Thursday, July 19, 2012

Philadelphia, Independence of Beer

Thank to Butch Dougherty of Molly Malloy's for the pictures
While shooting the finishing touches on a documentary series I have been working on for nearly a year, the last location for myself and film crew was Philadelphia and southern New Jersey.  It was a shame we didn’t wait a week as it was Philadelphia Beer week then.

After arriving at our hotel and shooting B-Roll of the city, we decided to have a light dinner and some beers at the renowned Monk’s Café.  Saying that Monk’s is heavily influenced by Belgium is a severe understatement.  They even have a replica statue of Mannekan Pis!

The two of us were able to belly-up in the back bar.  It was dark, but not uncomfortable.  I settled in with a Belgian ale and ordered the Red Light Mussels with Frites.  My second beer was a Belgian stout.  Both beers were good.  The mussels were outstanding.  I don’t get too excited about Belgian beer menus, but I do with mussels; after all, my father was born in Belgian.  The fries were delicious and even better when I dipped them into the Red Light broth.

Since we had to wake up early and film in southern New Jersey, we called it an early night.  Monk’s is regarded as one of the best beer bars in America.  While I agree it is very good, I would prefer a beer bar with a bigger variety mix of beers from North America.  Several events are run at Monk’s each year.  I missed a Russian River beer pairing dinner by one night.

After spending a day and the following night in southern New Jersey, we returned to rainy Philadelphia for lunch.  I had always wanted to visit Reading Terminal Market, and this was my opportunity! I love open markets like this.  So much great stuff is available: Cheese sellers, fresh seafood, produce, butchers, salumeria, souvenirs, books and more! What stands out the most at Reading Terminal are the food vendors.  There are so many great places there.  I settled for a three meat platter from Hershel’s Deli after I saw them cutting the corned beef.  I had that, plus pastrami and beef brisket.  Across the way Adam Richman was filming his new series Best Sandwiches in America at DiNics.  My twin brother swears by Sangkee’s Duck Noodle Soup.  I looked into going, but the line was too long.  I was not disappointed with my lunch.

Me at Molly Malloy's
But I digress back to beer.  As I went looking for the rest rooms I spotted a bar with several taps.  Upon further inspection (after my trip to rest room), I made an executive decision that myself and crew must have a few beers there.  The place: Molly Malloy’s!  With 24 beers on tap, and a really nice food menu, I knew I had unexpectedly found a winner!  My buddy and I took our saddles at the bar and ordered our first round.  I had Victory Headwaters pale ale, and recommended Troegs Sunshine Pils to Daniel.

Thank to Butch Dougherty of Molly Malloy's for the pictures
Many taps the day I was there were from Pennsylvania; Yards, Troegs, Victory, Stoudt's and Weyerbacher.  Other craft beers from Dogfish Head, Widmer Brothers, Goose Island and more were well represented.  The bartender was very nice and helpful in answering my questions about the local beers.  I was pleasantly surprised by finding Molly Malloy’s and sincerely recommend grabbing food and drink there.  But if you can’t pass up on the pork sandwiches from DiNic’s, you can always graba nice pint from Molly’s afterwards.  Follow Molly's on Facebook to find out about beer events they hose.  Some are even after Reading Terminal Market's closing hours!

After a great lunch and a few beers, I walked across the street to my hotel for a nap and a swim in the 7th floor pool.  After all, I had a big night ahead of me.

Daniel, Ryan Star, ME, Eki @ Wordl Cafe Live
My friend Ryan Star was on tour and just happened to be playing in Philadelphia that night.  The venue was World Café Live, across the river from downtown near UPENN.  The venue is a nice intimate concert setting with an average sized stage, dining tables and a bar.  The acoustic sound quality was very good, which is critical to live music.  The craft beer selection was good as well; by no means the best in Philadelphia, but a good selection nonetheless.

I started off with Bear Republic’s Racer 5 and finished with Cabo Wabo Repesado Tequila.  Other offerings from Troegs, Stoudt’s, Harpoon,  Flying Fish, Rogue, Stone, Sierra Nevada, Victory, Oskar Blues and more were also available.  Three Racer 5s and the tequila did me in.  Ryan sounded great that night, and I don't think that was the booze talking.  Unfortunately my night was not over. 

World Café Live is a very good place to see great live music and enjoy a fine selection of craft beer.

After the show, we took a cab to Morgan’s Pier on the waterfront almost underneath the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.  According to their website, they have an outdoor beer garden with a foodie picnic.  I am not sure what that means, but looking at their menu, it looks pretty good.  The only exception is the vegan chorizo (I could write an entire book about why that is wrong!).

Morgan's Pier (from their website)

I remember the weather was perfect on the Wednesday night (after the rain showers moved away) that I was there and that the bar wasn’t too crowded.  The beer list is solid, but not epic, and I remember really loving the atmosphere there.  This is certainly a bar I want to revisit.

Philadelphia side notes:  Since this trip was more work related, I wasn’t able to go to a lot of other beer bars that I had heard about or was suggested to me, but I was very happy to find the places mentioned above.  I missed Philadelphia Beer Week by a week, but it could be worth a trip next year.

One more shameless pitch for my TV series, Bullied You're Not Alone.


Let the Better Beer Authority know what you think. Leave us a comment!