Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Path To Philly Beer Week 2008 - A Profile of Dock Street Brewery

Though these Profiles that I've been doing have not been paid advertisements, this one may sound more like one than any I've done thusfar. Most likely because Dock Street sits fondly at the beginning of my trek along this life with better beer that I've been enjoying.

For those younger of you in the audience, that would be the first Dock Street at 18th and Cherry streets just off Logan Circle and behind the Four Seasons hotel. Memories in the early 1990s include experiencing well-crafted and locally-made beers, drinking my first yard of beer, falling in love with "trio fries" (potato, sweet potato, and dried leeks), and hanging out in the billiards room. Speaking of falling in love (there's a topic I haven't gone to here at TBL in the past!), Patty and I spent several hours at Dock Street on one of our first dates during the 30+ inch snowstorm of January 1996, convinced the snow accumulation couldn't be that bad! Just one more beer and game of pool...

Over the last 10 years, the name has come full circle back to its original owner. Occasionally, a few stray cases of Dock Street beer could still be found on local beer distributor shelves. During the intervening years, it had continued to be contract brewed at FX Matt and Saratoga Springs in New York. Now, the brewery stands in West Philadelphia with restaurant seating that gives all patrons a glimpse into both the kitchen and the brewery. Scott Morrison and company are manning the brew kettles and turning out old favorites like the Amber, Pilsner, and Double Bock in addition to new favorites like the Rye IPA which has generated quite a bit of favorable buzz. And, the pizzas? Surely you've heard about the pizzas that are being dished out of the kitchen. And, oh yeah, the Trio Fries are back!

While I certainly enjoyed Dock Street for what it was back in the 90s, I believe that their new endeavor reflects even better still what craft brewing is about. For anyone concerned about the location, fear not. Drive in from the east and street parking can usually be found between one and two blocks from the brewery. Or, better yet, from Center City heading west, you can pick up the '34' trolley line for $2 cash one way fare (or $1.45 token) and be deposited directly in front of the brewery doors. Walking? Well, just a few blocks to the east of the brewery and you start to get into college campus life of UPenn and Drexel and lots of street life. Any way you go, you'll thank yourself and wonder why you didn't go sooner and when you'll return again.

As you ready yourself for Philly Beer Week 2008, study up on some background notes on Dock Street and consider yourself lucky to be part of such a vibrant and rich beer region that PBW 2008 will celebrate.

Name: Dock Street Brewery
Location: 701 South 50th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19143
Phone: 215-726-2337

Rosemarie Certo; Owner
Michael Fava (full-time brewer); Scott Morrison (brewer consultant); Ben Potts (apprentice)

Major Brands
Bohemian Pilsner; Gold Stock Ale; Illuminator Double Bock; Premium Amber; Rye IPA

Amber Ale
Bronze (Consumer Preference Poll), GABF 1986
Monde Selection International Gold Medal, 1992, 1994, 1995

Cream Ale
Silver (American-Style Cream Ale or Lager), GABF 1992

12 oz. bottles of Illuminator Double Bock, Bohemian Pilsner, and Amber Ale available at the brewpub and at beer distributors throughout the metropolitan Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware area

Roughly 2,500 bbls/year

History & Tidbits
  • As a "leading pioneer of the American Microbrewery Revolution," Dock Street was founded in 1985 as a contract beer by Rosemarie and husband Jeffrey Ware
  • The name is a nod to the colonial history of Philadelphia when Dock Street (the street, not the brewery!) served as an entry point into the city from the Delaware Riverfront ports and housed colonial era breweries
  • Will Kemper (aka 1/2 of Thomas Kemper) was the original brewer when the 18th & Cherry brewery and restaurant opened in 1990
  • Company was sold, name and trademarks (but not recipes), in 1998
  • A second location in Washington, D.C. never quite got off the ground in 1996
  • Rosemarie reacquired the name and rights in 2001
  • Late in 2007, the dream came full circle, reincarnating Dock Street as a true neighborhood brewery and restaurant in West Philly
  • Fan favorite, Scott Morrison (aka The Dude), helped open the new brewery as a brewer and consultant

  • Major Yearly Events
  • They're young, stay on community-building grass roots support for art, music, and counter-culture ideas and charitable events

  • Where to Find Dock Street During Philly Beer Week
  • Joe Sixpack's Book Launch will include the Royal Bohemian Dock Street Pilsner, the Dock Street Illuminator Double Bock, and one other surprise beer
  • Will feature their Satellite Organic Espresso Stout at The Brewer's Plate food pairing event
  • On Monday and Wednesday, the brewery will be open for free tours and tastings at 7pm and 8pm
  • On Tuesday the 11th, Dock Street will be hosting a Meet & Greet with Rosemarie, Michael, Ben, and of course The Dude
  • On Wednesday the 12th, their Espresso Porter will be featured along the Brewers Self-Guided Tour at Good Dog bar
  • Rich Wagner will be giving a free lecture about the history of Philadelphia Craft Brewing at the brewery on Thursday the 13th
  • Two of MJ's favorites, the Bohemian Pilsner and the Double Bock, will be included as part of the tribute tasting at UPenn on Friday the 14th
  • Will attend the cask ale festival event at Triumph on the 16th

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