Props out to Memphis Taproom, the hipsterish refuge in Fishtown, for putting together a Beer Week event that was perfect for that most underappreciated of beer enthusiasts: the one with kids. This past Saturday, we attended their ingenious Tot Lot festivities, a get-together that put their spectacular beer garden to great use.
Parents who wanted to take part in the Beer Week fun were invited to bring their kids to an event that featured a generous selection of canned beer (the better for tricking the kiddies into thinking it was just a normal old sodie pop), many different hot dog varieties from their lunch cart, and a host of activities for the kids, including assorted toys, healthy socialization, and a lively guitarist singing diddies and devising dance maneuvers for the youngins while their parents cheered them on.
The truth is we had a great time hanging out as a family. And we were able to meet other parents like us, who enjoy hanging out with their kids, and drinking a delicious beverage while they do so (although if I were to go all full disclosure on this, I would have to say we really didn't meet any lifelong friends; sorry, but any time a stranger tries to talk to me I tend to think they are devising a way to steal my wallet). However, I realize this blog is not about the subtle joys of watching your child dance to the sounds of an acoustic "Pop Goes the Weasel," so...what beers did we drink?
Eschewing the diet for the day, I chose as my first selection the resplendent Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA. It was not incredibly hoppy, but still distinctive. I don't really think excessive hops would be great for can drinking, but maybe I am wrong. Anyway, I thought it was perfect for a slightly overcast day! Next up, I partook in the Lancaster Kolsch (the "o" should get an umlaut, but I have no idea how to do that, so sue me). I don't remember this being exceptional. I haven't had a lot of offerings by Lancaster Brewery, so I am hoping this was an exception to the establishment's rule. My final choice of the outing was from the standout Colorado brewery known as Avery Brewing Company. I remember worrying about whether their Ellie's Brown Ale would work for me in an outside venue. However, the beer was easy-drinking, with its caramel and chocolate accents not overwhelming the overall taste. The wife knocked back two beers (sort of; will get to this later): a Sixpoint Sweet Action, a hybrid ale with a tart flavor balanced by generous hops, and a specialty draft from Yards that we did not get the name of (more appropriately, one was not given; it was an English style dark and mild ale brewed especially for Beer Week and served out of a firkin).
As for the all hot dog food selection, I elected to try the Mackinac, which was topped with yellow mustard, raw onion, cheddar, macaroni salad, and chili. They actually had me at "chili." Wifey ordered a plain dog for Saucy Jr., and a Suicide for herself. No, she didn't ask someone to brain her because the kiddie tunes were getting to her. She just ordered the one with jalapenos, sriracha, onion rings, and habaneros. Both hot dogs were very good, although I have to say it took a really long time for them to come out. Like an hour at least for three hot dogs (although I'm thinking the specialty toppings took some doing) and some fried pickles. This being said, the place was packed due to the fact that people were allowed to get slightly tipsy with their kids not only tolerated but invited. It's understandable that the one order-taker and one chef in the cart could have gotten overwhelmed. I didn't complain at all really. Three reasons: 1) I understood their plight, 2) I was having such a good time, and 3) they were hipsters; they would have simply humored my gripes and laughed at my doofy plaid shorts behind my back for three hours straight.
Obviously, we had a lot of fun, but this was really all about the joy of being out in the city having a few drinks while watching your young charge have the sort of fun that only toddlers can get into. And for him on this day, that entailed...learning how to play the egg shaker along to Raffi's Greatest Hits, getting an impromptu accordion lesson from a complete stranger while being closely observed by his parents (!!!), having many, many people tell us how gorgeous he is (as usual), proving once again that he is the greatest dancer alive in the 17-to-18 month category, scarfing a gargantuan hot dog, nearly getting shoved off a step by a little girl who was not impressed by his spotlight-hogging ways, and knocking the fancy British-style brew from Yards whose name we either never got or can't remember out of my hands and onto my wife's super-chic diaper bag (like I said, she "sort of" drank two). That was when we knew it was time to get out of there...and head to The Abbaye in Northern Liberties to meet a good friend.
Maybe we are horrible parents. Or maybe our son just thinks that we all drinking the same juice he is having and this won't damage him for life. But one thing is not a maybe: We had a super-swell time, and we were able to do it with our beautiful, fun-loving little guy in tow. He slept well that night!
Thanks, Memphis Taproom!
2331 E Cumberland St
Philadelphia, PA 19125
Philadelphia, PA 19125