Tired Hands Brewing Company
Location: 16 Ardmore Ave., Ardmore.
Contact: (610) 896-7621, tiredhands.com.
Cuisine: Typical brewpub fare, including locally sourced cheeses, meats, panini, pickled vegetables and homemade bread.
Atmosphere: Friendly, relaxed and welcoming—with great music, to boot.
Hours: 4-11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 p.m.-midnight Thursday and Sunday, 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Extras: Check the Tired Hands website for tastings, demonstrations, and other beer- and food-related events.
Jean Broillet IV is the man behind Tired Hands Brewing Company, the area’s latest gastronomic venture with a beer lover’s slant. A home brewer who followed his passion to Easton’s Weyerbacher Brewing Company and Iron Hill Brewery in West Chester, Broillet enrolled in classes at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and the Community College of Philadelphia before opening Tired Hands with his attorney wife, Julie Foster, in June.
Unlike the larger, burger-and-fried-food-slinging brewpub models many of us are used to, Tired Hands breaks the mold, offering food and beer that’s anything but mainstream. The minimal décor and exposed brick walls of the two-story building complement an uncomplicated approach to eating and drinking. It all makes for a rustic, intimate, completely laid-back experience.
Broillet wanted to manage the brewing process in the back and just as easily step out to interact with customers. At Tired Hands, he can do exactly that. We stepped into the downstairs bar and were immediately met with a friendly welcome and offered a seat at the bar, where we tasted one of the small-batch beers brewed on the premises. Eight are always on tap, and the selection rotates frequently, depending on what’s in season.
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Broillet and his crew brew about 14 kegs at a time, preferring small quantities of highly flavorful, delicate beer that’s at its pinnacle of freshness when served to guests. The payoff has been praise from beer lovers and a top spot at the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Brew-vitational.
While one could happily sample brews with quirky names like HopHands and Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt all day long, the Belgian-style fare shouldn’t be overlooked. Granted, the menu is small. But we’ll take local cheeses and innovative sandwiches over wings and burgers any day.
The brewpub’s airy second floor is the place for beer drinkers and eaters, with its smattering of wood tables. All of the cheese and meat served is sourced locally (within 100 miles of Ardmore, to be exact), so the menu changes frequently, depending on what’s available. Count on an interesting selection of local cheeses and meats, a few panini, and veggie bites like vinaigrette-dressed haricot verts or radishes in butter.
Broillet describes the menu as “easy to execute, but heavy on prep.” So while dishes arrive in mere minutes, they often require hours on the back end to get them just right. The cast-iron-baked bread undergoes an 18- to 24-hour, house-ale yeast fermentation before it’s baked to dense, chewy, crusty perfection. Made daily, it’s served with almost every plate of food—and we greedily devoured the generous helpings with salty butter.
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Broillet concedes that customers glancing at the chalkboard may be taken aback by how basic the menu is. But at Tired Hands, simplicity wins out over complicated and overdone every time. The local cheese plate offers two options that rotate seasonally. Our cave-aged Nettlesome cheese from New Jersey—served with honey-apple chutney and that incredible house-made bread—had all the freshness of summer, thanks to the grassy nettles speckled throughout. A refreshing bowl of Jersey-tomato-and-cucumber gazpacho hit all the right sweet and tangy notes.
The Hammy Mammy Sammy panini—a savory stack of Lancaster double-smoked bacon, Birchrun Hills Fat Cat raw-milk cheese, caramelized shallots and fresh local blueberries, layered between slices of homemade bread—was every bit as indulgent as it sounds. We washed it down with a house-made strawberry-chamomile soda and a zesty, grassy HopHands ale.
The homemade pickles and other vegetable sides are also worth sampling. The Spontaneous Sour Carrots looked and tasted like they were just plucked from the earth, their freshness enhanced by a citrusy pickling. Another standout was the pickled sweet baby beets and haricot verts, dressed with parsley, shallots and a light vinaigrette.
THE SKINNY: A credit to its name, Tired Hands Brewing Company is thoughtful in its execution, personal in its vibe, and refreshing in its simplicity. The small-batch Belgian farmhouse and American ales are undoubtedly the main draw, but they’re not the only reason to stay. The locally sourced menu items get almost as much attention as the beer.