The suburbs haven’t reached brewpuberty yet

Cleaner streets, lower taxes, superior schools, more jobs, fewer psychopaths, greener grass, bigger malls, easier parking, safer neighborhoods — the suburbs can have it all.

Because the city has better beer.

And because we have better beer, we are superior in the one thing that really matters in life:

We have better taste.

I’ve felt this way for years, so it wasn’t exactly an epiphany last weekend when I stumbled across possibly the most pathetic excuse for a brewpub I’ve seen since my pal Weg tried to hook up a keg of over-gassed Heineken to his kitchen Beermeister.

At least Weg’s brew had some character.

The stuff they’re pumping out in Lafayette Hill, Montgomery County, is the kind of weak-assed, phony-baloney, amorphous mix of ingredients you’d expect from a yokel population that regards split-level, vinyl-sided ranchers as the epitome of fine architecture

They had three beers on tap the other night at the Gen. Lafayette Inn and Brewpub — porter, cream ale and kolsch. They might’ve called them Lite, Lighter and H20. My kolsch, a German-style ale that’s supposed to be fruity and medium-hopped, had the distinctively unarresting taste of Springton Reservoir. My date’s porter had her begging for something a bit more bracing — a chocolate milk, perhaps.

These beers were the antithesis of the craft beer movement. Instead of brewing unique, full-tasting beers that challenge the taste, this pub has put out a line that appeals to the least-common denominator.

This being the suburbs, we’re talking dreck.

You’ll excuse my hostility — I just finished listening to a former security consultant for millionaire murder defendant John E. du Pont tell a jury that his 800-acre horse farm in the middle of Newtown Square was a “security risk” because it is located 15 miles from Philadelphia and its “very large criminal element.”

Everybody knows, the security guy says (possibly forgetting that it was his own suburban employer who was on trial), “Philadelphia’s reputation for crime.”

Yeah, I just pity those poor, scared suburbanites shaking in their basement rec rooms, dreading the day that me and my posse come to cart off their croquet sets.

I imagine the Gen. Lafayette is the perfect retreat for them. On Saturday night, I watched a group of 30-somethings — clearly too frightened to actually enjoy the loose ends of life — gingerly huddle ‘round the restaurant bar till someone had the courage to ask what’s on tap.

They listened to the bartender with glazed eyes. Then one of them replied, “Don’t you have, um, regular beer?”

No, you twit, they don’t have REGULAR beer! They make their own here, that’s why they have those huge tanks in the corner, that’s why they call this a brewpub!

But why waste the words? This really is not a brewpub, at least not one that deserves the name. Even if I could pardon the brewmaster for such a weak opening effort, I can not ignore the atmosphere of utter disdain for taste.

Read the beer menu and you get my drift. Under the beer style widely known as “bitter,” the restaurant assures its delicate patrons that the beer’s taste is “not really bitter.” It’s as if a sharp, acrid sensation along the sides of one’s tongue might be too physically disturbing in their bland, isolated world.

Beer at the Gen. Lafayette — and, I presume, at other suburban eateries — is primarily a cynical restaurant marketing fad.

In other words, this week kolsch, next week nachos.


OK, so you’re on the wrong side of City Line and they won’t let you back inside Philly. Where do you go now?

Head west out the Pennsylvania Turnpike, beyond the ‘burbs to Adamstown, Lancaster County. This burg would be a nightmare for anyone (i.e. adult male) who couldn’t endure six or seven consecutive hours of shopping among rows and rows of dusty antiques. It would be if it weren’t for Stoudt’s Brewing Co.

The region’s oldest microbrewer, Stoudt’s runs a beerhall inside an antique mart and a well-stocked bar at its adjoining Black Angus restaurant. Almost everything they brew, including their wonderful Abbey Trippel, is on tap.

I’ve always suspected the microbrewery was a slick business scheme by Ed and Carol Stoudt to lure reluctant men to their shopping bazaar. Under more sober circumstances, the typical male head of household might be somewhat circumspect about carefree spending on junk. But, get the old man sauced on high-octane beer, and next thing you know, you’re happily loading a pink flamingo into the car trunk.

I hate to admit this, friends, but Joe Sixpack is speaking from experience on this one.


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