COLUMN WRITTEN BY MATT BRASCH
For Digital First Media
As the summer evenings shorten and the heat recedes, it is the perfect time for sitting outdoors to enjoy an Oktoberfest brew or a harvest ale. Luckily, many of our local breweries, brewpubs and restaurants have built outdoor seating areas to simulate traditional German “beer gartens.” In his “The World Guide to Beer,” famed beer writer Michael Jackson described the traditional German beer garten as a place where beer is enjoyed in the early evening — “a place in which to relax thoughtfully under the shadow of the chestnut trees.”
Here are a few places in the area to sit back and enjoy a brew outdoors as we gently drift into autumn:
Stable 12 Brewing Co., Phoenixville
Stable 12 Brewing Company in Phoenixville opened for business in 2015, and after one year welcomed customers into their beer garden on May 1, 2016. According to Jessica Wolf of Stable 12, “We decided to open a beer garden because we know that the beer community loves to be able to sit outside and enjoy the craft. Real estate is a hot commodity around these parts so when we had the opportunity to turn some unused space next to the brewery into as big of a garden as we have, we jumped on it!” The best aspects of Stable 12’s beer garden? “It is a large space that can accommodate a lot of people and activities including corn hole, German beer hall style seating, and live bands on the weekends.”
Special upcoming events in the beer garden include a Corn Hole Tournament on Sept. 10 starting at noon (you can sign up on the Stable 12 website), and Stable 12’s Oktoberfest on Sept. 17 from 5 – 7 p.m.; pairing 4 8oz samples of their beer with 4 4oz samples of different kinds of sausages and sides thanks to Uncle B’s BBQ Shack. Regular hours for Stable 12’s beer garden are 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday, and noon-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They host live music from 7-10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night, and have games, live music and seating for over 200-250 people outside. Weather dependent, they hope to keep the beer garden open until November.
Forest & Main Brewing Co., Ambler
For the first time visitor, Forest & Main Brewing Co. in Ambler could be easily overlooked as just another Victorian-style house on a back street of the small post-industrial town. However, this brewpub that is sometimes accidentally mistaken for a residential property not only produces some of the highest rated beer in the world, but also offers peace and tranquility on its front porch and lawn.
Co-owner and brewer Daniel Endicott takes great pride in F&M’s outdoor seating — “We were lucky, our building came with a beautiful porch and lawn ready for customers to enjoy beers on. It’s definitely a customer favorite; people love eating on our porch and drinking beers at the picnic tables on the lawn.” Especially now, during the heat of the end of summer, the front porch of Forest & Main is a popular spot, as Endicott explains, “This time of the year our porch is covered by our hop plants. It provides great shade during the hottest days of the summer and it is a very unique experience to sit and eat and drink under such lush hop bines.”
While Endicott’s favorite event on the front lawn is their yearly anniversary party in April — which includes bands on the porch and a beautifully pink-blossomed tree in full bloom — he also is looking forward to Ambler’s Oktoberfest on Oct.1. “We have bands on the porch every Oktoberfest. It’s a great party throughout the whole town of Ambler — and on our front lawn,” Endicott said.
Whole Foods Plymouth Meeting — Blue Route Taco Truck
Whole Foods Plymouth Meeting, which is known in craft beer circles for its bottles, taps, and growler fills at the Cold Point Pub, has a lesser known place to enjoy a brew — on the roof of the grocery store. Not only is there seating to enjoy the sun and breeze 3 stories above the parking lot, the Blue Route Taco Truck somehow found its way up there to serve Mexican delicacies and thirst quenching craft brew. According to Ashley Chaney of Whole Foods, “Though we had previously had the rooftop open for seating, adding a Taco Truck with beer in the summer of 2011 allowed for another quick service venue…Plus, If you aren’t in the mood for tacos or our canned beer selection, you can always bring up chef created fresh meals from the store below, and wine or draft beer from the Cold Point Pub. It allows for guests with all appetites and tastes to enjoy the space.
Additionally, it’s hard to find a beer garden with healthy food offerings and we’re proud to have them available. Everything we serve is free from artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives and hydrogenated oils.” The Blue Route Taco Truck operates April through October (although dates may be extended if weather permits), daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., weather permitting. Some upcoming events include the Summer Music Series & Happy Hour: Thursdays, 6-8 p.m. through Sept. 8; and the Oktoberfest Pig Roast: Date TBD, Oct. 1 and 2.
It won’t be too long before we are inside by the fire, enjoying spiced pumpkin beers and hearty stouts. Before it is too late, make sure you visit a local beer garden and spend a few hours enjoying the last rays of the sun — and the beers that are brewed to pair with the summer! Cheers!
Columnist Matt Brasch is a beer enthusiast and a lifelong Montgomery County resident. For more, go to http://thebrewholder.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at “The Brewholder.”