Sunday, March 2, 2008

Beer Towns: Philly vs. Portland

Today's Philadelphia Inquirer has a nice piece (front page) on the city's craft beer scene, something I've become quite familiar with over the past week. The article has a thought provoking quote by Canadian drinks writer, Stephen Beaumont:

If Portland is Munich on the Willamette, then Philly is Brussels on the Schuylkill.

Perhaps that isn't the most thought provoking statement on its own, but as it bounces around in my head it leads to more thoughts.
  1. Is the "best beer town" title really down to these to cities? I haven't been to all of the city's in the country, but from what I've seen, I think it must be. I don't think there's any doubt that Portland rules when it comes to breweries, boasting more than any city. After this week, I am confident Philly must be atop the list for beer bars - and this town has more going on than it's much-touted Belgian obsession. Somewhere in here I can't help but think San Diego has it going on when it comes to balancing the two, with their celebrated breweries and bars.
  2. Something both Portland and Philly have in common - it's easy to get around without having to drive. Portland has a great transit system and Philly is very walkable given how flat it is. Not only that, cabs in Philly are pretty cheap if you're not staying in the heart of the city.
  3. Another common thing for Philly and Portland, the city's are proud of their beer cultures. Both areas have regular beer story's, or columns, in their local papers, giving the culture a positive appearance. Alternatively, most cities seem to only print the word 'beer' when covering the idiots that give beer drinkers a bad rap. I can't help but think this seemingly small thing plays a bigger role than we might think.
There are more thoughts on this, but for now it seems time to pack my bags and fly back to California. I've been impressed beyond measure this week with the people and places I've seen. If you've not been here, find a way to fix that. Next week starts their "Philly Beer Week", with more events than I care to list, that should get you on the right foot.