Category: History

How to add refreshing spice to beer? Gingerly

THE PURIST in me is gagging even as I write this, but the other day I took a perfectly good Sam Adams Boston Lager, poured half of it into a pint glass, then topped it with a can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale.

Gassy and sweet, with the lager’s classic noble hops now completely masked by sugar, it could only … Read the rest

Pilsners debuted to a hostile crowd

PALE YELLOW lager – it’s as ordinary as white boxer shorts.

Imagine telling that to the Munich brewers who gathered a few weeks after their beloved Oktoberfest in 1895 to gripe about this newfangled brew called Helles Lagerbier. That kind of talk would have had you facing the wrath of Hans and Fritz, clicking their heels and railing about the … Read the rest

Adventurer seeks to re-create centuries-old ale

IN 1852, the British government dispatched Royal Navy Cmdr. Edward Belcher and a fleet of five ships to the Canadian Arctic to search for the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin. They came up empty, and four of Belcher’s ships – including the H.M.S. Resolute – were abandoned in the ice.

Years later, the Resolute was discovered adrift, salvaged, returned … Read the rest

Tavern’s Troubling Tale of Emptiness

The Ivy Leaguers have been holding the Colonial-era landmark at 125-7 Spruce St. for more than a decade, and they’ve just let it sit empty, its playful outdoor sign fading in the sun.

This disuse of an important piece of American heritage is all the more evident now that the city’s Once Upon a Nation is running its Tippler’s Tour … Read the rest

Party still holds out for Prohibition

GEORGE ORMSBY was barely 16 years old on April 7, 1933, the day that Prohibition died. Seventy-three years later, he still thinks the abolition of beer and liquor was a pretty good idea.

“All you have to do is look into some of the records during Prohibition,” said Ormsby, a plumbing inspector from Aston, Delaware County, who twice ran for … Read the rest

Ben had a yen for taverns

“Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Ben Franklin

“Eat not to dullness, drink not to elevation.” – Ben Franklin

THERE IS a fine line, apparently, between happiness and excess. As Philadelphia celebrates Franklin’s 300th birthday next week, it’s clear we still have no idea where to draw that line.

Booze is … Read the rest

Philly’s Franklin finall gets his due

OVER the years, brewers have made beers in honor of presidents and authors and birds and bees. St. Nicholas has dozens of beers in his honor, and there are beers named after St. Bridgid, St. Patrick, St. Arnold and even pious St. Rogue. Sam Adams has an entire brewery with his name. Hunter Thompson and Jack Kerouac, Thomas Jefferson and … Read the rest

The Inquirer’s Great Taste Test put Schmidt’s back on the map

NO ONE EVER accused the Inquirer of being a Joe Sixpack kind of rag. It’s a pinkie-extended, wine-sipping broadsheet that prefers to sniff, not guzzle, before enlightening all with its fruity yet (dare we say?) pretentious character.

But credit goes to the Inky for a landmark, though largely forgotten, work of journalism 30 years ago this week, when the ivory-tower … Read the rest

It was near, but not very dear

“The man who called it ‘near beer’ was a bad judge of distance.”  – W.C. Fields

THIS autumn marks the 70th anniversary of the demise of the scourge of our favorite adult beverage:

Near beer.

Oh, the non-alcoholic brew is still around, for reasons that escape my ethyl-disoriented gourd. But 1933 – the end of Prohibition – was also the … Read the rest