Ale On The Town

Mar 6, 2013

by: Donny Smith and Sean Null

Logo_LoveCraftBeer_PintOrangeHey gang!
Lets just say that you know little or nothing about craft beer, but you sure do seem to be seeing and hearing more and more about it lately. You’re intrigued, but a little nervous because it’s new to you and you don’t want to walk into a bar or beer distributor and look or feel foolish.
Help has arrived!
This is a brand new column for Out on the Town written by myself (Donny Smith), and my good friend Sean Null. In this column we are going to cover the craft beer scene in and around NE Philly. We’ll cover not just the different types and styles of beer, but we’ll also cover some craft beer terminology, as well as the places that either have been, or are now getting into the craft beer scene.
This is going to be FUN!
About us – Sean and I are great friends! We ‘sample’ beer together, we brew beer together, and we are both involved in a local brew club called the ‘Lucky 13 Homebrew Club’. Sean takes it one step further and writes a blog about the different beers that he has sampled on a blog titled ‘Be Green and Flow’. Look it up – it’s AWESOME! Someday we’re going to open our own brewery called Wissinoming Brewery, but that’s a little ways off (insert *looking for investors* comment here).
Lets start with some simple terminology:
Craft Beer – A craft beer is a beer that typically comes from a micro or an independent brewery. To put it another way, a beer that is crafted rather than mass manufactured or mass produced.
Growler  – A growler is a reusable glass container that holds about a 1/2 gallon of beer (4-5 pints), and they typically cost about $10-$15 to fill depending on the beer. Filled and chilled they can last up to 2 weeks, however once opened, you’ll probably only get about 2 days out of a fill. Scoats, another good friend of mine who is the crack like dealer who got me hooked on these beers some time ago, explained it to me this way – “Think of it like opening a 2 liter soda bottle. The more you open it and the more air you let in, the faster it’ll go flat. Same thing with a growler.”
Flight – A flight is hands down the BEST way to sample whats on tap! You walk into a bar, pick 4 beers that you’d like to try, and take a flight. A flight consists of 4 or more 4-6oz glasses of beer that are usually served on a paddle or tray of some sort and are priced right around the cost of a single pint.
Beer Menu – Some places have their beers currently on tap described on individual cards, some places offer them all on one menu, and some places have their menu hanging on a wall somewhere. Either way a beer menu will tell you everything about the beer including where it came from, what type of beer it is, the cost, as well as the alcohol content.
Pint – 16 ounces or 1/8th of a gallon (bet cha didn’t know that!). Some places offer Half’s or Smalls (1/2 pints), but not all
Featured this month is – McStews Irish Pub
I had been thinking about doing a column like this for quite some time, however after visiting McStews and noticing their new involvement in the craft beer scene, I decided to get off of my a** and get crackin on it. McStews didn’t just put a couple of craft beers on tap, they went ALL IN!! They now have 15 beers on tap with 7 of them being craft style beers. The beers are all well described on their easy to read laminated Beer Menus which are placed everywhere throughout the bar. The beers are available in Mugs, Pints, as part of a Flight (which McStews calls “Samplers”), as well as Growler fills. McStews also sells empty growlers should you need one.
But it doesn’t end there!!
McStews also has one HELUVA take out section! They offer some of the best craft beers and ciders out there including Wyerbacher, Yards, Victory, Rogue, Great Lakes, Stone, Woodchuck, Angry Orchard, you name it, they’ve probably got it! Want more info? Another really cool thing that McStews has is a “Beer Book” of sorts that describes everything about every beer that they currently have, or beers that they can order. It’s AWESOME and it’s sitting right there on the side of the refrigerator – Check it out!
Back in the bar area Sean took a flight, and I’ll let him describe his flight and the beers that he sampled.
Sean: Hey Philly! You know, you have the greatest beer history in the United States and you have the greatest beer selection in perhaps the world! I’m glad to see so many of my neighbors taking interest in craft beer even on down to brewing their own now!
Last night I took a flight with a few craft brews from McStews! Donny was making the most of a keg of Stone 12-12-12.
The flights (sampler) that they have consists of four 4 oz. pilsner style glasses (long, tall and thin with a flared rim) on a rack that you can fill with any of the beer they have on tap. I chose:
Stone 12-12-12 – Verticle Epic Ale which, to not go into too much detail, is a holiday style ale that pours black with a brown creamy head and tastes like gingerbread and hops but not overly bitter at the end.  It’s a pretty well balanced beer (hops and sweetness) and a full body (body can roughly be described as either watery or syrupy or middle of the road).  I liked this beer. Donny loved it!
Sly Fox Rauchbier –  Rauchbier is a German beer named “smoked beer”. The grains that they used to brew it were smoked with beechwood just like beef jerky or salmon and you can really taste it in this beer! An amber colored beer with a thin white head that tastes and smells sweet from the malts and heavily smokey and not a lot of hop bitterness.  It was my least favorite of the night.
Allagash Curieux Ale is a beer that is made with 3 times the amount of normal grains and aged in bourbon barrels so it pours a clear golden straw color and has a light malty sweet aroma mixed with bourbon.  It tastes pretty much as it smells and has only a mild hoppy finish.  It’s just enough to make you want more! And I do! I would drink this again for sure!
Sam Adams Alpine Spring was my final beer on the flight and my favorite of the night. It’s a lager style beer mixed with two other beer styles that are slightly higher alcohol and a tad sweeter. It smelled and tasted slightly citrusy and malty sweet with a hint of apricot with a  medium body and creamy sweet finish and barely noticeable hops.
These four beers are a great way to transition from the “big beers” into the craft beer world as they are not bitterly offensive at all! McStews is doing a great job at bringing craft beer to the Northeast! Give them a try!
Donny: Well that about covers this months column gang, and we hope that you enjoyed it and and learned a little something. If you have any questions, comments, or you want to invite us out for a beer, shoot us an email – Donny: – Sean:
Life is a garden – Dig it!

