On a Thursday night, there’s a conglomeration of people around: college kids, families with baby strollers, dinner dates, and groups of friends reuniting over beers. My friend and I walk in and come eye–to–eye with treasure chest piled full of board games. We look at each other and smile—here it is, Urban Village Brewing Company, a true neighborhood brewery.
A little less than a year ago, Dave Goldman, Tom Rivelli, and Chris Davis opened their new brewpub in the newly christened Schmidt Common, located in Fishtown. “How can we make our pizza different?” was their guiding question, and Urban Village Brewing Company delivered that with a twist, naturally leavened dough and innovative brewing techniques included.
The interior has a strong industrial design, with wooden countertops, a central bar, mounted televisions, and an outdoor fit pit and seating area. The menu is jammed full of beer flights, IPAs, seasonal cocktails, artisanal pizzas and specialty fries. Technically, it’s “Trivia Thursdays,” with $3 beers and $5 snacks from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. We’re a little early for the specials, but around us, friends and family are already preparing, fingers reaching for the can of miniature pencils stationed on the table, varying pizza sizes and styles between them.
We take our server’s suggestions, and my friend orders the “gobstopper” beer, a seasonal addition to the menu that adds a sweet tang to our carb–filled meal. I get the kombucha–infused “boiler” cocktail, a pale pink concoction that leaves me feeling healthy (and slightly buzzed) after just one. Fair warning, it packs a punch, not just in alcohol content, but also in a sour aftertaste.
As for food, we start off with the creamy, whipped ricotta slathered on toasted sourdough bread, doused with roasted butternut squash and spiced walnuts for flavor. We marvel at the creamy decadence of the ricotta, but we almost forget about that when the “Tara” comes out. “This is the mushroom pizza for people who don’t like mushroom,” my friend solemnly declared in between bites. I have to agree; it’s the perfect ratio of flaky crust to greasy—but delicious—topping. I don’t even like mushrooms, but here they add the perfect complement to the tomato sauce; we momentarily forget we’re eating vegetables.
Our only regret of the night is that we’re too full to order a side of beer fries drizzled with melted manchego beer cheese, or, better yet, the “mac–n–beer cheese.” Before we leave, we gaze at the menu and fantasize about what we would have gotten had it been brunch time: perhaps the Val pizza, topped off with scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon, and hollandaise sauce? Or, if we wanted something heavier, maybe the cream chip beef, made from pastrami and farm eggs? And, of course, going to a brewery for brunch would warrant a “beermosa,” or maybe two.
Menu and atmosphere aside, here’s what makes Urban Village Brewing Company really unique: we get to watch the brewing process itself. Right behind where we sit is the brewery, giving us a sneak peak into the science behind beer, from grain mill to brite tank, a two–week process of frothy love from the owners. Rivelli takes us on a tour backstage, explaining to us how hops–the green, cone–shaped flowers of the female hop plant—are slowly boiled into the beer to enhance flavor, giving your favorite IPA its signature aroma. For the beer purists out there, know that Urban Brewing Village Company uses brite tanks, not kegs, to preserve the integrity of the flavor; the dedication to their craft starts from the brewing process and ends in the cold pint placed in front of you.
So, if (when!) the Eagles make it to the Superbowl again, there’s a new place in the neighborhood to watch the game.
TL;DR: Thursdays are for beer and trivia at this carby gastro–pub
Location: 1001 North 2nd Street
Hours: Monday–Sunday: 11:00 am–2:00 pm