The windows glow with warmth as we approach the front door. Inside the chatter amongst friends blends in the air nicely along with the clinking of glasses. 11 at night on a Wednesday and Tria Taproom is buzzing with people.
I shuffle in with my friend and we find two seats open at the bar. We order our drinks and as the evening goes on we find ourselves becoming part of the chatter, warmth, and relaxed environment that is Tria Taproom.
Opened in November 2013 Tria Taproom is located at 2005 Walnut Street in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. Owners Jon Myerow and Michael McCaulley had the idea to create a greener restaurant, using fewer bottles than their Tria Cafes.
“So we did it,” said Jon Myerow.
Every beer, wine, cider, and soda is served on tap, providing no more bottle waste. On top of that their draft menu is online and accessible by any device; a tablet is provided for pondering over your drink choices if you haven’t checked them out on your smartphone already. I definitely enjoy taking a peek in advance, then narrowing it down when I get there.
The drink menu also gives the type of beverage (wine, beer, cider, soda), origin, description, and ABV as well as how much is left in the keg. This provides an interactive feature and is helpful if you’re debating between two and one is almost out.
Beer sells the most followed by wine. Right now there are only two taps for cider so it is a little behind but Jon expects cider to get huge.
When it comes to selecting the beer, wine, and cider that goes onto the drink list Jon Myerow is the beer and cider buyer while Michael McCaulley is the wine buyer.
As for specific beer selections, that is where things get interesting. Jon explained to me how he has a template with “slots” for different styles of beer, which helps to keep the list well balanced. The list consists of 24 beers and can take him over five hours a week to compile. His carefully chosen brews factor in what his distributors are offering, his own personal experience, and the seasonality of the brews at hand.
“You eat peaches in August, and you drink Berliner Weisse in August,” said Jon.
These seasonal flavors are important to account for, also look out for well-spiced beers especially in the winter. Everyone has his or her favorites though; I admit I myself am a sucker for a good Belgian ale, at the same time I realize there is a lot more to try. For example, I don’t always go for stouts, but I make sure to try a new one every once in a while and they’re usually great, just for different reasons than Belgian ale. Whereas Jon feels malty German beers, such as Bocks and Doppelsticke are underappreciated.
Jon explained the menu to me as, “Sort of like a radio station. Some beers are in heavy rotation, others are one offs that by definition can never return.” A little over a year later and Tria Taproom has carried over 600 different kinds of beers on tap. Having a carefully chosen variety on the drink list can make for some tough decisions. You’re always in good hands with Tria’s staff, they attend a weekly class at Tria’s classroom.
Unrelated but Interesting: Tria also has a Fermentation School where they teach classes on wine, cheese, and beer.
Sometimes the best way to make a selection though can be to try one of each drink, which is what I did that first evening I went to the Taproom. It’s pretty easy to try a few different drinks off the list when you have good company and a place to mingle.
“When I was younger you had to put on a tie to get good wine in a restaurant and all the beer places were more like frat parties. A lot of people are wine people OR beer people, and I’m both. They’re both amazing beverages. It’s like, why can’t we all just get along?” said Jon.
The casual yet sophisticated environment of the Taproom is warm and welcoming, not intimidating. They might know their facts about beer, wine, and cider but everyone there is friendly and happy to answer any drink questions you have. To add to the scene they also serve up flatbreads, cheese, and other snacks to go along with your drinks.