Good Beer and Cheap Lunch Eats

Iron Hill brings home the gold, and Stephen Starr makes lunch affordable.

Ale Accolades

Though the 2010 Great American Beer Festival is long behind us, Iron Hill Brewery is still celebrating—because winning a medal at this elite hops-and-barley contest for 14 years in a row is a pretty big deal. So here’s a little old news that’s worth repeating (and sipping).

This year’s accolades went to Bob Barrar, head brewer at Iron Hill’s Media location. And he couldn’t just stop at one: Both his Pig Iron Porter and Russian Imperial Stout brought home the gold, tallying the company’s total medal count at 32.

The Pig Iron Porter—with its bold aroma of coffee and toasted malt, a hint of nuts, smoke, and a bitter hop finish—won in the “Robust Porter” category. The Russian Imperial Stout, sporting hints of dark toffee, milk chocolate and raisins with a dark chocolate aroma, stole its namesake category. The latter is Iron Hill’s most “decorated” beer and was a GABF gold-medal winner in 2006 and 2003 (and also got a World Beer Cup gold in 2010 and a bronze in 2006). It’s a full-bodied beer that starts with a complex, malty-sweet and high-roasted character that’s wonderfully balanced with the generous use of citrusy American hops. Pig Iron also won a GABF bronze medal in 2002 and is one of Iron Hill’s house beers, popular for its distinct roasted and chocolate notes that are well-balanced by a slight bitterness.

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If you haven’t heard about the GABF, it’s i one of the most revered beer event in the country. This year’s competition attracted 151 beer judges from 10 countries, and brewers from a variety of regions lapped up plenty of suds. Award-winning brewers received prestigious gold, silver and bronze medals in 79 beer categories, covering 133 beer styles and establishing the best examples of each style in the U.S.

30 E. State St., Media; (610) 627-9000,

Low-Cost Lunch

El Rey in Philadelphia. See more photos below.

When I opened my e-mail today, I came across a little tidbit that’s a pretty good deal for folks who are working in the city. I bring this up because, lately, I’ve been annoyed at how difficult it is to find a good—I mean really good—lunch for a fair price. Even a stop at Wawa can cost $10 by the time you order a shorty and grab a bag of chips, a drink and a cup of joe for dessert. A decent salad (with far less protein and other goodies than you’d prefer) can be obtained up and down the Main Line, but you’ve got to work pretty hard to spend less than $10.

Stephen Starr obviously realizes this, because his price points fall right in line. And at least you’re getting lunch served to you while actually sitting, plus an interesting backdrop to chill out in for an hour. Check it out:

El Rey is featuring its Comida Corrida (Fast Lunch) for $9.99, which includes your choice of two courses, plus complimentary chips and salsa. One of the entrée options is the Fried Egg Chilaquiles (apparently the ultimate hangover cure). Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Location: 2013 Chestnut St., Philadelphia. Visit

Butcher and Singer is a bit swankier, so I can get behind the pricier lunch. Mad Men-esque in every way, I wouldn’t dare dive into a cocktail during lunch hour here—or I’d be passed out on a cushy banquette! However, it’s a neat spot to see and be seen, and I like the sound of the two-course lunch that’s available the rest of the month for $15. Word on the street is that the Butcher Burger is the way to go for a solid protein-and-iron fix that will get you back up and running for the duration of the afternoon. Lunch: Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Location: 1500 Walnut St., Philadelphia. Visit‎.

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