Monday, January 26, 2009

Are we there? (Philly town)

So i really wanted to hop on this when there was talk of an all cask pub a few weeks back, it completely tied into something i'd been thinking about for a little while but i was just too darned busy to get the thoughts together and type them out.

Addressing all you know this post to be so far before i get ahead of myself: I'd be so completely down for, all about, 100% behind, and the biggest fan of an all cask pub on Philly soil.

But that's not quite what i'm getting at, i had been thinking a bit about drinking culture, about how beer works in Philly, about the lengths at which people i know go to get things that would have been utterly impossible to get their hands on years ago, and most generally: a day in the life of a bunch of sugars, water, CO2, and isomerized oils in the town of Philadelphia, PA

This whole idea came about on New Year's Day of this year at The P.O.P.E. The entire day was great. A train ride turned into getting picked up and driven to the city by friends, Monk's had Dragon's Milk on tap and i was counting my beans and my blessings to be involved in such an awesome company and business, people all over town were in high spirits and i was getting to hang with really good friends and meet some of their hilariously entertaining friends (Larry i will text you every time i am in the city, my promise is as good today as it was on 1/1/09).

The most casual of conversations pricked my ears up when it came time for latecomers to order their beers...

"What are you having?"
'The Pennichuck Espresso Stout, its delicious. Its really roasty and deep and delicious. Its hitting the spot.'

The quick description came from my dear friend and old roomate and for some reason, i was so proud of her. I don't know why, i mean she's had awesome beer and wine a lot, but it just came out so casual and on point. I looked around from my seat at a bunch of folks having a great time in the middle of the afternoon. Glasses and bottles of beer covering the entire beer color-wheel filled the place. The chalk board at this one bar, in this one neighborhood (,with this one awesome jukebox) was filled with beer from Pennichuck, Russian River, Philly Brewing Co, and a handful more.

For some reason it made me think of what i picture 'traditional' English pub culture to be/ have been like. People are focused on the beer they are going to the pub for or discovering when they get there. Granted, there is allegiance to one's own neighborhood or town pub and brewers, but in the same way that people want to know how their favorite Mild is pouring on a particular day in England, people here are taking an active interest not only in what they're drinking, but in what else they could be drinking. Sure this happens in bars all over the place, but it just seems to be on a different level to me. I think there were organic factors at play at the right times that have grown this town into more than a pedestrian, "Hey that bottle has a funny picture on it," approach to beer drinking.

It seems more rare to be in a Philly bar and have someone be taken back by all the craft beer offerings or not at least have a base level that they can approach ordering a beer with. It seems like in a lot of other towns i travel to that ordering craft beer is still like being in part of a secret club. You've got to go to designated areas where you can put your fists together to become some sort of adult beverage Voltron for the night.

People who are not followers of trends are all doing the same thing, people who are not nerds are doing things that give nerds goosebumps, and yeah i'll say it: hot girls are drinking awesome beer. We've become a city that drinks great beer and is proud of it, but we've gotten here through some pretty basic means for the most part. Its grown in the bars and the brewpubs and spread from friend to friend and group to group. Bars have to carry craft beer to keep up with their drinkers, some have gone as far to change their formats completely to eventual success and acclaim. Even the guys who shill the yellow fizz have to add faux craft beers to their spiel. 'Just because they stand over us doesn't mean we under stand them.'

So if there's a point here somewhere its that i want to get more insight into this thought of our current pub culture being like that of the classic English pubs. I know a bunch of you out there have been, so i'd love some comments. It's late and i'm in Kentucky. I wanted to do a ton of research and actually write this up as something good and entertaining with some thought behind it, but instead its almost like a 'dear diary' kind of thing. Anyhow, i'll research, you people comment, maybe i can pull it all together and write this up all proper like.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I hear you yearning for something more in our beer scene and culture in general. Not necessarily more beers either. Perhaps a change in culture. BTW I haven't been to England.

I'm not so interested in creating a culture that worships the 50 bazillion kinds of beer that are out there. Though I think the beer scene is doing that right now and I do like me some crazy beers. I think I'm after what you're after. Some kind of neighborbeertopiapub culture. Whatever that is. Less commercial and more tastey crafty community driven beer. Like a loaf of locally baked bread (Where can those be found by the way?)

We're not there yet, but, I think we're swinging the towards it. For how long...who knows? I for one would love to see communities embrace neighborhood breweries. You know the smaller breweries that went away because of things like refrigeration and prohibition. (hope I'm not generalizing too much here) This is what we are left with. I think they once called it progress.

So, as a people will we care enough about our beer to reverse this? I don't know, but, I'm in. Where do we start? I'm homebrewing this week. Want to come over? ;-)