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.
In 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.
I was a long-time veteran of Erin Express, the Irish bar-themed pub crawl that annually takes place the two Saturdays prior to St. Patrick’s Day, and I was proud of it. It was a lot like the Ron Burgundy quote from Anchorman: “We’ve been coming to the same party for twelve years. And in no way is that depressing.” Of course, at some point, you realize there may be better things in life than long lines to bars, loud music and questionable commercial beer (isn’t there?). Over the last couple of years, I have made it to the Craft Beer Express, the quality craft beer alternative to Erin Express. Which bus bar crawl is better? Well, let’s look at the tale of the tape.
In recent months, the once dull and desolate area of South Street west of Broad Street has become vibrant and lively. Places like Indian Restaurant, Sawatdee, Quick Fixx, Rex 1516 and Magpie have all added terrific and diverse food options to the neighborhood. On the drinking side, the folks who run Hawthorne’s have just opened up The Cambridge, next door to Rex 1516. Taking over the space from former music venue Tritone, The Cambridge offers up some excellent food and drinks, including one of the city’s best beer lists.
Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia is an evolving area. Greater numbers of university students and professors as well as hipsters have gravitated to the area. Summer farmers markets at Clark Park have become big draws.
Over at 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue, in a converted fire station, is Dock Street Brewing Company. Dock Street has a long and storied history in the Philadelphia beer scene. Founded in 1985, it was the city’s first microbrewery. It continues to brew some pretty exceptional craft beers, such as its pilsner and Rye IPA.
At the brew pub, beer, of course, is the specialty. The food menu, and specifically, the pizza, is also worth checking out. There’s a pretty good menu selection of pizzas and calzones as well as appetizers, burgers, wraps, salads. Dock Street offers twelve different pizzas, each of them hand thrown, using stone ground flour and heated in a “hardwood-fired” oven. Continue reading
Through its first few days, Philly Beer Week has had some pretty remarkable beer events. Many venues throughout the city have been packed, as beer enthusiasts have attended the events in droves.
Take, for example, the Founders Brewing Company event at Kite and Key. On a Monday afternoon at 5 p.m., which is hardly the most common time for city folks to be out at a bar drinking, Kite and Key was completely packed with patrons seeking to sample Founders’ high quality, high alcohol and highly rare beers. The two superstars were Canadian Breakfast Stout, a beer aged in maple and whiskey soaked wood with Sumatra and Kona coffee beans breakast stout, and Kenutkcy Breakfast Stout (KBS), an imperial stout brewed with coffee and chocolates before aged in bourbon barrels for an entire year. Both beers are among the top seven rated beers in the world, contain over nine percent alcohol and are only available for a limited time each year.
A lot of city residents have probably never spent much time in the neighborhood of Fishtown. Until the past few years, there never had been much reason to head up to the Girard Avenue and north area. Now, there is. There are some terrific bars and restaurants in the area, including restaurant/music venue Johnny Brendas, Italian BYO Modo Mio, hipster hangout Kung Fu Necktie and sandwich shop extraordinaire Paesanos. Memphis Taproom is also not too far away in Kensington.
Frankford Hall is both the latest addition to Stephen Starr empire and his first foray into Fishtown. It’s themed as a beer garden in the true German tradition. That means there’s no women waitresses coming around dressed with lederhosen carrying pitchers of beers in tables. In fact, only tourist traps like the Munich Hofbräuhaus have such features. Instead, Frankford Hall has walk-up bars to order your beer and food, and it has table service only for food deliveries. It’s definitely different than how people in town are used to dining and drinking in Philly.