Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Notes from a year ago

This has been a wild year. As of tomorrow its been 1 year since we opened the doors and began tearing up the old brewery and building our new (old) brewery.

I actually wrote this a year ago while we were conceptualizing recipe's and designs for what would become Philadelphia's Brewing Company. I found this scribbled on an old pad in the bottom of my locker and thought it is interesting and more appropriate than ever on the eve of our first year officially in this business as Philadelphia's brand.

January 2008
The honeymoon is over. …for some.

This goes out to small brewers. The days of building a brewery and carving out your niche on uninteresting / uninspired beers just because they are 'craft' is over. Yesterdays success guarantees nothing tomorrow.

The fact is that even the smallest of us are in the business of manufacturing first and creativity second. We work in beer factories. Many days it feels like a trained monkey could do 95% of what we do. It’s the other 5% that counts the most –if you forget that and you’re just mailing it in everyday – well that makes you the monkey. Don’t get me wrong, the hard hard labor of simple everyday production – the shoveling of grain, the scrubbing of floors, the moving of kegs, and so on - is the large necessary price we all pay to have the occasional chance to create. As always it’s the smallest things that count the most. If in all the monotony of daily work you’ve forgotten that – I say wake up or move on. Its all about perspective – if you think like a factory grunt then that’s what you’ll be – think like a technically trained artist and well … you’ll make some damn good beers.

This is nothing more than a friendly reminder to all the brewers out there.

So keep the romance alive.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Beer Run this Saturday

Run for beer this Saturday! I will be in the Brewhouse making more Kenzinger (it goes so fast these days!) so I will have to catch the next one.

I've passed along the info below for those of you who are interested in a scenic autumn run or bike followed by a few good pints - what could be better!?

Organized by Bryan at The Brew Lounge:

>Saturday, November 8, 2008; meet @ 9:30am; leave @ 10:15am

> Start: General Lafayette Inn & Brewery; 646 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, PA

> End: Tiedhouse; 2001 Hamilton Street, Philadelphia, PA

* One hydration station will be located roughly at the midpoint of the route

This is not a sanctioned or sponsored race event; you will run at your own risk. However, to get your first round free at the new Tiedhouse gastropub in Philly, you'll need to show up at The General Lafayette and run or bike 13.1 miles along one of the most scenic routes in the Philly area.

This coming Saturday, come meet in Lafayette Hill, PA at The General Lafayette at 9:30am for a prompt 10:15am departure down along Forbidden Drive, Wissahickon Creek, and Kelly Drive into the Fairmount Section of Philly and the new Tiedhouse restaurant.

For more information or with questions, contact

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Phillies WIN!

Phillies win tonight. I can't imagine any city that this would mean any more to. I've quickly become a converted Phillies fan since (growing up in the Northeast) moving here 8 years ago. I'm not sure I've experienced such dedicated fans anywhere else.

To me the turning point was watching the news before the game and seeing their coverage of the guys hired to literally grease down the public utility poles all around the city in anticipation of a win.

Thats when I knew the Phillies couldn't possibly lose in this town tonight. Good job fellas.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Philly's animals need our help

Put your beer down for just a minute.

I've just heard that the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has issued an open bid for animal control operations in the city to be effective Jan. 1st. The contract is defined by, "accepting and humanely disposing of up to 30,000 unwanted pets per year." There is no dedication to lifesaving (adoption) efforts. In the last 3 years under much public outcry PACCA has brought the shelter save rate from 11% to 60%. Now PACCA may be pushed aside for the lowest bidder who can do the dirtiest work for the cheapest. The focus is 'control' not 'care'. The contract has been described as "catch and kill". This makes animals disposable objects - and ignores their value as living breathing companions.

In an article written in the Daily News titled, 'Has Philadelphia signed a death sentence for innocent lost animals?', Stu Bykofsky describes the failure of the Health Department to make life saving a priority.

This is important. PAWS (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society) has contacts to Mayor Nutter's Office and other local & city council representatives.

You might also visit: Citizens for a no Kill Philadelphia.

