steg might ride on those coat tails.

I like the schwarzbier and dunkel ideas, though the schwartz might step on Steg Porter's toes. Dunkel a definite possibility, though!

lindosab 28 October, 2008 21:20  

a stout or an I.P.A..

Anonymous,  28 October, 2008 21:25  

How about a pale ale to round out the lineup, something mainstream. Something to mix with the porter.

But how about consistently promoting and distributing the Steg 150, porter, and cream ale throughout PA. I think most would agree the Lion does a great job of brewing all types of beers but what is lacking is the marketing and distribution.

T-Bone 29 October, 2008 01:22  

Wow, I'm a relative new beer snob, but I'm quite surprised to see my favorite types of beers being requested.

I like Stout, and the Oatmeal Stout is a great suggestion.

I like IPA. I'm not sure what a double IPA is, but if it's more alcohol, or more bitter bite at the end, I'd enjoy both of those aspects. I like that bite, and I like to drink less to get the same buzz.

I do like porters, but they're kinda getting bland for me. That includes caramel porters. Maybe some different formula would be good.

A wheat beer would be really good. They seem to have a lot of variety too. But I wouldn't want a cherry wheat. Don't think I want any kind of candy-ish fruit. But more a more subtle green fruit might be nice. Or something nutty. Or bready.

I could do a good pale ale, but I think that might be too boring, and then not perfect enough to make it special.

I'd rather something different.

Anonymous,  29 October, 2008 13:51  

Time to brew an Ale like a Pale or IPA. Something that would be a good session beer like 6%, with good but not crazy) hop to it.

Tim K

mybeerbuzz,  29 October, 2008 14:35  

Just another thought, or more/less an extention of my vote for a Pale Ale. The craft beer industry is seeing all sorts of new interpretations on the hop-character of a beer. Dry-hopping, wet-hopping, unique hop varieties and even locally grown hops. I think this makes for an interesting opportunity to develop a Hoppy Pale Ale brew.

Anonymous,  29 October, 2008 14:36  

Imperial Stout


Anonymous,  29 October, 2008 14:43  

my beer buzz... isnt there a hop shortage now though? and those that are out there are very expensive?

How about a milk stout? No one is really doing those to any real commercial extent other than mackesons. Lancaster makes a great one but you dont see it much. or an oyster stout.

mybeerbuzz,  29 October, 2008 15:32  

Not all hop varieties are in shortage and not all are expensive, but I'm not sure what hop-contracts Lion has in place. I'll agree with the Stout and I'd love to see Lion brew a sweet stout like an Oatmeal or Chocolate stout...although the vegetarian in me would vote against a true Oyster Stout. Given that Lancaster Milk Stout is contract brewed by Lion, I'm sure they know how to do a great stout. I guess I just question if a stout is more marketable to craft beer lovers AND non-craft-beer lovers than a solid flagship Pale Ale. I'd love either, but Lion has to pay the bills too.

Anonymous,  29 October, 2008 16:10  

good points. although the quotes on the site say nothing about potential sales, marketing or paying the bills, they just ask us what style we'd like to see brewed! Now that makes it fun, we get to talk beer and they figure out the business end of it!

mybeerbuzz,  29 October, 2008 17:20  

Agreed but my personality doesn't permit me to suspend reality enough to think Lion is interested in brewing somthing not marketable. All opinions are welcome...and of course beer talk is always welcome.

leoorl44 29 October, 2008 17:36  

We appreciate all of your suggestions. They all have merit and are worth consideration. Keep the ideas coming.



mybeerbuzz,  29 October, 2008 18:18  

Thanks Leo...

Anonymous,  29 October, 2008 21:10  

Bring back 1857!!!!

stingo 29 October, 2008 23:41  

Open a brewpub like Earth Bread and Beyond, where you feature your own beers (including one offs) and some guest taps of stuff you can't easily get/find around here (like East End Brewing's Black Strap Stout.)

Anonymous,  30 October, 2008 09:15  

I would love to Steg brew another German-style beer. A Munich Dunkel would be my first choice, perhaps followed by a Swarzbier.


mybeerbuzz,  30 October, 2008 09:21  

Good ideas...I've been hoping for a Lion Brewery brew pub for years. It would allow for a permanent home to the Lion Brewery museum, a great starting and ending point for their brewery tours, and a great place to highlight not only the beers they brew under their own label, but also many of the contract brews the make @ Lion. I'd like to think that the purchase of the former Carter footwear building and the fact that a contract brew (Legacy) was serving their beers at Oktoberfest are both good signs toward a brewpub or visitor center...guess we'll see.

