The Closure of a Neighborhood Corner Bar

Tangier today

It’s been a little more than a week since Tangier, a Graduate Hospital neighborhood bar, closed after 32 years in operation.  Owner Jack Roe decided to finally sell the building and bar after receiving an offer he could not turn down.  

Though I lived but four doors down from the bar, I was by no means a regular at Tangier.  Friday happy hour or Saturday nights would usually take me to other neighborhood establishments.  Many of my visits consisted of just picking up take out food or filling up growlers.  Still, it was always a nice comfort having it there.  It wasn’t just any neighborhood bar; it was MY corner bar.  The bartender and chef knew me by name and were always friendly.

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Small Breweries Getting Closer to Opening in Philly

IMG_2671The number of small breweries with Philadelphia city limits is due for a welcome increase. Saint Benjamin Brewing Company in Olde Kensington is hooking up electricity and equipment. The three barrel nanobrewery should begin beer production in late May, in time for Philly Beer Week. Meanwhile, out in Brewerytown, Crime & Punishment Brewing Co. has its space hosting some special events and is scheduled to officially open this summer.

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A Primer on Relevant Pennsylvania Growler Fill Laws

Southern Tier Pumpking in Victory growlerA couple of months ago, I was with friends at Tired Hands Brewing, an excellent small brewery in Ardmore.  Because of its small size, Tired Hands does not yet distribute to stores, so its beer is essentially only available at the brewery.  After having lunch and enjoying a couple of beers, one of my friends attempted to fill his growler, purchased elsewhere, with one of the Tired Hands beers on tap.  His efforts were unsuccessful.  Tired Hands informed him that because his growler had a label from a different brewery, it could not, under Pennsylvania law, fill up his growler.

Everyone knows that Pennsylvania has a convoluted set of beer and liquor laws.  It’s no surprise that there are several laws pertaining specifically to growlers.  Different bars and breweries have their own policies relating to growler fills (some have no problem filling up growlers from other breweries, others do).  Here are the relevant rules I’ve found: Continue reading

The Most Important Advice for Philly Beer Week

Philly Beer WeekIn the years of doing Philly Beer Week, the week (plus) long celebration of America’s Best Beer-Drinking City, I’ve learned one important lesson in how to make it through: pace yourself.  With over 1,000 events in ten days, you can’t possibly hit up everything.  In fact, you won’t even be able to make it to many of the events that sound appealing because they either conflict with each other or you need to rest or stay sober one or two nights.  Instead, the best practice is to make it to a maximum of perhaps one event a night (ok, maybe two, if you do the other one during the day).  Go through the list, pick and choose some favorites and enjoy those without feeling bad about missing others.

The second most important advice: find events for brewers you don’t experience often or for specialty beers.  There are so many great regional brewers, and most have special events throughout the week.  Likewise, there are many brewers from other parts of the country who produce beers we don’t typically get here in town.  Take advantage of their presence.

Philly Beer Week has become the largest beer festival, in terms of events, in the country devoted to craft beer.  Let’s all enjoy.

Saint Benjamin Meets Funding Goal

It wasn’t easy, and it took an extension of time along with some additional promotional rewards, but Saint Benjamin Brewing reached and surpassed its Lucky Ant fundraising campaign.  Brewer Tim Patton extended the fundraising period to May 8 and also offered up open bar tickets to the grand opening party for the brewery when it opens this fall.  With the goal of $20,000, Saint Benjamin raised $21,275 (if it did not meet the goal, everyone would have gotten their money back with no promotional rewards), which will allow it to restore the exterior of the historic building and facade.  More importantly, it will allow Saint Benjamin to move  closer to finally opening and serve the many folks who have supported the brewery and are eager to collect on their promotional rewards.

The Challenges of Opening Up a New Brewery in Philadelphia

The future home of Saint Benjamin BrewingThere are over 2,400 breweries operating in the U.S.  That number will be even higher by the end of the year, as the number of small and independent brewers increases.  Enthusiasm for good craft beer is still growing, with craft beers now accounting for 10 percent of sales of all beers.

So you brew beer at home and now you want to join these ranks and open up your own brewery in Philadelphia?  Piece of cake, right?  Not quite.

Fishtown resident Tim Patton is starting his own nanobrewery called Saint Benjamin Brewing Company.  Though the brewery was incorporated back in 2010, Tim still is in the process of taking all the necessary steps before he can open up later this year.  The long “delay” is all thanks to state and city requirements and restrictions.  Given all the barriers, it’s not surprising few small breweries have opened up within city limits.

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An Evening at COOK in Rittenhouse Square

Food menu

It’s not a restaurant, per se, though you will likely end up having some amazing dishes.  Nor is it, despite the suggestive name, a cooking class, though you do receive many of the recipes for the meal.

So what exactly is COOK, the small, window-filled, yet blinds-drawn space at the corner of 20th and South Rittenhouse?  Essentially, it’s a kitchen-classroom featuring demonstrations by some of the city’s best chefs.  Instead of having to serve full restaurants, the chefs are cooking private meals for 16-20 “students”.  For attendees, one of the biggest draws is to be able to interact with the chefs, as they tell the stories and reasoning behind the dishes.

Drink menuCuriosity (and rave reviews from friends who’ve been) finally convinced me to give COOK a try.  What better way to experience COOK than to pay homage to my Filipino heritage with “A Filipino Feast With Lou Boquila of Audrey Claire, Hosted by Drew Lazor?” The night was certainly one to remember.  Here’s the recap of exactly what goes on at COOK.

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