My two dogs are from Philadelphia shelters ~ the oldest from PACCA's Northeast Hunting Park Ave shelter. I cringe to imagine her life lost had we not happened to go to the shelter that day. If you've never been there I challenge anyone to find a sadder place to visit. Many great animals that will never get a chance at a good home.

A famous thinker once speculated that to judge the success and sophistication of a civilization one must only look at the way it cares for its animal companions.

This directly reflects on who we are. Do something, tell somebody, send an email, anything.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Organic Innovations

So it's been awhile but we've been busy dreaming up ways to shake things up and make our beer better. Hopefully if you've had the Walt Wit in the last month or two you've noticed an improved citrusy depth of character and a nice snappy acidity.

If you've passed it by since we first released it go get some and give him another shot.

Two months ago I decided to trust my instincts and try something different - whole organic ruby grapefruit. We had been using dried peel ( the kind you can get at the homebrew shop) because its economical, easy to store, easy to use, and the standard method of using citrus fruit peel in beer. All the brewing texts warn against using whole fruit - 'watch out for the pectins!' - whole fruit will destroy your beer, create a haze, harm the yeast, become harsh off-flavors! ... so they say.

Nonsense I figured - fresher must = better. And it is. I could tell you all about it using fancy descriptive words but you really have to taste it to see. I wouldn't be cutting and squeezing a whole case of grapefruit for every batch if it wasn't worth it.

It makes for a lot of work- but also some really tasty beer, especially during these hot late summer days.

~ Also, a huge thanks to Carolynn at Standard Tap for hooking me up with her supplier of organic produce who goes out of his way to supply us with relatively small quantities of fruit.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Running with beer

I'd like to call attention to

I just became aware of these folks and i think it's a great idea.

They seek to "combine responsible running with responsible drinking in the interest of science."

Their Mission: The primary mission is to test the results of a scientific research study conducted by Manuel J Castillo-Garzon, MD, PhD, Professor of Medical Physiology, School of Medicine, at the University of Granada. The study said it is better to drink beer rather than water after a long run. (FINE PRINT: until this is proven, we encourage proper water hydration while running)

Beyond this important work, other goals are:

1) to encourage people to exercise by running (or walking)

2) to provide friendly camaraderie for all who hate to exercise

3) to promote the responsible enjoyment of QUALITY beer

4) to support local tavern owners and breweries; and to promote a ban on spandex.

This is nothing new to Bryan over at the Brew Lounge who organized the Philly Beer Run during Philly Beer week.

Anyways I think its long overdue that we change the misconception that all beer drinkers (and brewers for that matter) are fat or unhealthy. In many cases the opposite is true.

I may have to join on a run or two. I frequently go running on the trails through Wissahickon Park and have found that after coming home and re-hydrating with a pint or two of water or gatorade the best way to cool down, recover, and relax is with a couple of Kenzinger's on my back porch. It drinks pretty good!

And if you're some sort of neo-prohibitionist weirdo who is also a runner and thinks I'm full of it ... I'll race ya.

Fleur de Lehigh released

Hello all. Just a quick note as promised ...

The Fleur de Lehigh as we've named the aforementioned brew has been delivered to the following fine establishments for your enjoyment. It won't be lasting long so get it while you can.

In no particular order: Standard Tap, Devil's Den, The Grey Lodge, Khyber, P.O.P.E., Memphis Taproom, Dive X2, London Grill, Abbaye, Lost Bar, Brownies, 700, McMenamin's, Good Dog, Bridgids, Teresa's Next Door.

If I missed any I apologize.

Also, I forgot to mention in the last post - This elaborate beer is brewed with a mixed yeast culture. This means you get two for the price of one! A clean American ale yeast and a funky Belgian yeast working together.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Natural Herbal Enhancement

Our first seasonal offering has been in tank now for a couple of weeks quietly fermenting with anticipation. We've been silent about it up until now while we rack our brains to dream up a good name to go along with it.

