The Thirsty Beagle: Photo essay: Beer in Philadelphia

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Photo essay: Beer in Philadelphia

Mrs. Beagle travels for work pretty frequently, and whenever the destination piques my interest, I try to tag along.

Naturally, when she's off at her work conferences during the day, I've got to find something do. What better to do than try to drink as much beer as I can at as many places as possible, right?

Last month, we headed to Philadelphia. Considering I'm seriously addicted to "Hamilton" and can sing pretty much the entire soundtrack by heart, I was actually really pumped to go to one of the main hotbeds of American Revolutionary history.

While I scored my fill of late-1700s U.S. history, I also came away thoroughly impressed with Philly's beer culture (and that was even without heading out of the core of downtown to visit some of the local breweries).

I was able to hit up several pubs and bars, all within walking distance of my hotel. Let's take a tour.

First, Mrs. Beagle and I ventured to 2nd Story Brewing. The building itself was very interesting, with the brewhouse perched atop the bar (supported by what looked like some serious steel beams). The highlight here was the Declaration IPA:

We walked past Eulogy Belgian Tavern. Unfortunately it was not open at the time. I grabbed a picture of the outside, and later learned while chatting up a couple beer aficionados at a different pub that Eulogy is regarded as one of the top beers bars in Philly: 

Next we worked past Little Lion Public House. The overall beer selection there was average, I have to admit (although I ordered a Live Pale Ale from Southern Tier Brewing and enjoyed it), but we got an unexpected thrill when we sat down at the bar and heard someone ask for the WiFi password. "Hamilton," is what the bartender said in reply. A quick internet search revealed that Alexander Hamilton's nickname was the Little Lion. Boom! We were now having beers at a pub named after Alexander Hamilton!

Of course we did the standard tourist stuff. Behold Constitution Hall:

And the room where it happened (the Constitution being signed in 1787):

The big dog, G. Washington:

Naturally, we hit up the Liberty Bell Center just across the street from Independence Hall. That was pretty cool to see:

We happened upon a really cool spot right across the street from the Liberty Bell, the sprawling outdoor Independence Beer Garden. Unfortunately, it's a seasonal spot and was a few days away from opening when we were there:

So, back to places that had beer. We went for dinner at a super-trendy spot, Tria Taproom. The attention to detail, sleek tap wall and beer service were exemplary, and the beer menu had several exotic offerings. I grabbed an Ithaca Beer Flower Power IPA. Not a bad beer, although to be honest, I was more impressed with the live beer menu on tablets at the tables:

Later that night, we visited the Liberty Place tower, where the One Liberty Observation Deck sits on the 57th floor. Great views of the city and a chance to feel like you might fall through the glass and plummet to your death. Exciting!

Next day, while the Mrs. was off at her work session, I walked over to Monk's Cafe. This place was amazing:

You just knew when you came in from the street and then found this door that either you were going to an awesome place, or you might never come out:

And the beer selection was ridiculous. While they have eight rotating taps on their front bar (pictured above) and eight more on the back bar, the bottle selection was out of the world, numbering well above 200. I went with a big name at the start and began my afternoon with a Russian River Redemption:

Honestly, though, that wasn't even in my top two that day. I was super-impressed with an on-tap offering from Tired Hands Brewing called Half Gentleman, Not Beast IPA. And then I was even more blown away by XX-Bitter -- a Belgian IPA from Brouwerij De Ranke. No joke, I thought it was one of the best beers I've ever had. I ended up spending about three hours at Monk's Cafe. I'm curious how it stacks up with Eulogy, but if you find yourself in downtown Philly ever, you have to get by there.

Once Mrs. Beagle was free for the day, we hit the town for the night, going to Village Whiskey (right close to Tria Taproom) for our first stop. Mrs. Beagle got a local whiskey flight, while I tried a Brooklyn Sorachi Ace and a Firestone Walker Union Jack (both good).

For dinner that night we shot over to Bru Craft & Wurst. The place was a little gimmicky, but they actually had a very solid bottle/can list:

I sampled a Gritty Kitty Pale Ale from Saint Benjamin Brewing Co., a New Zealand IPA from Vault Brewing Co., and a Guava Pastelitos Berliner Weisse from Coppertail Brewing, then finished things of with a Russian River Damnation:

Next day we finished up the trip with some cheese steaks (I liked the ones at Reading Terminal Market the best) and some more sightseeing, including the spot where Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence and also Betsy Ross' home:

After that, we had a little time to kill before heading to the airport, so I whisked Mrs. Beagle off so she could see Monk's Cafe. Lo and behold, Russian River Pliny the Elder had just gone on tap, and that was a perfect way to finish off the trip, even if it was served in a #goddamnedshakerpintglass:

In summation, if you like late-1700s American history and you like beer, you have to get to Philadelphia.

So what else is going on?

-As I reported earlier this week, the second annual Oklahoma Craft Beer Summit has been rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 5. Last night, it was announced that the summit will be one of the first events held at the renovated Tower Theatre. I'll have more details on that as they become available.

-Big news from Roughtail: They have introduced new expanded hours and also are releasing Adaptation 8 at the brewery this Friday. The brewery will now be open 3 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, noon to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1 to 5  p.m. Sundays. For more on Adaptation 8, check out their FB page.

-The Root has live music going on all weekend to celebrate the Paseo Arts Festival, and also is hosting a Yoga on Tap session at 11 a.m. Sunday.

-The Patriarch is hosting a Founders Summer Kick Off at 2 p.m. June 3, featuring at least eight different Founders beers.

-There's still time to enter COOP's Saturday Siren promotion for a chance to win tickets to GABF. Which, by the way, am I the only one who thinks COOP did a great job on Saturday Siren?

-McNellie's OKC is holding a Samuel Smith Beer Dinner on June 13.


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