Craft Brew Review - Eulogy Bar, Philadelphia

Despite being the closest major city to Lancaster, I rarely get to Philadelphia. When I do go, to say a sporting event, the stadiums are located in the far south with access to major freeways eliminating the need to explore the heart of the city. This is a shame, as the city of the ubiquitous cheesesteak is becoming a craft beer haven.

While the city sports large breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs, it does a great import business; particularly in the Belgian category. If you can’t get enough of fruity esters, Philadelphia is your place to go. From the Golden Ale to the Quadrupel, all styles common and rare are clustered at some mighty fine bars. Monk’s may top some lists as the best, but t Eulogy bar located in the Society Hill Neighborhood, cannot be overlooked.

Dinning early before a concert, we popped in at five after a brief walk from our hotel. The bar is located on Chestnut street just east of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, two other very important Philadelphia institutions. I had made reservations via Open Table, the website the bar employs, but found that it was unnecessary as there were plenty of two seat tables available at our time of arrival (and were still available even later if you feel 5 pm is when your grandparents eat). That was just for two though and I found that most dinning space was very intimate. Some might say cozy while others claustrophobic, if you have ever been to an urban bar you know that you can get very familiar with the patrons around you. Two floors of dinning and bar space are packed into an old row home where real estate is at a premium and tables are stuffed into every nook and cranny. One can only imagine what the cellar looks like, as drafts are available both up and downstairs at the bar and the bottle list goes to 11.

I paged through the list, which was in alphabetical order for better or worse (I’d prefer by style or even country) before deciding on a draft..from Maine. I know, sacrilegious, but the homerism in me is hard to ignore and neither were the prices. One can’t be naive, it is Belgian beer and a bar in a major city, and with that in mind the prices weren’t too outrageous. Mid to upper single digits for most domestic beer on up to low twenties for certain Belgians. One can find beers in a range of prices so if your wallet is packing light, as mine was, you can find something. As if punishing my pecuniary decision, the beer I chose was less than satisfying. It employed the “sessionable” moniker meaning that it was a scant 4% abv. I can come to terms with that without issue, but the very thin body and lackluster zest that I like in my Saisons was harder to ignore.

Up next was a Malheur 10°, listed as a trippel by the bar and a strong pale ale on Untappd, it nevertheless had a sweet rich body with an herbal finish and much better in my eyes than the previous beer. While I had ordered this from the bottle list, it had just replaced a kicked keg and therefore (scarily coincidental) I was able to sample it on draft.

After an appetizer of frietjes with a beneluxx sauce, (read: french fries with whipped mayo) the main course came out. The menu for beer is overwhelmingly long and I nearly missed the food offerings that only fill up two pages in much larger font than the beer. Besides a smattering of appetizers and entrees, the bar offers some sandwiches including an apparently award winning burger and the requisite mussels. I passed on the shellfish as well as the burger (I was shooting lighter fare) for a leg of chicken with seasonal vegetables. The food was well done, with moist chicken and crisp tender vegetables.

About this time the mood lighting came into effect. What was already low level lighting got turned down to dusk levels, which seems to be slightly hazardous as more people streamed in and harried waiters and waitresses dashed to and fro, up and down to accommodate the patrons. A large group of revelers took up a back room near our table, and despite being a separate room soon began to make a ruckus. The music selection, which up to that point had been excellent (per my tastes anyway) became a bit harder to hear as was simple conversation with my dinner companion. It was time for the dessert beer.

My first choice, which I have forgotten, followed my principle rule that if you see something on the menu and you can’t pronounce it, it must be good. It was unfortunately unable to be found (the waitresses words. It wasn’t sold out, but just lost to the ether apparently) so I randomly chose a backup. Urbock, by Brauerei Schlenkerla, was a Rauchbier or smoked beer. It was fortunately not over smoked, as is the case with some overly eager Rauchbier and had a fantastic smell. It was like pure bacon which even vegetarians can agree upon while sticking to their principles. The taste left me wanting, it was very flat, more so than even most cask beers, and had a sweet lager taste with a hint of woodiness.

Overall I was happy to have tried Eulogy. It was easy to access (by foot anyway), waitstaff was friendly and the food delicious without strangling your wallet (unless you want to). Quarters were fairly cramped, and decor was slapdash, but in a way that I am sure locals can enjoy as it weeds out too many gawking tourists and culinary snobs. Around the corner from similarly decorated Khyber Pass, it is certainly worthy of a stop in for a beer tour, especially if you are feeling international.

Eulogy Bar