Sunday, April 17, 2005

Philadelphia Beer

"To alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems." - Homer J. Simpson

In honor of the drunken mess I was Thursday night, and of a substance so powerful that it can make even me attractive, I wanted to mention the fact that the Brewers Association National Conference is meeting in our great city, Philadelphia. It is a closed conference at the Convention Center, so that's why I am getting info to you as it ends.

Don Russell, a.k.a. Joe Sixpack (unfortunately, I am not joking about this), had a great piece in the Daily News, which is your required reading for the day. He takes a look at the process of picking one beer to represent the city, a tradition for the brewers in the convention's host city. It's an interesting look at the pivotal role the city has played in brewing in this country, and the resurgence of small-scale brewers in the region over the last decade. Check out the Philly beer map (a PDF file on the right-hand side), which gives you a great map of the city and all of its wonderful drinking establishments. I wanted to highlight this passage from the piece, as it is so perfect that I have to quote it all:

I asked Arthur what came to mind when he thought of Philadelphia Beer. "The lager-brewing culture, of course," he replied.

But there was something else. The night before, some locals had taken him on a pub crawl through some old-time joints in Northern Liberties and Fishtown - Standard Tap, 700 Club, Johnny Brenda's.

"We just don't have 150-year-old buildings that have that kind of character in San Diego," Arthur said. "There's just so much texture and flavor."Link

Just like a well-made, hand-crafted beer.

And it's not just the physical buildings. It's the people inside them, so much character.

"It's a sense of community," Arthur said. "Philadelphia has this pub-drinking culture. It's comfortable, it's casual."

It's not mass-produced, pre-packaged, chain-store vanilla. It is diverse. It has raw edges. It is real.

The beer, the pubs, the people... Maybe, in a town where craftsmen have been brewing for 300 years, there is still no such thing as just one Philadelphia Beer. At our best, we are a blend.

Perfect. I can think of no take on what makes this city unique, and the urban environment so necessary. Diversity, grittiness, community, originality and history. Is it any wonder that people are so afraid of cities? These qualities are anathema to our modern society, which wants conformity, safety and homogeneity. For my readers, it would seem a fundamental question to decide which world you want to win out.

4 comments:

That Dude said...

Schmidt's!

Jack said...

Yeah, one of the classics. I think that they still have it at McGlinchey's, but I could be wrong. Anyone know for sure? Or a place to still get it? Don't forget about Ortlieb's either.

Jack said...

Yards Philly Pale Ale is my beer, as many know. Not sure if you can get it down South or outside of the area, but it is worth the effort. The company is based in Kensington, committed to the city and the neighborhood. They make great beers, and their free tours are highly recommended. Support these bols, people.

http://www.yardsbrewing.com/

Stan from London Grill said...

If you're looking for Schmidt's, look at The Fire (Philadelphia Bar & Grill) 4th and Girard in Northern Liberties