A Philadelphia Magazine Top Bar Comes with Bad Food, Bad Service & Suspect Beer List
By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight
One of our favorite magazines, Philadelphia Magazine, also known as Philly Mag, recently published an issue focusing on the best bars in Philly. A great piece listing some of our favorite bars, we decided to venture to any of the bars that we’ve never been to. Our first stop was at Molly Maguire’s Irish Restaurant & Pub in Lansdale PA, about 15-20 minutes outside of city limits. A menu full of original Irish food recipes such as bangers and mash, boxtys, Irish stew and fish and chips, we were looking forward to trying some food items usually not on every average bar menu.
The tap list featured some standard Irish beers such as Guinness, Harp, and Smithwicks and a few other craft beers; the best was perhaps the Pennsylvania Brewing Pale Ale, a flat out stud. But the tap list was nothing to write home about as two of the taps were taken by fruit beers. Usually, when someone orders a fruit beer, they don’t care if it comes from a tap or a bottle, therefore, why waste two taps that could be used for a craft IPA or Imperial Stout, or even two more Irish beers. But hey, tap lines change over quick so this might not be standard.
The restaurant was only at about 2/3’s capacity which is about normal for a Thursday night; however, at times it seemed that the bartender ignored us as we were sitting at the bar with glasses empty. There were no lines at the door, no lines at the bar and many tables open. Tough enough to get a beer, although we managed, the food was basically a nightmare.
We started with the Scotch egg for an appetizer, which consisted of two hard boiled eggs, wrapped in ground roast pork and deep fried, served with spicy mustard. It was pretty good actually. We also went with a spinach salad that was solid, nothing special but still good.
Then, we went with the Yellow Jack Boxty, “An 8 ounce Prime Beef Patty chopped up with Rashers, lettuce, tomato, red onion and special sauce.” The problem was that when I started eating it, the meat was burnt but the entire boxty was actually cold. Maybe a boxty is supposed to be cold? We’ve have a few before and they weren’t cold, but maybe it’s the signature Molly Maguire style. Then, we went on to try the side of mashed potatoes. Cold! Yup, cold mashed potatoes. An Irish pub served us cold mash potatoes. The one thing an Irish bar must do is served their potatoes correct, period. When we complained to the bartender, she told us they would take the food back. When we asked if they would make me a new plate of just heat up the old one, the bartender replied that they would probably just microwave the dish that I had started eating. Nice! That’s just what I need, a more dried out and shittier more overcooked boxty. A few minutes later we overheard another couple at the bar complaining that their food was cold, the entrée and mashed potatoes.
The highlight of the night was the Molly’s Mac and Cheese, a Penne pasta baked with Rashers and creamy aged cheddar cheese, topped with toasted bread crumbs and a dash of parmesan cheese. This dish was very good; however the portion was small, came with no side and cost about $13.
When the manager finally came out after multiple complaints by the patrons, he decided to comp us 1 beer. Not one beer each, simply one beer.
All in all, the food was bad and cold, the service was bad and the food was slightly overpriced for what it is. Although the bartender was nice, her service was suspect as well. Our thoughts for Molly Maguire’s is that they’re not experienced enough or have the capacity to come with real authentic Irish food and should stick to the bar food basics, deep fried dishes with French fries, that’s it. Although there were a couple good beers, they must pay more attention to the craft beer trends as there is limited tap space. In this day an age of craft beer mania, every tap counts. Philly Mag might list this place as a top bar, but it needs some serious work. There are two other locations of Molly Maguire’s, on in Phoenixville and one in Downingtown.
An O.G. Craft Beer Bar: How the Mighty Have Fallen
By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight
We’d like to apologize to McMenamin’s for dining at their establishment. For some reason they seemed to be annoyed that we stopped by and decided to give them our hard earned money for a week night dinner. We’re sorry, that’s our fault. Don’t worry though because we won’t be stopping by again. To be fair, this used to be one of our favorite places but if we’re going out in Mt Airy, you’ll see us down the block at the Wine Thief. Maybe our readers should do the same since it doesn’t seem like McMenamin’s even likes their customers. The host was rude, annoyed and gave us looks that seemed as he didn’t want us to be there. The bartenders, although busy, forgot multiple drink orders and also seemed annoyed that we were there. That’s OK though, because we saved money when they forgot our orders and were saved from enduring more average food and drink.
