Graham was introduced to the Back of the Ferry by @illiards but we found he had a rich and long shared history in banking with @bladdamasta.
Favourite Beverage: Red Wine
Favourite Sport to Spectate: Rugby Union
Area of Trivial Expertise: Wine
Like all Back of the Ferry correspondents (all in hibernation), this correspondent loves his sports. We’ve lambasted and lamented the appalling way fans are treated in Australia when it comes to food and drink at live events. Having experienced an afternoon of food and beer heaven at the Philadelphia Phillies’ Citizen Bank Park it confirms how large the gulf is between the reality of the Australian treatment vs what is possible.
Firstly, the ball park is incredible. Built in 2008, there isn’t a bad seat. Whilst I was happy with our booked seats behind home plate, we were exposed to the sun and were being slowly baked. After two innings, we opted to walk around the ground and take in various vantage points and graze and drink. My tip is buy the $17 standing room only ticket and take the opportunity to stand at various parts. We got great views of the game defining error late in the game where the Phillies scored from a dropped outfield catch. We watched the maligned closer (Papelbon) labour through the ninth side on from first base and saw the game ending double play. Probably our favourite place was at Harry the K’s bar, which provides a high platform above left field. Great views and a couple of great beers from Goose Island and Flying Fish.
Now the beer and food options are the best I’ve ever seen. You don’t to go more than 10 metres before there is a concession stand proffering beer, food, sodas and souvenirs. The food selection, particularly in the outfield, is phenomenal both in quality and variety. BBQ, Italian, pizza, dogs, crab flavoured chips and Philly steaks. Too choice is barely enough. As diverse is the beer selection. You get a choice of draft beer or cans and the spectrum ranges from the lamentable Bud Light Lime to 8.25% stouts. I’ll hotlink a diet that painstakingly lists all the beers at all the outlets. You’d have to go to plenty of games to drink the range. We made a modest dent and enjoyed every one, particularly Dale’s Pale Ale.
Look and learn Australian grounds.
There’s a unusual connection between Australia and Philadelphia and it involves a bloke that never set foot in Australia. Thaddeus Kosciuszko, for whom Australia’s highest mountain (hill) is named was a Polish soldier that played a part in
America’s fight for independence. When he wasn’t trying to liberate Poland he spent time in America as an engineer. He lived in a home near the Olde City part of Philadelphia and they’ve turned that house into a Memorial to him.
Thaddeus was a remarkable man and the story in the photo above demonstrates that. Slavery is still a big deal in US history and for this Polish man to take such a noble stand is fascinating. Interestingly there is no reference to Mount Kosciuszko in the memorial. The curator was amazed at my t-shirt, however and that may change.
The Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial is one of the less frequented historical sites in Philadelphia’s Olde City quarter. This place is a history buff’s dream come true. Statues abound and museums are everywhere. Philadelphia was the capital before Washington DC and the US Constitution was debated and created here. With it being summer, strolling around this wonderful city makes one pretty thirsty. Fortunately the Olde City is also blessed with some fine bars on 2nd Street. Rotten Ralph’s is as divey as it gets and worthy of a visit. The Kyber Pass deserves a longer visit. Terrific tap selection and an extensive Southern menu with Po Boys and wings prominent.
Philadelphia’s full of little gems. Like Nodding Head Brewery. These guys have been in their Sansom Street location for 15 years – and this is the only place you can get their beers. 7 Tanks on the first floor of an Old Philly building.
It is very old school. The kitsch is one of the greatest collection of bobble head figurines I’ve ever seen. There’s some TVs, but the music is kick arse.
Their Untappd list is huge – clearly they don’t stand still. Their regular is Bill Payer Ale, which I had off the hand pull, but there’s new stuff happening all the time.
Your correspondent is spending the city of brotherly love – Philadelphia. What a city. It really has it all. History in spades, iconic buildings and the chunkiest slices of Americana imaginable. Despite the 23 hour door to door commute, I summonsed the energy for the long walk from City Hall down Broad Street to South Philly. My primary mission was to eat a Philly CheeseSteak from Pat’s “King of Steaks” – the inventor of Philly’s gift to the fast food world. If I passed a couple of bars on the way, then even better.
I got to Pat’s much later than I intended. Too many fine, fine bars. South Philly is chokkas with them. Craft beer bars to just plain old neighbourhood bars, that resemble a bloke’s front room. The choice is insane. Unintentionally, the dilly-dallying paid off. By the time I reached Pat’s, I was hungrier than Bobby Sands. Best state to be in, when confronted with a substantial concoction of bread, chopped steak, cheese wiz, onions and mushroom. Ordering is a all important. “Wit” is with onion, “Witout” is without. Service is perfunctory as there’s always a queue. The tip to eating a Cheese Steak is forget manners and clothes preservation. Just rip in, let the juices flow and enjoy a flavour sensation. It ain’t cordon bleu, but gees it is fine. The locals regard Pat’s and its long time rival (Geno’s – opposite Pat’s) as tourist traps. Their entitled to their opinion, but if there’s better then food heaven is to be had. Might do another before the baseball tomorrow.
