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Sunday, July 04, 2010
All Signs point to Welcoming America to Philly's Great Bars for Great Beer
Patty and I took a rare day off together on Friday without any solid plans or commitments. After taking my first run in eight, count 'em, eight weeks and getting some odds 'n' ends done around the house, lawn, and garden, we decided to jump on the train into Philly to spend a few hours of aimless, unplanned wandering. A little walk-around broken up by a few stops at some of Philly's better bars, or shall we say more 'craft-friendly' bars. It was to be the last pleasant weather day for walking around for the next week, so we took advantage. Hopped off the train at 30th Street Station and made our way along the Schuylkill River Trail up through Fitler Square and over to Resurrection Ale House (it's an approximate 20-25 minute easy and pleasant walk if you haven't tried it) where we caught the second half of World Cup action between Ghana and Uruguay. As has been taking place at pubs around the world, Resurrection had a line of (mostly) guys at the bar watching their favorite futbol/fußball/football/soccer team engaged in lively chatter about the sport and any other assorted pub-typical banter. We got into some roasted cauliflower and pork carnitas while tipping back quality beer from near and far--e.g. Philadelphia Brewing's Walt Wit, Sierra Nevada Beer Camp's Exporter, and Bavik's Petrus Oak-aged Pale Ale. A real pleasant day, for sure, to be sitting at Resurrection on Grays Ferry avenue with the windows cranked open. Then, after meandering a bit through the neighborhood, we moved on back up Grays Ferry to Grace Tavern. Here it was just a quick stop for some blackened green beans and a 30th Anniversary (Fritz and Ken's) from Sierra Nevada. I know, odd choice for a warm afternoon, but not as odd as if I ordered it up in today's upper-90f weather. Another visit to a pub with a solid group of a growing happy hour crowd...at least those of whom hadn't headed off to the Shore for a long weekend. Finally, we made one more stop at an old haunt that we haven't been to in a few years: Ten Stone at 21st and South streets. This used to be a favorite stop for quality beer and food and a few games of pool in the side room when we lived in the city. Good thing is, it seems to have maintained a lot of its appeal. I don't know if it's much of a trend, coincidence, or a reclamation of bar space--but it seems to me that pool tables in bars are not as prevalent as they used to be...darts, too. Though, we only partook in the pool and the beer, the ambiance was the same and would certainly still be high on our list of locals if we lived in the neighborhood. We took in two games of pool between us and one game with a group that stopped in after work. I came this close (see me measuring less than an inch with my two fingers?!....see below for evidence) to having a clear shot at the eight ball to finish off our opponents. But, my nicely played cue off the rail came up just a bit short in riding the 3-ball down the rail into the corner pocket. Oh, and the drink of choice? The ever-dependable Russian River Damnation. This gave us just enough time to walk back to 30th Street Station (but not with enough time, no, for Bridgewater's...since I knew you'd be asking) with about 15 seconds to spare before the doors closed on our westbound train. We made the trip complete with a stop at our "suburban local", TJs in Paoli where my TUD for the day was named Emelisse Imperial Russian Stout and we shared spirited conversation with Jeff and Scott. There was a common thread across all 4 of these stops and I'll bet you'd never guess what it was. Well, it wouldn't be fair to even ask you. It's funny how I was hearing Ray Deter's (d.b.a.) voice in my head saying something like "it's extremely rare to ever find this on tap in the U.S." Well, he's right. But, in the past couple of weeks, there has been no shortage of Petrus Oak-aged Pale Ale on draft. I've been known to say that for as nice and almost perfect of a beer is Consecration from Russian River, I think my palate prefers this Petrus from Bavik Brewery in Belgium, based on their Oud Bruin. And, it was on tap at Resurrection Ale House, Grace Tavern, Ten Stone, and TJs. Get some before it disappears; if you like Flemish Sours, you shouldn't be disappointed. Whatever you do, have a fun, relaxing, and safe holiday weekend.