Anonymous,  30 October, 2008 09:21  

Even Bud is doing a Pale Ale.....Stegmaier needs to do a great Pale Ale!

Anonymous,  30 October, 2008 10:26  

"I think that the Steg 150, Oktoberfest, and bock clearly demonstrate that they excel at lagers, so i vote for a schwarzbier, or a plain ol' dunkel."

I whole-heartedly agree! Dunkel or a schwartzbier would be awesome. Hell, I'd even settle for year-round availability of (fresh) brewhouse bock!


Anonymous,  30 October, 2008 10:27  

I second the Brewhouse Bock and take agreement with the Lion's tendency to brew lagers particularly well. A Schwartzbier would be amazing.

On a side note, I think with the Steg 150 as a flagship and then surrounding themselves with some great style examples like the ones mentioned here, I think the Lion can really become a great Pennsylvania brewery in the next coming years.


Anonymous,  30 October, 2008 10:28  

I second the McSorleys ale I remember bottling and drinking that at Ortleibs back in the late 70's.


Anonymous,  30 October, 2008 10:29  

A "good" IPA...key word here being Good


Anonymous,  30 October, 2008 10:29  

I'm pleased and not suprised to see that IPAs seem to rule the comments on!! I think an IPA is way over due for a new Steg Brew.


Anonymous,  30 October, 2008 10:30  

I love the idea of a nice hoppy RIS!


Anonymous,  30 October, 2008 10:30  

BRING BACK 1857!!!


stingo 30 October, 2008 12:20  

I know you've been hoping for a brewpub for a long time - I just figured it dovetailed nicely with a one-off series of beers, and that the Lion should hear the brewpub idea from someone in addition to you.

mybeerbuzz,  30 October, 2008 13:06  


sam k,  30 October, 2008 13:08  

The brewpub idea has great merit. I sat down with former Pittsburgh Brewing Company president Mike Graham years ago and saw the plans for the proposed Iron City brewpub, which was his baby. When they shot down the idea, he left for greener pastures. It was an amazing idea, kind of like what Coors accomplished with the Sandlot Brewery, but this one would have brought beer aficionados right to the brewery and would have given Iron City a craft beer face with which to build interest in and co-promote their mainstream beers.

This concept could be an amazing thing in a town like W-B, starved for a brewpub, and could be a pilot brewery and welcome center for greater exposure for the Lion.

Great idea! Why didn't I think of this???

P.S. If you bring back 1857 (which would be wonderful) please bring back the version that won the gold at GABF back in the 90s. Before that it was unrefined, and after that (when the bottle changed from green to brown)it lost a lot of that "continental" character.

mybeerbuzz,  30 October, 2008 13:20  

Thanks Sam...I've been carrying the Brew Pub torch for years. With the closest brewpub to the Wilkes-barre/Scranton area being Berwick, Williamsport or Easton, it seems like our area can support such a venture. There are also ways to make this work without worrying about food, but with all the food contractors available, I can't imagine even that not working out. Hell I'd be happy if there was just a tasting room as part of the tour @ Lion.

Professor Bartels,  30 October, 2008 14:44  

I can see where the lion might not want to do a brewpub, that is a hassle, but they should definitely check out what troegs is doing with their hospitality/tasting room and try to mimic that. That way they are not all of the sudden in the food business and dealing with those hassles, but do have a great hospitality room for people to sample and enjoy their history.

also i'd like to see them go back to selling kegs at the brewery. It was so much easier then, especially for those of us coming from out of town.

Anonymous,  31 October, 2008 10:32  

Summer Stock Lager
An alt beer/bier
Summer Stock Lager
A baltic porter
Summer Stock Lager
Anything so long as the price point stays the same.
And... Summer Stock Lager



Anonymous,  31 October, 2008 10:33  

Something between a Pale Ale and IPA.


stingo 31 October, 2008 10:45  

I'm gonna second Spade's post - bring back the Summer Stock Lager. To me, that was the best beer out of all the seasonals. While I like the Midsummer White, it took me a while to warm up to it, but I still prefer the Summer Stock.