Any who, on to the food and beer: The cheeseburger at McMenamin’s was pedestrian to say the least. To be fare, we’ve been perusing the entire city of Philadelphia looking for the best burgers so the competition is steep. It’s safe to say that the burger at McMenamin’s does not stack up. When we ordered a medium rare burger, it came out well done. Not the most horrible mistake but still, the burger was dry, flavorless and just plain below average. Avoid the burger.
The cheese plate was also just pedestrian. Not well matched and not really appealing to the eye, the cheese plate looked and tasted awkward and cheap. It wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t good. The fries are nothing to write home about either, just about below average. To be fair, we’ve had the wings at McMenamin’s before and their pretty good, but everything else falls short, including their beers on tap.
McMenamin’s is one of the original craft beer bars in Philly, doing craft beers for years and years before the recent wave of fanaticism. Now, this is a better tap list than most bars, but for a craft beer bar it’s falling behind the times. Lacking variety and expertise, the PJ Whelihan’s chain seems to be more educated in craft beer selection. The bottle list is a safe go to, but not extensive. We did enjoy the Samuel Smith India Ale, a spicy and malty pale ale perfect for spicy Indian dishes.
Oh right, don’t order a cocktail either because apparently that’s annoying too. If a restaurant does not want to make a drink or is not good at making certain foods, they should take it off the menu. What else is there to say? McMenamin’s has a culture of bad service and a staff that doesn’t seem to care. It should be replaced immediately.
If you love a well balanced craft IPA and Pale Ale, but still love the high malt content of a German Dopplebock, the Yakima Glory marries both brewing styles in one of the best craft beers in the world, the Victory Brewing Yakima Glory Ale. With imported German Malts and Four Whole Flour Yakima Valley Hops, the Yakima Glory has an ABV of 8.7%. The Victory Yakima Glory comes with one of our highest craft ale recommendations.
“The tenacious grip of big, juicy hop aroma and character slides smoothly into rich, dark malts. This heavyweight battle between fresh, Yakima Valley hops and dark, roasted malts is resolved harmoniously as the flavors merge to deliver complex satisfaction with a warming edge. Bask in the “glory” of the bright and brassy hops!”
The Manayunk Berwery has been a staple of the Philadelphia Schuylkill River night life scene since 1996. Formerly a converted textile mill known as Krook’s Mill, the historic Philadelphia landmark is now bustling restaurant and brew pub. The first thing I noticed immediately when I walked in was the sushi bar. Curious I thought. It seemed wildly out of place with the different sporting events shown on a number of flat screens behind the bar, the 80’s cover band that was about to take the stage, and the college aged crowd that had taken over at 10 o’ clock that Friday evening.
Nonetheless, it was all about the beer I reminded myself. I thought it was appropriate to start off with the Dreamin’ Double IPA. Inspired by the highly hopped beers from the west coast, the Dreamin double IPA is truly a hophead’s delight. Five varieties of American hops added throughout the boil create a wide range of flavors including pine and citrus, while generous dry-hopping in the fermentor provides the distinct aroma of fresh hops. The Manayunk Brew pubs guarantee that this is one of the freshest double IPA’s available. 8.5% ABV, 85 IBU’s. I thought the hop varieties were out of place. It seemed out of balance, too peppery, and over-spiced.
MANAYUNK LAGER (Oktoberfest) Marzen Style Lager
In strict accordance with the German purity law of 1516, they present this annually brewed festbier. Traditionally brewed in March and stored deep in the caves of Germany, this beer was brought to the masses to celebrate in October. It is a Vienna-style lager with a bit more malt and hops making a malty but balanced beverage. Copper-orange in color, it sports a toasty malt backbone that wonderfully compliments itself with many of our menu items.
6.2% ABV, 25 IBUs
I thought that the malt notes were way too heavy with coffee. Had a metallic finish and missed the mark for me. I was starting to get disappointed. But as the 80’s music got louder and more obscure, the night started to get better.
KROOK’S MILL American Pale Ale
This is a well-balanced hoppy American style pale ale with a generous usage of fine 2 row pale and a touch of crystal malt. This beer is copper in color and is finished with “C” hops from the Pacific Northwest, which provide a wonderful floral aroma. This ale is a perennial favorite for the owners of the Manayunk Brewing Co.
