I’d love to say that my discovery of craft beer came about through recommendations from beer swilling friends/family or through extensive research after being disenchanted with macro brews, but I’d be lying. My discovery was that of complete and utter blind luck.
In my early 20s, I was perfectly content with the typical Yuengling, Coors Light, Heineken, etc. that I had begun to consume in mass quantities during my college days. At that stage of my life, beer was just something to have in my hand when I was out with friends at an Old City bar trying to meet women. Every so often, I’d have something “exotic” like Sam Adams Lager, Blue Moon or Red Stripe when I was feeling especially fancy.
But all of that changed during the summer of 2005. I was back home on Long Island for an annual Father’s day/my birthday fishing trip with my brother and father. Following an absolutely horrendous day of fishing, we decided to get our fix of seafood at a local restaurant. While sitting at the bar, I noticed a long, slender glass in some weird wooden contraption behind the bar. Curious, I asked the bartender what kind of drink that thing was for. He informed me that it was for a new beer he just got in from Belgium called Kwak. I decided to give it a shot more for the novelty of the glass than actually knowing anything about Belgian beers.
One sip later, I was completely hooked! My senses were instantly flooded with new aromas and tastes that I never imagined could come from a beer. Rather than pounding this one down as quickly as possible, I wanted to savor the taste slowly…especially at $8 a pour! I knew that I would have to look for this beer back in Philly…little did I know at the time, that I had actually been living in one of the greatest beer cities in the world for nearly a decade.
Sadly, Kwak was not as easy to find as I had hoped it would be. Most of the bars I frequented at the time did not have “craft beer” in their vocabulary. However, a girl I was dating at the time happened to live 2 blocks from The Foodery on 10th and Pine and thus my crash course in craft beer commenced. I went in one day and they gave me the sad news that Kwak was extremely difficult to get in the region at the time, due to some distribution issues, but they offered suggestions of other beers that I might like. All I knew is that I wanted to try them all and that I could never go back to $1 domestic happy hour-type beers.
In addition to stopping into The Foodery once or twice a week, I started discovering the craft beer bar scene. Jose Pistola’s and Prohibition Tap Room quickly became favorite hangouts and I began trying all of the quality domestic craft beers from Abita to Weyerbacher and everything in between.
Since then, good beer has played a strong part in my life. Some of my closest friendships and relationships over the past few years have been forged over a love of good craft beer (and of course, good food to pair with it). Most notably, my fiancé and I got engaged while enjoying some Long Trail IPAs at Brigid’s in Fairmount and plan on brewing a special homebrew for our wedding in a few months.
And to think…if it weren’t for that one chance encounter with that funky wooden contraption I might still be guzzling “beer” at the same old bars in Old City that I was once so fond of in my early 20s.