I recently took a road trip with a friend of mine to the wonderful state of Pennsylvania to check out its attractions, mainly Gettysburg and Philadelphia, or known as by Stuart Scott, the Illadel. The best part of the trip: Yuengling. The second best part of the trip: $2.50 per bottle, regular price in bars. I was blown away with the cheapness of the entire city and also the terrible smell of it too… that I thought only existed in New Jersey. I guess both of those qualities represent the city well; a gritty blue collar city that doesn’t necessarily care about appearances but surprises your expectations.
Take for instance National Mechanics (pictured above), a small restaurant/pub in the Old City of Philly. The place was dreary, but very charming. It used to be an old bank, so very high ceilings, and it also had some hard wood floors. Sounds nice, but the paint was falling off the walls and the floors were not only scratched and warped, but were missing entire planks. The beer glasses they had were custom made and had images of famous Philadelphians on them, however many of them were littered with the faces of serial killers from the Illedel. It was a unique eatery, and again lived up to the blue collar image with 2.50 Yuengling’s, a 7 dollar burger, and 1 free stolen beer glass, not to mention the brew selection was great with 12 respectable beers on tap.
We then patronized the oldest operating bar in Philly called McGillin’s, which really wasn’t located on a street but rather a back ally, bearing resemblance to Paddy’s Pub on It’s Always Sunny. Oldest bar in Philly, probably charges a lot for food & drink. Seven dollar pitchers of Yuengling, 35 cent wings. It was dark, eclectically decorated, loud, and had 4 long lines of tables (think high school cafeteria) to fit the maximum amount of people. Very gritty, but pleasantly surprised.
Then there was Finn McCool’s… which was sort of like how the name sounds. “We’re trying to be old Irish, but we want a modern cool feel with no personality.” I had one of the worst beer’s I’ve ever had there: Victory Golden Monkey. I was intrigued by the ABV at 9% and also by the brewery, Pennsylvania’s own Victory. I was served the beer in what looked to be a cognac glass (which is responsible at 9%ABV) and it was a very light golden brown color with an off white head. It smelled very very yeasty. I also got a lot of spice out of the beer, but nothing identifiable. I knew even before I tasted it, it that it may disappoint. I was reluctant to taste it, and with good reason; it tasted like curry and black gumdrops mixed together. Very yeasty, very spicy, and very hard to drink. Every sip was like running a mile in a marathon, and at maker 26 you’re just cranky and need to get to the finish. Overall, I’d give the beer a D- with it narrowly avoiding a 64 because of the high ABV.
On the other hand there is Yuengling (pictured right). To be honest, I really feel that is over hyped, especially in CT because they don’t distribute here. There is nothing that I feel that is distinguishable with the beer. It’s a darker lager and it is well balanced; no strong hops at all and really a sweeter beer with a heavier malt taste coming through. Very drinkable, I woundn’t get tired of ordering these for a night, but you’d probably get board of them if you bought a 12 pack. Needless to say I bought 24 of them (remember the whole issue of not having them available in CT?) Yuengling is a fine reliable beer good for the summer because it’s hard to fill up on them, overall I’d give it a solid B and worth your time and the money (20 dollars for a 24 pack).
One of our last stops in Philly was the Triumph Brewing Company, a brewery headquartered in Jersey, but had a swank brewpub in the city. We stumbled upon it right before our tour was going to start at Independence Hall. A good rest stop as the bar was quiet and lined with TVs to catch the World Cup. I ordered the Apple Wheat (pictured left) curious to see if it was going to be a beer with fruit added, or brewed with fruit. It turns out, it was neither. It’s brewed with apple cider and cinnamon and was actually pretty good. I feel this would be a good September brew, something to hold you until your favorite pumpkin or Oktoberfest came out, but I wouldn’t be able to have many of these consecutively. It had the tart of Apples, but was overpowered by the cinnamon making it pretty sweet. I also didn’t get any notes of hops, malt, or barley, so it wasn’t very “beerie.” I feel that this beer is what Strongbow Cider should taste like, rather than apple seltzer. That being said, a low ABV at 4% and an being too much of a Cider turned me off. It is definitely worth checking out, but not nearly on the level as other fruit beers. B-
Check out Philly, take advantage of the prices, and enjoy the history. Cheers!