Archive for philadelphia exbeeriment

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

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
dscf01471

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-thumbnail-33

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.

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

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.

Our Recommendations to Keep Your Beer Week a Happy One

Posted in Beer, event with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment

Everybody drinks on the weekends, but for Philly Beer Week, we’ve decided to list some of the better events going on during the week.  So come out with us and celebrate better beer!

MONDAY

————————————————-

For all you hip cats and artists who jive with Apollo, lord of the Muses, be sure to check out the following event at one of the coolest bars in South Philly.

Gonzo Art of Drinking with Flying Dog   7:00 PM
P.O.P.E.
1501 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, Pa

TUESDAY

—————————————-

For the wannabe schnobs, put on your drinking…er…thinking caps and learn some big words to impress your wine-loving friends.

Deconstructing Beer: Beer-tasting seminar. Intro to Beer Flavor & Appreciation with Noted Beer Author Randy Mosher

8:00 PM

Dock Street Brewery
701 50th Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19143

—————————————

Make Sawyer proud and spot the con-artists from the truthful tale-tellers.  Bring your friends!

Beer Balderdash

9:00 PM

Standard Tap
901 N. Second St.
Philadelphia, Pa 19123

WEDNESDAY

———————————

For the dogs:

Wrap your PAWS around a doggone good beer

5:00 PM

St. Stephen’s Green
1701 Green Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19130

And at

The Bishop’s Collar
2349 Fairmount Ave
Philadelphia, Pa 19130

—————————————–

Bad memories of buses from your childhood trips to school?  Improve them with this crawl-on-wheels!

South Philly Beer Bus Tour

6:00 PM

6 Bars South of South St.
South Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA 19148

—————————————-

Vould you like a pint wit da pretty misses in dere lederhosen?  Then this event is the one for you!

Prost! Bohemian Night with German-Atttired Girls .

7:00 PM

For Pete’s Sake Pub
900 S Front St.
Philadelphia, Pa 19147

——————————————-

And if you’re not into German, there’s always a wee bit of fun going on elsewhere…

Live Irish Music – Irish Fare – and craft beer specials

9:00 PM

Cherry Street Tavern
129 N 22nd St.
Philadelphia, Pa 19103

THURSDAY

———————————–

Jazzing it:

Sax and the City II

5:00 PM

Grace Tavern
2229 Grays Ferry Ave
Philadelphia, Pa 19146

——————————————

2+2=4 beers!

Philly Beer Geek Finals Competition at Manayunk Brewpub

7:00 PM

Philly Beer Geek
4120 Main Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19127

——————————————

Oh, lumberjacks.  They always bring up fuzzy memories of singing Brits in high heels, paper towels, and childhood tales of Paul Bunyan.  Maybe even that strange movie where Patrick Swayze rides around the wild west on a tornado.  Into rugged, outdoorsy stuff?  Then hit up this event!  You may even spot Miss Riot running around in a flannel shirt.  (Patrick Swayze not included.)

Left Hand Lumberjack Night

8:00 PM

South Philly Tap Room
1509 Mifflin St.
Philadelphia, Pa 19145

———————————————–

Got a thing for short guys?  Well, we can’t guarantee it, but you may be able to spot a leprechaun or two at this event.  You may even spot Kunoichi Erica ditching her traditional black ninja garb for more festive greenery.

Hook and Ladder St. Paddy’s Warm Up

7:00 PM

Bridgid’s Bar and Restaurant

726 N. 24th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19130

FRIDAY

———————————-

Oi vey!  An event with beer and traditional Shabbat’s fare?  Discuss!

Yo/Oy He’brew Beer & Shabbos Dinner

5:00 PM

The Sidecar Bar & Grille
2201 Christian St.
Philadelphia, Pa 19146

————————————

Let’s crawl some more!

Fairmount Pub Crawl with Magic Hat

7:00 PM

The pubs of Fairmount
Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130

—————————————–

Meet Kunoichi Erica’s god: Fergal Murray

Guinness Boot Camp with Brewmaster Fergal Murray

5:00 PM

Tir Na Nog

1600 Arch Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

—————————————

And don’t forget to check out as many meet-the-brewer and giveaway events you possibly can!

Q and A: Quenching Curiosity and Answering to Alcohol

Posted in Beer, event, Unofficial News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2009 by philadelphiaexbeeriment
pe-cheers1

Raising a toast to the wide array of sophisticated suds in South Philly.

In the spirit of exBEERimentation that pervades the streets of Philadelphia during the days leading up to Beer Week, the Ladies of PE have scoured the beer community in search of interesting personalities to regale you with their yeasty yarns.  The first interview to appear in this sudsy series features Adam Ritter, owner of the Sidecar Bar & Grille and participant in Beer Week’s South Philly Short Bus.

As natives of South Philadelphia ourselves, we can’t help but raise a glass in salute to his community pride!

We only wish we could let you share in the amazing music that was playing in the background.  Nothing pumps an interview up more than a large helping of T-Rex and The Kinks.

rachel-riot-thumbnail2Rachel Riot: What was the inspiration behind the short bus?

