You know that feeling you get when you’re in a bar and feeling totally one with your time and your place? The right music, the perfect dish, your favorite friends, the best beer – a feeling of comfort or excitement?
The Germans call it gemütlichkeit. The Irish refer to it as the craic. In Spanish it’s la chispa.
And in Denmark it’s called hygge, which is the inspiration for Bar Hygge, the new brewpub opening in about two weeks on Fairmount Avenue near 17th.
“It’s kind of untranslatable,” said Tom Baker, the head brewer whom locals know from Earth Bread + Brewery, the wildly successful spot he runs in Mount Airy with his wife, Peggy Zwerver.
Baker might’ve added unpronounceable. Say it HUGH-gah. Or something like that.
“It’s the kind of coziness you get when you’re with friends and family, having good food,” Baker said. He credits his partners, and Julie Keener, who previously ran the Baggataway Tavern in West Conshohocken, with the name.
“They visited Denmark a while back,” he said. “They got hygge into their heads and we settled on it as a name. Really, the Danes are pretty big on it. “
The Danes. In Philadelphia.
Well, we learned how to say “Schuylkill,” so . . .
Bar Hygge is one of the big beer highlights of 2016, a year that should see at least one or two other breweries opening in the city, and perhaps a half-dozen others in the near suburbs. Add a few more beer bars and more out-of-town brands, and there will be plenty of new stuff filling our pint glasses this year.
Bar Hygge will have fewer seats than EB+B, and none of its famous pizza, but it boasts a broader menu and more beer. Foodwise, think cheese and charcuterie boards plus burgers, seafood and other plates.
Beerwise, we’re talking about a 10-barrel (300-gallon) brewhouse that is about 50 percent larger than Baker’s Mount Airy outfit. He’ll have twice as many fermentation tanks, which means more variety.
Figure on about a half-dozen house beers plus another five or six guest brews. First up: Belgian pale ale, India pale ale, Baltic porter, a brown saison and a Swedish farmhouse style flavored with juniper and smoked malt known as Gotlandsdricka.
On the other side of Center City, twin brothers Sean and Andrew Arsenault plan to open Brewery ARS on West Passyunk Avenue near 19th in South Philly. The 10-barrel production brewery with a small taproom could be up and running by as early as June.
The two have been active on the local homebrewing scene for years. Andrew trained at the brewing program at the University of California-Davis and worked two years at Victory Brewing. I’ve tasted their beer, and it’s quite good.
“We want to keep it small at first,” Sean Arsenault said. “We both like dry saisons – beer that has a prominent yeast character but is very well hopped. ” Think of DeRanke XX Bitter. “
Also new in 2016:
Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. will open a full-scale bar at its Kensington location.
Troegs just announced it’s adding a full-scale barrel-aging room at its ever-growing brewery in Hershey.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant will open its 12th location in Huntingdon Valley, Montgomery County, in the spring.
Chatty Monks, a Reading brewpub, is aiming to open a 15-barrel production facility in Phoenixville, giving the Chester County town no fewer than four breweries. If that’s not enough, head out the Schuylkill River Trail a few miles to Royersford, where Stickman Brews just opened.
Conshohocken Brewery will open a new brewpub and beer garden along the Schuylkill in Bridgeport, Montgomery County. And license applications have been filed to open small breweries in Port Richmond, Chestnut Hill and Berwyn. (Still waiting for word about the future home of Nodding Head, which closed its Center City location in 2014 and now contracts its brands at Philadelphia Brewing. )
In South Jersey, meanwhile, look for Lower Forge to open its brewery soon in Medford, with a distillery to follow. A little farther down the road, Wharton Brewing plans to open in Shamong.
Down the Shore, Slack Tide Brewing just opened north of Cape May Court House, and Ludlam Island Brewery hopes to start up later this year a few miles north in Ocean View.
New bars: Garage, the fun, can-focused spot across the street from Pat’s Steaks in South Philly, is opening a new location at Frankford and Girard Avenues in Fishtown. World of Beer, the mega-tap craft beer chain, will add a location at Main Street at Exton Mall in April.
New beer: Fat Head’s Brewery, the Ohio brewery that killed it at last year’s Great American Beer Festival with four gold medals, will be on local shelves starting this month. Look for Hop Juju Imperial IPA, judged the nation’s best double India pale ale. Next month, 10 Barrel’s brands will roll into town. That’s the Bend, Ore., brewery that Anheuser-Busch purchased last year to kick off a year of craft beer acquisitions.