The City of Brotherly Love birthed the American Revolution and proudly maintains its rustic charm with cobblestone streets, colonial row houses, Gothic museums, and historic marble monuments. While staying at Embassy Suites in historic Logan’s Square post-Xmas ’00, ’01, and ’04, caught annual Mummer’s Day Parade thrice and attended one exhilarating Eagles football playoff game, visiting worthy Dock Street brewery for dinner upon first trip.
Found several Lancaster, Stoudt’s, Troeg’s, and Weyerbacher’s not initially available in New York-Jersey area during stayovers. After discovering fabulously well stocked godsend Foodery Limited (corner of Pine Street and 10th), I bought nearly 100 then-undiscovered international brews in ’01 and January ’03 (all reviewed in Beer Index).
Post-Christmas ’04, visited three meritorious Philly brewpubs. Arguably the best, MANAYUNK BREWING, with its wide variety and flavor depth, is located in a red brick warehouse five miles from midtown (next to a furniture store) along the Schuylkill River. Upon accessing side alley door beyond green-lit Manayunk sign, its wood bar sidles the entrance to a large dining space decorated in the backroom by a large colorful Louis Armstrong mural. Large back deck along river included tiki and patio bar and upstairs banquet facility provided formality. Glass-encased brew tanks behind bar were supplying eight choice beverages upon my visitation.
Lighter fare included dry-grassed Hallertau-Saaz-hopped lemon-bruised pilsner-light Bohemian Blonde, dry Cascade-hopped orange-peeled lemon-embittered Krooks Mill American Pale Ale, and smoke-spiced grain-toasted Oktoberfest bier Manayunk Lager.
Tart berry-seeded quince-soured Schuylkill Punch Raspberry Ale, lemon-wedged orange-peeled coriander-eucalyptus-toned Wit Or Witout Belgian Wit, and complex pine-bitter pumpkin-spruced nutmeg-juniper-tinged Festivus Holiday Ale furnished sweet fruity centers.
Red-fruited candi-sugared cognac-tinged Grand Cru Ale and Scottish peat-smoked spice-hopped Band-Aid-nosed Philadelphia Porter proved robust.
On July ’07 Manayunk revisit, met brewer Chris Firey and assistant Brad Basile while swigging several new finds. Sugar plum-railed fig-date-trimmed Manayunk Vienna Lager and banana-bruised fig-skewed hop-dried Bavarian Beauty Dunkelweiss set the stage.
Better and fruitier were bittersweet blueberry-hoisted hop-prickled soft-watered Blueberry Wheat Lager, tart raspberry-pureed lemon-bruised sour-candied hop-tamped Schuylkill Punch Lager, dry-wooded Simcoe-hopped apple-pear-spiced currant-backed Krook’s Mill Pale Ale, and lemon-wedged floral-hopped banana-skinned clove-frayed Whistle Whetting Wheat.
Best bet: resoundingly tangy apple-orange-peach-pear-glazed, kiwi-mango-grazed, piney-spruced, resin-hopped Totally Tubular…Dude Double IPA.
Upon ensuing New York High Times visit, Basile brought in Manayunk Pablano Porter, a complex Northern English-styled brown ale with mild oak-smoked chili-peppered chipotle spicing drifting into bitter coffee-beaned black chocolate midst accentuated by walnut-hazelnut accents.
During September ’07 trek, tried meringue-like grapefruit rind-embittered grassy-hopped pepper-spiced juniper-jolted alcohol-burned Brilliant Barstool British Pale Ale.
Since then, Jeff Mc Cracken took over brewing operations, adding several new recipes to the mix. But he left within a few years.
On New Years Day 2012, stopped by Manayunk once more with wife in tow, watching the Giants defeat the Cowboys to win their division on the four TV’s scattered across the bar. As I sat at one of the granite-top café tables near the bar, I consumed two new beers crafted by newest brewmeister Doug Marchakitus.
My wife’s hearty Fiorentina Pizza (packed to the hilt with ricotta, mozzarella, spinach and roasted eggplants) went well alongside tart Pez-like Schuylkill Punch Raspberry Lager, an established fruit ale Manayunk’s been crafting since Chris Firey brewed here years hence.
But I found two better choices, especially for wily hop-heads. As Duran Duran’s ‘80s new wave hit, “Hungry Like The Wolf,” played in the background and the Giants scored a touchdown, I consumed soft-toned Dreamin’ Double IPA, a creamy crystal-malted treat bringing lemon-peeled orange rind bittering to juniper-hopped apricot, apple and pear fruiting.
Just as good but twice as interesting was smooth St. Alpha Belgian Style IPA, a new hybrid Belgo-American elixir that really won me over. Its candi-sugared, cotton-candied banana insistence greeted piney citric bittering and briny Belgian yeast peppering, leaving traces of apricot, orange and tangerine in the midst.