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--Author and Beer Journalist Lew Bryson A Special Guest—

A KitchenAid® The Book and The Cook® Event

      The award-winning beers and many of the most famous destinations in Philadelphia’s highly regarded beer culture will be the focus of this year’s GOLDEN AGE OF BEER IN PHILADELPHIA TOURS, the 9th annual beer excursion that is part of the region-wide Kitchen-Aid® The Book and The Cook® festival, in its 21st year of matching nationally and internationally known cookbook authors and food personalities with Philadelphia’s finest chefs and restaurants.

      Philadelphia’s dominant status as a mecca for beer appreciation and enthusiasm is well-known throughout the country, and this year’s GOLDEN AGE OF BEER IN PHILADELPHIA TOURS, taking place on Saturday, March 12, and Saturday, March 19, from NOON to 8:00PM, will not only tout the city’s beer riches, but also visit the most well known venues on the lively Philadelphia beer scene. Seats on the each of the TOURS cost $95 per person.  

      The TOURS, which depart the Center City Marriott Hotel (13th & Market Sts.) at Noon, begin with lunch at LUDWIG’S GARTEN, an authentic German-Austrian eatery with 27 taps of German beer, including many varieties not normally found on tap in the U.S.  A special guest at the lunch will be award-winning local beer journalist, Lew Bryson, author of  Pennsylvania Breweries, now in its second edition, a detail-rich guidebook of the Keystone State’s long and hallowed history of brewing, and its solid, present-day reputation for quality craft brewing.  Bryson will autograph copies of his book, as well as his latest book, New York Breweries, and read passages that highlight the destinations along the GOLDEN AGE OF BEER IN PHILADELPHIA TOURS, and discuss the many award-winning brews made in and around the city.

Bryson makes no secret of his passion for local craft brews. Like the "very best Yards ESA on a hand pump,” says Bryson, “at McMenamin's Tavern in Mt. Airy---better than at the Yards brewery---and you'll get the chance to make your own comparison!”

And how will Tour-goers get to learn the difference between a good beer and great beer? "Lucky people on this tour: you're getting the benefits of over 30 years combined experience in finding great beers, and Philadelphia's three centuries of brewing and importing them. That's how we find places like McMenamin's Tavern,” Bryson contends.

Lunch at Ludwig’s Garten is good starting point for discovery and education. Tour attendees will feast on a specially designed buffet created for the Beer Tour, replete with a variety of wursts, sauerbraten, German salads and rich, redolent onion potato tarts. “Ludwig's flock of German taps,” notes Bryson, “ranges from the innocent spritz of a Paulaner pilsner to the spicy menace of the powerful Aventinus weizendoppelbock.  Tremendous variety and quality!”

The lively McGILLIN’S OLD ALE HOUSE (just around the corner from Ludwig’s) is the caravan’s next stop. It’s the oldest, continually operated tavern in the city, rich with tradition, and a watering hole for the famous and infamous since 1860.  Here the TOURS will sample a wide variety of local beers, including brews specially made just for McGILLIN’S.

The unique, multiethnic neighborhood of Mt.Airy forms the backdrop for the next TOURS destination, the aforementioned McMENAMIN’S TAVERN, “possibly the best unknown bar/restaurant in Philadelphia,” says Bryson, where congenial owner P.J. McMenamin has created a near-legendary oasis for beer aficionados, with 17 taps of local and regional microbrews, an impressive neighborhood bistro menu from chef Larry Melissen that Bryson named "Best Food in a Philly Bar 2004" in his annual website awards, and a warm, turn-of-the-century atmosphere. The Tours will enjoy “maybe the best variety of American microbeers on tap in the city, but grab that local Yards ESA from the hand pump,” Bryson suggests. “It’s the best version of this great beer I’ve ever had.”

The TOURS next head across town to the city’s thriving Northern Liberties neighborhood, to THE STANDARD TAP, a stunning restoration of the historic Bull’s Head Tavern, opened by former Samuel Adams Brewhouse brewer William Reed, and chef/partner Paul Kimport.

"Standard Tap is at the heart of fresh, local beer,” says Bryson. “That's where you'll find the classically-styled beers of Sly Fox, the weird and wonderful Dogfish Head ales, and the wham-bam combination of Troegs' Hopback Amber and Troegenator Doublebock (Bryson's pick for "Best Beer I Had in 2004"). And there's so much more, like the acclaimed beers of Victory and the sledgehammer impact of the all big-beer lineup from Heavyweight Brewing from New Jersey.”

The latest addition to the TOURS is a visit and tasting at the YARDS BREWERY in Kensington, where brewer Tom Kehoe will escort attendees through the company’s new headquarters, fashioned from a building that once housed a brewery at the turn of the 20th century. Tastings of the brewery’s English and Belgian style ales served up by Kehoe will be a special highlight for the beer aficionados in attendance.

From there, the TOURS travel to the city’s northeast, to the cult-favorite GREY LODGE PUBLIC HOUSE, tucked into a nondescript working-class neighborhood, and one of the city’s most clever beer emporiums, with a huge selection of local and imported beers, unique, beer-friendly food---“tomato pies” and mushroom wrap sandwiches--- and a cool, retro atmosphere that makes this stop unlike any tavern in the city, and perennial favorite among TOUR attendees.

“This bar is different, and you can tell the moment you enter, “says Bryson, “but a lot of effort goes into the GREY LODGE, and the beer selection is full of surprises, like the funky wild things we see from Brewer's Art from Baltimore, and the occasional heavy-duty keg from Weyerbacher. The beer is all happening here, baby!”

The finale of each of the TOURS takes place at the INDEPENDENCE BREWPUB AT READING TERMINAL, where chef Greg Lund and head brewer Tim Roberts will collaborate on an amazing, 3-course Beer Dinner (menu TBA).  “Drink it where it's made, too,” says Bryson, “when we sit down to dinner and let the fast pace of the day dissolve in a glass of Tim Roberts' dark, delicious Oatmeal Stout. Ahhh, like a spa in a glass.” Participants will also tour the brewing works of the brewpub before dinner, should they have any energy left after the full day of beer touring.

Bryson, who is a nationally-known freelancer on beer and spirits, Managing Editor for Malt Advocate magazine, and the new Beer & Spirits columnist for Philadelphia Style magazine, puts Philadelphia’s beer culture in a national context:  “The same restrictive laws that make Philadelphia a ho-hum place for a wine lover paradoxically make it a paradise for a person who is open to the variety of beer, “says Bryson. “The breweries around Philadelphia win more medals than any other area in the East, and our imported beer scene is second to none in the world. If you want it, we got it...and we got it good.”

In Philadelphia from March 11 through March 20, 2004, KitchenAidâ The Book and The Cookâ will match over 75 nationally and internationally known cookbook authors and food and wine personalities with Philadelphia’s finest chefs and restaurants.  KitchenAidâ The Book and The Cookâ Culinary Market and Showcase will take place at the Fort Washington Expo Center on March 18th, 19th, and 20th, with more than 125 exhibit booths featuring gourmet foods and kitchenware; other highlights include cooking demonstrations, cookbook sales and signings.  For details visit


Copyright © 2008 Lew Bryson. All rights reserved. 
Fee required for reprints in any commercial media.
Revised: February 09, 2005