As America reopens, so do the remaining craft breweries, masks are off and the beer is on! And welcome back Beer Appreciators.
And welcome to the one year anniversary of New Ridge Brewing Company, located on Ridge Pike in the heart of the rebounding Roxborough neighborhood of Philadelphia. After three years of rehab and construction of an old carpet factory, and slogging through a precarious COVID winter of 2020, things are looking bright for New Ridge – and that is a great thing for the people in the area – as New Ridge is a special place.
Start with the location – on Ridge Ave just off Green Lane – a place that cries out for a brewery – in fact the neighborhood made it known that they wanted one. The space is great, sitting at a community park, covered in colorful murals – with (surprise) a parking lot just behind it. With inside and outside seating in the adjacent pocket park, you can happily while away an afternoon and forget you are in the city, until it’s time to go. But it is in the city and is part of the growing fabric of the “New Roxborough”. now a destination for great beer and great food, in a lovingly rehabbed building owned by the Roxborough Development Corporation.
One of the owners and head brewer is Chris Endrikat, who along with his brother Eric and friend Vince DesRosier grew up in Roxborough, and had the dream of creating a brewery there, and now the are literally living the dream.
And Chris’s story is a great one – the kind of story that reminds one of the early craft brewers – collaborative, passionate, excited about what they are doing in the community. Chris started out as a server at one of the “original eight” Iron Hill brewery/ restaurants. After a year as a server he was encouraged to work in the brewery – and that started a stint of many years of brewing at many of the different Iron Hill’s. Iron Hill is like a brewing incubator for the region. So many of the really good local craft breweries spawned from the Iron Hill family – for some brewers it was a stop on the way, others learned their craft there. 2SP, Love City, Yards, Sterling Pig to name a few who have had ex-Iron Hill Brewers – even Tired Hands.
So, with the Iron Hill fraternity behind him, Chris joined the ranks of those that built their own place – but they still rely on each other, and share with each other – all of the the time. Like a band of brothers when someone is in need, they are there. Chris told me that they couldn’t really afford full pallets of malt this winter – but he could split one with Bob Barrar at 2SP. Need some yeast? Can get it from Yards in a pinch. PH meter cracked, check in with the guys at nearby Wissahickon Brewing – they will lend you theirs. Great stuff, nice guys and great examples of “collabora-itition”.
If you get to visit New Ridge if you are lucky you can catch up with Chris – who the weekend I was there was actually serving customers, and was happy to chat. (“I am waiting for more servers to show up, but you have to be flexible, heck I have washed the dishes before” he quipped.)
He was happy to show me and my friend his tiny and tidy brewhouse, an addition built on the back end of the main building. He didn’t have a lot of space, so again flexibility and creativity is the rule. He had plenty of height in the room, so stacked his kettles and fermentors 18 feet up. As much as possible is on wheels, and to allow for quick changes he has draft lines of every tank – if another bright tank is needed, he can use a fermentor. He just added a small canning line – one can at a time, but now at least he can do his own canning.
It’s a really good beer story, and I can tell you that Chris is good people, and the beer and food at New Ridge is good too. The Philly Inquirer just named their hamburger one of the 10 best in the city. And the beer is solid, with a tasty, dry keller pils and tart Berliner Weiss at the lower end of the ABV scale, working up to a yummy West Coast IPA and a 7.7% rich Baltic porter. Gotta say the dry hopped Belgian Ale (“Strange Obsessions”) could be habit forming for me.
Enjoy the reawakening – of Philadelphia, Roxborough, and great craft beer at New Ridge, and join the craft beer family.