I'm confident you won't find many other beers like it. This brew is a nod to old tyme beverages - the kind of styles being re-invigorated by Belgians and Italians and foresighted Americans. The emphasis is on a unique line up of herbs and spices. If you must conform to styles think Belgian Pale ... with herbs. We're thinking springtime in the sprawling French countryside - or Kensington - whichever you prefer.

We start with a base of excellent lightly toasted malts on a foundation of Canadian 2 row (pils) from our silo: Weyermann (German) CaraHell, Acidulated malt, Wheat, whole flaked Oats, French aromatic, and a touch of French CaraMunich for a nice golden color.

Hops are light - just enough for balance and some Willamette late in the boil for a subtle earthiness.

Now the good stuff... Cardamom, Ginger, Lemongrass, Rose hips, Rhubarb root.

Fun facts:
  • Cardamom is a sweetly aromatic relative of ginger and one of the world's most expensive spices. It is also known to prevent flatulence.
  • Ginger root can be found fresh in most grocery stores and was once very popular in brewing. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, ginger is said to "rescue devastated yang," a condition in which invading cold or infection has reached the interior of the body.
  • Lemongrass is common in Thai and Indonesian cooking and has a fragrant lemony-rose aroma. The herb aids digestion and has been promoted as a stimulant tonic.
  • Rose hips are actually the fruit of wild roses and have a citrusy tart character. They are one of the most concentrated sources of vitamin C and natural antioxidants and are known to fend off the common cold.
  • Rhubarb root is both tart, sweet, and completely unique in flavor. The root has been used for over 2000 years in Chinese medicine as a digestive and sometimes a purgative.
Beer Historian Rich Wagner stopped by the brewery this week to sample the beer in progress. To his vast knowledge, among all the historical brewing records Rhubarb root has never been used in beer. I'm proud to be an advocate/pioneer in this herbal field! By the way, all these (with the exception on the ginger) are certified organic.

If all these herbs and spices seem like witchcraft to you I urge you to keep an open mind and seek out this beer. (It will be released draft-only in the city in 1-2 weeks) We've carefully chosen the flavor components that have gone into this brew and they work well together - really well. The result is a very floral, aromatic, and subtly tart beer. The toasty malt sweetness compliments the citrusy nose the earthy flavor nicely. Yet the herbs don't overwhelm the senses - just what we needed for early summer!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Springtime at the Brewery

I'd almost forgotten about this video clip I took of the first bottles to come off our line. By the end of March we bottled the Walt Wit with the other three closely behind. Ever since its been full steam ahead.

There's alot going on around here during the spring months. We've opened the doors for tours again! So come on by any Saturday after 12 noon and see all this for yourself.

Also, we've got the talented Jason Simon back on the brewing team. Jason worked with Josh and I at Yards before leaving to hang out at Dogfishhead Brewery for awhile. Now we're more than glad to have him back - he knows his way around the brewery - and with him around I can quit sleeping at the brewery and go home now and again!

HOPS! With the sun hitting our courtyard, my hops have begun to break ground - and fast. Last season I dug out some of the Belgian block of the loading dock area, loosened the Kensington dirt, and planted a few hop rhizomes. Now in their second season they are breaking ground 2 months earlier than last year and should give great yields! I'm digging out some more blocks to expose more soil and will be adding 5 more varieties this year.

Second year hops: Willamette, Brewers Gold, Hallertau, Crystal, Centennial

First year hops (new this season): Mt. Hood, Sterling, Chinook, Cascade, Northern Brewer

Pictures to come soon ...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Philly Beer Week concludes

As our first week of distribution and Philly Beer Week draws to a close I need to thank all the good folks who supported the cause. Everybody has been amazing.

I had the opportunity to meet many people this week, get lots of positive feedback, and think up some new ideas. Sometime its real nice to get outta the brewery. As a brewer, all the planning and technical brewing knowledge in the world is no replacement for sitting in a local pub and drinking every one of your beers - and talking to others who are. I'm so proud of what we've accomplished.

The Kenzinger is so dangerously drinkable - smooth and classy.

