I have discovered the Mecca of beer and it is Ardmore. In a northwest suburb of Philadelphia, Ardmore, PA holds three temples to the gods of ale: Tired Hands Fermentaria; Tired Hands Brew Café; and the Tired Hands General Store.
On a Saturday night, the biggest challenge to entering our first beer shrine, Fermentaria, was finding parking. Affluent “historic” Ardmore is a rabbit warren of shops and chain stores. Among a strip mall, we found Fermentaria and parking a few blocks away.
The high ceilings and hard surfaces of the Fermentaria give it an industrial feel. Despite no TVs or music, the loud buzz of excited beer enthusiasts filled the huge space with noise. I had made reservations and we were quickly seated.
At Philly Beer Week, the star of the weekend was Tired Hands Eviscerated Pathway of Beauty, so I was expecting a lot from this brewery, but really didn’t know what to order. Their “Milkshake” IPAs are acclaimed and untappd friend, Johnny Peppers, raves about their beers but saw nothing on the long list of beers that looked familiar. So, I ordered the top 4 beers on the list. “There’s a little problem with that,” our waiter said, “you can only order one beer at a time, even 2.5-ounce pours. I’ll bring them out, one at a time.” My first sample was a HopHands.
Somehow, Tired Hands manages to pack enormous amounts of subtle flavors into their ales, making them complex and juicy beverages worthy of savoring slowly. I found all the unfiltered samples delicious.
HopHands – Fruity, hazy pale ale with piney hops & grapefruit/citrus
SaisonHands – Wow! Deliciously complex. Tart with lemon, juicy with pear? Some barnyard & straw. Very yummy!
Gatherer (2017) – Wow. Dense and velvety smooth. Each sip is a bite of chocolate cake flavored with wild honey and flowers while drinking a cup of coffee. Wow!
Our second pilgrimage stop was a brief walk to the General Store. It would close at 9:00 PM, so we picked up some beer to share with our friends back home. They have quite an assortment of bottles on shelves and a fridge with HopHands. Since HopHands was the only beer I’d sampled, I picked up a couple 4-packs.
Next door to the store is Tired Hands original brew pub. It is more of a dark traditional bar than the Fermentaria. We sat at the bar and I tried their HopHands (Double Dry-Hopped With Centennial) on cask. All that extra alpha hops was an interesting cask, but I think all the subtle flavors of the very delicious HopHands were masked by the overpowering Centennial hops.
If I cannot tempt my friends to make the pilgrimage to Ardmore over the next year, we will definitely take the train from Philly during our annual Philly Beer Week in June.
Our final destination on the Amtrak was Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. We had arrived for our 6th annual visit to Philly Beer Week. Our plan – walk to the Tria Taphouse for lunch, then stop at our Air B&B in Rittenhouse, then a beer dinner at Devil’s Alley. Just outside the train station, we had to try out the swings.
A ten-minute walk brought us to the Tria Taproom. They did not open ’til noon, so a few of us walked around the corner to Home Sweet Home, George Hummel’s famous homebrew store. We thought we’d swing by and say hi and get some suggestions for the weekend.
Vault Brewing’s brewer, Jason Macias, stopped by our table and told us all about their brew pub located in Yardley, PA. They plan to expand from a 10-barrel system to 20-barrels. I split a cheese platter and a strawberry rhubarb crisp – yum! The Vault Breakfast Stout was delicious with maple and coffee.
After a few hours at Tria, the 8 of us headed to our Air B&B on Spruce. We got quite a few questions about our white T-shirts. Throughout the day, we were noticed. One person asked if he could join out cult. We were, though, just recreating the Gang Beats Boggs episode from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
After a rest at our home away from home, we wondered over towards Devil’s Alley. It was too early for dinner, so we stopped by Monk’s Cafe for mussels and beer. Most of us order the hard to find Pliny the Elder. It was delicious. Also, Tired Hands’ Eviscerated Pathway of Beauty was a real hit. It is an unfiltered ale with milky lactose, citrus flavors, and hops. I decided to look for Tired Hands’ Milkshake beers this weekend.
Our waitress, Felicia, got a real kick out of marking our T-shirts as we ordered beers.
We ambled over to Devil’s Alley for their beer pairing dinner. This is our 6th time enjoying this Philly Beer Week dinner tradition. Our waiter asked to take a picture of our gang for Twitter but I haven’t seen the post, yet.
We wrapped up the night at Good Dog Bar. We climbed the stairs to the third floor and watched people playing pool.