Like many other locals, I too have a devout and often irrational obsession with Wawa. Verging on the territorial, I find myself going on and on to out-of-towners about its amazingness, a conversation that could turn ugly at any moment with the mere mention of Sheetz.
“So, it’s like 7-Eleven?,” they’ll ask.
“No!,” I’ll reply.
“So, it’s like a gas station store?”
“Okay, so it’s like a deli?”
Oh, the memories of coffee breaks and alcohol-induced hoagie runs — Wawa is indeed a magical place. That’s why when news broke that Wawa had partnered with local brewers 2SP to create an oatmeal stout steeped in a limited-edition Reserve Winter Blend Coffee, I had to try it and see if it was worth the hype.
The only problem? I couldn’t find it anywhere. The only Wawa selling the limited beer is in Chadds Ford. Only brewing 1,000 cases of the stout, the local bars that received some of the beers either sold out or held onto their precious cases for themselves and employees. Out of luck, I then called up Brü Craft & Wurst. Manager Frank Bell picked up and told me he had a can of the elusive beer and would happily split one with me.
It was 3pm on a Friday afternoon, the same day the largest Wawa officially opened on 6th and Chestnut Sts., I entered a packed house at Center City’s Brü Craft and Wurst. Sitting at the bar — a mere three blocks from, you guessed it, a Wawa — I set my eyes on the yellow and white cans.
Cracking one open and pouring the dark beverage into two glasses, Bell admitted that he is not a coffee fan. I told him, I am not a stout fan. Great combo for critiquing a coffee stout, right?
But as we drank, we both nodded in agreement.
“I think it’s a very solid beer,” said Bell, a level two in the beer Cicerone program but who would rather drink a brew than get into a deep conversation about it. “It’s easy drinking. It’s not too thick, it’s not too heavy.”
A nice cup of cold coffee with a carbonated kick, 2SP award-winning brewer and Delco native Bob Barrar made a pretty tasty beer. Plus, I won’t lie, it felt like an achievement to be able to drink an entire dark beer without making one puckered face in disgust.
Picking up some of the featured hints of sweet clove, dark chocolate and graham crackers, the Wawa beer definitely lends its flavor profile to the person who wants to drink a “real” beer but doesn’t like the bitter, thick taste of a stout or porter. Well, it’s only good for that type of drinker if 2SP brews more batches.
While a bit kitschy in an over commercialized industry, the upshot is that the partnership brought some attention to a local craft brewery.
“It’s a little gimmicky, but it’s a good gimmick,” said Bell. “Why not? I’m surprised no one thought to do it before.”
As Bell went off to serve the people shuffling into Brü — all still before 4pm on a weekday — I finished off my exclusive beer. Spotting the can’s logo, a large incoming crowd began to ask: “Is that the Wawa beer?” “So they serve the Wawa beer here?” Recognizing the commotion that could start around the few prized cans in the adjacent fridge, I slipped the can to the waitress to hide from the forming customers.
Holiday Beers, Cocktails & Spirits
From individual drinks to bars to holiday parties, this boozy list will have you sloshed until 2019.
Tinsel Christmas Pop-up Bar
Enter this tinseltown of holiday splendor at Tinsel Christmas Pop-up Bar. Going on through the end of December, sip on holiday beers, like Troegs Mad Elf, Sly Fox Christmas Ale and Sierra Celebration Ale. Kick it up a notch and have yourself a merry little cocktail in a souvenir snow globe with edible snow. Try a canned soup custom cocktail which benefits MANNA. But if you really want to go for the festive sauce, toss one back in a custom stocking shot glass dipped in Marker’s Mark signature red wax. | Tinsel Christmas Pop-up Bar, 116 S. 12 St. facebook.com/Tinselphilly/
Assembly Rooftop Lounge
Stay toasty this winter with warm cocktails at Assembly Rooftop Lounge. For some island flavor with a hit of chocolate, order the Cool Runnings, which is made with plantation dark pineapple rum, clement coconut rum, hot chocolate, orange and vanilla whipped cream. Not your style? Try the Evergreen Tea’Jito, made with Appleton Reserve Rum, brown sugar, green tea, mint and lime. Or, how about the Hot Dotty that mixes Jameson Whiskey, Laphroaig, ginger, sage, honey and lemon? Bottoms up! | $14. Assembly Rooftop Lounge, 1840 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. assemblyrooftop.com
Frozen Grinch Negroni
Be a Grinch no more with this delicious holiday twist on the classic cocktail. Available through the end of the year, the Frozen Grinch Negroni incorporates Bluebird Distilling Juniperus Gin, Aperol and “Mulled” Vermouth. Garnished with an orange wheel, the festive treat is served in a coupe glass. | $11. Bluebird Distilling at the Bourse, 111 S Independence Mall E. theboursephilly.com
Just an incredibly awesome name for a holiday brew. Get your taste of Reindeer’s Revenge at Iron Hill Brewey & Restaurant which has multiple locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The seasonal classic is a 9.0% ABV American-style Belgian golden ale and has a hoppy bitterness with hints of grapefruit, spice and banana. | Iron Hill Brewey & Restaurant Philadelphia locations, 8400 Germantown Ave & 1150 Market St. ironhillbrewery.com
Shane Confectionery Cacao Whiskey
Sold exclusively at Art in the Age, get your bottle of Shane Confectionery Cacao Whiskey while you can. New Liberty Distillery’s has created a small batch of pot-distilled, malted barley whiskey with a blend of cacao nibs. Pour some of this whiskey into a cup of hot chocolate for an extra kick of those holly jolly spirits. | $44.99. Art in the Age, 116 N 3rd St. artintheage.com
Celebrate the holiday season at Grey Lodge Pub’s Festivus party. The evening will be filled with fun activities, such as strength competitions and arm wrestling, ugly sweater contests, and an open mic to air your grievances — we’ve all got them! But best of all, the Festivus party will showcase all the seasonal beers you want to try: Corsendonk Xmas, Dupont, Avec Les Bons Voeux, Evil Genius Santa I Know HIm, Full Pint Festivus, Great Lakes, Christmas Ale, Sam Smith Winter Welcome Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Sly Fox Xmas Ale, St. Bernandus Xmas Ale and Troegs Mad Elf ’18. | Dec. 23. 5-10pm. Pay as you go. The Grey Lodge Pub, 6235 Frankford Ave. phillylovesbeer.org/events/festivus/