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For the past 4 years, the best and longest running open mic in Bucks County is at McStew’s Irish Sports Bar.

297539_266728516672125_100000049359018_1178311_3486994_nIt’s called OPEN MICWITH A TWIST, and there’s definitely  SOMETHING FUN FOR EVERYONE!!!

​​OPEN MIC WITH A TWIST was conceived by Nick Brambila, Dominic Taurino and Brendan O’Boyle with the intention of encouraging CROWD PARTICIPATION. It’s not your average open mic. Along with open mic, the night is also home to KARAOKE, DJ, TRIVIA, PRIZES, GIVEAWAYS, FUN and  PERSONAL INTERACTION in a comfortable and supportive atmosphere, all bundled into one night. We have instruments, computers and tv monitors for lyrics and karaoke, lights, sound system, etc. It’s personalized crowd interaction that encourages fun and excitement. SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE!!!! —>website with all info
“Open Mic With A Twist” every Wednesday night at:
McStews Irish Sports Pub
5316 New Falls Rd  Levittown, PA 19057
Wednesdays 10pm-1am
-$2 You Call It’s 10-12

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By:  Krista Doran
Here at the OOT, we feature many great bands and musicians from the local area throughout the paper, but the “In The Spotlight” segment is reserved for the best.  I don’t often get to choose the bands I write about, but when I do I choose carefully.  I am very proud to write this issue’s article about a band that has been on the scene many years now and who is truly and exceptionally talented.

A few years back I met local musician, Michael Eli.  At the time, I was booking several rooms in the area and he had sent me some recordings of his band.  I had been working with many other bands at the time, but as soon as I heard these recordings, I was blown away.  Everything about this band stood out and I have kept in touch with Mike ever since.  I am a fan myself, and you will be too, once you hear them.  The band I am referring to is Soul Custody!

I spoke to Mike, who is a very humble and hilarious guy.  Mike explained to me that the band actually formed “by accident.”  About 10 years ago, Mike had moved back home to Philly after living in Los Angeles for 15 years.  He started out just doing some solo shows and after a while started working with several different area musicians as a duo.  One of the musicians he met along the way was Ed Wall and this is where the current band began.  A short while after, Mike’s lifelong friend and bass player Barry Cary started to come and sit in on bass. Things were sounding so good that they decided to call on drummer Steve Shupsky.  Things were sounding great and the guys all felt the band needed one more component.  Mike told me, “Barry and I had seen this amazing guitar player on and off for years and every single time, he just blew us away. Well what do you know, we wind up with him filling in a gig where we needed a 5th musician and we had such a blast that, the rest as they say, is history. We’re still in shock that we have John Bushnell in the band!”

