Twelve photographs of the Philadelphia Brewing Company in East Kensington. Took a tour, drank samples, and brought home a case of my favorites (they let you mix and match). Fantastic beer. Also loved their ginger hard cider, which was barely sweet (I can’t stand dessert-like hard ciders). Even liked their soda, a cherry-forward, HFCS-free beverage sold under the label, Dr Physick, the Philadelphia surgeon who brought the health benefits of sweetened carbonated beverages (and the stomach pump!) to the United States. [http://philadelphiabrewing.com]
And at the bottom, one photograph of Rowhouse Spirits, which was several feet away. If you’re in the neighborhood, buy the gin. So flavorful and smooth it is almost unrecognizable as such. If you like really good scotch, you’ll love it. Great for just sipping. [http://www.rowhousespirits.us]
If you end up sampling a bit too much, kill some time by ordering fresh felafel wraps at the nearby Quick Stop and having a leisurely picnic in your car.
One of the gems of Philadelphia is the former estate of John Bartram, a world-renowned botanist and buddy of Ben Franklin (who flew his kite there, I gather). Back in the day, his garden along the Schuykill River was filled with rare and interesting plants collected from different regions of the colonies, had a heated greenhouse, and was a destination for anyone of import who happened to be in the area. The garden and buildings today survive on a small patch of the former property, an island amid urban squalor and decaying industrial sites. You can drive there, but I took a boat from downtown Philadelphia (visit www.schuylkillbanks.org for details). In case you are too far away to do the same, some photographs are below (mouseover reveals description; click to see larger). The most notable part of the house tour was the thriving population of camel crickets on the ceiling. The tour guide was annoyed that everyone was so interested in them. Please see my page on them if you’re interested, too. If you’re in the area and want to go, get details at bartramsgardens.org. The anniversary of his death is this Sunday (September 22nd).