Philadelphia is celebrating Philly Beer Week (March 7-16). Beer deserves celebrating. But some people in Philly aren’t satisfied with merely celebrating the city’s beer scene; they also want to claim that they have the best “beer scene” in the country.
In exploring the question of whether Philly’s beer scene is the best in the nation, the article points out:
[Portland boasts] probably the strongest collection of local breweries in the country. According to the Washington, D.C.-based Beer Institute, Oregon ranked fifth in the nation in 2007 with 93 breweries, with Pennsylvania coming in seventh with 81.
Bear in mind Pennsylvania has four times the population of Oregon.
Then there’s the brewpub issue. For a city of its size, Philadelphia has a surprisingly small number of them (four, with Dock Street Brewery & Restaurant, Manayunk Brewery and Restaurant, Triumph Brewing Co. and Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant), especially compared to tiny Portland (more than 20).
And by “more than 20” they mean 30.
Ultimately the article gets around to arguing that imports, especially from Belgium, are easier to find in Philly than any other city. This is debatable (see Higgins, Belgian Embassy, Belmont Station), but after Portland beats Philly in all the other categories they come up with, even if it were true it wouldn’t be enough to hang your “best beer scene in the nation” hat on.
The official site for the Philly Beer Week also makes the spurious claim that Philly is “America’s Best Beer-Drinking City”.
Here’s their reasoning:
Tradition. We’ve been crafting it for more than 300 years, since the days of William Penn. Our forefathers wrote the Declaration of Independence in colonial taverns. We brewed America’s first lager. We practically invented porter. We were already famous for beer when Milwaukee was a cow pasture.
Philly’s an old city, by American standards. It doesn’t follow that it is thus America’s Best Beer-Drinking City.
Diversity. While most American craft breweries focus on regional interpretations of one or two styles of ale, Philly-area brewers produce more varieties of beer than any other region in America. Everything from bock and pilsner to extreme beer and wild ale is made within 50 miles of City Hall.
I’d like to see some evidence for this claim. Granted, some Portland brewers, and beer drinkers, haven’t realized there are other varieties of beer besides IPA. But in Portland I can find a virtually any style of beer, including the four mentioned above, brewed locally.
Neighborhoods. Instead of plastic pubs in non-descript shopping centers, Philadelphia’s taverns are the real thing. Good beer is served in old-time corner bars and newly rehabbed saloons in the very neighborhoods in which people live. Beer is not some fad; it is a social lubricant of our daily life.
Is this a description of Philadelphia or Portland?
The People. Philadelphia is known around the world for its savvy beer-drinkers. Many of the best imported German lagers and Belgian ales are shipped first to Philadelphia, while the rest of the country has to be satisfied with meager leftovers. Meanwhile, every American microbrewery either sends its kegs to Philadelphia, or wishes it could.
Of course top imports, not just the “meager leftovers” are readily available in Portland too. But seriously, when you brew as much beer as we do in Portland, you don’t *have* to drink imports.
The Choices. There are more than 400 great places to grab a great beer in the city and near suburbs.
Heck, Portland has over 400 strip clubs that serve craft beers and imports.*
*I made that up . . . though it could be true. Nevertheless Portland has no shortage of “great places to grab a beer” and silly claims deserve silly rebuttals.