Category: History

When Brooklyn Brewing ran into Philly’s Billy Pflaumer

IF STEVE HINDY looks a little uncomfortable on Monday when he and a panel of local brewers gather for a talk about the “craft-beer revolution” at Yards Brewery, don’t blame me.

The founder of Brooklyn Brewery is an experienced journalist – a former Mideast correspondent for the Associated Press – and he can handle the grilling I’ll dole out as … Read the rest

And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the gardens

A FEW years ago, I pitched what I thought was a great idea for the city:A beer garden at LOVE Park. I could just imagine the lunchtime crowds, the evening diners with their families, the skateboarders and foodies, people just hanging out – all of them coming together and enjoying the city’s finest, freshest beer at one of its most … Read the rest

Bathing in suds

THE QUESTION arises: Are you really going to make beer in a bathtub at the Bathtub Beer Fest?

Philly Beer Week has been promising an authentic bathtub brew at next Thursday’s festival at the National Constitution Center, as a tribute to its outstanding exhibit, “American Spirits: The Rise & Fall of Prohibition.” The idea is to wheel some old-fashioned cast-iron … Read the rest

Prohibition: How the Hell Did That Happen?

ON THE 300 block of Walnut Street in Old City lies the dichotomy of Prohibition.

At one end of the block is the site where Dr. Benjamin Rush, Declaration of Independence signer and father of the American temperance movement, had his office. At the other is a building where, a century later, bootlegger Joel D. Kerper bottled illegal gin for … Read the rest

A taste of yesteryear in the cradle of suds

YOU THINK WE have a pretty good beer scene now? You should’ve seen this town back in 1879.

Every neighborhood had its own brewery, and every corner had a saloon. In the preceding 30 years, more than 250 breweries had opened — many of them closing quickly, but others becoming national powers. A census by Western Brewer magazine counted an … Read the rest

A Christmas glass of beer in the old English workhouse

“It was Christmas Day in the workhouse, that season of good cheer, the paupers’ hearts were merry, their bellies full of beer.” – An old English bawdy.

NOT TO BE overly optimistic as we head into the homestretch of the holiday season, but if President Newt Gingrich is going to send us paupers back to the workhouses, I’m hoping we … Read the rest

Mike Royko and the great newspaper taste test

BEFORE THERE was Yelp and and a million blogs to tell us who’s No. 1, there was the great newspaper taste test.

It was the 1970s, and American breweries were dying left and right. There were barely 100 of them nationwide and most produced the same boring, pale lager. Our favorite was either the cheapest brand or the one … Read the rest

The rise and fall of mighty bock

IMAGINE THE SCENE: The winter has ended, the sun is shining and the sidewalks are packed with milling crowds. A stream of beer trucks parades down the avenue. Celebrities judge a beauty pageant for goats in the city park. Brass bands play Strauss in outdoor gardens.

And a quarter-million barrels of strong, dark, malty lager are about to be tapped … Read the rest

Pre-Prohibition brews weren’t the tastiest beers

IF WE’RE living in the best of beer times – an unprecedented era of expansive choice, inventive styles and technological superiority – how do you explain the aberration that’s come to be called Pre-Pro?

Now, you can count me among the corps of traditionalists who hold it as an article of faith that older is better than new. I prefer … Read the rest

Wenceslas has his vote as top beer saint

BEER, ACCORDING to the adage that has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. ”

If that’s true, it was the product of an extensive lobbying effort.

No other pastime has more saints advocating on its behalf than beer drinking. A definitive list compiled by my beer-drinking associate Jay … Read the rest