Hoppy days are here again: July is American Beer Month

July in Philadelphia, the visitor’s dream:

Liberty! Fireworks! Independence!

We know the, the reality:

Hazy! Hot! Humid!

Mostly, locals abandon the streets to out-of-towners and head to the shore. But in the kind of unexpected synergy that makes the city so lovable, the pomp and the heat will merge next month to thoroughly wet Philly’s whistle.

It’s American Beer Month, a celebration of the nation’s craft-brewing heritage that will be launched tomorrow on the steps of the Art Museum.

Yes, there will be speeches. But don’t sweat: There will also be plenty of suds.

And, in a freebie for People Paper readers, there’s also a free lunch. (Details below.)

“American beer month is like an Independence Day for the American craft-brewing inudstry,” said organizer John Hickenlooper, a Philadelphia-area native who now runs the world’s largest brewpub, Wynkoop Brewery in Denver.

“For more than a decade, brewers from around the world have looked with envy at the innovations and excitement of the American microbrewery revolution. Now it is finally time to celebrate these successes in our own country.”

American Beer Month is being launched in Philadelphia because of the spirit of independence that echoes through town, and the spirits that flow through our taps. The Philly area, if you haven’t been paying attention, boasts some of the best beer in America.

Yes, the Northwest has more brewpubs. And Colorado has a ton of micros. But no other region offers such a variety of inventive microbreweries and so many top-flight beer bars and so many imports.

The choices are daunting to most mortals: room-temperature cask-conditioned ales, high-alcohol barleywines, smelly gueuze served in corked bottles, hop-infused IPAs and a host of brews flavored with honey, raspberry, chocolate, peach, heather and coriander.

The choices are daunting, even to the likes of Joe Sixpack, who has devoted excessive time and resources to the examination of malt beverages. In honor of American Beer Month, today’s report sorts out some of the details.

Lemme start with six things every Philly beer drinker should know:

  1. The difference between industrial beer and craft beer.

Factory beer – and I’m talking about anything made with ingredients measured by the rail car – is just fine if you’re looking for something to guzzle without taste. Mostly, they’re bland American lagers – Budcoorsmiller – or an equally bland import: Becks, Molson, Fosters, Corona.

Craft beer – or microbrewed beer – is made in smaller batches. Usually, they’re all malt and full of body and flavor. More importantly, craft beer is usually made by guys with pony tails and tattoos.

Monk’s Café.

If you judge a joint by its beer selection, Tom Peters and Fergus Carey run the best bar in America, period. Craft brews are well represented, but what raises Monk’s to beer-vana is its exotic Belgian imports, served in its woodsy back bar. Peters was the first publican to serve any Belgian on tap in America (it was Kwak, in 1996), and he and Fergie regularly offer flavors you couldn’t even sample in Brussels

Beer Philadelphia magazine

Jim Anderson knows more about beer in this city than anyone. I learn something from him every time we bend an elbow together. His magazine, available at bars and takeout stores, is better written and far more opinionated than the usual stuff you read in the beer trade

Home Sweet Homebrew

Other homebrew stores (notably Barry’s Homebrew Outlet, 101 Snyder Ave., South Philadelphia) are equally dependable sources for do-it-yourselfers. But George Hummel and Nancy Rigberg, the owners of this yeasty mainstay, are directly responsible for creating more local craft brewers than anyone. The guys who make Independence and Red Bell and Dock Street, among others, all got their start with Tupperware homebrew kits from Home Sweet Homebrew. Even if you never brew your first pint, you owe a debt to these folks. 2008 Sansom St., Center City.

Edward I. Friedland Co.

True story: A few years ago, drawn by its trendy selection of micros, I went in search of Eddie Friedland’s beer distributor. My visit took me up N. 8th Street, into an area commonly known as the Badlands.

I never found the place. Instead, I found myself driving the wrong way down a one-way street… and into the arms of a dozen cops

Our city’s brewing history.

F.A. Poth & Sons . . .  Robert Smith India Pale Ale . . Jacob Hornung White Bock. The labels are long gone, but these names from breweries past are still a part of Philadelphia’s rich brewery heritage. Before the Prohibition, Philadelphia – not Milwaukee – was the capital of American beer, the home of possibly 400 breweries.

