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Where American Drinking Has Always Been Great

On a tour of U.S. beer, Philly has long been a winner



Philadelphia is a boozy town. It's been that way at least as far back as when Founding Father and craft cider nerd Benjamin Franklin wrote, "There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking." The love for imbibing is symbolized by the Mummers Parade, the Mardi Gras-like string-band and public-intoxication festival that kicks off every New Year's Day, and increasingly, it's been bolstered by the huge number of breweries and bars around the city.

The brewpub movement, more than 15 years in the making, includes some Oregon name-dropping. Deschutes Brewing has been distributing in the city since 2013, and a recent trip to the Khyber Pass Pub in the Old City neighborhood revealed a new keg of Dippy and the Equinox, a double-IPA collaboration between Bend's Boneyard Beer and the UK's Siren Craft Brew.

"I have never had a bad beer from Deschutes," says Fritz Platzke, a homebrewer who makes sour ales out of his rowhouse in South Philly. "Especially this time of year, I'll always go out of my way to have Jubelale if I see that it's on tap somewhere in the city."

One fun way to take in the local scene: The SEPTA Paoli/Thorndale train line, which starts near Temple University and extends 35 miles or so into the western suburbs. Stops include:

Saint Benjamin Brewing (Kensington)

Located in an old carriage house, Saint Benjamin opened the taproom last April, offering robust sandwiches to go with their equally robust lineup. Go for Foul Weather Jack, an English mild ale that couldn't have been better executed. Tons of malt flavor at only 4.5 percent ABV.

Teresa's Next Door (Wayne)

Belgium has always enjoyed a strong influence on beer tastes around here, and Teresa's is a cozy bar to enjoy it alongside some nice cheese or mussels. Classics like Tripel Van de Garre and Chimay White share tap space with beer from new locals like Pizza Boy and Toolbox. (There's also lots of Pliny the Elder, making a rare East Coast appearance.)

Tired Hands Brewing (Ardmore)

Up there with De Garde in terms of beer-nerd street cred, Tired Hands turns this sleepy commuter suburb into a standing-room-only block party whenever owner Jean Broillet IV releases something new in cans. Drop into the Fermentaria production facility on a quieter day to check out all the offerings, from juicy IPAs to the Only Void imperial stout.

Victory Brewing (Downingtown)

Central Oregon receives Victory's Prima Pils...and that's about it. That's a poor way to learn about this brewery, however. It distributes to 34 states, boasts a wide fanbase across the region, and operates an absolutely enormous taproom in this town. A couple dozen things are on tap at all times. Try out DirtWolf, their award-winning IPA, or get exotic with the 14.3 percent Java Cask coffee bourbon stout.

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