Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Part 2 – Dancing Gnome, Insurrection, and Piper’s Pub

Dancing Gnome

Dancing Gnome brews nothing but IPAs. Or at least that seems to be the primary focus. Everything is half pours or full pours with the occasional can release. I tried two beers while I was there and they were quite good though still a step below Brew Gentlemen. The tasting room is a bit smaller but still a good size.

I started with Dakota Line, a 9% triple IPA because that was the one available in cans. It was a bit green so I will revisit the beer in the cans after they have had a chance to mellow out. The beer had notes of tropical fruit and citrus with a good thick body and a lingering hop acidity on the finish. Asteroid, a single IPA had a mix of citrus and earthy hop character with a lingering acidity. This was also properly thick and creamy. I might have tried more at Dancing Gnome but I was already at my limit for hazy IPA for the day.

Dakota Line did mellow out a bit after a week or two and was quite impressive for a triple hazy IPA.

Known For:
Dancing Gnome doesn’t brew anything but hazy IPA so if you aren’t into that style you might want to go elsewhere.

Insurrection Ale Works

Our last stop for the day was Insurrection, a bit West of town, closer to the airport. I had their Panama Red, red IPA. It had a nice dry finish with onion and light herbal hop notes with a light bitter finish. This was just what I needed after the hazy IPAs and was quite well done. My husband had a taster of their breakfast stout. It was bitter and quite smoky with prominent notes of coffee and burnt toffee. I thought the beer was a bit thin. Though well-done, I would have preferred it without the prominent smoked malts.

Piper’s Pub

Normally I write about breweries over bars but in Pittsburgh the breweries all close on Monday and Tuesday except for one that opened at 5PM. Piper’s Pub came highly recommended and it made for a great spot to have a few pints before catching our flight home on a Monday evening. It has the feel of an English pub with a nice tap list that is a mix of Pennsylvania beers and imports (mostly English, Irish, and German).

Most beers are served in imperial pint glasses for $7.50 a pint. If you aren’t able to make it out to Brew Gentlemen you may get lucky and find one or two of their beers on tap here. After trying one beer from a brewery we didn’t get to visit, I ordered more Brew Gentlemen because they were that good. Thankfully they had Recertified on draft, my favorite hazy double IPA from visiting the Brew Gentlemen.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Philadelphia Breweries – 2nd District and Crime and Punishment

I combined the two breweries into one because I had only one beer at 2nd District. 2nd District is down in an area where you absolutely don’t want to try to park. Then again you are better off not driving at all in Philadelphia if you can help it. We had a car because we decided to stay in Ardmore near Tired Hands. Getting down to 2nd District takes quite some time whether you are driving yourself or riding in an Uber because of some tight streets that move pretty slowly.

2nd District

The view of the building from outside. Second District is inside an old brick building.

Like other breweries in the area and a lot of New England in general, beers are priced such that it makes a lot more sense to order a larger pour. Thus, I only had one beer at 2nd District and a few sips of my husband’s. The most interesting beer on the menu was their biere de garde with black pepper called Petite Villain. It was a fantastic complex beer blending spice notes, fruity malts, very mild pepper, and a dry earthy finish.

My husband ordered their dry Irish stout and he enjoyed it. It was typical of the style, made smoother on nitro, with good roasty character and a dry finish. I would have liked to have spent more time here but we had to move on to other spots. Second District seemed like a solid brewery. I would recommend taking public transit down there if you are staying downtown.

A reminder of the previous occupants of the building.

Crime and Punishment Brewing

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I visited Crime and Punishment because they didn’t say much on the menu about whether the IPAs were hazy or not. I soon saw all the hazy beers everyone else was ordering and got very interested. Though first I started with their berliner weisse. Crime and Punishment is slightly north of downtown Philadelphia though a quick uber ride to get there. They have a large indoor space with plenty of seating and a full food menu.

I started with the berliner weisse, which I chose over the fruited gose after tasting both. The berliner was very light in alcohol with a crisp finish and mild citrus notes. While enjoyable I could have used some more complexity or body in the beer. Space Race hazy IPA was the highlight of the visit. It was creamy and delicious with tons of fruit and citrus with mild hop acidity and a soft body. It compared well to the best I had from Monkish. Sadly the two other double IPAs didn’t have the same character.

