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

Running in Bicycle Lanes From Runner’s Perspective

In the past few years, the City Bicycle laneof Philadelphia has done an admirable job adding more bicycle lanes throughout Center City.  These lanes, in theory, promote the safe coexistence of bicycles, motorists and pedestrians.  In streets with bicycle lanes, bikers have to stay in the lane and off the sidewalk and traffic lanes.  Vehicles have to also stay out of the bicycle lanes.  And pedestrians are free from bikers riding on the sidewalk.

In reality, of course, it’s not that simple.  As city bicyclists know, bicycle lanes are often occupied or blocked by construction, delivery trucks or parked cars.  The Complete Streets Bill, passed by City Council last year, explicitly prohibits parking in bicycle lanes and increases fines for bicycle violations to $75 (from $3).  Of course, the City also has a long-standing tradition of allowing cars near religious institutions to park in the bike lanes on weekends, particularly if they have pamphlets from those institutions on their dashboards.

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Pizzeria Vetri: Newcomer Among Best Neapolitan Pies in City

Pizzeria Vetri exteriorOpening night of a new restaurant can be extremely busy and not truly indicative of a typical night.  Throw in the additional factor of Marc Vetri opening up his new pizza restaurant, and you would think there was the potential for all-out chaos.  Fortunately, while the crowds came in droves to the public opening of Pizzeria Vetri at 1939 Callowhill, the night ran as smoothly as possible for both customers and staff.

Pizzeria Vetri is by no means a large establishment.  It seats about 35 and has no bar at which to hang out while waiting for your table.  What it does have, however, is a check-in system, in which the hostess accurately gives you an expected wait-time and then automatically texts you when your seats (not necessarily table) are ready.  So, getting news of a one-hour wait at 7 p.m. wasn’t the worst news, as I just went one block over to Kite & Key for a drink during the wait.

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Philadelphia Taco Crawl of July 2013: Delicious Tacos Found Throughout City

El Jarocho al pastor tacos

On the heels of the highly successful Philadelphia Pizza Crawl of December 2012, it was time to plan another food crawl.  Cheesesteaks and pizza were already done.  The next target: tacos.

The taco scene in Philly is diverse and spread out.  Some of the best known Mexican establishments in town are the Stephen Starr and Jose Garces restaurants in Center City and University City, but many of the true gems are the “authentic” South Philly spots that are, regrettably, largely unknown to the average Philadelphian.  In fact, there are fantastic taquerias to be found all throughout the city.  The Philadelphia Taco Crawl of July 2013 sought to sample some of the best taco spots in different neighborhoods.

  • Basics – Sample six of the best Philadelphia taquerias on a Saturday in July.
  • Objective – Follow up on the Pizza Crawl and experience the great tacos the city has to offer.
  • Specific stops – Honest Tom’s Taco Shop, Cantina Los Caballitos, Taqueria Los Taquitos de Puebla, Restaurant Taqueria El Jarocho, La Calaca Feliz, Taco Riendo.  All have received recognition as being among the best places in town to get tacos.  They also provide a good mix of “Americanized” and “authentic,” casual and more formal, BYO and bar establishments.  Bonus points for “unusual” offerings.  Not making the cut but meriting consideration were spots such as El Vez, Distrito, Loco Pez, Taqueria La Veracruzana and Taco Loco.
  • Logistics – With Crawl stops in University City, South Philadelphia, Fairmount and Olde Kensington, walking would be impractical.  Originally, we considered renting a bus or trolley.  Instead, we went by bike, car and even bus between long distances, while walking between stops two through four.  Just like the Pizza Crawl, we also collected $20 up front for the cost of tacos and some drinks, while everyone was responsible for their own alcohol and additional orders.  Calls were placed in advance to each location to ensure they were open and able to accommodate large groups.  At each stop, we’d order enough for at least one taco per person, and we’d sample unique or specialty offerings where possible.

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Philadelphia’s Cancellation of the 20in24 Race Was a Mistake

June 1, 2013 was the first day of the North Face Endurance Challenge in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Sterling, Virginia.  In temperatures of 90 degrees, 287 entrants finished 50 miles, and 430 more finished the 50K.

The Western States Endurance, featuring 18,000 feet of climbing and 23,000 feet of descent, was on the weekend of June 29-30, 2013.  Despite a high of 102 degrees, 277 competitors finished the 100.2 miles in less than 30 hours.

Just this past week, 81 of 96 entrants finished the 135-mile Badwater ultramarathon.  Starting below sea level at Death Valley and finishing 8,300 feet up Mt. Whitney, it was over 100 degrees at the start and approached 99 degrees at the finish.

These recent races are relevant in Philly, of course, due to this past weekend’s cancellation of the Back on My Feet 20in24 Lone Ranger Ultra-Marathon, Relay Challenge and other assorted races.   As the City of Philadelphia, through the Parks and Recreation Department and through providing necessary security and medical services, is a necessary partner to Back on My Feet in holding the race, its decision to postpone the race this weekend was final.

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The Vendy Awards: Philadelphia Street Food’s Biggest Day

Calm before start of Vendy Awards

There aren’t too many ways to better spend a sunny June Saturday afternoon in Philly than outside at a park overlooking the Delaware River while sampling dishes from the best food trucks in town.  Such was the case this past Saturday at Penn Treaty Park at the third annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards.

The Vendy Awards are the “Oscars of Street Food.”  They were originated in New York City by the Street Vendor Project  and expanded to Philly in 2011.  The Vendys allow the best of food trucks to be recognized, all while raising money for The Food Trust.  Attendees buy one ticket for the event and have all-you-can-eat access to all the food trucks as well as good beer and water.  Fifteen trucks competed for the coveted Vendy Cup, the Best Dessert, the People’s Choice and the Tide Stain Eraser’s Messy yet Tasty Awards.

Folks who arrived by the 2 p.m. start had their choice of trucks to hit up before the lines started forming.  It wasn’t long before the Vendys were a sea of people snapping photos of their food, devouring them and going back for more samples.

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Racing vs. Training: What’s the Proper Balance?

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I have one friend who runs every day (and runs pretty fast).  His grand total of official races he’s run?  One.  He just does not do races.  Another friend, who also runs every day, once logged around 40 races in one year.  And somewhere between those two is another friend who runs perhaps three times a week but plans to run 17 races this year.

What’s the proper amount of races per year in which to participate in comparison to just training?  Having races for which to train can help motivate people to keep running even in the dead of winter, the sogginess of spring or the heat of summer.  On the other hand, too many races can burn someone out.  In fact, having too many races may actually be detrimental to your performance due to lessened training and recovery time.

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