Local ain’t exactly local, but I went anyway.

Earlier today, I hauled my tired old body 52 miles (each way!) for my first visit to Local 44 in West Philly, the second and newest venture of the Hartranft/Maida team. Not a bad ride, actually, since both Rt. 422 and the Expressway were functioning as high-speed highways rather than traffic jams, so it was about 50 minutes each way, maybe even a bit shorter coming home.

As I walked in the door about 1pm, only Tom the bartender and a couple of guys having lunch accompanied by some of the biggest beers in the house were there and I admit I grinned to myself. No management on site, eh? That could make for a funny post about how hard Brendan and Leigh actually work. Jab when the jabbing is good, I always say.

I sat down at the bar and ordered a pint of Yards Brawler, still rolling along as my favorite beer of the moment, and chatted a bit with Tom, getting him to reveal some of the dirty dark secrets of the place, which I will reveal at a time and place of my choosing. On his advice (I was torn between it, the Oyster Mushroom Po-Boy and the Breakfast BLT), I ordered the Cuban Sandwich and a pint of Coniston Bluebird Bitter to accompany it, still cheerfully mulling over all the cutesy little pokes I’d be taking…

Then my dream came crashing down. “Leigh’s downstairs,” said Tom, “want I should tell her you’re here?” But of course (can you imagine the crap I’d have gotten if I left and come back to post the above scenario while she was on the premises?) and up she came. We chatted a bit about this and that and Philly Beer Week and I got updates on all the things they plan to do at both locations (Local 44 has just signed up) , wonder of wonders, in the door walks Brendan and we chatted a bit about this and that and Philly Beer Week and I got updates on all the things they plan to do…

You get the idea. I’ll have more details down the line; in fact, Brendan says that all PBW events at both locations should be on the respective sites Real Soon Now. And that’s probably true because the sites are updating as I write this. In fact, here are details on one of the events scheduled at Local 44 that just went up onsite, a pre-pre-season Business Person’s Special on February 20, 44 days before the actual Philly’s home opener. That’s pretty ingenious, maybe even Scoats-level ingenious.

After Leigh went back to work (further destroying my initial storyline), Brendan and I shared small glasses of Sinebrychoff Porter, which just went on tap, and agreed that it was fine but not nearly as good as from a bottle as much of the complexity and all of the chocolate come through minimally, if at all. It would take a full pint to make that determination and I was driving so a 9% brew was off the board.

Did I mention that Brendan has 30 casks of Fuller’s beer, including the rarely seen in these parts Chiswick Bitter (the session beer of session beers) coming in, most for his two bars but some to be sold off to others which are prepared to handle cask ale properly? I got that information from William Reed at Sly Fox yesterday first, but confirmed today, with news that the casks have just shipped.

It was a little early in the day to offer many impressions of Local 44 (you need a crowd and some action to get a real feel), but feel free to go back and read this report on opening night, and this one too. That pair of barflies are usually on target.

Or, for a more recent opinion, there’s this, from a local female online beer presence not named either Suzanne or Carolyn whose new blog I slipped into the Blogroll over there to the right a few days ago when you weren’t watching. In fact, to honor her debut in these chronicles, let’s steal Femme Fermental’s headline for a going-out-the-door, age-impaired gentleman’s joke:

It reads I Wish I Was Local, Local 44.

I can certainly go along with that, but I wish I was 44 more.

Thank you, thank you. I’ll be here all week. Try the beer.

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