The Walt Wit is distinctive from most other white beers - crisp and spicy and pleasantly dry finishing.

The New Bold IPA has a solid malt character and a not-so-abrasively-bitter rounded hoppiness - fruity and herbal.

The Philadelphia-style Rowhouse Red is surprisingly funky with all its different malts balancing each other and showcasing an awesome yeast character.

I couldn't be much happier with the release of these 4 right from the start but I promise they're only gonna get better. We're going to get that bottling line up and running and release bottles next week. This has been a great beginning for us - and we've got a lot more tricks up our sleeves.

Again, I'm sincerely grateful to get the chance to drink our beer with you all in person. You could have been any number of places drinking with someone else but thanks for drinking with me.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Go get some!

So last Wednesday our first trucks rolled out of the courtyard loading dock with Kenzinger, Walt Wit, and Rowhouse Red. Kegs were tapped throughout the city - many immediately. Reports have been very positive so far and I've been told that by Friday we already had a few calls for re-orders! has a preliminary list:

New Bold IPA will debut at The Brewer's Plate on Sunday and will roll out for deliveries to local bars just in time for Beer Week.

I'm anxious to continue to get feedback (and orders) for all of these beers. In the meantime we'd better make some more.

The name says it all

MyFox Philadelphia has done a good job putting together a feature on PBC for Philadelphia Beer Week:

Monday, March 3, 2008

Just in time for Philly Beer Week

... Some good reading about the upcoming Philadelphia Beer Week and an argument for our city as the best 'beer city' ~ I'd say pretty convincing.

" A Toast to a city of brews" by Craig LaBan

Also, here at PBC we have respectively filtered and un-filtered the Kenzinger and the Walt Wit! They're in the bright tanks, carbonated, and probably being pushed into shiny clean kegs by one of our hard-working PBC keg racking team members as you read this.

Detailed tasting notes to come but for now all you need to know is that they taste great. Upon first sip my initial thought was, ' I could drink a lot of these.' Simple - but the most important trait of a well made beer. Always a very good sign - echoed by all the staff/taste testers here at the brewery.

Very soon to follow will be the New Bold IPA and the Rowhouse Red - exciting stuff!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The next great beers

Don Russell's (Joe Sixpack) latest column recently got the gears in my head turning. It's about the wave of innovation going on in Italian craft brewing. (Italy - the next great brewmaster?)

The future of craft beer is in complex flavors. Its very important to recognize that complexity need not necessarily be at the cost of drinkability. The future is in the sophistication of people's palates and new and intriguing flavors. Whether this will come from advances in the art of brewing microbiology and yeast or finding new flavors in spices and herbs - I'm not sure. But thats where we're going. Hops will never go out of style but brewers who cannot think outside of hopping extremes are doomed to repeat Imperial one-dimensionality. Those who can respect the past but have the vision and the guts to think beyond its stylistic limitations will do well. Many forward-thinking folks across many different industries are already doing it. With beer a very niche group is getting it but its really going to take changing the way people think about beer - a beverage pigeonholed to the masses by many years of effective marketing. We are starting to undo this. There is still a long way to go. We have to continue to cross lines and blur boundaries. Beer versus wine? ~ that is just the beginning. There is no room for competition or argument - as far as I'm concerned it's all art.

... Unconventional yeast strains, bacterial cultures, spices, herbs, nuts and berries, wooden aging, different aging techniques, different sources of fermentable sugars ... there is more .. we just have to dream it up.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Putting the Boots back on

PBC First brews

Well now we've done it. The clock is ticking and your taste buds may never be the same. Sunday Feb. 9th and Mon. Feb 10th were the inaugural brews here at PBC! We mixed it all together in a giant steel pot and today our fermenters are bubbling away. It's actually a little more difficult than that but I'll spare you all the nerdy details for now.