5.3% ABV, 40 IBUs
This one is also a favorite of mine. The balance was spot on. Pale Ale is my favorite style of beer so I may be biased, but certainly hits the mark. Homerun.
MUNICH DUNKEL Dark Lager
Brewed with high quality German ingredients, this dark lager is a great reminder that beer literally is liquid bread. The rich toasty flavor of Munich malt combines with a hint of roast from the dehusked carafa malt to create a wonderful aroma reminiscent of a freshly baked loaf of pumpernickel. 5.6% ABV, 20 IBUs. The Dunkel went down a lot lighter than advertised here but yet still robust and flavorful. The Manayunk Brew Pub hits the mark with the Dunkel. Well done.
Overall, the Manayunk Brewery batted a .500 average which in today’s terms of restaurants and beers gets you in the hall of fame. I did notice that they should probably clean their tap system too as well. I think what’s indicative of many Brew Pubs these days is this notion that they try TOO hard to get novice beer drinkers on board by “OVER-DOING” each style of beer. Whether it’s too hoppy for the IPA, or too robust in some of the malty styles, they “OVER-SELL” the style rather than just making GOOD BEER. I mean dude, lose the Sushi Bar, the 80’s music, and make good beer.
Khyber Pass Pub will host Tröegs Brewing Company next Wednesday, October 19th at 6 pm for a very special Tröegs Tap Takeover night! Join us for an evening with the Harrisburg, PA brewers as we feature a Tröegs lineup worthy of even the most discerning beer palates. Our Tröegs Tap Takeover will highlight the highly elusive “Scratch Series,” typically found only at the brewery, alongside the likes of seasonal favorites Mad Elf and more!
Scratch 45 – IPA
Scratch 46 – Naked Elf
Scratch 47 – Belgian Wit
Scratch 48 – Fest Bier
Scratch 49 – Wet Hop IPA
Scratch 50 – Belgian Dubel
Flying Mouflan Barleywine
Dead Reckoning Porter
Hopback Amber Ale
Hopback Amber Cask
Javahead Stout Cask
and a FIRKIN of Dry Hopped Pale Ale!
To round out a truly Tröegs-centric evening, our chefs at Khyber Pass Pub will be adding Tröegs-inspired items to our menu, including Dead Reckoning Porter Chili, Sunshine Pils Boiled Peanuts, Tröegenator Doublebock Brined/Smoked Pork Chop, Tröegs HopBack Amber BBQ sauce, and Javahead Cask Ale Coffee Ice Cream Beer Float!
Don’t miss out on an exclusive night of Tröegs’ finest selections, brought to you by Khyber Pass Pub!
Khyber Pass Pub is a historic Old City tavern that features a beautiful bar handcrafted in 1876. One of Philadelphia’s oldest bars and a ‘Philadelphia Magazine’ Best of Philly 2011 winner, the menu features an extensive selection of craft beers, authentic New Orleans specialties, hickory-smoked barbecue, and tasty vegan and vegetarian options. Open 11 am to 2 am daily.
It was not that I was surprised that there was a brewery in such a small town, it was that the beer being made at Auburn Alehouse was as good if not better than other brew pubs in more brew prolific towns. Auburn California is usually known, by the people who don’t live there, as the stop on the way to Tahoe from Sacramento. It’s a small quaint town with a country feel. It wasn’t the place I was expecting to find an amazing brewery on my short weekend trip.
The Northern California brewery and restaurant has a broad and impressive range of beers on tap. Including but not limited to, an Oatmeal Stout, a sessionable Brown, Pilsner, Lager, Oktoberfest and enough hop centric beers that would put a smile on any hop heads face.
