Beer Places: Pinocchio’s, Media, PA

She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kidMedia is a bit off the beaten track even for local Philly-area beer geeks – yes, there’s an Iron Hill brewpub that typically features some solid offerings, but on the whole, the town gives off a suburban, 1950s vibe that does not scream ‘beer destination.’  But Pinocchio’s is changing that, first, by adding an ever-more-interesting craft beer tap lineup in the restaurant, and more recently by opening Pinocchio’s Beer Garden – which, despite the name, is actually a bottle shop with service and selection that rivals that of not only Capone’s in Norristown, but also some of my favorites in cities that have (largely) less bizarre beer laws – it compares very favorably with Bierkraft in Brooklyn or Seattle’s Bottleworks.  And it’s more than just a bottle shop – they do growler fills as well.  The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, and they make some great recommendations.  And there’s not just great beer – hard-to-find craft ciders are also available in their own case.

Pinocchio’s has, perhaps, been unfairly overlooked at times; it doesn’t have the high-end finishes and occasionally hipsterish vibe that many newer craft beer places tend to have (not that there’s anything wrong with that) – to all appearances, it’s just the sort of local family restaurant one might find anywhere in suburban America (or, at least, the sort you might have found before it was knocked down and turned into an Applebee’s).  In that respect, it’s not unlike Capone’s on a slightly less beer-geeky scale (at present) – it’s still serving plenty of long-time customers, and it’s great for kids, who get to play with dough while they wait for their food (and no, I’m not sure why that’s fascinating either, but it works well, so I won’t complain).  My one quibble is that the food could be a little better, although it’s certainly many notches above a typical chain restaurant, but the prices on both food and beer are amazingly reasonable.  And the comparisons with Capone’s could grow – this weekend’s tap list is outstanding, and growler fills are available on everything except the Sculpin and Nemesis:

  1. Russian River Blind Pig
  2. Ballast Point Sculpin
  3. Avery Maharajah
  4. Bear Republic Racer 5
  5. Bell’s Two-Hearted
  6. Anchor Humming Ale
  7. Boulder Mojo Risin’ DIPA
  8. Tommyknocker Hop Strike!
  9. Rogue Morimoto Imperial Pils
  10. Founders Nemesis 2010
  11. Flying Dog Barrel-Aged Gonzo Imperial Porter
  12. Harpoon Triticus
  13. Lost Abbey Avant Garde
  14. Victory/Dogfish Head/Stone Saison du Buff
  15. The Bruery Autumn Maple
  16. Ayinger Octoberfest
  17. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale
  18. Bell’s Oberon
  19. Yards Love Stout
  20. Saint Somewhere Saison Athene

It would not be surprising to see people standing in line outside for rare beer events in the future – and there’s even not-too-inconvenient public transit nearby.   I highly recommend the HopStrike! – you may well find me there this weekend post-Union game…