I’ve said before that I think Philadelphia is one of the best places to drink beer in the country.
It is nice when the national press agrees.
The beer-centric DRAFT magazine just published its 2012 list of the 100 best beer bars in the country (see it for yourself online at: http://draftmag.com/features/americas-100-best-beer-bars-2012/).
Six of the bars the magazine selected are in Philly, with three of them right here in the riverwards: Grey Lodge Public House, Memphis Taproom and Standard Tap.
The internationally renowned Monk’s Café in Center City, Belgian-owned Eulogy Tavern in Old City and newcomer Tria Cafe in Center City complete the list, showing that our local bars keep some pretty prestigious company.
The Grey Lodge, at 6235 Frankford Ave., (online at www.greylodge.com), is known for serving interesting and rare beers at oddball events — like Friday the Firkenteeth celebration, when the bar is lined with firkins of beer every Friday the 13th, or the so-called 120 event, where Dogfish Head Brewery’s 120 Minute IPA is served every Jan. 20.
Not all events are based on a calendar date, but all are fun, and the pub grub is tasty, too.
For another great location, check out the Hop Angel Brau Haus at 7980 Oxford Ave. (online at www.hopangelbrauhaus.blogspot.com), owned by the same owner as the Grey Lodge, as it is one of a few craft beer bars north of Port Richmond.
Fishtown’s Memphis Taproom, at 2331 E. Cumberland (online at www.memphistaproom.com), might not be as large as the other two local bars, but the thought put into its tap and bottle list is as good as nearly any other bar I have seen.
Excellent rare beers like Russian River’s Pliny the Elder come on tap with little fanfare, to be enjoyed by beer geeks and locals alike.
The bottle list showcases English beers along with Belgians and are even offered at a discount for takeout. The food is an eclectic mix of modern fare, with vegan and vegetarian options, to burgers and the “Port Richmond Platter,” with pierogies, kielbasa and more.
If you like this bar, be sure to check out the owner’s two other establishments, Local 44, at 4333 Spruce St. in West Philly (online at www.local44beerbar.com), and Resurrection Ale House at 2425 Grays Ferry Ave. (online at www.resurrectionalehouse.com).
Finally, Northern Liberties’ Standard Tap, at 901 N. 2nd St. (online at www.standardtap.com), gets a nod from the magazine. The bar opened in 1999 and has become one of the first craft beer bars in the area.
What sets apart Standard and its sister bar, Johnny Brenda’s at 1201 N. Frankford Ave. (online at www.johnnybrendas.com), is their commitment to serving only regionally made craft beer. This includes local favorites like the Philadelphia Brewing Co. and Yards, as well as big names such as Dog Fish Head, Sly Fox and Flying Fish.
The food is a mix of pub grub, snacks and some unique entrees. The owners are as committed to locally sourcing their food as they are their beer. Johnny Brenda’s also has live music several nights a week.
I’ve discussed other establishments besides those listed in DRAFT magazine because I’ve found that if a bar owner really cares about giving the patron a good experience at one location, they will do that at their other bars.
Any one of the taverns here could have made the list of top 100 bars. Also, sometimes you need to know where to get a good drink outside of the riverwards.
This weeks home-brewing tip: If you are trying to brew the “hoppiest” beer you can, take the time to figure out the largest amount of water you can boil on your stovetop. Most directions have you boil a few gallons of water with your extract and hops, then top it off with two to three gallons of tap water.
But the water and extract you are boiling can only absorb so much of the oils from the hops before it is saturated.
The more water you boil, the more hop flavor and bitterness you can get. Note: While craft beer is my focus, I’m always open to finding new bars.
If you found a corner bar that has good beer or just a good atmosphere, send me an e-mail so I can check it out and write about it in a future column. I also want to hear about new beers or upcoming events in the area. ••
Tim Patton is a Fishtown resident, beer aficionado and brewer. His column is dedicated to showcasing everything that is great about enjoying beer in the riverwards. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org