Last weekend I found myself at Frankford Hall for a good friend’s birthday. I had been to Frankford Hall once before this past summer but never in the winter. I was uncertain of what to expect, not being a big fan of the winter I was afraid the outdoor section might be too cold. As I spent the Saturday enjoying a few beers with friends though, the cold was not even on my mind.
Frankford Hall, opened in May 2011, is a Steven Starr restaurant located in the Northern Liberties area of Philadelphia. It is a German “biergarten” but located in an urban area, giving it an interesting and unique atmosphere compared to the typical city hangouts. Upon entering through the red and white striped front doors you are immediately immersed into the indoor crowd. There are picnic tables and Jenga galore. Also a bar, of course was located inside to the left. It had many choices of draft and bottled beer, wine, and special hot beverages in the winter. A Ping-Pong table sits to the right when entering. If you walk passed it there is a counter to order food. Personally I tried the giant pretzel with cheese. The pretzel was fantastic. It was literally the size of my face, I had to split it with my boyfriend Michael. I thought the cheese sauce to dip into was also delicious but a bit oniony. For those of you who don’t enjoy onion flavor, probably best off without it.
The indoor seating fits 160 people but not to fear! Outdoor seating in the courtyard holds 240 people. For this trip we opted to sit outside. Yes I know, it’s winter and cold out what were we thinking? Well for starters, the indoor seating was jam-packed. More importantly outside was beautiful at night. Despite the cold, being in the courtyard we were surrounded by solid brick walls that broke any strong winds. Much to my approval there were also various heat lamps and fire pits in the courtyard. These allowed you to situate yourself next something warm and cozy on a chilly winter evening. Paired with good company this made for a fantastic outdoor seating experience even in these cold winter months. The stars glistened above us and the crescent moon lit up the sky as we sat at the picnic table beside the fire pit, causing my jacket and hair to smell like a campfire.
Once sitting down though the most important question began to set in, what do I have to drink? There were many new beers for me to try on their list last Saturday. Luckily Michael and I had arrived early. We had time to make a decision before our friends arrived.
For the first of my two beers that night I had a half-liter of the Weihenstephan Hefeweissbier. It is a German style wheat beer (hefeweizen) with 5.4 percent ABV. The beer is golden in color and has a smooth wheat flavor to it. It is not too bitter, only a little hoppy but not too much to over power the classic wheat beer taste it has to offer. The head on the beer at first produced a thick white foam but that dissipated within a couple minutes leaving a lace behind. It was full bodied in flavor but not too heavy, I could definitely taste some spices within this beer. All around it was a great choice to start off my evening with friends. Wheat beers are one of my favorite styles and this one I now added to my list.
Second I tried the Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. This beer is an IPA (India Pale Ale) style and 7 percent ABV. I had heard many good things about this brew from other beer enthusiasts and thought I should seize the opportunity to give it a try. I am glad I did. This golden-yellow beer was crisp and had a nice balance of hops and malt to it. I’m usually hit or miss with IPA’s but this one I can say I enjoyed. It also gives off a nice floral/forest-y aroma, which upon meeting your lips gives a light crisp, and not overly hoppy taste. I enjoyed it more than I expected myself to and would have it again in a heartbeat. Thank you Bell’s Brewery for this awesome IPA.
These two brews got me through the evening of chatter and Jenga playing with my friends, we weren’t quite adventurous enough to attempt a takeover on the Ping-Pong table but there’s always next time. Don’t let the winter season get to you, you can still get out and have fun outdoors under the night sky. The outdoor courtyard is a perfect escape from the urban environment that surrounds us in Philadelphia. Take the few empty tables left open outside in Frankford Hall not a turn off but sign of an opportunity to be taken. You can cram yourself indoors at many bars in the city, sit under the stars when you can.