Sunday, January 18, 2015

Manayunk Brewing; more from Philly and a trademark tale

    Shuttered, empty factories make up a lot of Philadelphia's urban landscape, the remains of companies long gone.  Sometimes one of those gaunt buildings gets a new lease on life from a new and growing industry--like craft brewing.
 The Krook Woolen Mill opened in 1912 along the east bank of the Schuykill River, about five miles north of center city.  It closed in 1992 and reopened in 1996 as the Manayunk Brewing Company.  A scale used to weigh raw wool has been preserved, near the tap list and a sushi bar.  The Manayunk neighborhood has become trendy now as hip businesses of all sorts occupy the old stone buildings along the canal and the river, and this two-level pub, restaurant, and jazz club fits right in.
    Some of he beers listed trade on the name of the district: Monk From the 'Yunk, Yunkelweizen, Yunkin' Punkin'.  The last-named elicited a Cease and Desist letter from lawyers representing Dogfish Head, which had indeed brought out a Punkin' Ale a few years ago.  That one could register a trademark for pumpkin by dropping a p and adding an apostrophe seems a head scratcher.  But indie brewers, generally a collegial lot, will act like a bulldog guarding a bone when their trademarked names are involved.  Jeremy Cowan, in his Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah, tells of his many troubles on the receiving end of trademark letters and then how he defended Schmaltz Brewing's subtitle, The Chosen Beer, from a startup planning to call its brewery Chosen Spot.
     Now Manayunk, selling three thousand barrels
a year if the river doesn't rise too much, is hardly a
threat to Dogfish.  But as nano-brewer Foggy Noggin
learned during last year's Seahawks frenzy (when its
12th Man Skittles IPA had to be rebranded), it
doesn't matter how small you are when trademarks
are involved.  The river does rise all too often here, as these plaques near the brew kettle attest.  "This storm didn't even have
a name," head brewer Evan Fritz said after last April's deluge,
"what can we call it on the wall?"  Flash Flood (five inches of rain in one afternoon) cost Manayunk another summer, but they are back again, and putting out 12-oz. cans with a contract canner this time.
    Here are a couple of beers I found interesting here.  They make a Burton Ale.  Burton-Upon-Trent, near London, is famed as the birthplace of India Pale Ale.  But before those brewers began hopping their ales for the long passage to India, they made ale in this style.  The abv is 5.5% and the IBUs are just 27.  The tasting notes say malty up front and the Fuggles and Kent Golding hops from England impart an earthy finish.  I'll subscribe to that.  The Monk from the 'Yunk is their trippel.  Strong (9.2% abv), pale (a pilsner malt base), and dry, it has a great floral aroma and a haunting aftertaste.
  The deck out back, overlooking the river, is empty on a chill January afternoon.  In the summer, they partner with a kayak rental business to offer kayaking brunch on the weekends.  When you've got a great location, you'd better market it.


(Visited 01/15/15)

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