Soul Custody has been impressing music lovers of all kinds now for over 7 years.  They have been able to effectively infuse Soul into the Rock songs they play, as well as Rock into the Soul songs. I asked Mike to explain the kind of music they played and he said, “I think it was Duke Ellington that said ‘There’s only two kinds of music. Good music and bad music’. Mostly I’d say we cover Pop music. Some Rock. Some Soul. Some Blues.  It’s a very energetic and danceable fusion of music. We do our best no matter what genre or style we’re playing, to play Good Music … In addition to playing anywhere from 4 to 8 public shows a month, we also do a lot of private work where we can also play Jazz, Country, or some current Top 40, by request. Some highlights include: Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Gavin DeGraw, Journey, Train, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Black Crows, Top Petty, Cheap Trick, Beatles, Aerosmith, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Queen, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jack Johnson etc.”

The kind of music that you will hear at a Soul Custody show is pretty eclectic.  Mike explained, “We’ve built our band on songs that we love. Luckily for us, they turned out to be songs lots of restaurant and bar goers also love. So we really get into our shows. No need to fake it cause we truly LOVE the songs we do and LOVE playing together in this band.”  And this is evident, people.  I have seen them play, and  the chemistry is awesome between all members, whether its the duo, 4 or 5 piece. Each band member has been playing since childhood and have all been working musicians their entire lives. Ed and John teach in addition to playing in the band and Barry is an Audio/Video engineer. All members have toured and worked with many bands big and small, but of course, Mike’s humility wanted to avoid the name dropping.  He is such a cool dude.  Mike does a lot of audio recording and editing, as well and writing and producing original music. He told me about his band, “I can tell you that I get to experience hearing and seeing these guys play all the time. And I still catch myself smiling at what these guys do night after night. These guys are all excellent musicians.”  Mike is right.  I have to agree with that statement 100%.

When you go out to see Soul Custody in action (which I highly recommend), you will see for yourself how engaging and fun they are.  They’ll start many shows off as a duo and play some more mellow instrumental  stuff and will then gradually kick it up as the night goes on.  They can accommodate any room, too, whether a duo, 4 or 5 piece is required. The duo covers all kinds of great songs by Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, James Taylor, Jason Mraz, Bob Dylan and even Pink. They also mix some Soul and Jazz into their duo shows. The 4 piece version is funky and fresh and will keep everyone dancing all night. The 5 piece version adds a more guitar driven sound. Add in some horns wherever needed and it’s an even bigger sounding band! They even do some originals and in fact, they expect to be playing some of them out soon because Mike’s original CD is scheduled for release in June.

Soul Custody is a great band with an even greater message for their fans.  Mike told me, “We’re just musicians doing our best to help people relax and unwind and disconnect from all the bullshit life throws at them. We don’t really take ourselves too seriously. We’re just a local band that really loves to play and knows how to have a good time. Seems when we’re having fun, it’s contagious. Life is Short. Love one another. Look out for one another. Go support live music with your loved ones and get caught up in moment whenever you can. Hearing live music is an amazing blessing if you’re open to it’s power. We’d love to share that with anyone and everyone that wants to party and have fun.”  Wise words from a wise man. How can you not love this guy?

Everyone needs to get out and see Soul Custody.  You can see them playing monthly at some great venues such as The Washington Crossing Inn, The Logan Inn, Chambers 19, The Sycamore Grill, Earl’s Bucks County and The Dog & Bull.  They also play pretty regularly at The Ivy Tavern, McStews and Coconut Cove.  You can read up on the band and check out their schedule at  Go there now to hear some great samples of their jams – you will be dancing in your chair just listening to that!  Soul Custody is Michael Eli – Guitars & Lead & Backing Vocals, Ed Wall – Keyboards & Lead & Backing Vocals, Barry Cary – Bass & Backing Vocals, Steve Shupsky – Drums & Backing Vocals and John Bushnell – Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals.

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Bowie’s Done

Bowie was late for work – again – and his boss was furious! She called him into the office and said, “What’s your excuse this time Bow?”
“I overslept,” he shrugged. “For cryin out loud Bow, at least tell me something I haven’t heard before!”
Bowie thought for a moment and replied, “You’re looking quite lovely today!”

