Better Late Than Never

Posted in Beer, event, Unofficial News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

Dear Readers,

We apologize for what seems to be a summertime hiatus.  We have our reasons for not being able to fill your mind with reviews, events, and interviews for the past few weeks but we will not take this time to drop a bunch of excuses on you.  Shame on us for not updating as often as we would have liked.

That being said, we are returning next week and will once again provide you with what we refer to as “beer necessities”.  We are also in the midst of planning some great ExBEERiment events for the fall and winter!  So please, stayed tuned.

Thanks again!

The Ladies of PE

P.S. We can neither confirm nor deny the rumors that we have been busy over the last few months traveling through time, trapped in a battle between elemental forces of good and evil:

Clip from Time Bandits (1981), Terry Gilliam

All I Ask Is a Tall Glass and a Beer to Fill Her by

Posted in Beer with tags , , , , on June 5, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

“Give my people plenty of beer, good beer and cheap beer, and you will have no revolution among them.” — Queen Victoria

Wise words from the queen.  We especially like the advice that good beer should be cheap.  Maybe it’s time the new administration took a hint from our former rulers and passed the 28th Amendment: ‘ The right to drink and bare change in the wallet.’

In honor of her long-gone majesty, we’ve sallied forth with two beers redolent of ages past:

Southampton Imperial Porter

7.5% ABV


Kunoichi Erica becomes possessed by the Spirit of Writers' Past whilst experiencing porter.

Southampton Brewery, rather like Detective Holmes, prides itself on its “infinite variety” — of craft brews, that is.

kunoichi-erica-thumbnail-3Kunoichi Erica: Porter.  The word stared merrily up at me from the menu at South Philly Taproom, calling to mind images from my youth, which, as a self-professed bibliophile, was spent mostly indoors sprawled on the floor with a good book.  It was in the old English novels that visionaries like Charles Dickens first hinted to me of the comforting qualities of the red-cheeked cherub the adults termed as “beer.”  At last, I was determined to try this staple of Victorian culture that so fascinated me at an early age and, like the fiddler in A Christmas Carol, to ‘dip my face in it.’

As the waiter deposited his dark burden before me, the aroma of blackberry soda invaded my olfactory.  It was soon complimented by the swift, bitter punch of black licorice.  Overall, this porter reminded me of a hearty shepherd’s pie — there wasn’t enough bang to make it one of my favorites, yet it offered the warm delight that accompanies most comfort foods.  My tongue was pleasantly insulated with the bitter taste of ale, which served as a steady companion throughout the meal.  Southampton Imperial Porter will definitely be a beer I call on once the winter months roll back in, and I find myself in need of a bit of good, old-fashioned indolence from the Publick House.


Whilst Kunoichi Erica was stomping through 19th century England, Rachel Riot was also there storming the heavy seas.

Aye matey hold onto your britches:

Heavy Seas Holy Sheet Abbey Ale

9% ABV

Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.

An award winning ale brought to you by those scallywags at Clipper City Brewing Co.

rachel-riot-thumbnail1Rachel Riot:   To sail the seas or wait ashore was my initial thought about this Abbey Ale.  After a few minutes of debating and advice from the bartender I decided a 9% beer pint for $5.00 seemed like an opportunity this thirsty lass couldn’t pass up.

OH HOLY SHEET! This full bodied beer with a dark ruby glow was a great choice!  The aroma is sweet and somewhat flowery (which initially frightened the hell out of this floral hop hater) but the taste is mostly of  tart fruits, spices, and hints of caramel.  It’s a strong beer with a bite that tingles the side of the tongue but leaves a smooth and appealing aftertaste.  If you want a bang for your buck this is the beer to buy!  One or two glasses of this fine ale and you’ll be staggering like a lily-livered pirate after having a bit too much grog with his favorite wenches. Argh!

Now check out this old Chuck Jones’ cartoon we dug up.  It’s chock full of some of our favorite things in the world: beer, pool, and dastardly villains!

“The Dover Boys at Pimento University” (1942), directed by Chuck Jones

Rock Is in the Air

Posted in event with tags , , , on May 29, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

Before the man convinced you to spend your hard-earned money on video games, there was a time when imagination was all you needed to express your inner rock ‘n roll god.

This weekend, go back to basics and rock out at the US Air Guitar Championships!  The event takes place this Saturday, May 30th at the Khyber.  It starts at 9 pm, $15 at the door.  So strap on your best imaginary Fender, and go out and root for your favorite wind shredder.

