Amongst the leveled lots with scaffolding and freshly laid roads, Punch Buggy Brewing Company opened its garage–style door over the summer near the Fishtown part of Kensington. The microbrewery serves a selection of beer either made in–house or from other microbreweries, ranging from the most hoppy IPAs to darker porters, as well as some selected smaller plates. For the adventurous beer drinker, this brewery could be the perfect way to explore new palates through their small–batch offerings.
Punch Buggy, however, has a fair share of hits and misses. Of course, maybe some of the more esoteric ferments are lost on me, but after trying all five of the house brews they had on tap, I definitely have my list of friends and enemies. Here’s the lowdown.
I loved their IPAs. “Ike Juice” was a very citrus–forward, zesty light beer with less of the characteristic hop bitterness. Honestly, it tasted a lot like your Sunday brunch mimosa, but slightly more beer flavored—though not in a bad way. Their “Anti–Gravity IPA” was also very good, a full–bodied ale with a decent amount of hop bite. No crazy undertones or hop magic here, just a standard–issue IPA. I also enjoyed their “Cherry Haze," which was definitely the brew on tap that I’d recommend for any person who typically isn’t a big fan of beer. The sweet fruity notes make it very sippable, and, as my friend pointed out, makes it taste like a mixture of strawberries and bananas after a while. In fact, it seems like an adult fruit juice, but with the supposed dignity of craft beer.
Unfortunately, the rest of the house brews missed the mark. The menu description of the "El Hefe" pitched it as a German wheat beer, which is a style and taste that I normally enjoy. However, instead of having the nice malted sweetness I was expecting, this brew tasted like kombucha gone wrong. Reminiscent of apple cider vinegar, I honestly may have liked “El Hefe” if it were originally pitched as some trendy spiked kombucha. The last beer I tried, the “Wooder Melon,” was by far the worst. It tasted like roasted baba ganoush, eggplant and all, which does not work well in liquid form. Upon consulting with the bartenders, I found out it was made with watermelon rinds, which were relatively easy to discern, and a type of yeast meant to add a bit of smokiness. Smokey yeast—you really learn something new every day. Simply put, it was bad.
I want to root for Punch Buggy Brewing Company. Their grilled cheese was great, and the bartenders were very helpful. But I think they still need to take time to grow with their neighborhood, develop a personality, and define themselves a bit more. The bar sits surrounded by new development of large–scale condominiums that are, for better or worse, soon to be rife with young professionals clamoring for a post–work IPA fix. But for now, it’s just the skeleton of a new neighborhood. Hopefully, once everything around the area opens up in a year or two, the brewery will have cracked the code on their house–made offerings. Until then, it’s just a bit of a trip.
TL;DR: Punch Buggy Brewing Company holds promise in some house brews, but others still need work.
Location: 1445 N American St, Philadelphia, PA 19122
Hours: Monday – Wednesday: Closed, Thursday: 5 p.m.–10 p.m., Friday: 5 p.m.–12 a.m., Saturday: 12 p.m.–12 a.m., Sunday: 12 p.m.–6 p.m.