Anonymous,  31 October, 2008 13:47  

A scotch ale would be nice. Then again an Alt would also be nice. I also like the one-off idea. Do a few one-off's and then poll to find the most popular.


---Guy,  01 November, 2008 00:44  

Sam K says:

"P.S. If you bring back 1857 (which would be wonderful) please bring back the version that won the gold at GABF back in the 90s. Before that it was unrefined, and after that (when the bottle changed from green to brown)it lost a lot of that "continental" character."



tazio 01 November, 2008 07:29  

I thing the scratch-beer idea has some merit as it gives the opportunity to trial various beers in small quantities to see what clicks and also get some notice out there about what the Lion Brewery is trying to do. But as mybeerbuzz points out, they're in business to make money and this might not initially or even make money. As such, a pale ale or IPA would be something that pushes the envelope out a little--fills a niche in the lineup and would be accessible to almost all of the lager drinkers. I also second (or is it 5th) the idea of a tasting room ala Troegs (museum, tasting, keg sales, etc.)

sam k,  02 November, 2008 21:24  

Yeah Guy, that WAS yours, wasn't it?

---Guy,  03 November, 2008 14:02  

Sam: Yup, one of the things Smulowitz asked me to do after I was hired was "fix the 1857".

And the gold-medal-winning Lieb was the result of a brainstorming/tweaking session between myself, Joe Owades and Leo.

I kind of wonder if the Lion would acknowledge my involvement at this point however...

leoorl44 04 November, 2008 09:16  


I remember the brainstorming sessions.

You did a great job tweaking the 1857. I acknowledge your brewing prowess and appreciate everything you have done.


Al Luccioni,  04 November, 2008 10:24  

Guy you are the greatest brewer to have ever lived since Alex Bombinski. I have no idea how the Lion survives to this day without your leadership and vision.

Dalo's Bakery,  04 November, 2008 10:44  

I have also read that Guy was the vision behind process 14-K

Mathew Kelley,  04 November, 2008 11:17  

Most folks don't realize but Guy also was responsible for the successful tweaking of the legendary Pixie Ale, Hahne's Porter and Lord Salisburg Ale brands as well.

Jackson Koehler,  04 November, 2008 16:26  

Guy, I guess Leo answered your question better than the next three posers. They obviously don't have much perspective. Yeah, Al, go back to the dimly lit room you share with Alex and have an Iron City.

mybeerbuzz,  04 November, 2008 17:11  

Enough sarcasm or humor (not sure which you were going for)...Please stay on topic. I agree with Leo and for anyone who may have any doubts, Guy's beers are available for tasting yourself and fantastic I might add.

mybeerbuzz,  04 November, 2008 17:12  

On a related topic...several people did stop me last week on my journey to One Guy brewing...and their concensus was that Lion should brew a Pale Ale, an IPA or a sweet Stout (in that order).

Professor Bartels,  04 November, 2008 17:40  

Jackson Koehler! How ya been? Man I havent heard from you in quite some time. Always respected you up in there in Erie.

Jackson Koehler,  05 November, 2008 08:32  

We're well here in the afterlife, me and brother Fred, and we both think The Lion is doing the right thing by going to the people for some feedback on their next project, hence my attempt at humor at the expense of other dead brewery guys (Al [Pittsburgh Brewing] and Alex [Sunshine]) who crack at good brewers, regardless of their current affiliation.

Sam k is right though; 1857 was at it's best under Guy's tutelage!

Professor Bartels,  05 November, 2008 09:06  

Thanks. Man we could use a good man like yourself around here to straighten some of these up-start craft brewers out. Hit 'em with a hundred and a half years of brewing wisdom. I was just saying that to Herman the German the other day.

Give Big Alex my best.

---Guy,  05 November, 2008 11:10  

Leo: Thanks, I appreciate the comments. You've done a great job and a big part of the Lion's success is all yours.

I wasn't looking for my ego to get stroked. When I left the Lion lets just say the parting was somewhat less than amicable. I just wondered if my tenure was written out of the official history. Hence my comment.

As for the smart-ass remarks, all I can say is "grow up".

Anonymous,  05 November, 2008 13:38  

you are the greatest Guy! We love you!

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