And remember, NEVER practice your air instruments while driving:

Clip from Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

Cause YOU Can Help By Drinking AND Rocking!

Posted in event with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

research flyer

Doc Watson’s Pub is located at 216 S 11th St (between Locust and Walnut Sts.)

Drink Specials include $2 Bud Light drafts and PBR cans, $3 drafts, $4 wines, and $5 well mixed drinks.

Philly Weekly Street Team will be there doing their thing!

Hope to see you there!

Showdown at the Saloon

Posted in bar hopping with tags , , , , , on May 6, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

The Fairmount bar scene is an area that we South Philadelphians have yet to frequent.  So in honor of long since passed Philly Beer Week we decided to go take a gander at what Fairmount had to offer.  One stop along the way was Urban Saloon.

Rootin' Tootin'...from the outside at least...

Rootin' Tootin'...from the outside at least...

Standing outside of Urban Saloon makes one imagine being at a bar where Maverick or Cheyenne might have grabbed a pint or two before they had to outwit and outlaw.  But beyond the old western saloon doors lies something unexpectedly different.

The single-floored, wide room has the architectural structure of a place that was once a storage shed or facility. The gathered curtains separating bar from dining area give a modern take on the saloon doors at the entrance.  However, the combination of new wood floors, brick inlays, spot lights, and four flat screen T.Vs.  makes you wonder if you’re still in the same “saloon” you walked into.

Maybe Urban Saloon is code-word for “fourth dimensional entrance” in these parts.  Which would not only explain the mismatched atmosphere, but would also excuse the hour-long wait we experienced after ordering only a salad and a cup of soup in what was not a crowded restaurant.  Time simply ran differently for the customers and waiters, as the kitchen crawled along in Twilight Zone space.

Green dressing was neither appetizing or tasty.

The green dressing was neither appetizing nor tasty.

When at last the plates of food sallied forth with the slow tread of Yosemite Sam, we could not help but react like a pair of yellow-bellies staring down the barrel of a gun: our meals didn’t so much resemble food, as slop fresh from the trough.  Miss Riot’s “Caprese Salad” was no more than an ant-hill made out of tomatoes, with a few mozzarella balls stuck on top for good measure.  And Kunoichi’s Clam Chowder was about as leathery as a jacket stripped from the back of Steve McQueen.

In the end, we couldn’t even resort to a decent array of beer to fortify our pallets.  Although the menu includes some interesting craft bottles, like Victory and Flying Fish, nevertheless the assortment resembles more nearly the standard beer menu available in any chain restaurant.

As the Western Code saying (sort of) goes, this Saloon ain’t saloon-y enough ‘fer the both of us!  This bar didn’t fulfill what two spaghetti western-watchin’ lasses had wished for.  In fact, Urban Saloon was just as unexpected as this gun fight!

From The Gun and the Pulpit (1974)

It’s not easy being green. Or underground, for that matter.

Posted in bar hopping with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

“…I was walking among the fires of Hell,

delighted with the enjoyments of Genius;

which to Angels look like torment and insanity.”

–William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

We’re all familiar with the stairway to heaven and the ladder of success, but very few of us would realize that descent can also lead to new worlds and good things.  Not so the people at 12 Steps Down.  They have hidden their bar away in a den below ground, daring the adventurous to climb down and discover what lies hidden for them in the darker depths.

The brave will encounter, not a haven for Morlocks, but a strangely inviting expanse of sensual overload.  Like a well-made spaghetti western, 12 Steps Down offers a little bit of everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Some traits may overwhelm the newcomer with delight, others may annoy; but overall, these traits combine to create an experience well worth reliving again and again.

Upon first setting foot on the green carpet, we couldn’t resist the impression that we were walking across a giant pool table.  The viridian field spread out before us, beckoning us inward as smoothly as entrants to the Emerald City.  We passed the actual pool table in the back; it seemed to grow out of the ground, a living extension of the rug.  Even the light stretching forth from the restroom corridor was green, glowing eerily like the special effects from a Stephen King TV special.

Soon, our ears were seduced by the strains of Jimi Hendrix and Cream, and we were forced to admit that we had finally discovered a bar where we didn’t feel the need to feed more money into the jukebox.  The final assault to our senses came in the form of a television with gigantic proportions.  It was Ray Bradbury’s wall-screen, transformed from fiction into reality.  What better way to enjoy our beer than to accompany it with a bit of sleuthwork, and take in the latest episode of Dateline in mammoth dimensions?

