Talking Small Biz: Yards guy not surprised at Philly's high listing as beer city

Tom Kehoe, of Yards Brewing Co. in Old City , isn't surprised that Philadelphia ranked third on a list of the nation's top beer cities.
  • Philadelphia was ranked third of ten cities that brew the best beer.
  • The website, AMOG.com, also ranked the city the best for pub crawling.
  • Brewing started in the 1600s, blossomed in the 1700s, boomed in the 1800s and almost died after Schmidt's closed in 1987.

IN RECENT YEARS, our fair city has been called America's fattest (Men's Fitness magazine), its second-dirtiest (Travel + Leisure magazine) and rudest among Twitter users (the online news site Mashable).

Fed up?

Well, cheer up. Now comes word that the website AMOG.com - it stands for Alpha Male of the Group - ranks Philly No. 3 on its list of 10 cities in America that brew the best beer, behind winner Portland, Ore., and Denver.

AMOG also said we're the best city for pub crawling.

Every June, the city hosts Philly Beer Week, which serves up beer dinners, tastings and pub crawls. Philadelphia is pretty much a craft-beer lover's dream, too.

For industry veterans like Yards Brewing Co. president Tom Kehoe, it's not surprising that brews are putting us on the map again.

In fact, the Cradle of Liberty has long been in the Cradle of Suds. Or, quite possibly, we were the Cradle of Suds before being the Cradle of Liberty.

No less an authority than the People Paper's own Joe Sixpack reported last year that when William Penn arrived here in 1682, the locals already were drinking homemade beer made with molasses infused with pine or sassafras.

Brewing has deep roots here. It started in the 1600s, blossomed in the 1700s, boomed in the 1800s and, when Schmidt's closed in 1987, almost died out.

Yards, which began in 1994, resuscitated the city's brewing legacy and reputation.

"Philadelphia was an industrial, blue-collar town that still has its roots in beer," Kehoe told me. "I think a big part of it is our German heritage. People from Philly are beer people."

Kehoe said the state's archaic liquor laws have helped spur pub growth, because unless you want to go to a state beer barn and buy a case, the main alternative is to go to the local pub and throw a couple back.

Yards isn't just doing its part to make Philly a new suds hub: It's also trying to save the planet.

Yards was the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's Sustainable Business of the Year for 2010. It was the first brewery in Pennsylvania to be powered solely by wind, and its tasting room was built with sustainable and recycled materials, Kehoe said.

Heady stuff, indeed.

 


Email: hinkelm@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-2656

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

 

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