Philly’s brewing scene: On the rise again

With a group of popular mainstays celebrating two decades in business and a host of creative newcomers now fermenting in both the city and suburbs, it’s a bright time for the Philadelphia brewing community.

Philadelphia’s beermaking tradition is a long and rich. Many of the Founding Fathers were homebrewers, and brewpubs abounded in the city in which they navigated the tricky waters of crafting the nation — in 1793, Philly was said to be producing more beer than any other seaport in the New World. The first American lager is thought to have been brewed in a basement in the Northern Liberties section of the city in the 1840s, after Bavarian immigrant John Wagner successfully transported the cold-loving yeast across the Atlantic.

By the 1870s, there were upwards of 65 commercial brewhouses in the city — many of them in the neighborhood now known as Brewerytown — and the surrounding counties were home to hundreds more. Throughout the second half of the 19th century, Philadelphia was essentially the brewing capital of the United States — but then came the temperance movement. In the leadup to Prohibition, the city’s robust brewing industry was decimated. After Repeal, it was not among the first to bounce back.

Fast-forward to the late 1980s. In California and Colorado, the independent brewing movement was gathering steam, starting to reverse decades of industry consolidation and decline. Not so in Philly. In fact, when Schmidt’s Brewery shut down in 1987, there wasn’t a single professional beer-making operation inside the city limits. Continue reading Philly’s brewing scene: On the rise again

Portmanteau-No

My least favorite thing about Twitter is the cornucopia of tw- words it spawned. But in Philadelphia, we also have to deal with ph-words. Which is worse?

Continue reading Portmanteau-No

Babbling Brook at Philadelphia Jury Duty

sunshine-courtrooms2“Social media is a thorn in the court system’s side,” said the man at the front of the room to the pool of potential jurors nervously awaiting our turn to avoid being picked, but really he wasn’t just a regular court employee, he had some kind of pull, some kind of position of power, enough that he interspersed his inspirational speech about how jury duty is the quintessential building block of a just society with slightly indignant reminiscences of his efforts to streamline the system.

He wants our email addresses, no, we won’t automatically be called again if we give them, because that will save on postage, did you know it can take up to three. whole. stamps. to get one potential juror in the seat we are now in? That’s because we all want to be scofflaws and giving our email address to the City of Philadelphia won’t fix that but it will save on postage and that’s not his money he’s talking about it’s taxpayer money so give up that @ will you please. Continue reading Babbling Brook at Philadelphia Jury Duty

In the Zora Zone

Last night, at the Philly Tech Week 2013 preview event, I got to meet Zora Ball. You might have heard of her — earlier this year she recently set a world record for being the youngest person ever to create a mobile video game app.

Zora is in first grade at the Harambee Institute in West Philly, one of Philadelphia’s first and most-successful charter schools. Using Bootstrap, she coded a basic video game: a character (in this case a girl in a ballet outfit) moves up and down around her bedroom, trying to avoid being hit by objects sliding left-to-right across the scene. We saw a demo; it’s nothing fancy, but collision avoidance is the basis of nearly every action game there is.

SONY DSC Continue reading In the Zora Zone

The Best Thing I Didn’t Eat Last Week

(Or, Never Let Photography Get in the Way of Tacos)

She flew all the way in from Salt Lake City just to make tacos. Not regular tacos — those can be found in various Tex and Mex styles all over the East Coast — but an entirely new kind. And I missed them.

Taco Continue reading The Best Thing I Didn’t Eat Last Week