Sue’s Birthday

It was the Sue’s birthday the other day, and Mike bought her a new bag and belt. “She wasn’t real happy about it” said Mike, “but the Hoover works great now!”
Bomb Jovi

I went to see a tribute band last night at McStews over the weekend. They were a bunch or Arabs and they called themselves ‘Bomb Jovi’. Their last song “Living on a Prayer Mat” almost brought the house down! Then this Muslim guy in the audience started bragging about how he had the entire Koran on dvd. I was interested, so I asked, “Can you burn me a copy?”
And well … thats when the fight broke out …..


Just heard our local Muslim optician has passed away.
Asif Eyecare.


A good friend Dave has just been fired from his job with the 911 Emergency Call Center in Georgia. A man named Abdul called and said, “I’m depressed and lying on the railway track waiting for the train to come so I can finally meet Allah.” Apparently, “Remain calm and stay on the line” was the wrong response


I’ve heard that Lincoln is doing really well in theaters at the moment! Historically, this has not been the case …


Slick’s First Born

Slick’s wife Eileen was in labor with their first child. In some serious pain, Eileen was shouting at the top of her lungs “Get this out of me – Give me the drugs!” She looked at Slick and said, “You did this to me you bastard!” Slick smiled and casually replied, “If you would care to remember Ei, I wanted to stick it in the back door, but you said it would be too painful!”



Q. How do you start a Rave in Africa?
A. Glue toast to the ceiling.


Milt’s Lesson

On his way home from Reales’, Milt managed to get himself pulled over and was asked – “Do you have a police record?” Milt’s reply angered the policeman and he immediately began to taze Milt! Apparently ‘Walking on the Moon’ wasn’t the answer the policeman wanted to hear.


Finally …

Spring forward!!!

I’ve been waitin all winter for this! This whole daylight savings thing is POOP! Bring on the Spring, and bring on the FUN!

The Shamrock Shuttle just passed through Mayfair last weekend, and the Erin Express is this weekend (March 9th) starting at Paddywhacks on Comly rd. The following weekend starts off again at Paddywhacks on Comly for their fist ever Paddy Dash at 9:30am. After you’ve exhausted yourself there (actually you can walk it if you want), bring your kids on over to the Mayfair Memorial Playground on Rowland ave. at 11:00 for the 3rd Annual Easter Egg Hunt.

All kinds of stuff going on!!

As far as bands go, Aj is all over the place lately, but you can still catch him every Wednesday night at Spencers. Speaking of Spencers, Rev will be there on the 16th! Keep your eyes peeled for a new band called Blackwater! I just caught them last weekend at Studio 98 and their set list was awesome!

Thats all I’ve got room for … Be sure to check out my new column here called ‘Ale On The Town’ featuring the craft beer scene here in and around the northeast. Shoot me an email and let me know what you think!

As always, keep your jokes, pics, whathaveu and whatnot coming to

Have FUN!!

