Sam Adams says ‘Uncle’

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Forgive me if this sounds like an obituary, but. . .

Samuel Adams Brewhouse, the Center City brewpub that helped launch Philadelphia’s revived beer scene, will close next week. The second-floor pub, a familiar fixture on the funky 1500 block of Sansom Street, was just shy of 10 years old.

Its owner, David Mink, who operates the popular first-floor Sansom Street Oyster House, said simply: “It’s time to move on.”

For local beer lovers, the pub – the first of its kind in Philadelphia since he Prohibition – was a treasure. In an age when 9 of every 10 beers is a routine, factory-made Budcoorsmiller, the brewery produced fresh, original palate-pleasers from traditional recipes.

Though its beers were made from extracts (as opposed to whole grain), its brewers – most recently, William Reed – created excellent ales that could hold their own against any other local craft brewer.

When Mink opened the pub, in conjunction with the Boston-based company that produces Samuel Adams in bottles, there were fewer than 60 other brewpubs in America.

Today, there are 910, about two dozen of them within a half-hour of Center City.

Mink sounded sad about the decision. He clearly regarded the closing of his brewpub as a failure.

“I guess the thing I learned is it’s not enough to brew good beer,” said Mink, a longtime homebrewer. “The food was always important, but I thought the beer was what this place was always going to be about.

“I know fish and I know oysters. But that knowledge of running the oyster house doesn’t really translate into running a bar,” he continued. “Any time you close something, you’re saying it’s not worth continuing. I mean, we made money. But I think I learned in life that timing is important.”

Mink will continue to operate Sansom Street Oyster House, and he said he has an agreement to sell the upstairs operation to an as-yet-named buyer. Word on the street is that it will reopen as a brewpub.

“I think these other guys can do a better job than I have,” Mink said. “And I don’t mind being a landlord. I’m 52. I’ve got a little vinegar, but not much p— left in me.”

Here’s a Joe Sixpack toast to Samuel Adams Brewhouse. Good memories, great beer.

The last pint will be served May 1.

Awards

Philadelphia’s Favorite Beer festival – the people’s choice awards for the city’s best beers – came off without a hitch, despite the first-hand involvement of Joe Sixpack. The People Paper’s beer scribe rolled in the barrels, then helped Beer Girl Anne Cebula of Shangy’s beer distributor tap almost 40 kegs, and not more than a half-dozen of ’em exploded.

Nearly 400 hearty brew fans turned Reading Terminal Market, in the words of organizer Jim Anderson, into “a no-holds-barred orgy of fermented fantasy.”

Sorry ya missed it, eh?

The Leukemia Society of America is still totaling up its take from the charity taste-testing. In the meantime, here are Philadelphia’s three favorite beers, based on the festival’s highly scientific blind taste test:

  1. Iron Hill Brewing, West Chester. Its Pig Iron Porter wins for the second consecutive year.
  2. Troeg’s Brewing, Harrisburg. The out-of-towner, not widely available in these parts, scored with its Extra Special Bitter.
  3. Stoudt’s Brewing, Adamstown, Pa. Another western favorite, the brewery’s American Pale Ale squeaked past Savage Beer, from Dock Street brewer Eric Savage.

Full results are available at www.beerphiladelphia.com.

Unsubstantiated rumor department

According to Internet sources, the federal government may require brewers to include one of the following warnings on their beer labels:

  • * Warning: Consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.
  • * Warning: Consumption of alcohol may cause you tell the same boring story over and over again until your friends want to SMASH YOUR HEAD IN.
  • * Warning: Consumption of alcohol is the leading cause of inexplicable rug burns on the forehead.
  • * Warning: Consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at 4 in the morning.

Beer Radar

Huntingdon Valley Beverage (801-H Huntingdon Pike) is developing into a decent local craft brew option for northern suburbanites. The distributor gives you a chance to swallow before you lay out hard-earned cash, with free weekly tastings. Tonight, it’s Tsing Tao, Peroni and Tetley. Upcoming: Weyerbacher, Yards and Riverhorse. . .More than 20 East Coast brewers are on tap at Poor Henry’s Brewery & Restaurant (829 N. American St., Northern Liberties) for Philly Fest ’99, Saturday, May 8. Tickets are $25; info: 215-413-0700. More than 100 dealers will be selling brewery collectibles. It’s your chance to get your hands on that old Esslinger neon sign you always wanted. Talking your significant other into letting you hang the thing on the dining room wall, of course, is your problem.

Joe Sixpack (written this week with a bottle of Rogue Dead Guy Ale) appears every other Friday.

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