July 3, 2014
FOR ALL their innovation, American craft brewers are starting to grow stale. Over-hopped beers? Yeah, they were novel . . . about 15 years ago. Now everyone brews a double IPA. Wacky flavors? Used to be we couldn't wait for pumpkin beer each autumn. Now, because there are so many of them competing for shelf space, the pumpkin season starts in two weeks and you'll be sick of them by Labor Day. Barrel-aged beer? Because it takes months and years to properly age and blend beer, barrel-aged beer was once a rarity.
June 26, 2014
ERIN WALLACE, 36, of Lafayette Hill, owns Devil's Den in South Philadelphia and Old Eagle Tavern in Manayunk. In fall 2013, she opened Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery in the old General Lafayette Inn in Lafayette Hill. Wallace, a native of Baltimore, is one of the few female brewery owners in Philly. Q: How'd you get into the tavern biz? A: I graduated from Moore College of Art & Design and while I was there I waitressed at Cherry Street Tavern. They offered me some bartending shifts, which led to other roles.
June 20, 2014
SUMMER HAS returned and so, I'm surprised to report, have Bavarian-style wheat beers. Surprised because, for a while there, it was looking like American brewers couldn't make a warm-weather refresher that wasn't hopped out the wazoo. Lately, even when the Americans have dabbled in wheat, it was only as a means to unleash yet another hop monster, the so-called white IPA. But as Philly gears up for another run of the three H's - hazy, hot and humid - it can cool down with the fourth H, hefeweizen.
May 30, 2014
T IM PATTON, 37, of Fishtown, is the founder of Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. in North Philadelphia. Patton bought an old warehouse and, after several years of planning, he and co-brewer Christina Burris hope to open a nanobrewery during Philly Beer Week, which begins today. Q: How'd you come up with the idea for Saint Benjamin? A: I and a friend started an online coupon-and-deal website in 1999 that offered discounts on Amazon, pet food and other stuff. I was there until 2009 but wanted a different career path.
May 23, 2014
EVAN FRITZ, the head brewer at Manayunk Brewing Co., was smiling but looking kind of shell-shocked one afternoon this week. Around him lay twisted pipe, a disassembled boiler, stacks of muddy beer cans, a pile of electronic point-of-sale equipment. All ruined. "I keep joking that this storm didn't even have a name," he said. "What are we going to put on the plaque?" That would be the marker to show how high the waters from the May 1 flood rose. Irene in 2011 and Floyd in 1999 - the high-water marks from those devastating hurricanes are remembered with small signs behind the bar. This one, the storm with no name, came with no real warning.
May 23, 2014 |
When distiller Sean Tracy and brewer Andrew Knechel cosigned for a lease on a warehouse in Bucks County, it was supposed to make starting their respective businesses easier. Instead, the arrangement ended up taking them into a maze of bureaucracy that nearly derailed both projects. The key to unlocking the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board licenses needed for the side-by-side craft brewery and distillery? Construction of a 4-foot-high wall. Sean Tracy first had the idea for Hewn Spirits about two years ago. He runs Bucks County TimberCraft, a construction firm that refits old barns into high-end homes, and as he ran across dense beams of rare and ancient woods - white oak, American chestnut, hickory, ash - he realized they'd be perfect for aging liquor.
May 11, 2014 |
The hum of gas-powered generators and the smell of mildew filled the air Friday at the Manayunk Brewing Co. as a crew worked. Cases of the company's canned beer on wooden pallets lined a wall outside the 18,000-square-foot restaurant, brewery, and banquet room on Main Street in the city's Manayunk section. What was missing on this afternoon was the lunchtime crowd - and the lights. More than a week after torrential rain caused massive flooding in the community along the Schuylkill, the 18-year-old craft brewery remained without power after 51/2 feet of river water deluged the former textile mill and ruined its electrical system.
April 18, 2014
SWEET BABY JESUS, it's Holy Thursday! The end of Lent is upon us, and so is your 40-day fast of beer, chocolate and/or peanut butter. What better way to celebrate your penance than with, yup, a chocolate-and-peanut-butter beer? I'm talking about one of the hottest brands on shelves right now: Sweet Baby Jesus from Baltimore's DuClaw Brewing. Store owners can barely keep sixpacks in stock, and the unusual brew has suddenly and surprisingly become 18-year-old DuClaw's top-selling brand.
April 8, 2014
P EGGY ZWERVER, 59, and husband Tom Baker, 57, of Germantown, own Earth Bread + Brewery, a sustainable restaurant and brewpub in Mount Airy, which they started in 2008. I spoke with Zwerver. Q: How'd you come up with the idea for the biz? A: We had a production brewery in Ocean, N.J. On the bottom of the production chain you see how much people make on a product you created. So after seven years we decided we wanted a [spot] where we'd want to hang out and Tom could brew anything and we'd be sustainable.
March 21, 2014
DRINK UP, Jersey, it's your 350th birthday. And Flying Fish - the Garden State's largest craft brewery - has brewed a fitting pint for the occasion: NJ350 Anniversary Ale . It's the Camden County brewery's version of a traditional English stock ale (this birthday marks New Jersey's establishment as a British colony, remember), with a brash bite of modern-day American sedition. "The idea was to pay homage to 350 years of history," Flying Fish brewery manager Barry Holsten told me when I stopped by on brew day earlier this month, "so we looked backward and forward.