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As we dig out our green IRISH tee shirts, green beads, green sun glasses & green party beer mugs, I realize that St. Patrick’s Day is upon us once again. It’s our time to show our IRISH historical pride, as we travel from one festive IRISH pub to another festive IRISH pub, getting our drink on while make new friends. You can see it all over northeast Philly during the first 3 weeks of March, as people participate in either the “Shamrock Shuttle”, “The Erin Express” or even on St. Patrick’s Day it’s self.
But, as a local foodie writer, I totally enjoy this time of year, because one of my favorite little nuggets of confectionary delights are available for my consumption. Yes, I am talking about those awesome bite size cinnamon covered tasty morsels called “Irish Potatoes”. The funny thing is that they are not IRISH & they are not made out of potatoes. They are a local Philadelphia IRISH tradition for over 100 years.
Because of the Great “Irish Potato” Famine of the mid 1800’s, the potato has an ominous place in the hearts of Irish people everywhere. In the great Irish tradition of fighting against the odds, the “Oh Ryan’s Irish Potato” family hopes to erase those awful memories by creating these amazing candy concoctions that look like real miniature potatoes. At first glance, they appear to have been recently plucked from the ground of a potato farm. But, upon first bite, the taste sensation packs a powerful punch of flavor.
“Irish Potatoes” mostly consist of a sugar fondant, lots of butter, pure water & a special family flavoring secret, when mixed, forms a vanilla & coconut flavored butter cream rich center with a coconut macaroon texture & then rolled in a fresh spicy cinnamon dust coating. I think the name Irish Potato comes from the unique potato look due to the cinnamon peal. There are a few small companies that make these very sexy treats, but, if you want the real deal, search out for “Oh Ryan’s Irish Potatoes”.
“Oh Ryan’s Irish Potatoes” is a private family run company that has been rolling out these sugary vegetables since 1992. At that time, the company was named for their 3 year old son (Ryan), it was a perfect fit, cause “Ryan” is such an awesome Irish name. The factory headquarters is located on E. Ridge Road in Linwood, Pa, in which I had the great opportunity to get a VIP tour of the entire “Oh Ryan’s Irish Potato” & “Christopher Chocolates” factory, by the main man, “David Lamparelli” (owner & sweet genius). Visiting & watching them produce their amazing Irish Potatoes was simply spectacular.
Now, that “Ryan” (24 years old) is all grown up, he works alongside his father in the company that has grown to be the largest producer of “Irish Potatoes” today. Almost 90% of “Oh Ryan’s Irish Potatoes” sales have been in the Philadelphia area, but they have shipped them all across the country from Massachusetts to Florida, to California & as far away as Nome, Alaska. In this short time, they have established themselves as the largest purveyor of the sweet little potatoes. Now, that sum serious shyt ;-}
“Oh Ryan’s Irish Potatoes” are packed in 7oz boxes (15 potatoes per box) and are shrink-wrapped for freshness on a daily, as each box is stamped with a sell by date. This season alone, “Oh Ryan’s” have shipped over 80,000 pounds of these delicious spud like candy treats, which equals to over 40 tons or a little over 2,400.000 “Irish Potatoes”. “Christopher Chocolates” only produces the potatoes from January 1st to February 28th, this way the product is always fresh for each St. Patrick’s Day.
To purchase “Oh Ryan’s Irish Potatoes” in a 7oz box or within a gourmet gift basket, please go to: You can also contact “Oh Ryan’s Irish Potatoes” at: or just call them @ 610.494.7123
Now, “Oh Ryan’s Irish Potatoes” are found at any local Wawa, Turkey Hill, Hallmark Card, supermarket or big chain store. But, for the best selection, go visit “Christopher Chocolates” at 3519 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, PA 19073, 610.359.1669
“Oh Ryan’s Irish Potatoes” are the perfect sweet sensation St. Patrick’s Day confection to help us all celebrate our proud Irish American heritage.

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2013-03-03_18.38.38This Issue’s bartender of the month is Danielle Jovovich from the new Sheffield Tavern..some weeks back she was featured on the front cover of the Christmas Issue for the OOT…and we did make mention that coming up we would do a bartender feature. So for this St  Patty’s special edition here is a great gal who is also kind of special to many over at the Sheffield Tavern.

OOT – How tall are you?” I’m 5′ ”7”
OOT-Eye Color? Sometimes Blue, sometimes green… They change with what I wear.
OOT– How long have you been a bartender? – Not long, almost 2 years. Just kinda fell into it!
OOT– When do you work? Shifts? I work only at The New Sheffield Tavern..I work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights 7pm-2am.
OOT– What do you like most about being a bartender? I love meeting new people, I love where I work most of all… All of the staff…management/owners… are really awesome, fun people to be around. We’re  kind of like a family! I feel like the bartenders can and should be the life of the party. It’s a lot of fun & I love to have fun! I’m pretty good at it too!   Listening to people’s problems and helping them through situations is also a plus!
OOT-What is your favorite radio station? I’m not much of a radio person. I’m addicted to my iPod. If I had to pick –  it would probably be Wired 96.5.
OOT– Do you like sports? If so, what teams? I Love all sports. I was a cheerleader most of my life, so Yes, i consider that a sport! I love the Phillie’s and Flyers & most of all tailgating.
OOT-Hobbies? I have a soon to be 7 year old daughter, so my hobbies are usually anything that keeps her smiling. I like going to the gym, being around friends! Sea Isle in the summer time!
OOT-Favorite drink? Right now I’m addicted to Cherry Vodka, Water and my zero calorie Crystal light flavors! lol!!
OOT- Favorite drink to serve? Well that would have to be a drunk invention by The Sheffield’s Girls softball team and  we called it “The firecracker”, tastes just like a  Popsicle!  Come try it.

Well there you have it our bartender of the month Danielle..and in your travels make sure to stop over to the new Sheffiled Tavern and meet up with her this week…. see more of Danielle at:

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