Beer Birthday: Don Russell

Today is fellow beer writer Don Russell’s 60th birthday. Don writes a beer column for the Philadelphia Daily News under the nom de plume Joe Sixpack. He also writes a blog online, Beer Radar. His most recent book, What the Hell Am I Drinking?, was published last year and can still be ordered directly from the author. Don recently became the executive director of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild, the trade group for New Jersey breweries. Don is also a fellow Pennsylvanian, a crack card player, and one of my very favorite people to share a beer and discuss the issues of the day with. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.

Don (center) with me and Lisa Morrison at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich during a press junket to Bavaria several years ago.

Don, with fellow Pennsylvanians Lew Bryson and Jack Curtin at GABF.

Me and Don at the kick-off for the first Philly Beer Week in 2008.

Don Russell & Pete Slosberg
Don with Pete Slosberg, signing books at GABF a couple of years ago.

Beer Birthday: Jack Curtin

Today is fellow Pennsylvania beer writer Jack Curtin’s birthday. You can read his writings and rantings on a variety of subjects at his Liquid Diet Online, Curtin’s Corner, I Have Heard the Mermaids Singing and The Great Disconnect. If you think I don’t know when to stop, check out Jack’s voluminous output. Plus Jack is one of my favorite people to kvetch about politics with, over a pint, of course. Join me wishing Jack a very happy birthday.

Jack, at right, with fellow Pennsylvanians Don Russell (a.k.a. Joe Sixpack) and Lew Bryson. I’m originally from Pennsylvania, too. What is it about the Commonwealth and beer writers?

Upstairs at Nodding Head with Jack Curtin
Jack and me at Nodding Head during Philly Beer Week a few years back.

Tomme Arthur & Jack Curtin
Tomme Arthur and Jack.

Jack Curtin, Sam Calagione, Ed Friedland and Curt's assistant brewer
Jack with Sam Calagione, Ed Friedland and Nodding Head’s assistant brewer.

Pre-Revolutionary Inns & Ale Houses Of Old Philadelphia

Here’s another fun historical artifact that I came across when I one of my beer ads was for the Robert Smith Ale Brewing Company, which was founded in Philadelphia in 1774, incorporated in 1887, and was apparently acquired by Schmidt’s around 1881. In 1909, Schmidt’s, through their Robert Smith Ale Brewing Company brand, commissioned a local artist, James Preston, to create a series of twelve works depicting pre-revolutionary taverns and inns in or near Philadelphia as way to promote the heritage of the Robert Smith beer brand.

James Moore Preston (1873-1962) was artist and illustrator who trained under Thomas Anshutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Preston also did one cover for the “Saturday Evening Post,” in April 1905, although his most active period was during the 1920s. Here, you can read more about Preston’s

And here’s more about Robert Smith, from an article in Zymurgy magazine by Pennsylvania beer historian Rich Wagner from 1991.

Another brewer who withstood the test of time was Robert Smith. What was to become Robert Smith’s Ale Brewery had its humble beginnings in 1774 when Joseph Potts established a brewery at Fifth and Minor Streets in Philadelphia. During the British occupation of the city, the brewery was seized and used as a barracks.

In 1786 Henry Pepper purchased Potts’ brewery and operated it quite successfully. His wealth and philanthropy were demonstrated when he provided the clock and bell in the tower of Independence Hall. Upon his death in 1898 he donated large sums of money to many charitable and cultural institutions of the city. His son George headed the brewery and directed it successfully before leasing the establishment to Robert Smith.

In 1837 Smith came to America after having served an apprenticeship with the Bass Brewery in Burton-on-Trent, England. He began brewing on St. John Street near the Delaware River. He became acquainted with Pepper and Sickel and in 1845 purchased their brewery.

The Robert Smith India Pale Ale Brewing Company was incorporated in 1887 and moved to a new plant at 38th and Girard (right across the Schuylkill River from “Brewerytown”). It operated until Prohibition as the oldest brewery in continuous operation in America. In 1891 Robert Smith was described as a “hale and hearty” 84-year-old who was still running the brewery. He died two years later and the business was reorganized as the Robert Smith Ale Brewing Co. owned by Schmidt’s Brewery of Philadelphia. The Smith brewery produced mainly ales and stouts. Production figures for the turn of the century are: 1902: 53,521 bbl.; 1905: 61,910 bbl.; 1907: 64,400 bbl. Brands included Tiger Head Ale, XXX Stout, Porter, IPA, Old Mystery, Imperial Burton and English Pale.