———————————————————–

adam-ritter-thumbnailAdam Ritter:  More than anything, we wanted to highlight what’s actually going on in South Philly. We feel as though outside of the city center, going into South Philly a little bit there’s some exciting stuff going on; there’s exciting bars. The events themselves are second to none. We’ve been lucky enough to basically form an interesting association, guild, whatever you want to call it, amongst the different bars here in South Philadelphia, that we’re excited about. We want to showcase what’s going on here, and I figured the best way to do that is to take some of the people right to the bars and make it happen for them. Almost give them no choice.

And listen, it’s a great deal. It’s free, and it continues in its own circle for about 9-10 hours. It actually goes from 4 [pm] to 1 in the morning on three different nights during Beer Week. It [starts on] the first Saturday, which sandwiches the Wednesday, and of course ends on the second Saturday. And we all have fun events, good events going on. And we really teamed up to advertise it well and promote it well in general. And we’re all real excited about it here in South Philly. Anything south of South [Street] that takes beer seriously.


rachel-riot-thumbnail3Rachel Riot: How do you feel that South Philly bars compare to bars in other areas of the city?

——————————————————

adam-ritter-thumbnail1Adam Ritter:  Just to piggyback what I was saying earlier…I feel as though what we’re doing here in South Philly is second to none. That may be prejudiced, because we’re here in South Philly: we’re proud of what we do more than anything. There’s interesting bars all around this town, but I think there’s a great collection right here within a ten block radius.And we all take what we do so very seriously; and I feel as if we all take beer very seriously. And we’re just trying to take beer, make it fun and mature—combine the two together. And we’re not necessarily doing this for the St. Patty’s Day feel. We’re looking to do this for people who want to check out some good stuff outside of the traditional, typical places in the city’s center.


kunoichi-erica-thumbnail-32Kunoichi Erica: Do you hope for the short bus to accomplish anything besides getting drunk people from point a to point b during the festivities?

————————————————————

adam-ritter-thumbnail3Adam Ritter:  Oh yeah, of course, more than anything. There’s a lot of savvy folks that are drinking high-end, high-gravity suds right now…I’m going to take myself out of it as a bar owner and say very specifically: if I saw something like this, and I enjoyed good beer, this would be the greatest thing ever. You get to encompass six respective bars all within one evening, or even in three evenings. If you want to drink American-made, Belgian-style beer here at the beginning of the trip, you know that there’s something from Michigan going on at the other end of the street and something from California going on at another bar…You’re essentially going around the beer world in a trip that’s going to take you about an hour and a half to get you all the way around.

Is there going to be some drunkenness going on? I imagine there is. That’s what I was saying before: it’s not like we’re just trying to cart people around to do a bunch of Irish Car Bombs and stuff like that. These are people that are sophisticated, that want to drink something that they typically can’t get their hands on: maybe some one-off stuff, real specialized stuff that’s coming in, that we’ve been working on for a while, each and every one of us. And then also concepts to build around that….

I know Grace [Tavern], for instance, is doing an event with Sam Adams—a chocolate and cheese beer event…On a Friday night we’re bringing Hebrew beer in from Shmaltz Brewery, and my mom’s making traditional Jewish food to match up with what’s basically Shabbat’s Dinner with Hebrew beer….When I first heard about that brewery, I thought it was really cute to piggyback it with the Hebrew thing: and it turned out to be really delicious beer. It’s not just cute; it actually is good beer—it stands on its own. Therefore we came up with the concept to have the Shabbat’s Dinner and I’m going to play Klezmer music from New Orleans to match it, and maybe throw some Neil Diamond in there as well….

You can tell through the Philly Beer Week website, we’ve all got great stuff going on [in South Philly]. For Pete’s Sake has great things going on. Philly Taproom brought beer in that they’re giving away—the New Glarus product. They had a shipment and they’re giving it away, just because it’s that interesting of a beer, that they’re able to do that. I know the Devil’s Den has some really great events as well with the Bell’s people, Founder’s as well. I feel that we’ve got some really well-thought-out concepts going on here. These are beer concepts. It’s not just about carting drunk people around. It’s about saying, “Let’s taste beer for what it is. Let’s appreciate it for what it is. And let’s have a whole lot of fun with it, in a slightly immature, but mature, way.”


kunoichi-erica-thumbnail-31Kunoichi Erica: If you could equate one beer with President Obama, what would it be, and why?

—————————————————–

adam-ritter-thumbnail4Adam Ritter:  Well, I don’t know if I would equate it personally, but Ommegang came out with a beer called Obamagang. So we’re going to do an entire Belgian evening with Ommegang. They’re from Cooperstown, NY, and they do Belgian-style, American-made beer. So we’re gonna do an “Are You Experienced?” night—meaning Belgian food and beer…They did a one-off package in favor of the president—a Chocolate Cherry Stout, that we’re going to have a sixtel of for that event. You’re not going to be able to ever get that beer again. So…we have this particular beer, that there’s probably four sixtels of in the entire state right now. That’s just an example of the uniqueness of some of these events. But, to go back, that’s probably the one that I would equate with him, because it’s named and brewed for him.*

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

*PE Writers’ Note: Since the time of this interview, we’ve learned that the feds have put a stop to the name of Ommegang’s new beer. It will now be officially called “Inauguration Ale 2009.” Imbibe more here: Examiner.com