An Afternoon at Flying Fish Crafthouse
An early player in the Delaware Valley craft beer scene, New Jersey’s Flying Fish Brewing Company began its life in 1995 as a virtual brewhouse before establishing a physical presence in Cherry Hill and eventually landing at its current home in Somerdale. Last December, the company entered the Philadelphia eatery market with Flying Fish Crafthouse, a large beer hall featuring their brews, cocktails, and food by former Kildare’s chef and occasional TV personality Brian Duffy.
Located on North 31st Street in the appropriately named Brewerytown section of the city, the Crafthouse is an airy, industrial space. Large garage doors lead the way from the street into a lower floor of a bar and long communal tables. Up just a few steps is the main space, a more traditional collection of two- and four-tops with two bars. Decorations are sparse, with a few municipal signs scattered around and branded signage throughout.
There wasn’t much of a crowd on the afternoon that I visited, which gave the staff plenty of opportunities to impress. The bartender greeted me quickly and spoke with expertise on the beer that was available. When one of the varieties that I wanted to try had kicked, another bartender offered a friendly apology and fulfilled my order once the keg had been changed.
Though I arrived at 3 p.m. on a Saturday, the Crafthouse was still in brunch mode. The menu had some tasty-looking options, including avocado toast and a whole slew of omelets, but I opted for one of beer’s true loves: wings. Served with a “tangy beer glaze,” the wings were well cooked, tender, slightly smoky and just peppery enough to complement a sip from a beverage.
Speaking of the main attraction, The Crafthouse offers a full line up of Flying Fish’s year-round, seasonal, and Exit Series beers, including the endlessly enjoyable Farmhouse Summer Ale and deeply malty Exit 6 Wallonian Rye. They also feature several exclusive brews, from which I cobbled together a flight. The Duffified Ale is an English style ale with a strong malt backbone and piney hops, almost like a little brother to the standard Hopfish IPA. The Crafthouse Lager is pleasant, sweet and drinkable, though not entirely memorable. The standout of the bunch is the North German Pilsner, a close-to-note-perfect example of the style, with crackery malts, slight grassy and spice notes from noble hops, and a crisp, clean finish.
Flying Fish has never been the kind of brewery to wow you. They’ve put out good to great beer for two decades and, in my eyes, they thrive on consistency. None of their beers will be the best that you drink, but one might be your favorite to return to time and again. The Crafthouse follows this model. It’s a reliable replica of many of the warehouse-style beer halls you’ve been to, and it won’t stand out among them in a crowd, but it’s more than good enough to make you want to return.
Flying Fish Crafthouse
1363 N 31st St, Philadelphia, PA 19121