Monk’s Cafe Rises Above Philadelphia Beer Raids

March 21, 2010

Clare Goggin

On a weekend marred by ugly beer raids at three of the city’s more well-respected beer bars, the rest of the City of Brotherly love was celebrating beer at the Philly Craft Beer Fest. Earlier in the week, some of the better beer bars around Phildelphia had tapped the rare Russian River Pliny The Younger while still other beer bars were continually supporting craft beer by serving up great brews both domestic and imported. One of those great bars, Monk’s Cafe firmly supports great beer even in the face of Philadelphia’s arcane beer laws.

Since the raids, which took place the weekend of March 6, beer lovers and brewers from all over the country have been fuming over how officials handled the confiscation of several beers, many of which were legally purchased and registered according to bar owners. One of the beers in question was a Monk’s Cafe brew — a beer legally served within the four walls of Monk’s Cafe itself in Center City.

Blissfully unaware of the rigmarole going on just around the corner, Madhops and I enjoyed an afternoon of lunch and great brews at the famous bar. The friendly bartender at the front bar was more than willing to pour us whatever we wanted. She spoke to us knowledgeably about many of the beers and if she didn’t know how to answer one of our questions, she went out of her way to get us an answer (even as she got busier during lunch).

Clare Goggin

We were so excited to have Russian River Damnation on tap as well as a number of Russian River bottles available to us. Monk’s had been one of many bars around the city that had the chance to tap Pliny the Younger that week and they’d even held a Russian River party on Monday. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there until the following Sunday so we missed out.

Several other brews that us New Yorkers can’t find in our own state (because the breweries, like Russian River, don’t distribute there) were also up for grabs. For this reason, we happily left with a bottle of Port Brewing Hop 15 which was on their extensive beer list along with numerous Lost Abbey brews and additional Port selections. While it’s probably more common that people buy and consume bottles in the bar, the bartender was happy to let us take our bottle since we had a bus to catch.

Monk’s, along with several other great Philly beer bars, is a strong hold in a city where craft beer is simultaneously celebrated and under siege. These bars keep Philadelphia rated high as one of the top beer towns even while state laws continue to work against them. To Monk’s and the other great Philly beer strong holds: keep on keepin’ on, kids!

Clare Goggin

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