Today in Philadelphia

For our last vacation day, D and I decided to hook up with friends and travel to the Philadelphia area for – well, if it’s on this blog, you already know – beer! What a nice day and some fine beers to be had.

Brandi celebrates a birthday tomorrow, and as a member of the Mug Club, Rock Bottom Brewery gave her a $10 credit. This chain brewery, located in the King of Prussia Mall, was our first stop of the day, and D and I made a point to join (FREE) the Mug Club as well. It was also their 5th visit, so Ffej and Brandi were allowed to choose logo pint glasses from the merch case.

Today at Rock Bottom, we tried two beers (in 22-oz mugs, since we’re members!) – the “rotating dark beer,” which was Chocolate Milk Stout, and the cask ale, which was Prussia’s Pride IPA. The stout was not bad, but it had extremely light body for a stout and very little chocolate flavor came through. The Prussia’s Pride was a favorite from November 15 Brewers’ Reserve Black and Tan Cask Event at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Newark, DE and it held up to my memory. It has a great combination of citrus and pine flavors and aroma from the hops, and caramelmalt. On cask, it is a smooth and flavorful beverage. We also really enjoyed our appetizer – Chips & Guacamole, which consisted of homemade malt kettle chips andtortilla chips served with a wonderful quac, andsalsa made with Roma tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and spices.

Next we headed into downtown Philadelphia to Triumph Brewing Company, located in Old City near the intersection of Chestnut and 2nd. It was a quick visit, but enough to know that it’s a beautiful location to sit and have a beer, and the beers we had were very nice. Triumph does 10-oz glasses as well as pints, and offers a sample tray. I had a 10-oz Jewish Rye Beer (5.5% ABV), and shared a 10-oz Winter Wonder (8.25% ABV) with D. The Jewish Rye had a strange sweetness to the start, and a lovely pumpernickel flavor to the finish. The Winter Wonder was really interesting. It had a pleasant aroma of orange spice, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, and the flavor was full of citrus hops and sweet, toasty malt.

The only thing that turned me off at Triumph was the “uni” restroom. It’s not that I object to sharing with men, rather that the men that used each stall I approached were apparently pigs. Okay – I’m blaming the men, and perhaps should not. But all week I’ve been using ladies rooms that have been clean. I finally located a clean uni-stall after three tries, and while each stall has an individual sink, that one had no operational water faucet. Yuck.

We left Triumph and crossed town to meet up with our friend Laura, who is in from Colorado for a few days, at Dock Street Brewery in West Philly. It was great to see her, and to enjoy a glass of Rye IPA (6.8% ABV). It is a terrific American Pale Ale brewed with Simcoe and Amarillo hops, and contains 20% rye. D andI shared a hardwood-fired pizza withmade with mozzarella, herbs, crème fraiche, tomatoes and caramelized leeks which was super! Also at our table, we enjoyed Hop Garden Double IPA (9% ABV and 76 IBU’s) – a double IPA which contains 12 different hop varieties – and Prince Myshkin’s Russian Imperial Stout (9.5% ABV). And eventually we needed to move on…

We really wanted to head on over to the northeast corner of 44th & Spruce Streets in West Philly to check out Local 44, but it appears we were a day early. This creation of the genious group that started up Memphis Tap Room, which we enjoyed so much this summer, should be a real asset to the city beer scene.

We crossed town quickly, due to D’s navigational skills, and arrived in Mt. Airy to check out Earth Bread + Brewery for a second time.  Last time it was so crowded, so we thought a weeknight might be a better opportunity to visit the bar. The downstairs bar was filled, and they seated us at a table upstairs where there was an empty bar at first (but not for long!) As on our previous visit, the table was very nice, and the place is so attractive – a contemporary cottage feel and walls laced with local art for sale. I won’t write about it, since you can read about it on their website, but it is outstanding to see what Earth Bread is doing to promote sustainability and environmental friendliness.

Earth Bread + Brewery has a similarity to American Flatbreadin Burlington, VT, which our friends affectionately call “American Flatbread & Daycare.” There was only one other table in the place that had no children – most tables had two or three children – and most of the children were under the age of 5. Perhaps it’s a indicator that we are of a generation that enjoys brewpubs, and part of me thinks it’s great that parents venture out to brewpubs withtheir children in tow, but when the whining / crying / running around starts up, I do start to wonder where can I go to eat in peace with other adults. It’s a classy brewery; not Friendly’s.

The food at Earth Bread was outstanding. Last time we shared flatbreads (pizza) and the olive appetizer, all of which was lovely and tasty. This time we had salads and soup. The food lived up to our expectations! The appearance was attractive, and the flavors were fresh and wholesome. It is clear that a lot of thought was put into the simple, flavorful menu.

The beers were alright. I had a 13-oz glass of Berkun’s Finger, a Baltic Porter that weighs in at 7% ABV, and D had a 13-oz glass of Santos L. Halper, a dark mild at 3.7% ABV. Both were somewhat bitter and thin. After two visits, it seems there are only ever four house beers on at a time, and a list of great guest taps. And the wine list is lovely!

Our last stop for the night was out Germantown Pike at General Lafayette Inn & Brewery, where I was contemplating a Sampler Round, until I learned they were out of two selections. Instead, I had a small glass of Holiday Cheer – a spiced holiday beer with tart cranberry, a hint of cinnamon and clove, and faint floral hops. This beer is cited at 6.1% ABV and 24 IBU’s, and had an enjoyable flavor profile.

So while I probably should have been hiking or housecleaning today, I’d say this was a much more fun way to spend the last day of vacation. I’m so unfamiliar with the Philly beer scene, and it has me itching to check out Philly Beer Week.

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