The drinking before and after was outstanding. The variety of bars is brilliant. Whether it is the front room feel of Bonnie’s, the neighbourhood hangout that’s Michaels, the craft beer wankery of The Pub on Passyunk Street or the front bar talk of the Friendly Lounge – South Philly’s got it. If you stick to Passyunk Street – you’ll be fine, but keep an eye out down side streets and you’ll discover a gem. Lucky 13, Boot and Saddle and Michael’s were found this way.
South Philly residents are very friendly. Maybe it was the accent, but everyone was happy to have a yarn. It is very local, but very welcoming. Let the Yuengling (the US’s oldest brewery) flow and soak it up. A great way to push through and beat the jetlag.
This correspondent has been fortunate enough to have access to Airport Lounges when travelling most of the time. Airports aren’t the place for a novel beer experience and for me it is just about getting on the flight and destination bound. There’s only one place I’ve deviated from the Club Lounge and that’s in Adelaide where the Coopers Bar was an absolute ripper in 2006. Pommy_ch and I used to always finish meetings promptly and skedaddle to the airport for some ice cold Coopers and merchandise. It was pretty popular and they could afford to manage a good range on tap – Coopers Dark anyone?
I’ve been forced to fly Virgin of late, which means no Club. Pleasant surprise to get to Sydney and see a Coopers Ale House is available. Gave it a go and if you have to wait around, there’s worse places. That said, it ain’t the Adelaide version either. Airports are notorious for relieving you of funds with speed for little return. The Sydney version of the Ale House at least has some decent value on the menu for a snack.
There’s 4 varieties of Coopers on tap – Sparkling, Pale, Mild and Celebration. Celebration was one of the more underwhelming beers I’ve had recently, but on tap it showed more hops than I remember. The wings were plentiful for $11.90 (gargantuan in airport-serve terms) and there’s live League. So, if you have to wait around at Terminal 2, head to Gate 40. The walk is worth it and you don’t get stuck at the lamentable and over-priced Tap House.
In the last month, two of your correspondents have had to perform their civic duty by performing Jury Service. Personally, I’m a big supporter of the system, but every time I’ve been summoned it has been damned inconvenient. On previous occasions I’ve been able to provide a plausible excuse prior to the event, but this time there was no escape and I had to front the Downing Centre near Museum Station. Again the timing sucked and I needed an out. Cutting a long story short, I provided the judge with an acceptable get-out reason and I avoided the two week aggravated burglary trial. Illiards wasn’t so lucky a month or so ago and did his two and half week trial without complaint.
So what’s this got to do with beer? Well, just around the corner from the entrance to the Downing Centre, at 152 Elizabeth Street is one of, if the not best of the Sydney CBD’s best bottle shops. The Oak Barrel has a marvellous range of craft beers, which totals over 600 varieties. There are beers from Australia, NZ, Denmark, Norway, Lebanon, UK, US etc. There’s seasonals, one-offs and a couple of specials in a bargain bin. A sign boasts “Warning – Customer Service” and a pleasant conversation was had the cash register. In celebration of my latest escape for Jury Service and in tribute to illiards’ discharge of civil duty – a celebratory six pack of three pairs of uniques was purchased for the ferry ride home.
With the recent downturn in BotF blog output, we’ve failed to note Back of the Ferry traditions like the winter solstice and we’ve now well and truly moved into winter. The Back of the Ferry was pretty cold tonight – nothing too icy, but the beers purchased help knit a nice little beer vest that came in handy as we turned the corner at Bradley’s Head and the wind whistled through. First cab of the rank was Dainton Family Brewing’s Impale Ale. This is an American Pale Ale, that doesn’t nothing wrong without standing out. Lovely label. We had a sip of the second beer just as we hit the wind. This was a beautiful brown beer – warming, full bodied – a winter beauty. Downtown Brown is made by Lost Coast Brewery, which has been around since 1990 and whose master brewer (sic) is Barbara Groom (don’t see many women in that role). The highlight of the trip. The final beer came from the unlikely location of Lebanon. 961 Beer’s Black IPA came out of the bargain bin (there was still a couple left today). A great beer for the home straight, this Black IPA hides it 6.6% ABV really well. By no means a squinter, there was still good bitterness with a strong malt spine. Nothing like a three unique beer trip home.