The flood of celebrants of Philly Beer Week put a strain on Center City bars. Wait 'til next year.
Oh the disorganization and madness that comes with a bar crawl. Sometimes it can be an interesting experience shared between friends, but more often than not such events end up a jumbled, broken-scheduled mess. And such was the case last night during the Philly Center City Brewers Bar Crawl -- a staple of Philly Beer Week for two years running now.
Kicking off at Jose Pistola's on 15th street and making its way to eight different bars over the course of four or so hours, the plan seemed doomed to fail -- too good to be true. A grip of brewers from the area leading a bar crawl through Center City, tapping a special/seasonal brew from one each of the brewers at every bar. And by the time the group of 100-200 people arrived at the trip's third bar, Philly favorite Good Dog, it seemed obvious that these bars weren't prepared for what hit 'em.
Known for being a busy bar as it is, Good Dog couldn't withstand the swell of people entering its three floors and more folks ended up patiently waiting outside for the next bar than actually enjoying the Iron Hill Restaurant & Brewery "Pig Iron Porter" being served indoors. And it became completely apparent that some of the bars had no idea at all we were showing up when The Black Sheep on 17th and Latimer didn't even have the beer they were supposed to be featuring, Flying Fish's "Hoppy Belgian Tripel."
At this point, folks were breaking from the crawl and skipping ahead to other bars on the list: I spotted folks heading for Time, in hopes of trying the Sly Fox "Gang Aft Agley" and people who were lucky enough to arrive at Fergie's more than a half an hour early might have gotten a taste of the Troeg's "Nugget Nectar," which the eponymous owner declared, "Kicked over 45 minutes ago!" by the time the rest of us arrived.
The saving grace in all of this was the promise of every beer on the list available at the final stop on the tour: McGillin's Olde Ale House. The entire crew of bar crawlers, now with Don "Joe Sixpack" Russell in tow and brewers from Yard's, Flying Fish and Troeg's all happily buzzed and ready to celebrate in a single location, settled in to the upper floor of "the oldest bar in Philadelphia." Hell, there was even $2 mugs of the seven different beers from each brewer that had joined the bar crawl. Short speeches were given by owner Chris Mullins and Joe Sixpack himself, with much emphasis on keeping the beer you drink "fresh and local," a sentiment I couldn't agree with more in a city so full of great bars with delicious and cheap local brews. Let's hope next year's pub crawl lets us try a few more of them.
Philly Beer Week continues with top local brewers facing off in a challenge to determine the best brew of all.
"We are the greatest beer drinking city in the United States of America!" announced Mayor Nutter just before the initial swing.
PW's Year of Beer: DuClaw 31
PW's Year of Beer: Terrapin Moo-Hoo