Philly Beer Week has grown into such a massive action packed week of beer events one must choose wisely from the extensive list of events taking place. I was carefully studying the list when I saw a Meet the Brewer Night with Oxbow Brewery at U-Bahn. YES PLEASE! I knew right away this was to be my first event of the week. First off Oxbow holds a special place in this Gal’s heart. I first discovered this fabulous little brewery last year while vacationing in Maine (See Oxbow review) and to finally have the opportunity to once again enjoy their wonderful selection of craft beers was an opportunity not to be missed. Second, U-Bahn was high on my list of places to try so this was a win, win situation. Or so I thought.
With a bit more research I decided to visit U-Bahn first and then wonder upstairs to Bru, also on my places to visit list and they were hosting a Half Acre tap taker over.
By now if you read any of my past blog posts you know I love the city of Brotherly Beer, aka Philadelphia. However, I do tend to visit establishments in the outer lying neighborhoods of Fishtown, Art Museum Area, Northern Liberties, etc. I really don’t wonder into downtown Center City too often. Just too many humans, traffic and overpriced parking but I was willing to make the exception for Oxbow. Plus, it was a Sunday night so just how bad could it be? Well…It took almost 2 hours to drive/park (normally a 45 minute task). By the time this Gal’s companion got the car parked I was in dire need of a beer.
We walked the few blocks from the reasonably priced $8 lot to U-Bahn and wondered downstairs. U-Bahn is small and even though the interior is stone, and wood/pallets it had a cold industrial feel to me. Oxbow Brewery has a hippie vibe to it that I love but didn’t really didn’t fit with U-Bahn and the trendy Euro feel it has, then again this Gal didn’t really fit in either.
There’s two bars one large and one tiny, several high top tables and a few nooks to hang out in. There is also a band stage but on this night there was a DJ later on. Just don’t see a need for a DJ for a meet the brewer night but more on that in a bit. First the beer…or so I thought.
I wondered up to the bar and checked out the tap list of Oxbow beers – it was beautiful. Decided to start with the Oxbow Bandolier 5.5%. I requested my selection from the bartender only to be told they weren’t serving beer – yet. Ummm, I turned and looked around to see if there was a hidden camera or something because this made no sense to me. It’s Philly Beer Week, I’m in a beer bar for a beer event and yet No Beer – really? Yes, really. The brewer hadn’t arrived and they wouldn’t serve the beer until he did. OK, I get it’s a Meet the Brewer event and the beer folks are running around like crazy during Philly Beer Week and there’s a good probability that they will run late but if the brewer is almost 1.5 hours late SERVE THE BEER! I kindly explained to the bartender that it took me close to 2 hours to get there and that this news wanted to make me cry but I stayed strong turned to my companion and informed him we’d be eating first. So up the stairs to Bru we went.
Bru and U-Bahn are related establishments with individual entrances from the street with a stairway connecting them inside. As we made our way upstairs we could hear the music from Bru. It was loud, way loud, obnoxiously loud.
Upon entering Bru we were greeted and directed to a high top table. Our server was very pleasant and quickly arrived to take our drink order. Now you know the music is too loud when the server has to start off with “it’s hard to take orders because of the music but I’ll do my best”. Yup that’s how loud it was. Thought – if the servers are having trouble hearing patrons maybe turn it down a tad.
The first beer I ordered had just kicked so I went with the Half Acre Daisy Cutter which complemented my veggie kabob nicely. My companion had the Schnitzel which was large and very good. The food menu showcases the German heritage and offers something for everyone. Considering it’s Center City Philly the prices were reasonable as well. Not only is the food menu good but the tap list is extensive and they offer a very impressive bottle list as well.
Daisy Cutter – Half Acre Beer Company, IL 5.3% – This is a kick butt pale ale, very nicely done with citrus, earthy grass, hops and floral essences all working together to create a fresh thirst quenching beer.
I liked the decor of Bru, in fact, loved the wood and rustic feel but the obnoxiously loud music killed the atmosphere. Overall it just had a trendy hipster vibe to it. Not saying anything’s wrong with hipster just not this Gal’s thing. I’m more hippie than hipster.
I was going to order a second selection from the Half Acre list but decided to forgo it. It really wasn’t fun having to sit/eat in silence because conversing was out of the question. So we paid up and headed back downstairs to U-Bahn. By now the Oxbow brewer had arrived, the place was jumping and the DJ was spinning. You guess it…spinning loudly. For the love of beer don’t others like to be able to hang and talk with their friends while enjoying a beer?
I made my way through the crowd up to the bar and ordered my Bandolier. Guess what? They were having troubles with the keg of Bandolier. I know, I couldn’t believe it either but I was determined to try this beer so I patiently waited and waited and waited. I left my chateau at 5:30pm it was now 8:15pm but finally there if front of me was my pint of Oxbow Bandolier. Yes, it was worth the wait.
Bandolier Oxbow Brewing Company, ME 5.5% This is a springtime farmhouse ale with a rustic earthiness to it that’s complimented by floral hops and bakery fresh bread followed up by hints of citrus. A light, refreshing, full flavor Summer Ale.
By the time I finished my Bandolier it was time for my companion and I to head home. I would have loved to enjoy more Oxbow but at this point it just wasn’t meant to be. The Bandolier would have to hold me over until I visit the brewery in person in just a few short weeks. But wait, guess who stopped me on the way out? Mike, the brewer, from Oxbow. We had pleasant chat and it was nice to meet him in person. I look forward to chatting with him again soon.
If you find your self in center city both Bru and U-Bahn are worth stopping in for their great tap lists just have patience with the parking situation or be willing to pay mightily for a garage.