Fundraiser focuses on Scranton suds

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First Posted: 5/13/2013

It seems Northeastern Pennsylvania has always had an affinity for beer. Need proof? How about a lesson on the Scranton area’s pre-Prohibition breweries?

The Lackawanna Historical Society will present the brief lecture and a beer tasting with Sean Wolfe and Lee Burke of the Scranton Brewers Guild at 7 p.m. tonight. “Brewed in Scranton” will take place at the Catlin House (232 Monroe Ave., Scranton) and include a presentation by Scranton resident Nick Petula.

Petula, a former history teacher who spent 30 of his 35 years in education at West Scranton High School until his retirement in 2004, offered a sneak peek of his talk.

THE WEEKENDER: What will you focus on in your presentation?

NICK PETULA: In conjunction with the beer-tasting affair, I’m going to present a short overview of the history of breweries in the city and the brewing industry. We’ll go over some of the major and minor ones.

We’ll talk about the E. Robinson Brewery in West Side, the M. Robinson Brewery, which was in South Side, Casey and Kelly in South Side, the Keystone, which was in Dunmore, the Fell in Carbondale, and a few of the other assorted ones… They were all pre-Prohibition era, and most of them were going to be eliminated by Prohibition.

A few of them survived for short periods, and the Standard Brewery was going to survive for quite a while. They’d go out of business in 1954. That was probably the most famous Scranton brewery, post war.

W: What surprises people about breweries in NEPA?

NP: I think most people would be surprised at how many breweries there were, how large they were, and how much output they had, especially in the days before mass transportation. Some of these breweries started in the 1850s and 1860s, so it was all geared towards local consumption.

W: Were the products as diverse as they are today?

NP: The Robinson would have a pilsner, they would have some kind of stout, and at Easter time, they would always have a bock. Some of the breweries would have had five or six different specialties.

W: What will you have on display?

NP: We’re going to have some of the beer trays, which are quite collectible and very beautiful. We’ll have examples of some of the bottles and their different types of labels, which are really interesting. We’ll also have some advertising and some cases – things like that.

Wednesday’s event will feature the beers Batch 19, Stegmaier Porter, and New Albion, along with craft-brewed selections from Breaker Brewing Company and Three Guys and a Beer’d.

Tickets are $5 for the presentation only, and $25 for the presentation and beer tasting. Space is limited to the first 100 people, and funds raised benefit the historical society. Reservations are suggested.

For more information, call the Lackawanna Historical Society at 570.344.3841 or e-mail