Brew #1 was Kenzinger. I can't even begin to properly elaborate on the excitement. After a month and a half of reconstruction and anticipation it was as if the whole brewery finally exhaled a deep sigh of relief. And with that came the beautifully sweet aroma of barley mash and floral hops. We fired up the burners, dusted off the mill, and roused the yeast from its cold sleep. I've never had so many people up on the brewhouse platform on a brewday. What traditionally would have made me nervous was what made the first Kensinger brew fun. I counted six different people helping to mash-out ( physically pull the grain from the mash tun). As for the brew itself ... I'll keep my analysis to myself for now - its to early in fermentation to tell - but this brew is off to a good start.

Brew #2 the next day was Walt Wit. It's been too long since Josh or I have brewed a white beer. This one is especially exciting because we get a little more room to run and play. Thats the fun in Belgian-style beers. We got to test out our secret blend of herbs and spices along with a completely different yeast strain. Our spices for this beer are untraditional and I'm confident you'll find them in few other beers ( or none). I'm not going to list the spices just yet. I just can't decide whether to tell, but stick around - they're too exciting for me not to leak them eventually. Mostly, I just don't want anyone passing judgment before having a good couple of pints. As for yeast, if you're familiar with la Chouffe's fine beers then you'll have an idea.

So far so good. Wednesday and Thursday we'll be brewing The New Bold IPA and the Philadelphia-style Rowhouse Red respectively.

It's so nice to be back.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Philadelphia Weekly PBC Story

In todays Philadelphia Weekly G.W. Miller III wrote an excellent story about us. It's a nice pat on the back to all the fine folks who have done so much good for their Kensington neighborhood while running Yards BC and will continue to do even more as PBC. Also a nice summary of our progress!

Definitly worth a read.

~ and for the record thats Josh on the left (I'm on the right!) in the wrongly-captioned picture.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Philadelphia Brewing Co. picking up the pace

This was a big week for us.

I hadn't posted for some time since starting this blog - there wasn't a whole lot to talk about - we were just waiting to move back in. We hit the ground running.

We put the final coat of shiny new epoxy on the brewhouse floor today. Earlier in the week we prepped the floor with a diamond grinder removing the old floor completely. Two weeks ago we knocked the cinder block out of six of the big old original windows. The walls have also been coated with a brilliant white industrial epoxy/urethane. With the fresh paint and plenty of natural light the brewery has taken on a whole new ambiance. That's right, I said a brewery with ambiance. Some of us have likened the new brewhouse to an operating room. We've retained all that familiar pre-prohibition flavor and added a progressively modern brewery taste. For everyone familiar with the old look, I think you'll really be impressed.

If the smell of fresh paint doesn't get you going like it does for me, how about the smell of fresh hops? This week we received our first shipment of hops! In the new world of hop and malt shortages where prices have gone up 2 and 4 times respectively, when demand is growing, and supply is shrinking, even when you have established contacts it is easy to loose sleep. But we worked very hard and here they are! Northern Brewer, Glacier, Sterling, Perle, Willamette ... just to name a few. Very good hops. I'll save a few names just to keep the suspense.

Yesterday we filled our silo with a high quality 2 row Canadian malt. This should be an excellent base malt for the easy drinkin' full flavored beers we intend to make. Its a very light golden color, promises good extract, and has an acceptable protein content. At first taste I get a pleasant grainy sweetness - subtle but solid as a Kensington deadbolt. Is there anything those Canadians can't do? All our specialty malts came earlier in the week - the best quality German barley,wheat, oats, & rye one can buy. Things are really getting exciting.

Things like this have been routine in the past but with a new name and new brands the same people are working harder than ever. I'm continually impressed. For the sake of brevity I haven't mentioned the many other projects and upgrades we are working on here (more on those later). Everybody is working - it doesn't matter if you brew the beer, deliver it, bottle it, package it, or sell it. And we're doing it all ourselves. I feel lucky to be a part of it.

With that said, as much as I love to epoxy floors and move big tanks around I am itching to get back on that brewhouse platform and turn some grain and hops into delicious Philadelphia beer.

Its almost time ...

Here is a web album of the reconstruction so far ... breaking down and building up.

Phila BC reconstruction