Bar Hygge Readies for Opening
This week (Wednesday, February 3rd will NOT be the day) will see the opening of Bar Hygge at 1720 Fairmount Avenue. The brewpub is a collaboration between two couples, brewer Tom Baker and Peggy Zwerver (Earth Bread + Brewery) and Julie and Stew Keener (West Conshohocken’s Bagataway Tavern).
Hygge means a sense of happiness in the present moment or conviviality in Danish. It is pronounced HOO-ga and makes Bagataway seem like a simple name in comparison. But Hygge is definitely a word worth seeking out and the bar was already warm and comfortable on a pre-opening Friday afternoon where Team Foobooz was lucky enough to check out Baker’s opening six taps.
Sitting at the bar which makes up the center of the brand new space on the south side of Fairmount Avenue, a comfortable lounge to the left offers peeks into the ten barrel brewing system through a jigsaw puzzle of reclaimed windows. To the right are banquettes and tables with a wall built out of barrel staves. Barrel hoops also make up lighting fixtures and the reclaimed feel of the space. The floors are polished concrete and windows make the bar bright and inviting.
As we sat at the bar made out of a 120-year old sweetgum tree, Stew Keener gave us a rundown of the opening beers from the brewery. Tom Baker has six finished and ready. Like Earth Bread + Brewery, Baker will not be repeating recipes very often here on Fairmount Avenue. The first beer poured is Meme, a Belgian Pale ale with two strains of yeast and brettanomyces giving it a funky backbone.
Izzy is a Saison Brune named for a worker who helped out in the construction of the space. It is made with rye malt (which definitely seems to be having a moment) and caraway seeds.
80 Schilling is a Scottish ale that is a favorite of Stew’s and me as well. Unlike other Scottish ales, this one isn’t overly sweet or a complete malt bomb.
Grinding Grooves is Baker”s most unusual beer on tap at the beginning. The gotlandsdricka is made up of smoked malt, bread yeast and an entire juniper bush. It was an unusual taste but one I kept going back to.
Alchemy is Baker’s Baltic Porter, sure to be an early favorite of customers who have followed Baker from his one-man-brewing days as Heavyweight Brewing in Monmouth County New Jersey. Alchemy may not be as big a beer as his legendary Perkuno’s Hammer but it is a wonderful and drinkable example of the style.
HOP, Hygge’s Original Pale is the hoppiest of the beers being offered. Baker will have at least one hoppy beer on at all times. The other styles will change with Baker’s whim. Any gaps in styles will be made up with using the four guest taps that will also be behind the bar.
As the spirit of Hygge enveloped us (and a slight buzz) from the beers, chef Chris Galbraith dropped off some fries and wings. Both were devoured while looking over the still under construction menus that will include boards (meat, cheese, vegetables), a burger that has Stew Keener boasting, plus roasted chicken, braised short rib and more.
The bar isn’t just about beer, also offering wine on tap plus a full bar including a collaborative rum that Baker made with Rowhouse Spirits’ Dean Browne.
As the sun started to dwindle, Hygge had been achieved and it was difficult to leave this welcoming bar.
Bar Hygge [Foobooz]