Bambi Kohler: Good beer sparks debate

Beer has been known to bring people together.
The impetus for serious discussions.
“You can only watch three movies for the rest of your life and they can’t be ‘The Godfather’ or ‘Goodfellas.’ You have one minute to decide.”
The antiseptic to the sting of another Philadelphia sports heartbreak.
See ― Carter, Joe. Jerivicious, Joe. Kane, Patrick.
The liquid courage to dance like no one is watching or ask the girl with the funky moves her name.
The obsession with beer has grown during the past few years as more people try their hand at home brewing. You can’t swing a six-pack in a bottle shop without hitting an IPA of an independent brewer.
About 16 months ago, the local beer scene received a huge boost with the opening of the Conshohocken Brewing Co., 739 E. Elm St. Conshohocken claims a healthy restaurant and bar scene on Fayette Street. However, there are some gems on Elm Street with Pepperoncini, Isabella, and Bar Lucca. Conshohocken Brewing Co. takes its liquids as serious as its neighbors take their solids.
The warehouse space offers plenty of room for conversations, spirited or intimate, and since it’s located on the Schuylkill River Trail with a deck off the bike path, riders are regulars as much as the happy hour crew.
Co-founders John Remington and Ken Buonocore started planning CBC while home brewing on Buonocore’s deck a few years ago.
My experience with home brewers is trying to smile through drinking something that resembles the taste of sour apples or burns my throat, but Buonocore is different from the dad who got a home brewing kit from Kohl’s for Father’s Day. He put his own beer in competitions and won medals but when it came time to start a business, him and Remington surrounded themselves with talent.
They gathered and investment team, found a building in October 2013 and demoed the storage space to build a brewery enclosure and built out the bar area ahead of their April 2014 opening.
“Living in the area, we kind of knew what Fayette Street was about and the new construction and bike path. We thought this would be a good location,” said Buonocore. He noted that on the logo, the man on the bike is wearing a bowler hat. According to legend, three heads of the town picked a name out of a hat to name Conshohocken. There is also a framed stock certificate of the short-lived (1897-1898) Conshohocken Brewing Co.
Their savviest move may have been luring brewer Andrew Horne back into the area. After graduating Villanova and starting his career at Yards Brewery, he moved west to Avery and Oskar Blues.
The engine that drives the brewery is a 15 bbl, steam-fired brewing system that produces craft beer, ales and pilot beers. The most popular include the IPA and Conshy Blonde. Some of CBC brews are currently at Citizens Bank Park and will be at Lincoln Financial Field in the fall.
Bartender Tito Diaz made a novice ― at least I didn’t ask for a gluten free beer ― feel welcome. He takes his trade seriously, regularly matching up customer’s preferences such as Miller Lite, Guinness, and Blue Moon to CBC’s offerings.
“Beer has always been about brining people together. It’s a good time. People like to drink socially. If you’re drinking at home by yourself that’s a problem. When you sit down at a bar and you are talking about beer and what’s in it, whether you homebrewed before, that’s a common thing you can build friendships on,” said Diaz.
According to Buonocore, the main focus is beer, but that doesn’t mean the food is lacking. I had perhaps the best bowl of chili in Montgomery County and the BBQ pulled pork made me mumble “Italian feast-worthy” between bites.
What makes CBC unique from many other watering holes is the main product produced a few feet from your bar stool. A stool where the diverse clientele shares a common interest ― good beer.
“I was excited that my small stake always gets me a good seat at the bar. You’ll find me there many nights, cursing one of local teams on TV while enjoying one of our great IPAs or the newest joint effort with La Colombe Coffee,” said Glen Macnow, long-time WIP sports talk radio host and part owner. “It’s a fun place to hang out – looking out at all the people biking and running down the trail, while I sit on my butt enjoying (Andrew) Horne’s latest creation.”
Beer and sports? He should not want for company or conversation.
Katie Bambi Kohler is an award-winning columnist and journalist. She is a Norristown native and a current resident of King of Prussia. Visit her at Email

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