Beer Ye! Beer Ye! Tippler’s Tour of Philadelphia

There are things that everyone must do in Philadelphia whether you’re a visitor or resident–eat a cheesesteak, run up the Art Museum’s steps à la Rocky Balboa, and check out the city’s great brews. Tippler’s Tour is a colonial pub crawl through historic Philadelphia which makes stops at some of Philadelphia’s finest bars, taverns, and breweries–offering a nod to that colonial jack-of-all-trades Ben Franklin.  Apparently, Franklin was quite the lover of liquid libations–beer in particular–and much of the tour offers great factual tidbits in the event you find yourself wracking your brain during final Jeopardy! (or the local pub favorite Quizzo).  Did you know Ben Franklin invented the Pennsylvania lottery?  Neither did I.

Arriving at our first stop, the opulent Omni Hotel, our guide, bedecked in colonial haberdashery warned our eager, raucous group to “take care lest ye be buzzey” and even though he didn’t have an accent, there was something very Oliver Twist about the moment.  Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way–someone in the back of the crowd chimed in with a surprisingly good affected Cockney (“‘Ello Guv-nor!”) that would have made any Dickens character proud.  (Cute accent.  Wrong era.)  At the Omni, we sipped Yards Philadelphia Pale Ale (a local favorite) and noshed on savory pastries and chicken skewers as our guide regaled our group with stories of yesteryear.  Then, it was off to Old City’s National Mechanics.

Tucked away in a former colonial bank, National serves up modern-day marvels (bacon-flavored vodka anyone?) and a Strongbow hard cider that would’ve blown George Washington’s powdered wig off.  It’s the kind of rowdy, dark pub that inspires its patrons to dissolve into fits of spontaneous pub songs or offer long-winded, lager-fueled toasts–the latter being exactly what happened when our tour guide urged us to “charge” (raise) our glasses and offer a toast to our nation’s enemies (in colonial times, it was only the British but today, take your pick). Just what did we wish for our enemies? The usual–“porcupine saddles”, “hard-trotting horses”, and an “eternal journey”.  And with that, our journey continued to Triumph Brewing Company.

A stone’s throw from Penn’s Landing, Triumph is truly a beer lover’s nirvana.  Ensconced in glass and hovering above the first-floor bar is an actual brewery where one can stand in awe of the magic of beer-making.  Tippler’s Tour is undeniably about the beer, but at Triumph the beer was kind enough to share the spotlight with the food.  Cornmeal-crusted calamari and cannelini bean crostini paired nicely with (and cut the somewhat strong taste) of Kinder Pilsner.  Mouths were almost too full to sing the bawdy pub songs our engaging and charming guide was belting out.  Almost.
The venerable City Tavern, the brainchild of Chef Walter Staib, was last on the list.  Of course, City Tavern is the only stop on the tour that touts authentic 18th-century fare, so where else would you expect to find Thomas Jefferson’s sweet potato biscuits and a pink champagne cocktail concocted from a recipe from the 1700s?  At City Tavern, time truly rewound and suddenly the tour guide’s clothing didn’t seem hokey nor did his stories of skirmishes with the British.  Sitting in the architecturally accurate parlor and served by waitstaff in full period attire, we were transfixed and transported to an era long gone–nearly forgetting our own. That is, until someone snapped a quick picture with his iPhone.

About Iris "The Palate Princess" M.

Food writer | Author of Food Lovers' Guide to Philadelphia, Main Squeeze: Juicing Recipes for Your Healthiest Self, and On the Line (coming soon)

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