Joe Sixpack | Can we be a truly great city if we can't have a brew with Rover?

Posted: May 11, 2007

IT'S WARM outside, which means the city finally has an opportunity - temporarily, at least - to correct one of the great injustices in the world of beer.

Namely, the wrongheaded prohibition of dogs in bars.

Under the city health code, you can't bring your pet (except service dogs) into any place that serves food, including beer. (And, yes, I know there are a handful of neighborhood taprooms where Fido is welcome, but that's on the sly, so don't go blabbing.)

Dogs are permitted in outdoor seating areas, however, so these few months of toasty temps are a short reprieve for man's best friend.

Token gestures aside, what we have here is nothing short of blatant discrimination in which canines are treated like second-class citizens.

I'm going to get right to the point: If kids are allowed inside bars, how come dogs aren't?

And, yes, children are permitted in bars, under Sect. 4-493(14) of the Pennsylvania Liquor Code (a section that's appropriately titled, "Undesirable Persons"). The only caveat is that they can't climb up on the stools - they have to sit at a table with their parental units, and obviously they're not allowed to consume.

These rules make no sense.

For example, almost any health professional will tell you a booger-eating 6-year-old is far more likely than a dog to spread disease. Even one with a habit of licking his butt. The dog, that is, not the health professional.

Hopped up on pretzels and soda, kids in a bar are a terror, running around, whining, spilling your beer.

Dogs, meanwhile, are perfect drinking companions.

They lie at your feet, enjoying your company, resting in the comfortable atmosphere of your favorite watering hole. They love your jokes. They never criticize you. And they're ready to go home whenever you are.

Christine Matturro McLaughlin, author of the indispensable "Dog Lover's Companion to Philadelphia" (Avalon Travel, 2005), mentions one other plus:

"They're great icebreakers. Bring your dog to a bar, and you'll definitely meet new people."

It's true. Even the mangiest mutt is a chick magnet. But try using your homely kid to pick up babes and you'll either go home alone or end up on some list at DHS.

Beer and dogs were made for each other.

Look how many breweries are named after them: Flying Dog, Sea Dog, Thirsty Dog, Black Dog, Hair of the Dog. And let's not forget two of the city's best beer bars: Good Dog and White Dog Cafe.

You don't see anyone naming beers after kids, and for good reason. Would you drink something called Snot Nose Stout?

McLaughlin politely calls the anti-dog discrimination a "dichotomy" and notes that "kids can be much more destructive than dogs."

"The big problem," she said, "is that people either love dogs in bars and restaurants or they hate them. Even places that allow them in the outdoor seating areas get complaints."

For example, Chris Leonard, who runs the Gen. Lafayette Inn & Brewery (646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill), said that while dogs are welcome at his outdoor patio, "we usually poll the patrons that are already there. . . . It really depends on the time of day and 'feel' of the patio."

The Daily News is taking its own poll (see above): Who would you rather share a drink with in a bar: dogs or kids?

Good dog!

McLaughlin offers a few tips for dog owners who bring their pets to the bar:

  • Make sure your pet has a bowl of water, especially if you walked there.
  • Bring a treat; don't feed them off the table.
  • Keep their noses off others' tables.

"Just because you love dogs," she said, "doesn't mean everyone else does."

Dog dish

Here are a few restaurants with outdoor seating where you can enjoy a good beer with your good doggy.

_ Le Bus, 4266 Main St., Manayunk. But pay attention: Don't let Rex chase the cyclists while you're sipping that Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.

_ London Grill, 2301 Fairmount Ave., Fairmount. After a jaunt around the Eastern State Penitentiary dog pen, cool off with a Willie Sutton Lager.

_ White Dog Cafe, 3420 Sansom St., University City. Pups on the patio, Pennsylvania beers on tap.

_ Bliss, 224 S. Broad St., Center City. Ask for a dish of dog food so he won't feel left out while you enjoy a Stoudt's Fat Dog Stout.

_ Caribou Cafe, 1126 Walnut St., Washington Square West. Bring your French poodle to this Parisian-style bistro and order a Sea Dog Raspberry Wheat.

_ Newportville Inn, 4120 Lower Road, Newportville, Bucks County. Your German shepherd will love the Bavarian atmosphere on the outdoor deck; you'll enjoy the Hacker Pschorr Weisse.

_ Triumph Brewing, 400 Union Square, New Hope, Bucks County. Fresh beers for you, fresh air for your pooch on the outdoor deck.

_ Four Dogs Tavern, 1300 Strasburg Road, West Chester, Chester County. An umbrella overhead, a hound at your feet, a Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer Ale in your fist - it doesn't get any better than that. *

"Joe Sixpack" by Don Russell appears weekly in Big Fat Friday. For more on the beer scene in Philly and beyond, visit www.JoeSixpack.net. Send e-mail to joesixpack@phillynews.com.

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