The twelve prints show up from time to time on eBay, antiques auctions, collectibles websites and even on Amazon. They’re also in the collection of the Library of Congress.

In addition to the posters, they also created a short book — more or a pamphlet at 37 pages — with information about the brewery and each of the twelve images.


Here’s the book’s introduction:


Below are all twelve illustrations. In each case, I used the biggest and best image I could find. Below each print I’ve added the text from the book, and it appears that some editions of the posters may have even included that text just below each print.

The Falstaff Inn


Penny Pot Tavern and Landing


Indian Queen Hotel


Spread Eagle Inn Inn


State House Tavern


The Three Crowns


Drawbridge and Blue Anchor Inn


London Coffee House


City Tavern


Black Horse Inn Yard


Smith’s 1774 Brewery


Moon and Seven Stars


And here’s the final page of text from the 1909 book.


Beer Birthday: Jennie Hatton

crabbies philly-beer
Today is the 44th birthday of Jennie Hatton, who did P.R. for Philly Beer Week and several craft breweries in the tri-state area for a number of years. She cut her teeth working for Tom Peters at Monk’s Cafe. Jennie and her business partner Claire Pelino are responsible for many, many beer books being published as literary agents to a number of beer writers, including yours truly. Also, Jennie is one of my favorite people in the industry and she’s so much fun to be around that people refer to her as “The Wonderful Jennie Hatton.” Also, few people love tater tots like I do, and she’s one of them. That’s enough for me. More recently, she became the North American Brand Manager for Crabbie’s Ginger Beer. Join me in wishing Jennie a very happy birthday.

Jennie and me on the floor at GABF in 2008.

Everyone wanted their picture taken with the Hammer, and Jennie was only too happy to oblige
Jennie wielding the Hammer of Glory during this last year’s Philly Beer Week.

Jennie Hatton and the Reverend
Jennie and the Reverend Kirk T. Berlenbach, Rector of Saint Timothy’s Episcopal Church, at the Sam, Tomme & Old Beer event at Nodding Head Brewing during Philly Beer Week.

Jennie w/tots & a dog at North Lanes Lounge
Jennie with some of the best tater tots ever, at North Lanes Lounge in Philly.

The Robert Smith India Pale Ale Brewery

The ad I featured yesterday in my long-running Beer In Ads series was for The Robert Smith Ale Brewing Co. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The brewery was only called by that name from 1896 until it closed when Prohibition began. From 1887 until 1896, the brewery was called The Robert Smith India Pale Ale Brewing Co. While searching for information for the post last night, I happened upon a cool bit of history regarding the brewery from 1889. The Map Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia includes a survey map of The Robert Smith India Pale Ale Brewing Co. created by Ernest Hexamer and included in the Hexamer General Surveys, Volume 24, published in 1889.


The brewery was located in West Philadelphia, in the 24th Ward, at N. 38th St, Girard Ave and Philadelphia and the Reading Railroad. The survey also includes some interesting tidbits in the text at the right, a laundry list of architectural facts and figures. For example, the brewery was powered by steam, had two copper kettles — a 100 bbl and 200 bbl vessel — and employed 17 people. Below is a blow-up of the brewery illustration, showing the brewery property and grounds.


Beer In Ads #1644: The Robert Smith Ale Brewing Co.

Monday’s ad is for The Robert Smith Ale Brewing Co., from sometime after 1896 but before Prohibition. From what I can tell, while the brewery was founded in 1774, it wasn’t known as The Robert Smith Ale Brewing Co. until 1896, when it acquired by C. Schmidt & Sons and operated as one of their divisions (although another source claims Schmidt’s took over the Robert Smith brewery in 1881). The casks stacked to the left in the ad each have a different beer printed in them, suggesting this was the line of beers offered by the brewery at the time of the ad. The beer’s listed are Tiger Head I.P.A., India Pale, Burton, English Pale, XXX, Old Musty, Brown Stout and Imperial Burton. Only Tiger Head I.P.A. and the Brown Stout also have “Bottling” printed in smaller letters at the bottom of the head of the cask, so I suspect those were the two beers they may have offered in bottles.


