Great beer, fun people and the special places of Philly Beer World.
Location: 30th Street Station, 30th and Market Streets, West Philly.
Sure, you know the station – and not just because you stared at its massive cement facade all afternoon while backed up in that blasted rush hour jam on JFK Boulevard. This shrine to lost taxi drivers, a.k.a. the Gateway to the Main Line, is also a genuine beer gem.
Inside, there’s Bridgewater’s Pub, in the southwest corner of the station. Dark, cozy and busy, it caters mainly to travelers waiting for an Amtrak or SEPTA connection.
Outside, there’s the Pub at the Porch, a portable street-side pub that provides refreshment during fair weather.
The Beer: If there’s a better beer selection in any railroad station in America, I wanna know about it. Bridgewater’s Pub pours only 10 taps, but there’s not a loose end to be found. There are always a couple locals, a couple American micros, plus a Belgian or two… and those amazing Germans. Over the years, I’ve seen authentic kellerbier, fresh hefeweizen, crisp pilsner, malty bock, sparkling helles and – in autumn – full liters of Marzen. Not to mention the occasional bottle of Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock. In Philadelphia, only much larger places like Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street or Frankford Hall in Fishtown can match the Germans that are almost routine at Bridgewater’s.
Meanwhile, the Pub at the Porch (run by the same folks as Bridgewater’s) this year stepped up its game by featuring Thursday tap takeovers by local breweries. Coming up this week: St. Benjamin’s.
The People: They’re mainly travelers, often from out of town, but more often locals on a stopover during their daily commute. When people are going places, they always have a story. Engage in a little talk, find out what they think about our city, brag a little – it all makes for good barroom conversation.
What makes it special: The mere presence of great beer at a city landmark tells a story about Philadelphia – about how much we value beer as a part of our city’s fabric and tradition. We’re not pouring some lame BudMillerCoors, dear traveler. You can find that in any other town. No, those German beers are a hint at our 350 years of immigrant history. That glass of Flying Fish or Neshaminy Creek? Hang around town a day or two, and you’ll find there’s plenty more where that came from. Even if you’re a jaded local, trudging through the cavernous waiting room on the way to the Lansdale Line, you’ve got to be just a little bit proud that the station is showing off the region’s finest to the rest of the world.
Got a favorite Philly Beer World person, place or beer that ought to be unearthed? Share it in the comments section!