Saturday, June 4, 2011

"We're pretty serious about our beer here in Philly."

Thus spoke maybe not Zarathustra, but at least one of the bar-tenders at Khyber Pass Pub, just an hour or so ago. If you're like Kai and want to give me a whack if ever again I bitch about something irregular in First or Business, and you on the other hand can't take another post about beer: Please skip this one, but come back, eventually.

So, now that that's out of the way, let's get to the heart of the matter: not riding 53 miles since my arrival on a borrowed Fuji, not my wearing a tie and blue blazer today, not the fact that I still don't have a female doc to watch the women pee in the cup tomorrow—no, this one is about beer culture.

I told you to switch channels if you can't hack it!

Had I known that it was Philly Beer Week, well, I would have done something. Not sure what, but something. As is, I had to be content with Triumph Brewing Company's fine Bengal Gold IPA, which I imbibed last night while listening to some fine live music. Now, if those lads could only find a way to pour a damn "pint" (which, as those who know me, is just a bleating lie when they sell you a 12-oz. glass of brewskie as a "pint" just because all those idiots out there have no idea that a pint is 16 fluid ounces! I know that Kai will back me up on this.) without an inch of foam. Gees! And once again, Kai will gladly back me up on the foam thing, too.
Live music at Triumph Brewing
Anyhow, Triumph makes fine beer, with a well-balanced IPA at the very least. They were so good, I had to go back for another pint tonight. (You'll be pleased to learn that a) I instructed the waiter, as I was sitting on the sidewalk, to make sure that the bar-tender would avoid the inch of foam, b) the waiter brought me another small glass to top off the ill-poured pint, all apologetic, and c) I actually left, for once, a decent tip for the waiter.) After that, I was ready to walk home from the olde-town district to the Sheraton, race HQ.

So, here I stumble (mind you, at dinner with the commissaires, I had sampled the Yards' IPA, twice) happily along when I see this hole-in-the wall pub, the Khyber Pass Pub. Make a long story short, the beer list (a.k.a., the menu) was simply amazing. I kid you not: 22 (yes, that's twenty-two) unbelievable beers on tap, three of them straight from the cask. OMG! I also need to  mention that my spirits spiraled down a notch when I was told that all IPAs (four of them) had been emptied last night, thanks to the crowds of the Beer Fest. Shucks. I sampled, in order, first the Yards ESA (really an ESB, but they call it an Extra Special Ale, not Bitter) straight off the cask. Talk about smooth. Before I decided on the next one, the bar-tender (holy Moses, he knew his beers!) gave me three tasters, after which I decided on the ever-so-lovely Belgian De Struise's Outback, served in a snifter. I thought I was done for the evening, but then I just had to have one more. It was the Ballast Point (San Diego) Sea Monster, an American Imperial Stout for which—I swear!—you have to have a knife and fork to muscle through. It was served in a tulip glass, letting all those aromas develop while my palate was going to pot. Don't talk to me about the superiority of wine: This stuff was heavenly.

A snifter of De Struise's Outback and the beer menu, page 1
And then I walked home. I wish I had a little tape recorder so I'd be able to relive all those sensation on the way back. They'd be snippets, not vignettes: the chick in the alley, hugging the wall in some impossible pose; all those urban bikes ("fixies" as the kids call those toys that we used to refer to as fixers) locked to sign posts; hot nubiles in even hotter short-short black miniskirts, not even knowing what they are showcasing and doing to us middle-aged fellas; burly dudes accompanying said nubiles, not knowing what could await them if their caps were turned the right way; the bleary-eyed black woman with the cheap glasses who totes several bags and obviously has no destination; the raw sewage smell in Chinatown; the seafood smell in Chinatown; the giggly, hot-panted Japanese tourists in Chinatown; the oh-so-dead Peking ducks hanging in the windows in Chinatown; Joe's Pizza and Philly Cheese Steaks, four blocks from the Sheraton, just outside of Chinatown; the happiness of taking off my damn shoes. That was tonight, and much, much more.

Tomorrow is the race, and pee control. Today there was some race stuff, too, but this post was about beer culture. They have it here, in Philly. Triple Js in Lubbock does not, I repeat, NOT.



  1. Well, how could I NOT comment on this post?

    Yes, I agree wholeheartedly about the 12 0z. "pints" being shifty in the least and downright criminal if thoroughly considered. And, living in the hometown of arguably one of the top five Imperial IPAs on the planet (Russian River Brewing's Pliny the Elder) and on the coast that claims the first and most craft brewpubs since prohibition, I can attest to the fact that no self-respecting brewpub allows a SPECK of foam on their beer here! And "The River" used to sell their "pints" in 20 oz. glasses, and still called them pints but, alas, had to downsize to 16 ouncers. Calling foam head, with a childish grin and accompanying standard-issue wisecracks, does not justify its being there. I guess foam belongs on massive German beers in massive steins served by massive women with... well, you get it. It does NOT belong on a craft brew! So ends that rant.

    Sounds like Khyber Pass Pub might have one-upped our local Whole Foods Tap Room. Since you were last enjoying a beer or two there, they have added another manifold of taps, bringing the total to somewhere around 20. Whole Foods selection is always incredible, and worldwide, with a special fondness for craft beers of note from local sources. Is there anything better than stumbling upon a pub that knows its beer?

    Sorry to hear that Triple J's doesn't have any beer culture, but I can't imagine it's alone in Texas in that respect. But then, I suppose I could put up with a Lone Star or two if it was washing down a 30 oz. Porterhouse from hell. Life is full of give-and-takes...

  2. Well, I knew it! I should print and laminate those words of wisdom in your comment and hand them out when one of those wanna-be bartenders shows a lack of skill or care or both.

    Can't wait to see you during Vineman.

  3. I think I've been there - didn't it used to be a church? Or maybe I'm thinking of someplace else...

  4. Neither the Khyber Pass Pub nor Triumph looked like a defunct church, although you never know what those priest might do to cover up their transgressions. Must have been a different place.

    I'll try to get together with you for a beer in the next week or two after Costa Rica.