“Philly and Beyond” is the latest episode of One Pint at a Time.
One of our lost episodes, we visited the Greater Philadelphia area for a long weekend in the Spring of 2012. It was mainly a trip to visit our friend Andie at Victory Brewing, but we took the opportunity to explore beyond the Keystone State. By traveling just a few hours we experienced the beer scenes in Delaware and Maryland, as well.
So enjoy our beer adventures on the East Coast…
For all the episodes of One Pint at a Time go to beergeekTV.
In the blink of an eye, it was already Saturday morning, the last day of our trip. Having packed a lot of breweries into the first three days, we had a light schedule planned for our finale, a couple of breweries followed up by the San Jose Earthquakes v. Philadelphia Union soccer match.
After a quick lunch at Mckenzie Brew House in Chadds Ford, we crossed back into Delaware. Most of our beer travels take us to small brewpubs or industrial park breweries. Rarely, do our brewery visits include a historic 252 acre farm. As we drove up the long driveway to Twin Lakes Brewing, Merideth and I were struck by the beautiful setting. Though, I have to say, I only saw ONE lake.
The brewery was housed in an out building on the farm, the old tractor barn. We entered the upstairs tasting room after the daily tour had already begun. While sipping on Greenville Pale Ale and Tweeds Tavern Stout, we listened to Sam Hobbs, brewery co-founder, talk passionately about his family history (seven generations on the farm!) and the Twin Lakes brews. Sam was particularly emphatic about their ingredients, especially the pure water that comes from the aquifer on the property.
Merideth and I were chatting casually with Sam after his talk. Knowing we were from out of town, he asked us where. Replying California, Sam remarked that he went to university in California, Berkeley to be exact. In another example of beer making the world smaller, turns out that Sam and I graduated from Berkeley the same year (1988) with the same major (Political Science). Twenty four years later, we met for the first time, both deeply involved in the craft beer world.
Sam was a very gracious host and wanted to show us more of the farm. Spending the afternoon drinking beer and walking all over the farm sounded great. But we had to get back to Philadelphia for the soccer match.
We finished our trip on a cold, windy and eventually rainy night at PPL Park along the Delaware River. Sam had given us cans of the very drinkable Greenville Pale Ale for the road. After coaxing her out of the car, Merideth and I tried our best to tailgate in the less than stellar conditions. I think the Tweeds Tavern Stout would have paired with the weather much better.
Our San Jose Earthquakes, behind 2 goals from Steven Lenhart, defeated Philadelphia 2-1. A nice ending to a memorable last day of our trip.
We were last in Pennsylvania in March 2008 as part of a media tour for the inaugural Philly Beer Week. On that visit, Merideth and I experienced a whirlwind tour of the greater Philadelphia beer scene. On our own this time, we planned another crazy four days, including not only Pennsylvania but also journeying into Delaware for the first time.
A series of on-time flights and a quick airport exit had us in downtown Philadelphia before 10am on Wednesday. With some time to kill before our first beer stop, we joined the hordes of school children and throngs of normal tourists in Independence Mall. The line was too long for the Liberty Bell, but we were satisfied just peering through the window to see the famous crack.
On our previous visit, we covered the downtown Philly beer scene thoroughly, so we focused on the wider world this time around. But we couldn’t travel across the country without making another pilgrimage to the world-renowned Monk’s Café.
Monk’s was just how I remembered it: dimly lit with a lot of patina-ed wood. One of the first customers of the day, Merideth and I grabbed the corner spot at the bar in the front room. [Monk’s Café tip: the front door isn’t locked. It’s just heavy.]
I started with the Mikkeller Single Hop IPA, while Merideth’s first beer was her East Coast staple, Allagash White. With my delicious Seitan Cheese Steak, I drank the Monk’s Café Flemish Sour. Merideth’s lunch-beer pairing was the uber-garlicky Caesar Salad with grilled shrimp accompanied by Ommegang Hennipen.
Our short visit to Monk’s concluded with a quick chat with Tom Peters. Then, we were off to explore.
Located in an industrial building down by the Delaware River, Yards Brewing was our first brewery stop of the day. We drank a few of their beers on our previous visit– the Extra Special Ale at the Philly Beer Week opening celebration and the ‘Ales of the Revolution’ series at City Tavern. Since this facility was not yet open last time, Yards counted as a new brewery on the List.
There were a few other customers at the bar when we arrived a bit past 1pm. Merideth and I took our normal positions at the bar and ordered both the signature and revolutionary flights of beer.
The Ales of the Revolution beers were just like I remembered them: interesting. One has to really appreciate molasses in beer to get into these brews. Love Stout was the fourth brew in the flight. We didn’t have it at City Tavern, so I’m not sure of its colonial American heritage. A roasty 5.5% ABV oyster Stout, it was my favorite of these four.
From the signature series, the Philadelphia Pale was the standout for me. Light-bodied and hoppy, it reminded me of one of my favorite brews, Drake’s 1500. Merideth tapped the seasonal Saison as her star. With a mixed six-pack of these two beers in hand, it was time for Merideth and I to leave Philadelphia and head west.
Merideth and I only got lost twice in the confusing maze of merging and splitting highways on the drive to Downingtown. One outcome of our 2008 trip was that we met our friend Andie and lucky for us, she happens to work at Victory Brewing. Over the years, we promised we would come visit her. Well, here we were.
Thankfully, Andie picked us up at our nearby hotel and brought us to the brewery. Arriving around 5pm, the beer hall was already packed with the after work crowd.
With its wonderful feel and ambiance. I did almost feel like I was at a beer hall in Bavaria. The most striking feature was the decorative copper kettle tops that sat above a few of the tables.
It was a festive atmosphere at Victory, made even more festive for me when Bayern Munich eliminated Real Madrid to reach the Champions League final.
Time blurred as the hours went by. Andie introduced us to some of her fellow employees and numerous regulars. The wonderful Victory brews were plentiful. Hop Devil, Headwaters, Donnybrook, Braumeister Pils, Prima Pils, Alla Spina Novello were a few of beers we enjoyed. HUGE thanks and hugs go out to Andie and her co-workers for their generous hospitality.
We finished our night at The Station Taproom in Downingtown. The quiet and cozy beer bar was just what the doctor ordered as the jet lag was really setting in for Merideth and me. Dinner and a few more beers and then we were ready for some well-earned sleep. Our first trip to Delaware awaited us the following day.