The Best Field Beer that You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Archaeological fieldwork doesn’t always happen in the most comfortable conditions.  It’s not unusual to be on a project in the middle of nowhere, living in a cabin without power or running water, with 15 sweaty strangers in 100° F weather.  You might have to take a boat to the mainland once a week for groceries and a gas station shower, or you might have to take a boat every day to get out of your cabin and to the site.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that the first question on this flowchart about creature comforts and happiness in the field is about alcohol.

Do you have beer?  If the answer is “yes,” then “you will endure all other deprivations with relative equanimity!”


Unfortunately, you might be tempted to answer “no” if it is 100° F and there is no refrigerator space available for alcohol.  If so, that’s because you have never heard of Lionshead Beer, the best field beer around!


Heralding from the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner “is a classic Standard American Lager Crisp, clean and slightly dry with some residual sweetness.”

I discovered Lionshead in 2009, when I was working in Pennsylvania excavating at the home of the first speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Frederick Muhlenberg.   Thankfully, some co-workers were from the area and knew to bring Lionshead.

I was instantly smitten.  At 4.5% ABV, a bottle of Lionshead is cheap and refreshing, with just the right hint of sweetness, at the end of a long, hot workday.  To top everything off, Lion Brewery developed the genius puzzle cap.  Every bottle cap has a rebus puzzle underneath, designed to keep its drinkers entertained for hours.  Try your hand at some of them!


However, it wasn’t until I worked at the Morton Village Site in Havana, Illinois, in 2010 that I realized the true glory of Lionshead beer for the field archaeologist.  Some friends had brought me a case of Lionshead when they came to visit before I began my fieldwork that summer, so I brought it with me down to Illinois.  Upon arrival, we realized that we did not have enough refrigerator space for most of our alcohol, and so it was stored at room temperature.  Room temperature is not ideal for any beer, especially not in west-central Illinois, where the late May and June temperatures averaged in the mid-90s (°F).  Essentially, we were drinking warm beer, which is the worst after spending all day sizzling in the sun.  Except, it wasn’t!  The Lionshead was even more delicious when it was warm!

Unfortunately for most archaeologists, Lionshead can only be purchased in the following states:  Delaware, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.  If you find yourself working in those states, make sure you check it out!

Please drink responsibly.