EULOGY BELGIAN TAVERN
136 Chestnut St, Philadelphia
Every once in a while you stumble upon a spot which suits your personality, social and alcohol needs, and it becomes a regular watering hole where you feel comfortable, and welcome. For me, finding Eulogy just before I moved to Philly in 2015 helped ease the transition to a new city. Belgian beer is my favorite style, hands down, and the extensive beer list is hella appealing, but it’s the wit and warmth of the regular group which gathers around the bartender I call Sardonic Dave the Master Blaster, qualities Dave himself imbues, that is responsible for my spending several hours a week rooted to a bar stool at this Old City institution. Let’s let the man himself give us the 411.
GW: What makes Belgian beer so great, with so many devotees?
Dave: Belgian beer is rad. It’s tough to not give you a circular argument here and just tell you that Belgian beer is so great because of how good it is, but that’s pretty much what it comes down to. But, to give you a little more than that I’d say most importantly it’s the brewing culture, and reverence for the sacred things it encompasses that drives the Belgian style. The techniques in creating these centuries old styles have been refined to precision, and combine that with the living culture that is embedded in those styles that lives on day to day & region to region through the people of Belgium and their rich heritage makes this particular beer genre hard to not call the G.O.A.T. I’ll add as well that spanning the beer drinking demographic of the globe – the base flavors within the styles being brewed in Belgium range in such a positive, poly-dynamic, and relatable fashion – that drinkers of all types can find good harbor within its genre… In straight terms, they know what they’re doing and what they do tastes better than most.
As for devotees, simply put, people love delicious things and great beer doesn’t break the bank… so why not jump on board.
GW: How did you become a Belgian Beer Expert? Formal training or simple appreciation.
Dave: Alcoholism and having a sterling memory account for most of my expertise.
GW: Philly is fortunate enough to have two great Belgium beer bars; Monks and Eulogy. How do they compare?
Dave: Firstly, I believe both bars do a wonderful job in spreading the knowledge of Belgian beer to the drinkers of this city – and through that knowledge create a larger base of Belgian beer appreciators to fill future bar stools. I would say that Eulogy, being in Old City, can definitely house more of a rock n roll kind of vibe where Monks can come off a little more jazzy and refined, if that makes any sense. I’m not familiar with the regulars at Monks as I am with Eulogy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were equally as intelligent as they are eccentric – just as mine are.
GW: Comparing Belgian beer vs US made Belgian style beers
Dave: You know, as with anything… there are certain individuals that have a high enough aptitude in their craft where they can do a respectable job creating or re-creating anything. That being said, I’m going to go back to the brewing culture & regional heritage of Belgian beers as a whole and say that even though a person can make a facsimile of a style, it’s still not the real thing. Not to take anything away from some of these breweries that are inspired to make revised interpretations of classic styles across all cultures but the geographical and cultural hurdles to take into consideration for any American brewery trying to make a Belgian style as good as it is in its country of origin would be like asking a Belgian winery to make an equal or better interpretation of a ++ California Cabernet. I think the importance of American breweries delving into Belgian styles is the wealth of creativity some of these exceptionally talented individual brewers can harness by fusing American ingenuity with the old school Belgian heritage and thereby coming up with a uniquely delicious product.
GW: You have a vast and very devoted following, which I am sure took years to build. What advice can you share for other bartenders who wish to build their own following?
Dave: I’d say that if a young bartender wants to create a large following around them the advice I’d give them without getting too deep would be:
- Get steady shifts and don’t adjust them.
- Acknowledge the repeat customers you remember.
- Connect those individual people at the bar you’re friendly with to each other to create larger groupings.
- Always introduce people you know who are sitting next to each other by coincidence.
- Don’t be afraid to hang out with your regulars.
- Don’t be too much of a dick.
GW: Thank you Dave. Any other words?
Dave: Pop by Eulogy to see me on Monday, Tuesday night or Friday, Saturday Day.
Thanks for reading.
GW: Michelle says “I’ll drink to that!”