Beer Birthday: Tom Peters

My good friend Tom Peters, one of the owners of Monk’s Cafe and Belgian Beer Emporium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, turns 61 today. His enthusiasm for and promotion of Belgian beer has few equals. A couple of years ago, I was privileged to travel through France and Belgium with Tom, which was amazing. And he throws perhaps the best late night parties of anyone I’ve ever known. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

Tom Peters with Dave Keene, owners of the best two Belgian beer bars on both coasts.

Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie Carey, co-owner of Monk’s, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters.

Tom Peters, with Rob Tod from Allagash in Portland, Maine, at GABF.

Me and Tom Peters
Me and Tom after the Great Lambic Summit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology & Anthropology during last year’s Philly Beer Week.

In Belgium, with a perfectly poured Orval, with Daniel Neuner, William Reed and Justin Low.

Also in Belgium, with a Fanta and Frites sandwich.

Beer Birthday: Fergus Carey

Today is the 52nd birthday of Fergus Carey, better known simply as Fergie. Fergie owns Fergie’s Pub in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is co-owner of Monk’s Cafe with Tom Peters and is also a partner in Nodding Head Brewery. Fergie’s always a fun person to have around and he’s as kind as soul as ever I’ve met in the beer world. Join me in wishing Fergie a very happy birthday.

Fergie huddling up with Tom Dalldorf and his Monk’s Cafe partner Tom Peters at 2st Amendment in San Francisco.

Tom Peters, Frank Boon, Jean Van Roy, Fergie Carey and Armand Debelder
Tom Peters, Frank Boon, Jean Van Roy, Fergie and Armand Debelder at a Lambic Beer Dinner last month at Mon’s Cafe during Philly Beer Week.

Outside Monk’s cafe: Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters, after the Canned Beer Dinner in 2007.

Beer Birthday: Tom Kehoe

Today is the 51st birthday of Tom Keohe, founder of Yards Brewing, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tom’s been a fixture of the Philly beer scene as long as I can remember, at at least since 1996. He’s one of those people that you feel like you’ve known for years, even when you first meet him. And he’s a terrifically talented brewer, too. Join me in wishing Tom a very happy birthday.

Toasting the Class of '96: Greg Koch, Mark Edelson, Bill Covaleski, Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller & Sam Calagione
Toasting the Class of ’96: Greg Koch, Mark Edelson, Bill Covaleski, Tom Kehoe, Gene Muller & Sam Calagione.

With Philadelphia Mayor Nutter and Tom Kehoe handing out glasses of the ceremonial beer to the assembled crowd at the opening ceremonies of the first Philly Beer Week in 2008.

Tom explaining the beers he created for the colonial themed City Tavern.

Tom clowning around with the Hammer of Glory during Philly Beer Week a couple of years ago.

Hammer Of Glory Stolen!

Well, this is horrid news. According to CBS in Philadelphia, Philly Beer Week’s “Hammer of Glory” has gone missing, presumed stolen. According to Philly Beer Week director Don Russell, “The Hammer was on display [at] the Fishtown Festival on Frankford Avenue when it went missing.” At some point, “somebody decided to pick it up and, you know, take off with it,” he added. He also said that they just want it back; “if you have it, just turn it in to a [Philly] Beer Week bar.” Hopefully, someone will do just that and return it. Read the full store here at CBS.

The Hammer at Standard Tap's Bear Ninja Cowboy beerchambeau
The Hammer at Standard Tap’s Bear Ninja Cowboy beerchambeau in 2010.

Me with the Hammer of Glory
Me with the Hammer of Glory during a Hammer Time pub crawl Jennie Hatton (pictured above) took me on a few years ago.

UPDATE: Happy news. Philly Beer Week’s Facebook page is now reporting that the Hammer of Glory has been found. Here’s the story:

The Hammer of Glory is SAFE! It was turned in an hour ago to Frankford Hall. The person who dropped it off said he found it under 95. We really need to thank the Philadelphia Police, the Philadelphia Media and all you beer drinkers who helped us spread the word and get the HOG back.

Whew. Below, the HoG safe and sound.