When visitors walk into Disobedient Spirits, they can plan on settling in for the evening. In Indiana County, Pa., the distillery and two new breweries are part of a growing national trend of locally crafted libations.
Disobedient Spirits is transforming the concept of local spirits. Along with sampling from a selection of vodka, gin, whiskey, and brandy, visitors also are invited to stay and try cocktails made from those products, or local beers. Guests can stay on to shoot pool or play darts in the adjacent bar.
Indiana, three-and-a-half hours from Washington, D.C., has long been known as the birthplace of legendary actor Jimmy Stewart. But, this picturesque rural county is home to both abundant outdoor fun and a growing craft drink movement, which makes it a perfect destination for a weekend away.
With mountain bikes loaded into the truck, or golf clubs put in the trunk, visitors can spend the day outside burning energy and the evening sampling local brews in a college town atmosphere.
“There’s an abundant amount of nature and outdoor recreation here,” said Alex Varner, a partner in Noble Stein Brewing, one of two new microbreweries opening in the county. “There are wonderful mountain biking trails and great streams for trout fishing. It’s a great place to come to.”
Yellow Creek State Park, the county’s largest park, offers a full range of outdoor enjoyment. Visitors can challenge their legs on 18 miles of mountain bike trails. The mostly single track offers a mixed bag of biking, including plenty of rolling hills for vertical challenges. The park’s trail system encircles the lake, including a ride across the dam spillway.
While Indiana is about an hour from downtown Pittsburgh, it lacks the hustle of urban life, said Maria Jack, who promotes the area. And that is evident in the parks, where visitors can truly find some solitude and space.
“As a local, you love it,” Jack said.
Cyclists can also find a full day’s ride on the Ghost Town Trail, which runs through the southern half of the county for 36 miles. This Rails-to-Trails route passes a number of old mining towns, including Wehrum, which once had a company store, bank, and jail.
Four public courses make Indiana a great golf destination, as well. Cherrywood Golf Course features nine holes, perfect for a quick round, while Chestnut Ridge has two courses in a resort setting. Golfers can also try Indian Springs and Meadow Lane, each with picturesque countryside vistas.
Insider tip: After a day in the sun, visitors have plenty of opportunities to sample local craft libations.
Disobedient Spirits, along with offering Saturday tours, hosts a number of local musicians and artists, turning it into a hangout, said the distillery’s Jordan Gwinn.
“Like with food, people want to know more about what is going into their spirits,” Gwinn said. “Here, you can see how we make our spirits and talk to the guy is who is making your whiskey.”
Indiana County is also home to two craft brewers: Levity Brewing Co. and Noble Stein Brewery.
Levity has transformed a former industrial building into a brewery offering a full palette of hop-infused beers and refreshing pilsners. The team of brewers is also making their own sodas and root beer.
Noble Stein Brewing, which hopes to be open for tours and tastings in late spring, began when Varner and friends started brewing beer at home. After some experimentation, the group tweaked a few offerings that were a hit with family and friends and opened their own brewery a short drive from downtown Indiana.
“We saw the trend of craft breweries hit the nation, but not really in our area,” Varner said. “We stumbled into it, and were intrigued by the possibilities.”
Drinkers are growing increasingly interested in local brews because of the friendly atmosphere that surrounds the industry, Varner said. Going to a craft brewery is an experience in and of itself, and one that draws people together.
“It is not just a product,” he said. “It’s an atmosphere that brings people together where they can socialize.”
Indiana Co. Tourism: visitindianacountypa.org