True, the service at the bar was a little slow.  But we really couldn’t fault the bartender for finishing his conversation with a regular before moving on to the uninitiated newbs.

Something truly pleasing about this bar is their beer list.  Even though three taps sit meekly at the corner of the bar, they are filled with a beer for everyone: one for the cheapos, one for the everyman, and one for the aficionados.   Although itty bitty in the eyes of most places blooming up these days, the bottle selection is shockingly varied.  Beers from PBC,Yards, and Victory line the shelves as well as other well known, non-locally crafted beers.

If you take a gander at the board behind the bar you’ll see what’s on tap and a dozen bottles that might only be available for a limited time.  But the most wonderful thing about this board is the prices scribbled alongside the beer (which is something all cash strapped beer lovers can appreciate).

But the most important thing we discovered at 12 Steps Down is a lesson Rowan Atkinson learned a long time ago: sometimes, things can be a little more fun down below.

* this post was previously posted at our Philadelphia Weekly page.

A Little Bit of Saving Grace

Posted in bar hopping with tags , , , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

Don't judge a bar by its cover.

Grace Tavern.  It was a name we’d heard passed back and forth between the lips of locals, peppered throughout conversations behind the bar and in the midst of parties.  We were informed of its status as a hole-in-the-wall that was, nevertheless, well worth a visit.  For us, it became like a legendary El Dorado, a promised land that only those in-the-know could reach.

We were not disappointed by our nighttime venture.  We walked through its misleadingly shabby exterior, into a realm cut directly from a Pink Floyd album cover.  Like Dr. Dave Bowman after confronting the Black Monolith, we were drawn forward into a landscape of strange hues and distorted geometry.  Grace Tavern can be summed up in only a few words.  The atmosphere?  Psychedelic.  The color?  Purple Haze.

Nevertheless, don’t let the trippy atmosphere fool you.  This hippie haven is well-stocked with the best in beer.  With featured drafts from Monks Cafe and Nodding Head, and a bottled beauty for almost every letter of the alphabet, this bar at 2229 Grays Ferry Ave will keep you happy all night long.

Sure, the bathroom may be kind of small, and the Bevador in the corner may look like a leftover prop from Forbidden Planet, but this bar screams “cool” as fiercely as a Bob Dylan record.  From the floral pattern etched into the ceiling, to the funky lighting, Grace is sure to please the flower child in all of us.  So hop aboard the magic bus and take a ride to Grace Tavern.

And if you should have trouble spotting it, just remember, it vaguely resembles the background from the original Whose Line Is It Anyway? set:

When Beer and Poetry Collide

Posted in Beer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.” — Oscar Wilde

Many a writer seems to lead a life that runs hand in hand with alcohol, yet none so much as the American writer.  From Ernest Hemingway to Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac to F. Scott Fitzgerald, creativity and a passion for the drink have danced along that same fine line that separates genius from insanity.  How fitting then that one of our next beers up for discussion is named after that all-too-familiar poem by one of our most famous alcoholic Americans.

The Raven

Special Lager, 5.5% ABV

The next invention we're hoping to see come out of Japan: the beer bookmark.

The next invention we're hoping to see come out of Japan: the beer bookmark.

Baltimore-Washington Beer Works joined hands with Germany to give us this lovely lager.


Kunoichi Erica:  The Raven cannot be described as anything other than perfectly Poe-like.  The first glance of its golden hue immediately recalls sunlight breaking through the rent in the House of Usher.  Its murky texture speaks of mysteries swirling within one’s glass–mysteries as curious as the mind of the poet himself.  The crisp fragrance is as wholesome as Landor’s Cottage, as comforting as the embrace of Lenore.

True, its flavor is not complex.  Nor is it particularly potent.  Rather, it is the longevity of the taste that reels one in.  Like the meter of Poe’s poems, it sticks to the pallet, locking the unwary drinker into a state of satisfaction sealed as tightly as the tomb of Fortunato.  While The Raven may not be destined to be ranked among the finest of beers, its haunting quality guarantees it a role as loyal companion to many a lager-lover.  One cannot help but wax poetic:

Once from out a bottle trimly, as I poured it, nice and nimbly,

Tumbled outward a smooth and syrupy lager of some writer’s lore–

While I sipping, slowly savored, suddenly there came a flavor,

As of fresh bread newly lavored, lavored with a caramel score.

”Tis a tasty brew,’ I muttered, flavored with a caramel score–

‘Drink the Raven, evermore.’


