With the arrival of Hawthornes, the charming new panini cafe and take-out beer paradise in South Philly, our brew revolution has officially entered its "growler phase." That's the thirsty moment when our take-home selection leaped beyond mere bottles to big reusable jugs (roughly the size of four pints) that capture the frothy goodness of rarities available on draft.
Opened by Heather Annechiarico and her fiancé, Chris Fetfatzes, in the former shell of his family's since-expanded Bella Vista Beer Distributor, Hawthornes does have 900-some bottles in the fridge. But it was the ever-changing menu of 16 growler drafts that caught my eye, with current pours of a nutty Maduro Brown by Tampa's Cigar City and a high-powered Damnation from Russian River. Fetfatzes even invented his own filling system that supposedly preserves the fizz for seven months unopened. Yeah - like a bottle of beer with a screwtop is going to last that long in my fridge.
- Craig LaBan