Whether it’s after a long day at work, a cool respite on a hot summer day, a lively night out, an ice breaker among strangers, a happy hour with colleagues, a big-game tailgate staple, a memorable shared first with your dad or a celebration with friends, beer holds a special place in the hearts of the merry.

In fact, according to the Beer Institute (an organization of more than 1,600 breweries in the U.S. that was formed to represent the beer industry before Congress and the like), beer led to civilization as we know it. Dr. Solomon H. Katz, a prominent anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania, contended that “once man learned to ferment grain into beer 10,000 years ago, it became one of [man’s] most important sources of nutrition… In order to have a steady supply of beer, it was necessary to have a steady supply of beer’s ingredients. Man had to give up his nomadic ways, settle down and begin farming. And once he did, civilization was just a stone’s throw away.”

Whether Dr. Katz’s theory of the role fermented grain played in the civilization of mankind is accurate or not, there is little doubt to beer’s widespread appeal now and throughout human history.

So, in celebration of the great and golden bubbly brew, this month’s column is dedicated to beer in all of its varied styles, tastes and colors. Armed with a designated driver, a photographer and a fellow drinking partner, I set out to experience why central Pa. is known as a haven for beer lovers with its numerous breweries and brewpubs.

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