How to make Philly an even better beer-drinking city

IT’S HAMMOCK time – the lazy months of summer when a boy can dream. This one’s already got his feet up and his can in the ice bucket, imagining how to make Philadelphia an even better beer-drinking city.

For example:

Bring back the drinking car on SEPTA trains. How much more tolerable would your commute be if you could enjoy a cold Kensinger while rumbling home from work? Onboard beer sales would attract new riders and generate revenue for the transit agency.

Give the city’s official seal a beer. I suppose the image of a woman holding a cornucopia has some historical significance. But what’s with that disembodied arm? It seems ripe for holding a mug – a symbol of our beer-soaked heritage. This should be our next mayor’s top priority.

Enact an honest pour law. This would require a line on barroom glassware that marks either 16 ounces or 500 milliliters. If bars are going to charge six, seven or eight bucks a glass, beer drinkers deserve to know how much they’re getting.

Open a beer museum. We need a place to document and celebrate the role of beer in the founding and growth of our city. I suggest installing it at the Man Full of Trouble Tavern, the city’s only surviving Colonial tavern that currently sits empty and shamefully ignored on the 200 block of Spruce Street.

Pass the Great Northeast Bar Relief Law. No, there is no such proposal. But, clearly, government intervention is the only solution to help this huge swath of the city. It’s home to hundreds of thousands of beer drinkers, yet only a half-dozen or so places above Cottman Avenue, where the tap lines aren’t dominated by Coors Light. Roosevelt Boulevard deserves better than Applebee’s.

Allow bars to open outdoor cafes. They have to jump through all kinds of state and local regulatory hoops – why? Some outdated sense of Quaker propriety, I imagine. Look, if it doesn’t severely limit pedestrian traffic, let them put a few tables on the sidewalk. It’ll boost business and neighborhood sociability. In return, bars would . . .

Install bike racks. The city took away all the damn parking meters; now there’s nowhere to lock up our fixies. Do cyclists a solid and give us a place to park.

Open a beer garden at Lemon Hill. Now that Fairmount Park is open to the idea of (gasp!) beer on its sacred grounds, it should go all-in. This is not such a novel idea: the Lemon Hill grounds attracted thousands to a huge German beer garden throughout the 1800s. Think picnics and families and music and games and fresh casks of Yards ESA.

Install radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags on kegs. Currently, kegs are marked with paper collars that get soaked and fall apart during delivery. They’re hard to read and they contain little useful information.

An RFID loaded with detailed info is easily tracked with basic computer equipment. And (here’s an idea for an app developer) the information can be shared via the Internet with beer drinkers in search of specific brands. When a keg of, say, Weyerbacher Sunday Morning coffee stout is tapped, the tag would automatically alert the world.

Open a brewpub at the airport. Much as I appreciate Jet Rock Bar & Grill’s incredible selection, there ought to be a Philly-branded pub in one of the terminals. Also, the airport should add a selection of Philly beer to its duty-free shop. Out-of-towners are eager to bring home the local product.

Allow refill growlers at gas stations. This is not some loopy idea – it’s an actual modern convenience in Charlottesville, Va., of all places. Imagine rolling home on Chester County’s Route 113, stopping at the Sunoco to fill up your Honda and jogging inside for a half-gallon of draft Sly Fox Rt. 113 IPA to go.

Clean up Drury Street. Now that McGillin’s Old Ale House has been joined by BRU and the Drury Beer Garden, the tiny Center City block from 13th to Juniper streets is hopping with big crowds. It’s on the verge of becoming a unique pedestrian beer oasis, but it won’t get there till someone grabs a power washer and hides the ugly Dumpsters.

Tempted as you may be to respond to these ideas with the jaded shrug that “it’ll never happen in Philadelphia,” I’d rather hear your own ideas – nutty or otherwise. Email them to me or comment below.


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