Raise a Glass, At Last!

Here’s to beer’s historic return to East Falls — may Wissahickon Brewing Company thrive and prosper at their spectacular location on School House. Pics & video from Opening Day, plus owner Tim Gill’s personal recap.

credit: WBC

After months of “open houses,” Wissahickon Brewing Company officially cut the ribbon (er, construction tape) on the first local brewery here since Hohenadel closed in the 50’s. And so kicked off a weekend-long celebration that filled the area with craft beer lovers, curious neighbors, kids, dogs…

“I don’t know, guys, I think East Falls might be getting some vibe,” said O Claire, neighbor & owner of Koco Nails on Ridge.  She and her dad, Myron, met us late Saturday night as the party was winding down, actually.

Earlier that day, WBC was almost too busy, with limited seating and long waits for beer — not that anyone seemed to care (us included, we had a blast!)

From the moment Tim & family opened the doors, the place was jumping. Before that even! The first car pulled up at 12:30 pm — whoops, 90 minutes early. At 1:00 pm, another car pulled up, telling Tim, “We’ll just park here and wait at In Riva for 2 o’clock.” Soon, the lot was filled with folks chomping at the bit to get in.

What a great crowd, too! Families and puppies and strollers, pouring down Schoolhouse, up from Ridge — kids were playing on the grassy hills by the townhomes across the way.  Lots of different people, everyone seemed relaxed and just out to have a good time.

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“We distributed 1600 wrist bands in the first two hours, and promptly ran out!” Tim told us, “With another 6 hours to go, we estimate over 5,000 customers made it inside the first day.”

The crowds thinned considerably Sunday, but still: quite a weekend! Crowd estimates = 5,000+ people. In total,  573.5 gallons of craft beer were consumed — that’s like 37 kegs in two days.  Even with 16 workers on hand, they were swamped. “We’re all so tired,” said Tim, “but so very happy for this outpouring of support.”

Since Opening Day (April 1st), the Gills have been hard at work restoring their beer reserve — and they’re also focused on the next phase for WBC: canning equipment for take-out beer! Neighbors can get involved via the brewery’s GoFundMe, and meanwhile we can take home refillable growlers of favorite beers.

Of course, you can also purchase kegs, half kegs, quarter kegs, and sixtels from the tasting room. (They’ve also got logo shirts & glasses for sale.)

WBC’s tasting room is now open every day of the week (except Tues), plus they’ll be hosting more events including local fund-raisers and art shows — what an awesome venue, by the way. The enormous “warehouse” area in back is an instant party room. The shiny brewing vats are an inspired backdrop for live music, and perhaps the coolest elevated DJ platform I’ve ever seen.

Twinkle lights on the rafters, plenty of room for dancing — and lots of space to spread out when they fling the industrial garage doors open, creating a giant patio in the open air.  And mmmmm…. smell those food trucks. Really convenient set-up, with great menu choices. Tim was behind the food trucks for Love Park, after all.

One of my favorite take-aways from Opening Weekend? How all the great buzz around WBC bubbled over to other local businesses, too. People didn’t just come to try the Gills’ beer and leave. They stuck around. They checked out other spots.

“It was like St. Paddy’s Day in here,” Mike Murphy told us. Seems the Saloonery handled a lot of WBC’s overflow.

So did In Riva — and Falls Taproom, too, was much busier than usual. Jess Mellen-Graaf summed it up, “I think it goes to show, the more we welcome new business into the neighborhood, the more we all benefit to make East Falls a destination.”

Ah the magic of beer! This summer, East Falls has a new craft brewery to enjoy plus a series of pop-up beer gardens and even Parks on Tap at McMichael. Cheers for the boost in local business! And here’s to new entrepreneurs for choosing East Falls to grow and invest in.

The tasting room on VIP night (before Opening Day)


Show your work in WBC’s tasting room — free of charge. Just promote WBC thru your social media, and maybe host a gallery event (no minimum tix sales).  For consideration, complete WBC’s online application.

Wissahickon Brewing Company
3705 W. Schoolhouse Lane (at the railroad tracks before Ridge)
Philadelphia, PA 19129
Open Mon/Weds/Thurs 5pm – 10pm; Fri 5pm – 11pm; Sat 11am – 11pm; Sun 12pm – 8pm
FACEBOOK   (including food truck line-ups)

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