The Auburn Alehouse has only been open a handful of years and has taken home more than a few awards. Which includes a Bronze medal for their Gold Country Pilsner at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010. Their Fools Gold is a “Pale Ale with a Punch” , a hoppy pale ale at 7.8% ABV 50 BU’s, it is not a typical Pale Ale which I thought was brilliant and insightful. It was also served on Nitro while I was in town which also is not typical of a small town shop. Gold Digger is a clean crisp IPA at 6.7% ABV 70 BU’s it is an amazing beer brewed with Magnum, Simcoe and Chinook hop varieties, with a late addition of Dry hops. The fact that this small town brewery even had an Imperial IPA was the first thing I noticed when I walked in. The PU-240, named after the Isotope essential for nuclear grade weapons is their “Weapons Grade Ale”. At 8.0% ABV 100BU’s, this hop bomb Imperial IPA has just enough Alcohol to complement the huge hop flavor. Brewed with Summit and Galena hops then double Dry-hopped with Simcoe, Columbus and Nugget hop varieties. I highlite the hoppy beers cause those are my favorite styles but every beer I tasted, and I tasted them all, was top notch and deserving of a review.
The Auburn Alehouse ties the brewery and restaurant together seamlessly with its shinny 10-barrel brewing system peering over the restaurant and bar through its tall glass walls like Optimus Prime for beer geeks ready to come alive when a patrons beer is low. On the wall above the bar are a few dozen growlers from other breweries around the country that have been collected by employees and loyal patrons who want to share their beer explorations with the brewery and town. Also with an outside patio, great food and occasional live music this beautiful rustic brick and mortar walled brewery is a place I wish was closer to home.
With the growth of the craft beer industry it is becoming more common for small breweries to produce not just beer with more flavor than the macro-brew aluminum can, but actually produce great beer. This quality over quantity production is a reflection of the craft beer movement right now and brewers knowing that with the right ingredients, care and knowledge they can make just as good of beers as anyone else, anywhere else. This competition forces innovation and is great for craft beers palate.
If you find yourself in the Auburn California area or on your way to Tahoe on I-80 make sure you stop by the Auburn Alehouse for lunch and stock up on some 22′s or a growler for the road. If you bring them a growler from your town maybe they’ll trade ya.
Support your local brewery and search out someone else’s local brewery and give it a try.
Saturday, August, 20, 2011, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Hop Heads and Malt Maniacs rejoice! An exclusive one-night event, Philadelphia’s original “HopScotch” returns to Khyber Pass Pub to showcase rare hoppy India Pale Ales, American Pale Ales, and Double India Pale Ales alongside highly sought-after Scotch Ales and Wee Heavies. Whether for Hops or for Scotch, guests will be able to determine their preference in a standoff between Malty Scotch Ales and Hoppy IPAs!
Oskar Blues Old Chub
Belhaven Wee Heavy
Bear Republic Heritage
Brasserie D’achouffe McChouffe
Founders Dirty Bastard
The Hoppy Ales
Founders Devil Dancer
Russian River Blind Pig
Flying Dog Centennial Single Hop Imperial IPA
Cask Bear Republic Racer 5
Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel Corne Du Diable
Ballast Point Even Keel
Russian River Pliny the Elder
Cask Blue Point No Apologies Imperial IPA
Khyber Pass Pub is a historic Old City bar handcrafted in 1876, and recently named by ‘Philadelphia Magazine’ as Best of Philly 2011 Revival. The menu features an extensive selection of craft beers, authentic Louisiana specialties, Southern barbecue, and tasty vegan and vegetarian options. Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Happy Hour runs weekdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.!
Pale Ale happens to be my preferred style of beer, so I was excited to try Pennsylvania’s own Victory Brewing Company’s Headwaters Pale Ale. The claim to fame here is the purity of the water utilized to brew this beer. It pours a glorious orange/copper cloudy glow into a pint glass. It settled to barely an inch of head that was a bit on the weak side, that did not really stick to the sides of the glass well.
The initial aroma hits you with a more of sweet flowery hoppy aroma, but you can initially taste the malts of mocha/toffee notes. It follows with a dry spicy hoppy finish that falls somewhat flat in a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Overall, this beer hits all of the characteristics of a classic American Pale Ale to perfection. Although, the malt & hop combination may not be my favorite as compared to others, it may hit the sweet spot for you!
The Sierra Nevada Summerfest is made with 2-row pale and Munich malts and Perle and Saaz hops. A crisp summer lager that has been around for more than a decade, the Sierra Nevada Summerfest also lets you know that you’re drinking a real beer. With a full flavored tang hop kick, this pilsner style lager is another classic from Sierra Nevada. With light malts and light hops and spice, the crisp big bubbles make an excellent refreshing summertime lager. The lemon and malt aftertaste are very well balanced making this one of our favorite summer beers.
