Federal Taphouse – Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg, PA has embraced the craft beer scene. A city population of approximately 50,000 makes it a small capital city for the state of Pennsylvania, especially compared to the larger metropolitan areas of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but that hasn’t stopped it from shining in the world of craft and micro-brewed beer.

Two successful microbreweries – Appalachian Brewing Company and Troeg’s Brewery,  are located within the Harrisburg/Hershey vicinity. Additionally, in downtown Harrisburg, Anthony’s Micro pub opened about two years ago, focused on micro and craft beers.

Now, as of approximately six months ago, Federal Taphouse has become the newest player in Harrisburg’s craft beer revolution.

Federal TapHouse interior

Federal Taphouse bar area

Taps at Federal TapHouse

The long line of taps behind the bar

Where: Downtown Harrisburg on North 2nd street. See map.

Why you should visit: For the extraordinary amount of choices – there are 100 beers on tap!

Overall comments:  Eleven years ago, as a new college graduate, my first “real job” was in Harrisburg, PA.  I lived in the downtown Harrisburg neighborhood and enjoyed the short walk from my apartment to the 2nd street bars on a weekend night out with friends. Back then, McGrath’s Irish pub was my favorite spot, due to the inviting atmosphere and the Troeg’s Brewery beers that were frequently on tap, but there was not one bar that had a large selection of other American or European craft beer.

When I return to Pennsylvania on short visits, I always enjoy observing all the changes within the city, especially when it comes to the craft beer spots.  As a result, I couldn’t wait to check out Federal Taphouse!

The bar area…

is modern, sleek and clean, ideal for watching your favorite sporting event on the large screen TVs behind the bar or meeting friends for an after-work drink. My family and I sat at one of the hightop tables near to the bar, a good spot to both enjoy the outside view and take in the scene at the bar.

The restaurant…

offers a large, open space for a casual dinner out. I particularly enjoyed the open kitchen and the clear view of the impressive coal-oven.  Specialty pizzas go well with the craft beer, and there’s also a variety of other food choices including fries cooked in duck fat, bratwurst, and even some fish entrees.

Federal TapHouse interior

The beer…

Federal TapHouse beer menuis why you should visit! A spectacular beer menu, I was overwhelmed at first glance – even before I realized there were 50 more beers listed on the back side of the menu, grouped by brewery name. The bartender waited patiently while I scanned the beer menu, determined to sample some of the new American beers that I’ve been unable to find when I’m back in London.

The descriptions on the menu were also good, helpful for those who are newer to the offerings available in the craft beer marketplace.

When the Manager Patrick noticed that I was taking some photos to document the restaurant for my blog, he offered to take me downstairs to the cooler to show me the setup for all the kegs.

Amazing! He showed apparent enthusiasm and passion for craft beer, and it was great to trade notes as well as understand how they manage the complex process for their ever changing, large supply of beer.

I’ve been told that prices on average may be higher than the Harrisburg beer prices many people are used to paying. But this beer is not your average Budweiser! For me it seems very reasonable, both due to the higher alcohol percentage by volume in certain beers as well as the types of specialty beer offered.
Federal TapHouse kegs

Kegs in the basement cooler at Federal TapHouse

All in all, I had a wonderful time at Federal Taphouse and was impressed with the overall layout and beer on offer.  It will definitely be a regular stop on my future visits back to Pennsylvania!

My parents and I at Federal TapHouse




About Tanya

I’m a freelance travel and beer writer and a passionate and energetic 30 something - determined to enjoy life and see as much as possible along the way. Recently I lived abroad in London and traveled to 20+ countries within two years! As of January 2014, I'm back in the USA, and currently living in Charlotte, NC. But before all of that, my roots were set in small town America, where I spent the first 23 years of my life living, going to school, and working in the state of Pennsylvania.

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