Beer To Go
Newcomers to Pennsylvania are always struck by the complexity of the state's liquor code. And by "complexity" I mean "stupidity." These liquor laws have led to a paucity of places to buy takeout beer. For a while the Foodery at 10th and Pine streets was the only place with a monstrous selection.
But even the ironclad belief in the separation of stout and saltines can't stop the free market from responding to the growing interest in quality beer. The Foodery opened a second location a little more than two years ago and a growing number of delis have stocked their shelves with some of the region's--and world's--finest brews. These relatively new places may not have the cuteness of Nabi, the cat that lives in the back of the original Foodery, but they do have more elbowroom.
Food & Friends (1933 Spruce St. 215.545.1722): The guys behind the counter pick the music for this hipster disco. Bop to the back wall for an expansive selection of Belgians. Notably, F&F lists prices on both its sixes and its individual bottle selection. Pray that becomes a trend. Recommendation: Pick up a six of Lord Chesterfield Ale, Yuengling's best beer.
Colney Beer Specialty and Deli (2047 Chestnut St. 215.567.5250): This place does a great job with six-pack selection, carrying sixes (or fours) of nearly every locally produced beer. Recommendation: Go with a six of Lancaster Brewing's Amish Four Grain Ale.
Bella Vista Beer & Soda Distributor (738 S. 11th St. 215.627.6465): This is cheating (it's a beer distributor) but Bella Vista's new(ish) store deserves mention. Excellent selection, friendly staff and lots of cases in coolers. It's not Stone's, but it's pretty damn good. Recommendation: Let's go weird with a 24-can pack of Mountain Crest Classic Lager. It's only a little better than your average BudMillerCoors pale lager, but in this economy, sometimes you have to go cheap. And at $13, it's hard to beat. Just make sure you serve it cold.
Brew (15th and Mifflin sts.): I wanted to get in on the ground floor of John Longacre's new high-end coffee and craft beer store across the street from his South Philly Tap Room. Brew will open as soon as it gets its liquor license and is set to feature upward of 500 beers.