[This is the third installment in our With Love Beer Garden Q&A series, which we’re publishing each day this week in honor of the Philly Beer Week With Love Beer Garden at the Four Seasons Philadelphia Hotel’s courtyard. Tonight’s featured brewer is Ben Potts of Dock Street Brewing Company. Read on to hear him weigh in on Philadelphia’s beer heritage, his favorite summer brews and more.]
Dock Street Brewing Company was founded in 1985, one of the first microbreweries in the city and also in the entire country. Dock Street opened its current location in University City in 2007. Head Brewer Ben Potts joined the team that summer after earning medals in the area’s largest homebrewing competitions.
We recently talked with Potts to get the scoop on which Beer Week events he’s most looking forward to, the city’s rich beer heritage, his favorite beer and food pairings and more.
Uwishunu: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. We can’t wait for the Dock Street night at the With Love Beer Garden tonight! In addition to the Beer Garden, what other Beer Week events are you most excited about?
Ben: I’m really looking forward to our music festival Sunday, June 12th. This is something we’ve really been working hard on and last year it was a real blast. I’m also looking forward to the Russian River event at Local 44 on the same day. I just love those beers. Two great reasons to come out to West Philly on Sunday.
Uwishunu: We’ll be there. Dock Street opened in 1985 as one of the nation’s very first microbreweries and opened its current location in University City in 2007. Why do you think the Philadelphia beer scene has thrived so impressively, especially recently in the last decade or so?
Ben: Philadelphia has always been known for great beer, ever since the days of our founding fathers. When porter was the drink of the day, the porter brewed in Philadelphia was world renowned. Later on, after the Industrial Revolution and during the immigration boom of the early 20th century, many Germans flooded to the areas in and surrounding Philadelphia. These Germans brought their beer heritage with them and began making the classic pilsner style that has become the most popular style in the world today, and Philadelphia was a part of that.
And of course, Philadelphia is a town of amazing food and restaurants. I think with great food it is inherent that people will gravitate towards great drink as well. Philadelphians really appreciate flavor. I think it all comes from there, and the people who strive to enjoy AND make these kinds of things. Philadelphia is just blessed to have a lot of those people.
Below, Ben talks about using local ingredients, his favorite Dock Street beers to enjoy in the summertime and more.
Uwishunu: We’ll cheers to that. We know you like to source ingredients locally whenever possible, for both your beer and the food you serve at the brewery. Can you tell us why sourcing ingredients locally is important to Dock Street?
Ben: Being all the way out on 50th and Baltimore Avenue in West Philly means we’re not really on the radar for people who live in Center City. I often think of West Philly as an island or annex of Philadelphia rather than part of the city itself. Because of that, we are largely supported locally. Yes, you can find our beer around town and in the suburbs, but our bread and butter comes from West Philly. Without the community that exists here — everyone from the young families, to the professionals and artists, to the krusty punks, West Philly is what makes us Dock Street.
With that said, we are a small business who is community supported and we like to return the favor whenever possible. If we don’t support each other than what do we have? If we don’t support each other then it makes things that much harder to survive in a world of big business and mass corporations who are always looking to make the quickest and easiest buck.
Uwishunu: Dock Street’s artisanal beers have been the recipients of many major awards including the International Gold Medal for both the Amber Beer and the acclaimed Bohemian Pilsner. What are some of your favorite Dock Street beers to enjoy outdoors in the summertime?
Ben: We have a great range of beers on for the summer season. We always have our go-to Rye IPA, but for the real heat, a fresh cold Bohemian Pilsner, OMG Pale, or Summer Session really hits the spot. he Summer Session is brewed with freshly pureed ginger root and lemon grass, with a touch of a acidulated malt to make it a perfect thirst quencher. This summer we’re also doing a series of Saisons — Belgian style Farmhouse ales — that I’m really excited about. Saisons tend to be lighter in body, effervescent, and again are really refreshing in the summer, which is why they were originally brewed: to refresh the farm workers during long hot days in the summer.
Uwishunu: Sounds delicious. Speaking of which, Philadelphia has plenty of awesome bars and restaurants, Dock Street included. What are some of your favorite places in the city to go to grab a beer and a bite when not at Dock Street? Do you have any favorite beer and food pairings at Dock Street?
Ben: It may sound cliché at this point, but I love Monk’s Cafe. Beyond the amazing beer selection, the food is also great. The Brussels burger and frites are a favorite of mine. They also have really great vegetarian options on the menu right now.
Right now we have a saison made with three grains (barley, wheat, and oats) which was spiced with ground pepper and freshly chopped oregano, basil, and rosemary. The flavor is bright and refreshing with a great fruit profile and subtle herbal notes lent from the spices, backed by a nice malt profile. It’s really the perfect pairing for our pizzas; I’d recommend with any of the classics or the Fig Jam. But really any Italian style dish would do!
Uwishunu: Good stuff. Any final words of wisdom for our readers attempting to navigate Philly Beer Week?
Ben: Well, there’s so much going on it’s hard to say. guess my advice would be to take it easy, it’s Beer Week! It’s not supposed to be work! Don’t try to squeeze in too much, obviously keep moderation in mind, and most importantly, have fun. And with all the beer out there, don’t forget to toast your favorite local bar and brewery.
With Love Beer Garden
Where: The Courtyard at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, 1 Logan Square
Note: You can enter straight from the corner of 18th and Cherry Streets; you don’t need to go through the hotel
When: Today-June 10, 4-8 p.m.
Cost: Pay as you go
More info: www.visitphilly.com