Philadelphia's Flemish Ale House
I can think of no better destination for Belgian beer lovers (Belgium itself excluded) than Philadelphia. It’s a statement that may sound counter-intuitive, but Philadelphia harbors a deep and abiding love for all things abbey-made. Whether that can best be attributed to the legendary Belgian beer spots that pepper the city (of which Monk’s Café is the best-known), the local beer writers and restaurateurs who regularly tout the brews, or the fact that a brew-obsessed city will naturally pay homage to one of the world’s top beer-producing countries is up for debate. Regardless, Philadelphians can be counted on to know their dubbels from their tripels.
Philadelphia-area brewers are equally fond of the Flemish tradition, and produce numerous varieties of Belgian styles that range from the traditional to the innovative. Victory Brewing turns out several clean and classic Belgian styles, including Helios, a yeasty Saison. Weyerbacher goes rough-and-tumble with the Belgian inspiration, pumping their huge, viscous, barrel-aged, vanilla-flavored beers (try the dynamo Merry Monks or Insanity) up to sky-high ABVs. And Sly Fox is behind several Belgian styles, including Incubus, a tripel touched with candied sugar.
All of that zest and range can be found at Eulogy Belgian Tavern, which, while not as iconic as Monk’s Café, is not only a worthy addition to the city’s beer-and-moules-frites roster but also claims to boast the city’s biggest beer selection (that’s 300 bottles and 21 taps, folks). It’s nigh impossible to wind up here and not find a beer that attracts you.
That is, of course, assuming that you’re able to make it in the door. This bar’s interior more closely resembles a double-decker closet than anything else, and unless you’re going at off-peak hours you can fully expect to be penned in to the corral of fellow imbibers that is the bar area. Stools are coveted territory, particularly as the small selection of tables upstairs is reserved for diners only; those standing risk being elbowed in the ribs by a harried server between every sip. On my last visit, the bar area was so crowded that the man adjacent to me at the bar mistook my beer for his and drank most of it while I focused on my (very serviceable) frites and dipping sauces. So, Eulogy is not without its risks.
With those risks come bountiful rewards, though, in the form of ambrosial ales. For Philadelphia Beer Week, Eulogy played host to a Barrel-Aged beer tasting, with beers from the old country appearing alongside the aforementioned Weyerbacher’s Insanity and other American additions like Allagash’s Curieux, a tripel that’s aged in old bourbon barrels. Each was better than the last, warming and punctuated with a fiery high-alcohol buzz. As viscous and sweet as maple syrup, these beers were dangerously good.
If you’re able to bear the crush, then (or willing to make do with a liquid lunch), Eulogy deserves your undivided attention – or rather, your slightly bleary, gleefully buzzed, sleepily contented attention.