New brewery offers balanced beers with lots of heart that everyone can fancy. Just a brief bike ride away.
Love City is a Callowhill brewery with a local connection – they made their East Falls debut with the EF Beer Garden last April, thanks to Jill Dougherty, whose brother Mike Tramontana is a linchpin in this new craft beer operation. Officially, he manages the bar but as friends of the owners (and a big fan of the product), he’s worn a lot of hats since joining Love City in January as the team’s worked to get their dream off the ground.
“Yes, it’s absolutely been a labor of love!” Melissa Walter agreed when we guessed at the meaning of the brewery’s name. Melissa and her husband, Kevin, fell in love with beer as they fell in love with each other (they got married in 2011). Kevin worked his way up at Iron Hill, starting as a server before becoming a head brewer, and finally a regional brewer overseeing multiple Iron Hill locations, when he realized he wanted to brew his own beer.
It’s “Love City” to commemorate how beer was a part of their love story. It’s “Love City” because they love beer, and want to share it with this City of Brotherly Love (of course). And it’s “Love City” because a portion of their proceeds gives back to the community, and shows some love to neighborhood groups and initiatives who could use some support.
“Every quarter, our plan is to brew a beer then donate a portion of the proceeds to a non-profit,” said Melissa. Currently, Love City is sponsoring Pathways to Housing PA, whose mission is to transform individual lives by ending homelessness and supporting recovery for people with disabilities.
Obviously, we’re enormous fans of East Falls’ only brewery, Wissahickon Brewing Company. You should be too, btw — they make fantastic beer! Big, flavorful beers. Tart, juicy Belgians and IPA’s that are bold with piney, tropical flavors. Their beer list is seasonal and innovative. For craft beer lovers all over the Delaware Valley, WBC is a singular destination.
But not everyone’s into craft beer, and sometimes even the most die-hard craft beer devotee craves a “comfort beer.” Something clean and simple that’s easy on the palate. No surprises, just a good solid brew that tastes exactly like it’s supposed to: lager, wheat, stout, whatever. “Approachable,” is what they call their style at Love City Brewing. (Read Jon Kennedy’s review of their core lineup.)
We couldn’t agree more. After touring the brewery before it opened last month, Melissa and sales manager Mo Stubbs poured us their lineup and explained their brewing philosophy. “We want to brew classic styles of beer that are, above all, balanced and drinkable” Mo told us. With all Kevin’s experience at Iron Hill, he has a good idea of craft beer’s “sweet spot” for the general public. “We do experiment from time to time,” she said, “But our goal is always to produce beer that everyone can enjoy. ”
We tried every variety they had on top – not a hop bomb in the bunch. Each style of beer tasted distinct from the others, and they all went down super easy. Kevin and Melissa have created an artsy, cool industrial brewpub with a solid beer list, right out of the gate. And the neighborhood’s worth checking out, too (see below).
Read JK’s full Love City beer-by-beer breakdown in May’s edition of The Local, and by all means, make the trip out here when you get a chance. This June, Love City graced the neighborhood paired with a fresh modern menu by chef Alex Garfinkel and the best rooftop view East Falls.
**FALLSER FIELD TRIP!**
You know what’s fun about Love City’s brewery/tasting room? It’s right off Spring Garden – where designated bike lanes provide a fun ride from the Falls. Just take the Schuylkill River trail (or MLK on weekends when it’s closed) to the Art Museum where you can easily cut onto Spring Garden’s bike lanes that practically lead right to Love City’s doorstep. About six miles, total, one-way. Like a half hour, nice ‘n flat. (CLICK ON MAP BELOW FOR TURN-BY-TURN DIRECTIONS)
Self-Guided Brewery Tour
Grab your favorite beer lover(s) for a day exploring this lively, growing neighborhood. TIP: Start on a full stomach, with a big breakfast at the Trolley Car Cafe, an SRT trailhead. Ride Kelly Drive then cut through around the Joan of Arc statue to Spring Garden.
Start strong at 11:00am when Roy Pitz Barrel House opens. Try their award-winning “Liquid Art” barrel-aged and sour beers. A dizzying array of other imaginative brews, too. Pace yourselves. (990 Spring Garden St)
Onto good old Yards Brewing for palate-cleansing Pale Ale or Brawler. A Bavarian pretzel, some spiced nuts or fries feels just about right, or dig in for a full meal — no none’s judging. Yards has a kitchen here, so you’ve got options. With 20+ taps, yet, you could be here awhile. (500 Spring Garden St)
Grab a killer burrito to go from El Purepecha (469 N. 10th St), a nearby authentic “hole in the wall” Mexican joint with big portions and low prices. People rave from all over the city about this place, including the crew at Love City who’ve been regular customers since they started construction on the brewery (Mo highly recommends their carnitas burrito).
Carry that bad boy to Love City’s “byof” tasting room (1023 Hamilton St) where their easy-going beers will wash your feast down beautifully. BTW, be sure to make a potty stop — you gotta see these bathrooms! Seriously — they have 11 gender-neutral bathrooms and each one has been painted by a different local artist.
Finish up with some rolled ice cream at Ice Land nearby (224 N. 10th St) — it’s Thai and super trendy. PS: The neighborhood is considered “Chinatown North,” and has a laid-back, diverse, eclectic, and scrappy vibe. Ideal streets for strolling and window shopping. Maybe catch a show at Union Transfer or Silk City?
Once you’re back in the Falls, do you dare stop for cocktails at LeBus? Like I said, no judging here…
PS Bike ride from EF to Love City opening weekend (see how easy it is?!):