Even if you never heard these brewers’ names, your grandfather remembers running  down to the corner for a bucket of Gretz . Or the bricks in your home where carried by a mason who kicked back at the end of the day with a tall, cool glass of Hohenadel.

Celebrate American Beer Month, and you just might find your own place in our nation’s brewing heritage. Lift a pint to the men and women – your neighbors – who brew your favorite. It’s a good way to say thanks.

I can think of no better place to do kick off the festivities, right here in the City of Brewery Love. Today’s Big Fat Friday is filled with sixpacks of ideas for discovering beer in Philadelphia.

Joe Sixpack will get things started at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at McGillin’s Olde Ale House, 1310 Drury St., Center City, when the Daily News proves there is such a thing as a Free Lunch. The first 100 people who toast American Beer Month with a domestic brew will get free eats, courtesy of the People Paper.

The Free Lunch kicks off a day of beer-drinking festivities that mark the start of American Beer Month. Here’s a schedule:


2 p.m. – Hundreds of brewers will gather on the Art Museum steps for the first-ever American Brewers Rally. The event marks American Beer Month with speeches by, among others, Hickenlooper of Wynkoop Brewery, and Carol Stoudt, the first lady of American brewing and founder of Stoudt’s Brewing in Adamstown, Pa.

6-8 p.m. – Open house for brewers at Nodding Head Brewing Co., 1516 Sansom St., Center City.


Breweries and bars will feature special beer styles produced by America’s best micros, on tap and in bottles.

  • American pale ale — London Grill , 2301 Fairmount Ave., Center City. 215-978-4545.
  • Beer cuisine — Monk’s Café, 263 S. 16th St., Center City. 215-545-7005. \
  • Beer gear — What’s on Tap, 339 South St., Center  City. 215-574-1330 .
  • Belgian-style ale — The Drafting Room, Route 100, Exton. 610-363-0521.
  • Belgian-style Ale,  takeout — Voorhees Liquors, 10 Berlin Rd. in Voorhees, N.J. 800-429-5273.
  • Brown ale — Dock Street Terminal Brewpub, 12th & Filbert streets, Center City, 215-922-4292.
  • California pale ale — The Drafting Room, 900 N. Bethlehem Pike, Spring House. 215-646-6116.
  • Cask-conditioned ale — Standard Tap, 2nd and Poplar streets, Northern Liberties. 215-238-0630.
  • Extra special bitterMcMenamin’s Bar & Grill, 7170 Germantown Ave., Mt. Airy. 215-247-9920.
  • Growlers — Flanigans Boathouse, 113 Fayette St., Conshohocken. 610-828-BOAT. Or Flanigans at the Great Valley Corporate Center, Malvern. 610-251-0207.
  • Hefe-weizen — The Grey Lodge Pub, 6235 Frankford Ave., Frankford. 215-624-2969
    Imperial stout — Dock Street Brasserie, 18th & Cherry, Logan Circle. 215-493-0413. Dock Street will also pour its Thomas Jefferson Ale, a colonial-era ale based on a recipe devised by the third president of the United States.
  • India pale ale — O’Neal’s Pub, 3rd & South, Center City. 215-574-9495.
  • Irish-style ales — McGillin’s Olde Ale House, 1310 Drury St., Center City. 215-735-5562.
  • Pennsylvania beers — The Beverage Store, 218 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne. 610-688-3431.
  • Philadelphia beers — Stone’s Beverage Center, 1701 Fairmount Ave., Spring Garden, 215-763-9789.
  • Pils — The Khyber, 54 S. 2nd St., Old City. 215-238-5888.
  • Porter — Flat Rock Saloon,  4301 Main St., Manayunk. 215-483-3722
  • Scottish-style ales  — Nodding Head, 1516 Sansom St., Center City. 215-569-9525
  • Sixpacks — The Foodery, 10th and Pine streets, Center City. 215-928-1111
  • Strong ales  — General Lafayette Inn & Brewery, 646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill.
  • Stout — Sugar Mom’s Church St. Lounge, 225 Church St., Old City. 215-925-8219
  • Wheat beer — Cuvée Notredame, 17th and Green streets, Spring Garden. 215-765-2777



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