Space Race hazy IPA

The Repeat Offender double IPA was done well but was hardly hazy at all in the modern sense. I got some herbal notes and malt sweetness but no characteristics of a hazy beer. The Visions Fugitives was hazy and soft but fairly average in the aroma department. Though it did have high hop acidity I didn’t get a lot of fruit. Since I ordered both DIPAs together I combined the two at the end and then it actually tasted like what I expected at that point.

The two double IPAs.

Despite the disappointing double IPAs I would still recommend visiting them because Space Race showed me they sometimes strike gold. They also had a BBA imperial stout on tap that I didn’t try because again I was ordering 10oz pours due to the pricing of the tasters.

Top Beer:
Space Race Hazy IPA
If they don’t have Space Race I recommend trying a splash of one of the IPAs before ordering.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Tired Hands Brewing Company – Ardmore Pennsylvania

Tired Hands is located in Ardmore, a 30 minute drive or 1 hour public transit stop from Philadelphia. I opted to stay in the area to make it easier and I’m glad I did because I had to leave during one of my visits to take care of some work for a client for a few hours before going back. Being a short drive away made things easy. They have two locations very close to each other, the brewery and the Fermentaria (their version of a brewpub but with more fancy food). I stopped by the brewery the first night and had a couple of beers though I had the most variety at the Fermentaria as well as eating lunch. Both locations are quite loud both with the noise of people talking and the music played in the background.


I started in the evening at the brewery with their cask ESB, done old school with a smooth light body and notes of caramel malts. It was even smoother thanks to being served on cask. I also tried their wacky Birthday Cake Double Milkshake, a hazy double IPA with huge amounts of adjuncts, including chocolate, vanilla, and the addition of an actual cake. They take advantage of the super soft creamy mouthfeel of their double IPAs and it works fairly well in the same way as other breweries serve white stouts with lactose and coffee. It is a super popular style but I didn’t personally care for it and I am a bit surprised I ordered a full 10 ounce pour after tasting it.

I started trying other beers at the Fermentaria the following day. Their Hop Hands, the flagship hazy pale ale, was fairly thin with notes of citrus, grass, and pine, though a bit too bitter for the style. Their other flagship, Saison Hands, was delicious, a classic saison with notes of citrus and spice with a dry finish. It paired quite nicely with the Veggie Banh Mi and the hot peppers. I was so impressed by this that I later ordered a few other farmhouse ales they had. My husband ordered the Coffee Only Voyd, imperial stout with coffee, which was thick and smooth with tons of roasty coffee as you would expect from the style.

The Oat Tao, oat saison aged in barrels, had a funky barnyard nose and a soft and chewy mouthfeel. It was delightfully complex with earthy notes, mild citrus, and some green-apple lambic character. It reminded me of something similar from Hill Farmstead. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered a pint when I finished, though many others who visited around the same time thought it was their least-favorite.

The So It Goes red sour ale was quite funky with notes of caramel, cherry malt character, and a mild tart bite. I quite enjoyed this one I think in part to the hgher alcohol which gave it an increased sweetness that kept it from being one-note. The Tongue Extinguisher hazy DIPA was soft and pillowy with tons of pineapple and grapefruit hop flavor. It had minimal bitterness, hop acidity, or alcohol bite. It was like drinking Monkish fresh from the source, and immediately I understood where all the hype for them comes from.

If you go out to Tired Hands, I recommend planning to stay in Ardmore if you can. I loved he quiet area without the insane traffic of Philadelphia and one could easily spend days trying everything they have to offer. Since they price things to encourage ordering larger pours, I suggest trying a splash of a couple of beers to ensure you enjoy what you order. Not only was the beer a highlight of my trip but I can see myself returning to the area again to enjoy the slow, quiet feel of the surrounding town. I highly recommend the Fermentaria not just for beer but for their high quality food with plenty of vegetarian options to go with it. Just bring your ear plugs if you prefer a quiet brewery experience.

Top 3:
Tongue Extinguisher DIPA
Saison Hands
Oat Tao Saison

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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