2021 has certainly been a transition year for many amidst a slow return to pre-COVID life. During the last months, people have found new ways to work, play, and socialize. Consumers have become confident in their stay-at-home skills like home-bartending and entertaining and realize that this alternative to going out isn’t all that bad, but can be cheaper, safe and fun when you’re with family and close friends.
The Laurel Highlands region offers a safe, fun, environment to kick back and relax so we invite you to experience Hickory Hollow Campground located in Rockwood. While visiting our area, we also invite you to share in the true treasures of the region, the wineries, breweries, and distilleries that can be found all around the area. Many people do not realize how important alcohol and spirits were to the local Somerset County economy in post-Revolutionary days. We’ve all heard of the illicit “good old mountain dew” and stories revolving around the potent moonshine, but do you know how important whiskey was to the local economy in the late 1700’s?
Somerset County’s fertile fields were perfect for growing rye and wheat and produced abundant harvests, but transporting the grain out of the mountains to the market was another story. Farmers soon realized that by converting their rye grain into whiskey they could distill 6 times the amount of dry product and transport it much easier. In 1794 there were nearly 800 documented stills, better known as distilleries, in Southwestern Pa alone. Whiskey was working out well for the farmers who relied on the income from the product, but then the government had to step in and place an excise tax on the whiskey. Western Pennsylvanian’s felt unfairly discriminated against and demonstrated against the tax and the government instilling the “Great Whiskey Rebellion. Local men, like Harmon Husband and General Robert Philson, carried out riots, demonstrations, and even tarred and feathered excise tax collectors during this rebellion. Federal troops soon arrived in the Somerset County area and arrested many of the “businessmen/AKA moonshiners” sending them to prison and tried many for treason. The Berlin Whiskey Rebellion Celebration, is a local celebration usually held in September, honoring the legacy of these great men, who in a sense, did their part to ensure we have the tasty spirits we enjoy today.
Hickory Hollow Campground will be hosting one their favorite events on Saturday, July 24th. The annual local beer, wine and spirits tasting will be held from 5-7 pm under the pavilion, This favorite adult activity has been popular over the years as campers are introduced to many local breweries, wineries, and distilleries found in and around the Laurel Highlands Region.
This year, the owners of Hickory Hollow are working with the Sobel’s Obscure Brewery (S.O.B), a family owned and operated father/daughter duo who pride themselves on not only a great product, but a quirky brand of beer. Located in the Jeannette area since 2017, the duo invites you to meet the “Gnomes” like Thimbleberry Sapsucker, a bohemian, yogi hipster who loves his IPA’s or Sneezeweed Brickcap, the brewery’s spokesnome. S.O.B can be found at many local distributors, restaurants, and bars in 34 counties across Pennsylvania.
Wine for the event will be featured from Stone Villa Wine Cellars located in Acme. Randy and Debbie Paul took their favorite hobby, wine making, and turned it into something they could share with friends in 2020. Keeping the tradition of Randy’s grandmother alive who was famous for her dandelion wine, the couple turned 150 acres of picturesque land located in the foothills of the Laurel Highlands into a beautiful, and tasty, venue for concerts and weddings. Locals can be found on weekends sitting outside enjoying some music and the beautiful lakeview while enjoying a bottle of Chambourcin, a medium bodied, spicy with cherry notes and currant bouquet wine, or Stonegria, a crisp, fruity, and slightly citric wine that is perfect for a summer afternoon.
America may remember the Whiskey Revolution, but cider is as diverse as wine or beer and was really America’s first and most traditional beverage. This year, Hickory Hollow is excited to introduce you to Tattiebogle CiderWorks. The property nestled upon the Chestnut Ridge at an elevation of 1600 feet is perfect for growing juicy, delicious apples and crafts cider using only the finest juice from the no-spray, heirloom trees from their property in Acme. The region’s only cidery, Tattiebogle just recently opened and serves as homage to the settlers of the Laurel Highlands who hailed from England, Ireland and Scotland. If you get the chance, try the Wee Geordie, a blend of hopped apple cider, Citra, and Chinook hops typically found in West Coast IPA’s, some call it the gateway cider for beer drinkers. If you like sweet and tart, try the Ciara, a black currant apple cider enhanced with pear juice which makes it a “sweet drink” to enjoy while camping.
Distilleries have come a long way since 1795, and with the recent changes in alcohol laws, people are enjoying the refined distillery experience that is becoming more popular in the local region. For this year’s spirit tasting, Hickory Hollow is showcasing Kingfly Spirits located in Pittsburgh. Kingfly Distillery transforms your drinking experience by using traditional recipes and adding a bit of innovation and discovery to the artisanal, small patch productions. The Distillery allows customers to rediscover a zest for life when they sample the one of a kind, flavorful, aromatic, and complex product. Campers will be able to sample rum, gin, and bourbon including signature cocktails from Kingfly Spirits this weekend.
Summer is the perfect time to visit some of Somerset County and the Laurel Highlands wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries so don’t hesitate to ask the camp office for some recommendations and directions. Hickory Hollow invites our campers to raise a glass and join in on the spirits tasting Saturday, July 24th. Drinking alcohol can lead to a lot of laughter, crazy antics and fun times, so always remember to drink responsibly and enjoy in moderation.
Ernest Hemingway once said, “I drink to make other people more interesting,” and “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”