GOLD MEDAL WINNER
California State Fair (European Light Lagers: 1999)
alcohol content:5.0% by volume
malts:Two-row Pale & Munich
beginning gravity:12.2 Plato
ending gravity:2.8 Plato
bittering hops:Perle & Saaz
The Sierra Nevada Story:
In 1979, Ken Grossman began building a small brewery in the town of Chico, California. His goal: to brew exceptional ales and lagers. Today, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is considered the premier craft brewery in the United States. And the beer? Critics proclaim it “Among the best brewed anywhere in the world.”
Ken’s passion for brewing began when a friend showed him the basics of home brewing. Using homemade equipment, Ken began brewing five-gallon batches of beer on his own, and soon became a proficient home brewer.In 1976, after studying chemistry and physics at Butte Community College and California State University at Chico, Ken opened his own store, The Home Brew Shop. There, he supplied Chico’s home-brewing community with equipment, materials, and advice, but dreamed of opening his own brewery.
Two years later, it was time to make the dream a reality. Ken and co-founder Paul Camusi cobbled a brewery together from dairy tanks, a soft-drink bottler, and equipment salvaged from defunct breweries. Though the equipment was secondhand, they created a first-rate microbrewery. The ingredients were premium, including the copious quantities of hops that would become the brewery’s trademark. An avid backpacker, Ken named the new company for his favorite hiking grounds—the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Finally, on November 15, 1980, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. brewed the first batch of what would soon become a landmark in American craft brewing: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.Word spread quickly, and over the next decade the demand for Sierra Nevada brews soon exceeded the brewery’s modest brewing capacity. Despite nearly constant additions to the brewery, Ken was soon back at the drawing board, planning a new brewery. In 1989, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. moved to its current site.
Ken traveled to Germany and brought back a traditional 100-barrel copper brew house, which became the heart of the new brewery. This met demand for a while, but the brewery soon needed to expand again. In 1997, Ken commissioned the original coppersmiths to match new kettles to the originals, bringing the brewery’s total capacity to almost eight hundred thousand barrels per year.Building the new brewery afforded Sierra Nevada the opportunity to create two stunning showcases, both featuring exceptional dining, live music, and its award-winning beers. The elegant Sierra Nevada Taproom and Restaurant has become a destination in its own right. With mouthwatering lunch and dinner menus, an impressive dining room, and a large outdoor dining patio, it offers distinctive, contemporary cuisine as well as an opportunity to sample the brewery’s entire line of premium ales and lagers, including hard-to-find specialty drafts. The 350-seat Big Room—a beautifully designed live music and multi-purpose room—was constructed on the west end of the brewery to feature live music events for all ages and is a perfect facility for weddings, reunions, and business conferences.To this day, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. remains true to its roots. Ken is still personally involved in every aspect of brewery operation. Most importantly, the Sierra Nevada commitment to quality remains the same. Premium ingredients and time-honored brewing techniques make Sierra Nevada ales and lagers truly exceptional beers.
It’s the economy stupid! With a dismal jobs report in the last couple weeks that has Obama’s poll numbers in the toilet, alcohol sales have jumped by almost 10% over the last 12 months. Sweet! Are people just drinking their problems away? I know I am. People are also just drinking better quality craft beers. Sales of IPA’s, a.k.a. India Pale Ales, have increased by 40% over the last year. 40%! Holy Crap, that is insane. The American style craft beer has taken the United States and the craft beer world by storm. The bitter hoppy grapefruit flowery style beer has taken over the beer world and seems to be crushing the legendary Belgian style. Beerfests, beer weeks and brewfests are popping up all over the place and the IPA is dominating. Even Pizza Ria Uno is serving an array of craft beers with a handful of IPA’s to boot.
Wine and spirits have also seen a solid increase in sales but the American macro brew seems to be the loser with a solid chunk being taken out of Budweiser, Coors and Miller. Of course, this will lead to the inevitable, the Macro brews buying out all of the profitable micro & craft breweries all over the country. In fact, it has already started. I know, I know, horrible right? Whatever you say beer geek. There’s nothing wrong with a little Miller High Life now and then. After all, it’s the champagne of beers.
Alcohol is saving the economy and we love it. This is the best news the Whiskey Goldmine heard since the last 330 articles we posted. After all, all of our articles are amazing.