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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Dock Street: bare bones place, stylish beer

I finally got to the new Dock Street Brewery, out at 50th and Baltimore in Philly. I apologize to all for taking so long, especially to myself: because it was really good.

I stopped in around lunchtime and started with a glass of Rye IPA. I'm told that this is going out into bar accounts (carried by Origlio, for whom I do some freelance writing, in the interests of disclosure), and you should keep your eye out for it: snappy, clean, hoppy and peppery, a very refreshing and bold beer.

Once I got my beer, I looked around. I hadn't been here since the celebration of their license, when things were pretty bare and sparse. Things are still pretty bare and sparse -- concrete floor, high unadorned ceilings, a bar and a minimal open kitchen -- and I found that I really liked that. I've said before that brewpubs need to be more varied: not just pub-grub places, not just family-friendly places, not just white linen fine dining, even. This one takes me back to the old days, when brewpubs were dodgy enterprises thrown together on a shoestring. I loved that era; I'm a dodgy enterprise myself some days.

There's a big difference, of course: the beer's totally solid. Scott "The Dude" Morrison is back in the brewhouse again, with competent assistance, and the three beers I had were excellent. I also had a Gold Stock Ale, which was one of the best pale ales I've had in quite a while, not overly hopped and with a bedrock maltiness to it; and a Cuckoo's Nest Red Ale, a malty soother that grew on me as I sipped it. I also got a nip of the Barleywine, which was not a typical "American-style" barleywine/double IPA, but a rip-roaring fire-well of malty depth.

The food's not bad either. There's a lengthy menu of pizzas well outside the normal range, including the return of Dock Street's Alsatian beauty, the flammenküche pizza, which is what I got; hell, I had to. It was outstanding: caramelized onions, creme fraiche, and some delicious double-smoked bacon. Big surprise: the cook was none other than Jeff "Dock Street" Ware, brewpub owner Rosemarie Certo's husband. Jeff in da house!

I spotted Rick Nichols in the house as well; the Inquirer's food writer stopped in with a friend for a beer. Smart move, and one I think I'll be making more often, even though this location is way off my usual haunts. It's worth the trip.


Anonymous said...

I was just there last night, and I agree with pretty much everything you said. The spartan/utilitarian atmosphere is actually a welcome change from what has become the norm with many newer brewpubs -- it was comfortable and inviting even in its stark nature.

Didn't try any food (it was the last stop on an all-day brewpub crawl), but the beer was definitely top-notch save for the barleywine (which was IMO a bit weak - very hoppy like a good American BW should be, but no real malt backbone to support it. Not bad, but not great either).

The location was also interesting, in a formerly terrible neighborhood in the process of turning around; the patrons were a very varied cross-section, all centered around good beer and conversation. Eclectic in a very cool way.

My one real complaint: they do not sell half-pints. Too bad, I rather enjoy the opportunity to try several different beers and still be able to drive afterwards. IMO *all* brewpubs and beer bars should offer half-pints in addition to a sampler.

I look forward to stopping back soon, to try some of the menu in addition to the beer.

Stonch said...

I must say, the interior sounds very Hoxton circa 1998!

Anonymous said...

If only we could get Scott to stay there forever.