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!
- Wish Fulfillment – Peachy tasting IPA. Notes of green pepper.
- Alien Church – Notes of mostly grapefruit
- 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.