They also claim that Philadelphia — scrappy, blue-collar Philadelphia — drinks more fine Belgian ale (reputed for its history, potency and adventurous flavors) than the Belgian capital of Brussels.
“Without a doubt, this is the best beer city in the country, and I could make a case that it’s the best beer city in the world,” says Peters. “Philadelphia doesn’t have that brewing culture that you’d find in Cologne or Munich, but … we have incredible local breweries.”
The sheer variety of available beer — the thing, more than anything else, that separates Philly from other beer cities — has its roots in one man’s trip to Belgium, more than 20 years ago. …”I think I was the first one to say it, years ago: Philadelphia is Brussels on the Schuylkill,” says Beaumont, author of Premium Beer Drinker’s Guide (Firefly Books). “It’s got the best Belgian scene anywhere but Brussels. And really, a lot of the Belgian beer we have today in the United States is here because of the pioneers in the Philly area that really pushed things — Tom Peters, [distributor] Eddie Friedland.”
“I always hear about Portland and all of these brewpubs,” adds Don Russell, who writes the “Joe Sixpack” column for the Daily News. “And, yeah, it’s a great beer town. They have a great scene there. But they don’t have what Philly has — they have nowhere near the kind of import scene that Philly has. We’ve got six Belgian beer bars in town now, and we’re drinking beers here in Philadelphia [when] there’s only one other place you can drink them: Belgium.”
In fact, Russell says in his forthcoming book, Joe Sixpack’s Philly Beer Guide: A Reporter’s Notes on the Best Beer-Drinking City in America (Camino Books), that Philadelphia and its suburbs are now home to more than 400 bars and restaurants that offer impressive beer selections. Take a trip to Denver, he says, and you might find 20.
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