Nothing like a good BrewPub on a Business Trip… especially on the Company Dime! 

Photo by zyzak of

Photo by zyzak of

Iron Hill Brewery in Phoenixville, Pa.

How many of you have experienced the following situation: you are scheduled to go on a multi-day business trip to a place you haven’t been before, your day ends at a reasonable time and you want to find a good place for beer and grub, however your colleagues are losers and you’re on your own.  You may think your choices are: a) hotel lobby cardboard pizza and Budweiser on tap; b) Combos/Pringles galore from the mini-bar and $9 Heineken, or c): Ghandi starvation diet.  But for Christ’s sake, you can expense your beers and food if only you had a good option!  Lo and behold there ALWAYS is an option d): stop being a pussy and go out on your own and find a good BrewPub to satisfy both your beer and food desires.

So let me introduce you to my most recent positive business trip drinking experience… downtown Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.  Normally you’d say, where on God’s Earth are you and get out as fast as you can!  But actually things worked out much better than expected.  After a gruesome day of training with my new company at our satellite office just outside of Philly in the King of Prussia area, I chose Option d and luckily stumbled upon the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant located just a few short miles down the road.  If you haven’t heard of them yet (unless you are living Southern Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware chances are you haven’t), well you are in for a treat.  These guys have been around for around twenty years? and serve up a good selection of craft brews with a hearty selection of premium dinner entrees.  They have established 10 brew pubs in the previously mentioned geographic locations with much success and host some of the larger Craft brew distributors such as Tim Roberts, headbrewer from Yards Brewery (July 13th if you’re interested). Like most brewpubs, they elect to brew for local restaurant consumption and not for retail distribution.

Regarding the establishment, I give it a B+ in terms of my JUGS Scale for rating BrewPub Establishments:  Joy (is it a happy place rather than a dull, depressing drink yourself to misery place,) Unpretentious (Is it welcoming and cool but not over the top and begging for popularity), Girls (are chicks willing to hang out, especially hot chicks), Selection (by this I mean BEER, is there a good selection of what’s most important- BEER).  I found myself in a very comfortable spot at the bar talking to the friendly barkeep Tommy and chatting with some other patrons at the stools, while admiring hot chicks walking around with pints of good beer.  Conversation throughout appeared friendly, welcoming, and down to Earth, which generated an overall positive vibe.  The establishment itself was spacious and welcoming.  They have a nice promotion which they call a “Mug Club’, which revolves around a discount program for food and beer sold. Mugs are like AMEX cards, don’t leave home without them.

Regarding the beers….  Overall I give them an A in beer quality.  I had four beers plus some samples and enjoyed most and every one of them.  First I started with the Old Tom Barleywine, apparently named after a former brewmaster or barkeep that passed away.  Sad story, but damn good beer to keep his name going.  This beer had a great blend of sweetness and wine quality, strong but not overpowering, around 9.5% ABV I believe.  The finish was really smooth, one of the more enjoyable Barleywines I’ve had of late.  I actually purchased a growler to go of to go of this and stored it in the walk-in refrigerator at the hotel restaurant, let’s hope those lazy busboys don’t crack it open.  Next I had the Chocolate Stout, another favorite style of mine.  They did an outstanding job of melding the heavy block of Belgian chocolate into the mix without overpowering your senses with bitterness or cocoa.  This is brewed as an English style (way underrated) Russian Imperial blend, with Madagascar vanilla beans and milk sugar.  I know what you’re thinking – tough day at the office, huh?  They did a fantastic job melding the chocolate into a subtle yet tasty blend.  Next I had the Roggenbier, a German-style rye beer with little of the hoppiness that you’d find more often in an IPA-style Roggenbier bear.  This had a nutty flavorful taste where you could actually get a hint of banana, pretty darn tasty and overall a very smooth and enjoyable concoction.  Finally I had the Rauchbier, a German style amber lager made of beech wood smoke malt. This rocked at first, although it did get a little heavy over time.  Compared to other “smoked” beers I’ve tasted though, this was top notch.  All things considered, I came away very satisfied and buzzed, more than I thought I’d accomplish on this trip.  If you happen to make it to Phoenixville, Pa., or one of their other locations, do check out the Iron Hill.

So now I am back at the hotel preparing for another day of lectures and training. At least I now have a nice cold Barleywine growler to look forward to once it’s over.  Ah, the joys of business travel indeed!