An Ode To McLanahan’s Happy Hour The Day Before A Home Game
A grocery store? Yes, a grocery store.
Like any great college town, State College is home to plenty of notable happy hours and nightly deals that will surely give you a buzz without breaking the bank — from $2 Long Islands at The Basement and half-off Cafe pitchers on Thursdays to half-off drinks at PHH and $2 Dirty Sprites at Champs. But one happy hour, both in terms of frugality and ambience, has risen above the rest during my brief two months as a 21-year-old.
Friday evenings inside of A’s Pub at McLanahan’s Downtown Market are the highlight of my week. And the fact that I’ve only ever experienced them during football season has only added to my esteem for it and the warm, neighborly feeling emanating onto Allen Street.
Every Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m., McLanahan’s offers half-priced, self-serve beer and transforms from a grocery store to a meeting ground of Penn Staters.
You load money onto a card and pay per ounce of the dozen or so beers on tap, which range from the simple Yuengling and Michelob Ultra to local favorites from Otto’s (there’s no such thing as a bad time to drink an Apricot Wheat) to more obscure craft options from around the country that definitely leave avid Untappd users feeling some type of way.
Complimentary pizza and popcorn are served, and sometimes, a band performs. But most often, the only noise is the buzz of conversation and rumblings of passersby wondering out loud, “Alcohol in McLanahan’s? What the hell happened here?”
There’s a certain vibe in the air in the “pub” on Friday nights with alumni making their way back home to State College for a football game and mixing in with current students. Banter fills the air, as old friends catch up and new friendships are formed over pints of Yuengling and Evil Genius.
But the most interesting part of A’s Pub is that the atmosphere is almost entirely a product of the people there. There’s plenty of natural light, as opposed to its dimly lit peers. There’s no flashy decorations, a dance floor, or even much of a theme. It’s pretty plain. After all, it’s inside a grocery store.
It’s the type of place you can go to on a Wednesday afternoon to do work and drink a beer. But on Fridays, no laptops are in sight. The pub is overflowing with people holding frosted pint glasses and discussing everything from the strain of hops used in the new Sierra Nevada to why Noah Cain needs more carries to how the weather’s been back home.
Maybe it’s the mindless conversation or the “Eat Shit, Pitt” chants belted out a full week before the Keystone Classic. Or the fact that you’re drinking craft beer for less than $2 a glass alongside fellow Penn Staters. Whatever it may be the result of, this atmosphere is distinct.
And since people are pretty much exclusively drinking beer (save for the few drinking wine slushies and wine on tap), the bar rarely gets sloppy. Instead, the air is filled with social interaction in its purest, most wholesome form. In a college town where ripping shots and throwing down cheap drinks seem to reign supreme, this act of communion is a welcome change and a special phenomenon to take in.
Fridays in State College before a home football game are unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. As former Onward State managing editor Lexi Shimkonis wrote in 2016, “The magic of a Friday before a home game never fails. Walking downtown provokes the same feeling as walking through Disney. Everyone is happy, friends are meeting up, parents are taking their kids out to eat, Café’s patio is full, and no one is too bashful to display their pride.”
What’s always stood out to me about this post is Lexi’s emphasis on people interacting, regardless if they’ve met before. I’ve always loved the energy and hopefulness rushing through downtown the day before a home game, and the same goes for the inside of McLanahan’s where you never know what tomorrow’s game could hold and who might strike up a conversation with you. All you know is that you and that person most likely share a similar passion for this university.
In her article, Lexi captured that sense of camaraderie when she wrote that, “Nothing brings us together like that Friday-before-a-home-game feeling does. Penn State’s rich culture, dedicated alumni base, and student pride are on full display, and being among other Penn Staters is the best thing about a football weekend, if not the best thing about this university.”
As a freshman reading that post just a few weeks into my Penn State and Onward State careers, I felt proud to be a part of something with such a strong bond. And it holds true three years later, now having witnessed that countless times in all different ways — not just the day before a football or game or while drinking beer.
Sure, McLanahan’s might truly be a grocery store. And it may lack Cafe’s outdoor seating, Champs’ pomp and circumstance, and Zeno’s’ quirky, hipster character. But it’s a place where Penn Staters of all ages can come together to enjoy cheap, good beer and share meaningful conversation. It’s the best way to kick off an evening of drinking and more importantly, a weekend of Penn State football, the one true love we all share.
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About the Author
“We believe that laughter will help us all get through this current situation and help us make sense of it.”
Whether it was a high-flying dunk from Lamar Stevens, a deep touchdown from Sean Clifford to KJ Hamler, or an electric pin by Mark Hall, many student-athletes made their marks on Happy Valley over the last eight months.
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