August 15, 2010

Three Sheets 22nd & Philly Style

Urban dictionary defines "three sheets" as an old sailing term in which, after setting all three main sails to the wind, a ship will shudder and roll, much like a stumbling drunk.  The drinking TV show Three Sheets adds a twist to the term.  Why not go three sheets and explore the drinking culture, unique bars, special drinks and food of the city.  See more here and here.

At 22nd & Philly we did our own version of Three Sheets. The original plan was to make seven stops each with its own story. As three sheet tours tend to go, the plan doesn't always work out as you'd like. We visited five places.

The first stop was Yards Brewery located on Delaware Ave.  It turned out to be the highlight of the tour and will get its own separate post to discuss in more detail.  Tours are every Saturday from 12:00-3:00.  It is also not regimented so you could likely show up later and get an abbreviated tour.  Yards has a taproom and is actually a nice set-up and laid back.  I'd visit the taproom again without the tour.

Founded in 1994 by two collegiate wrestlers, Tom Kehoe and Jon Bovitz, Yards began making beer in a garage in Manayunk. A true pioneer in the Philly craft beer explosion, Yards is known for its, Philly pale ale,  india pale ale, special ale and the brawler. The Ales of the Revolution, a partnership with City Tavern, have also become popular since being launched. 

After the tour, we tried a tasting of the Ales of the Revolution.  I enjoyed them all, but would choose the porter as my favorite.

The next stop was the Piazza at Schmidt's.  Each time we visit the Piazza we come away impressed.  It is urban design at its finest.  Built with the old European piazza concept in mind, the Piazza at Schmidt's brings people together and creates a festive atmosphere.  The piazza has giant TV, several restaurants and random markets throughout the week/year.  We settled on Swift Half for some food and, yes, more drink.  We'll provide a full review at some point since we were not at Swift Half for any reason more than sitting outside, drinking, eating and enjoying the Piazza, a concept we only hope spreads elsewhere. 

A few blocks away from the Piazza is gastropub pioneer, Standard Tap.  A perfect reason to stop in for a drink or two. Standard Tap opened in 1999 and is one of many reasons behind the growth of the Northern Liberties section of Philly. A gastropub is a pub that also focuses on high quality food. Gastropubs have exploded in recent years to the benefit of beer and food lovers like ourselves!  Standard Tap is widely regarded as a leader in the Philly beer movement and was one of the first bars to focus on local and/or craft beers.  The treat of the day was a Troeg's IPA from a hand-pumped cask.  The beer list was full of local beers I haven't had so we will be going back sometime soon.

After a few hours rest, we visited McGillin's Olde Ale House, the oldest continuously operated tavern in Philadelphia. Open since 18-fricken-60! It was originally called The Bell in Hand, but the laborers who frequented the place just called it McGillin’s after William McGillin, the Irish immigrant who owned the bar. McGillin's is known as being a no nonsense bar.  Simple concept - beer flowing, music and people looking to have a good time.  

In true Three Sheets style, the last stop was for food in the hopes of the stemming the inevitable three sheets outcome: the hangover.  Hello, Jim's Steaks. This Philadelphia tradition was opened in 1939 at its original location in West Philadelphia, where it still operates. Yes, Jim really was the first owner. Jim's Steaks' other location on South Street, though, has become a Philadelphia Landmark, much like Pat’s King of Steaks. We went to the South Philly location; the cheesesteak hit the spot and it was back home to some much needed sleep.

We missed two other spots on the original schedule - Cherry Street Tavern and Monk's Cafe.  Cherry Street is a small neighborhood bar that flies under the radar. I never heard of the place until friends moved down the street and took us there. It’s a simple place with mostly locals coming.  Prohibition is why it was a scheduled stop. The bar was licensed in 1905, so like any bar was hit hard during prohibition. But never doubt Americans and their desire to drink. Along the bar where patrons sit is a drain where you could do two things: use the bathroom if you are too lazy or pour out your drinks if cops raided the place. Random celebrities have been known to stop by.

Monk's is the reason why Philly leads the country in the Belgian beers.  A colleague used to work at Eulogy, another Belgian place, and was told that Belgian beer often doesn't make it past Philly to the rest of the country. Why? The beer is bought up by places like Monks and not enough is left. Go Philly! I once met the founder of World of Beer at Monks. Truly a Belgian beer lovers dream.

It was an excellent day and we hope to hear about your own Three Sheets adventures.  A slideshow of the tour and a video of Jim's Steaks are below.  

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