Inside a historic West Philly firehouse one mile south of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School lies DOCK STREET BREWERY, opened in 2007 and initially visited January 2nd, 2012. Formerly located at Logan Circle with a bottling plant nearby, Dock Street has been transformed into a vibrant brewpub taking up the entire first floor of a marble-pillared three-story red brick building (with a second floor bicycle shop and third floor acupuncturist).

Two black awnings welcome customers to the cement-floored pub, where glass-encased brew kettles, exposed ducts, several black tables and a 10-seat bar fill out the yellow tile-walled facility. An open wood-burning fire pit cooks 20 pizza varieties and the menu also features char-grilled burgers, sandwiches, wraps and calzones.

Owned by Sicilian-bred Rosemarie Certo and head-brewed by Scott Morrison (formerly of Mc Kenzie’s and New Haven Brewery), Dock Street maintains a casual café atmosphere.

The Flyers and Rangers faced off for an outdoor hockey game on the right side TV as I dabbled with six previously untried libations this cold mid-afternoon. Easygoing lemon-soured Kolsch pitted wheat-husked astringency and wood-dried undertones against tingly honey-sugared hop spices. OMG Pale Ale placed Cascade-hopped wood dryness atop floral red and orange fruiting.

But those were merely reliable moderate-bodied preliminaries for champagne yeast-soured Bubbly Wit, a Belgian-styled double witbier with lemony banana-clove frontage, vanilla-honeyed midst, mild coffee roast, toffee hint and white-peppered chamomile-lemongrass-basil conflux.

Best selling Rye IPA was an approachable dry-bodied moderation gaining resinous earthiness above light rye breading, lemon-seeded grapefruit zest and molasses-honeyed black tea mildness. Also retaining a viscous honeyed sweetness, Old Ale (traditional English altbier) plied brown-sugared caramel malting to a mild coffee roast and crisp tobacco-peat nuances.

For dessert, I enjoyed sessionable London-styled Man Of Trouble Porter, an espresso-milked relaxant pleating oats-toasted black chocolate with black-breaded pumpernickel and ashen hop-charred mineral grains. Too bad the highly regarded Prince Myshkin’s Russian Imperial Stout was temporarily out.

Upon revisiting Dock Street Brewery nearly a year hence during post-Christmas December ’12, I imbibed five previously untried libations alongside Alsatian-styled Flammenkuche Pizza (packed with creme fraiche, caramelized onions, applewood smoked bacon and gruyere cheese) and the busy Vegetarian Pizza (artichoke hearts, spinach and creme fraiche).
This time around, the place was packed at 8 PM so my wife and I were seated at the left side cafe table away from the TV (where a college bowl game is shown). We consumed the stylistically robust Royal Bohemian Pilsner, a Czech-like pils with efficient maize-husked astringency and dry alfalfa graining reinforcing its lemony floral-perfumed hop bittering.
Then, sociable entrepreneur, Certo, started making the rounds and saying hi to many local customers. She stops by and tells us she’s very proud of Nino’s Prickly Pear, an interestingly peculiar Sicilian-bred moderate-bodied Biere De Garde combining subtle prickly pear overtones with equally refined fig-dried plum, kiwi, mango, raspberry, watermelon and papaya illusions skirting alcohol burnt bittering.
Another Euro-styled tropical-fruited delight, Black IPA, brought chocolate-spiced Belgian yeast and malt-roasted black rye to fig-sugared pineapple, kiwi and mango undertones, finishing with lingered licorice licks.
Tonight’s dark ale choice, approachable medium-bodied Little Prince Stout, packed oats-charred black coffee bittering and dark cocoa powdering onto dry stone-fruited citric nuances.
As dinner concluded, the courteous Certo gave me a bottle of elegantly sessionable, floral-citric, herbal-hopped La Biere Des Amis Saison to take home (reviewed in the Beer Index). Before hitting the road, I settled into the ‘deceptively strong’ and devastatingly beautiful Barleywine, a velvety smooth 10% strong ale with an oaken vanilla soothe highlighting cherry-bruised banana, cantaloupe and honeydew sweetness while gaining vibrant sherry, brandy and cognac tonality.


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