While Kunoichi tackles America, Miss Riot will be mingling with ancient alcoholics from the Mediterranean.   Thanks to the generous donation of Doc’s DeLorean, she was able to kick it old-school with the wine-guzzling Roman wonder: Ovid.  Together, they sampled a magical beer aptly named for his most famous mythical character.  Now go exBEERiment, before you metamorphose into an insect:

Midas Touch Golden Elixir

9 %/ ABV

Deemed a Herbed/Spiced Beer and royally crafted by

Dogfish Head Brewery.

King Midas: “Fiddlesticks! Give me gold, not advice!”
Goldie:  “So be it. I gave thee advice. Now I give thee gold. The golden touch is thine. Toodle-oo!”

The Golden Touch, 1935

rachel-riot-thumbnailRachel Riot: This “elixir” is fit for a King himself.  It lays within a bottle decorated in purple and gold and pours a color of golden coins.  A smooth beer with little to no head and perfected with features of  honey and fruit.  It’s sweet but not overpowering and sits well on the tongue and in the aftertaste.  It’s definitely not a session beer so take your time and enjoy the texture and taste.   You can experience this golden beer for $6.00 a bottle at 12 Steps Down.  Purchasing Midas Touch might leave recession affected people without riches but, just like King Midas, you will be richer in the things that really matter:  good beer.

Now check out Tim Burton’s Vincent (1982).  It’s about as close as you’ll get to a glimpse into our childhood.

Picture Perfect: Philly Beer Week 2009

Posted in event with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

The kegs are tapped, the brewers have gone home, and the events are now just a memory of a successful Philly Beer Week 2009. While you mourn the loss of a good reason to drink everyday, we hope you remember all the good times you had, the people you met, and the good beer you tried.

But let’s face it. Some of you might have partied too hard and can’t seem to remember where you left your hat (it was on the South Philly Beer Bus), who you “accidentally” fondled, and what bar you face-planted in front of.

That’s what we’re here for.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Ladies of  PE are proud to present pictures from our favorite beer week moments. We hope you enjoy!

PCBF 3/7/2009

Philly Craft Beer Festival at the Naval Yard

ROCKBAND @ POPE 3/8/2009

RockBand night at the POPE

PAWS @ Bishops Collar 3/11/2009

PAWS at the Bishop’s Collar

LeftHand Lumberjack night @ SPTR 3/12/2009

LeftHand Lumberjack night at SPTR

View all pictures from Philly Beer Week 2009

Next Stop on the Bar-Hop Express: Local 44

Posted in bar hopping with tags , , , , , , , on March 12, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

Finding a good bar is like finding a soul mate.  The very air around you should sing softly of future memories forged on the strength of the bond created upon that first fateful meeting.  When your foot crosses the threshold for the first time, the force of the atmosphere should drag you forward like a willing victim into Dracula’s castle.  The personality of the bar should fold itself around you, whispering assurances that you have indeed entered a space that is alive: with excitement, with curiosity, with warmth.


Local 44 on the corner of 44th and Spruce Streets.

Yet the first thing one notices upon entering Local 44 is that the walls work to block out the whip of the wind outside.  It whispers only, “Now you can remove your jacket.”  That is all.  No magical tinkling of invisible faerie bells, no electrical shock through the nervous system, tells you that there may be more here than meets the eye.

It’s not the decor that throws the place off.  The brick-red walls perfectly compliment the paneled floors.  The thin, dark-wood doors that lead into the kitchen look like they’ve just been shipped from a European chapel, thanks to the stained-glass window-slits that adorn them.  Even the bar has a touch of old-world glamor, as the line of light bulbs that dangle down from wires in the ceiling seems like it could come from some unused corridor in Thomas Edison’s factory.

It’s not that the beerlist is unimpressive.  In fact, their fine selection of craft beers, ranging from Slyfox to Ommegang to St. Bernardus, may be what saves this West Philly bar from obscurity.  Because even college students need good beer once in a while.

Perhaps it was a combination of small things.  It may have been the fact that the large frames that hang on the walls contain pictures of rather nondescript glasses of beer.  A bar should serve beer, but decorate with items that give it a touch of personal flavor, and not of redundancy.  The food, according to friends, was decent, but not great.  They even sold out of two beers during a two-hour interval.  And while the demands of Philly Beer Week must have been high, perhaps better preparation might have been in order.

Then again, maybe it’s just new.  A bar, like a fine wine or a pair of Doc Martens, tends to improve with age.  In a few years, when it’s built a bit of character and achieved that lived-in quality, perhaps a spirit will inhabit what, for now, remains only a building.