|Saint Benjamin Brewing Company
1710 N 5th Street | Philadelphia, PA 19122
Saint Benjamin Brewing Company recently opened their taproom and kitchen at 1710 North 5th Street in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia.
The late 19th century building was purchased by Saint Benjamin Brewing Company in 2012. The building was originally a carriage house and stables of the defunct Theo Finkenauer Brewery. The brewery ran until prohibition when it became a “cereal company,” but was busted in 1927 and became a sewing factory.
Owners Christina Burris and Tim Patton (the only two employees back then) sold their first keg of beer in 2014, which was brewed on their 3-barrel nanosystem. In January 2016, a new brewing system was installed, tripling capacity, and the brewery now employs 23.
The 2003 10 hectoliter German system had previous homes in South Korea, Japan, and North Carolina before landing in Kensington. The brewery also houses 7 20-hectoliter fermenters and 2 30-hectoliter fermenters, keeping brewer Andrew Foss quite busy.
Burris and Patton plan to eventually move production upstairs. While a carriage house, the second floor housed 64 horses that would walk up the concrete ramp. The sloped concrete floors upstairs are perfect for a brewing space.
The name “Saint Benjamin” is a tongue and cheek reference to founding father Benjamin Franklin. The idea for this brewery was devised in founder Tim Patton’s 190 year old home and former firehouse in Philadelphia. Franklin founded the city’s fire companies, and was a homebrewer himself.
As soon as you walk into the taproom, you are instantly reminded this is a historic building. The exposed brick and plaster, industrial lighting, exposed ductwork, and wooden floors with tile accents cause you to stop and stare, admiring a bit before finding a place to sit. The red and green painted pattern on the wall is original to the stable.
What seems like the perfect iPod playlist, music from The Rolling Stones and The Who, along with rap and rock tunes from the 90’s play throughout the space.
The taproom has seating for 50, including a long walnut bar and tables throughout the space. Six lucky patrons can sit at a drink rail by the massive wall of windows that offer a view into the brewing space.
The bar features 12 taps and a hand pump. The beers on tap during our visit included:
- Inca – 5.4% ABV classic cream ale re-imagined
- Wit or Witout – 5.2% ABV Belgian-style wit
- Foul Weather Jack – 4.2% ABV dry, roasty session beer
- Franklin’s Abbey Valerie – 4.8% ABV Belgian-style blonde
- Kumpelbier Maibock – 6.3% ABV bright & balanced maibock
- Transcontinental – 5.6% ABV California Common
- Le Bon Bock – 7.4% ABV full-bodied & malty bock
- Junto Coffee Kolsch – 4.8% ABV kolsch aged on whole coffee beans
- Franklin’s Abbey Amber – 6.0% ABV dark amber
- Franklin’s Abbey Triple – 9.2% ABV bright, aromatic, & complex triple
- Franklin’s Abbey Pale Ale – 5.5% ABV Belgian-style pale ale
All beers on tap are available in 8- or 16-ounce pours (12-ounce for the Belgians). Flights of four 4-ounce pours are available for $10. Beers on tap can be purchased to go in 32- or 64-ounce glass growlers with some beers available in 6-packs of cans to go. A variety of T-shirts and hoodies are available for purchase at the bar.
Currently Saint Benjamin is canning Wit or Witout (wheat beer) and Inca (India cream ale) with plans to also can Foul Weather Jack (English mild) in the future.
In addition, specialty beers will be released in 750mL cork and cage bottles with Saison du Jour IX, a 6.9% ABV dry saison flavored with saffron and rosewater, on deck.
Saint Benjamin is currently self-distributing to the five surrounding counties, as well as Reading, PA and most recently, South Jersey. Saint Benjamin beers are available at FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Reading Fightin’ Phils. There are plans to begin distributing to the Lehigh Valley soon.
Chef Mike Budzilawicz has put together a delicious food menu. Burris says the menu will expand, and if the current offerings are just a hint of what else in store for the kitchen, you will want to stop back often!
Small plates include Chipotle Spiced Cajun Fried Peanuts, Spicy Vegan Chili, Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad, and Grilled Ceasar Salad. The vegan chili is divine and cannot be missed!
Large plates include Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Shrimp & Grits, and Pork Pibil Tacos, as well as Beer Braised Brisket Sandwich, Angus Beef Burger, Chicken Panini, and Ploughman’s Lunch. Sides include fresh cut fries, mac & cheese, grilled corn, cheesy grits, and collard greens.
Brunch is served on weekends with offerings like Sausage, Egg & Cheese Sandwich, Eggs Benedict, Any Way You Want It (eggs, meat, toast), Omlette, and Pancakes.
When asked to reflect upon the expansion, Burris mentioned that Saint Benjamin has grown much faster than expected. While that is the case, there is still room for more expansion in the 12,000 square foot building. The brewery and taproom are currently utilizing only 4,000 square feet of the space.
Free tours are offered every Saturday from noon to 3 PM and last approximately 15-20 minutes. No reservation is required unless your group is large. Tours begin approximately every half hour. A complimentary 8-ounce pour of beer is included in your tour.
Burris explained that the current focus is “making good beer.” During the brewery tour, she mentioned with a smile, “I’m proud of what we’ve built here.” And she should be. It’s pretty spectacular.
The taproom and kitchen are serving draft beer and food daily from 4 PM to midnight, serving from 11 AM to midnight on weekends.
Saint Benjamin is just a short walk from the Berks station on the MFL. Head west on Berks and then left on N 5th. From Temple University, head east on Cecil B Moore then turn left on N 5th.