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Wednesday, August 24th 2011

Philly's Memphis Taproom has
Craft Cans and Hot Dogs Galore

What do you want with your Suicide Dog? Perhaps a can of 21st Amendment's Watermelon Wheat? Once you know the answer to that question step right up to the truck and place your order. That's how you get things done in the beer garden at Philly's Memphis Taproom. 

This little Philadelphia eatery and drink-ery (yeah, another Philly bar that kicks ass) makes arguably some of the best hot dogs in the City of Brotherly Love, and above all, has a penchant for craft beer in cans. We caught up with Leigh Maida who co-owns Memphis Taproom with her husband Brendan Hartraft and got the low-down on what makes their place so special. 

(CC) Can you give us a little background on Memphis Taproom?

(LM) We opened in April of 2008. We're located in a neighborhood in the Kensington section of the city, which is a little north of the downtown (Center City) area. It's mainly a residential neighborhood with a good mix of old school residents and younger, first-time homeowners.


it's like an ice cream truck for grown-ups

(CC) What can you tell me about your beer garden? I hear you only serve cans?

(LM) We opened the Beer Garden this past spring (2011). The idea was to create a casual outdoor space where people could grab a bite to eat and a beer, without it being a huge production, or without it taking away from the experience inside. Our inside kitchen and bar are both just too small to accommodate more seats, so we went for the big time*: The Memphis Taproom Lunch Truck. We serve 10 different kinds of hot dogs, and our Fried Dill Pickles from inside the restaurant (they're so popular we were afraid people would knock the truck over if we told them they couldn't have the pickles outside!)

The canned beer menu came about partially because we wanted to eliminate any issue that might arise with opened glass bottles outside. Our neighbors are hugely important to us -- without their support we wouldn't have been able to open the Beer Garden at all -- so the cans help keep things neat, quiet, safe, etc. Plus they recycle a hell of a lot more times than glass will (which sounds like a poser thing to say, but we're actually really & truly into recycling.)


"The canned beer menu came about partially because we wanted to eliminate any issue that might arise with opened glass bottles outside."


Most importantly though, more and more craft breweries are moving towards canning their beers, so curating the beer list is a lot of fun. Inside the restaurant, our draft list changes at warp speed, and we have a ginormous bottled beer list. So canned beer is an exciting third option of us. If you look at the entire place as a package, we offer our guests as much variety as we can in terms of the craft beer experience.

(*Totally joking, we're SO lo-fi...)


(CC) How many varieties of canned craft beer do you offer on a regular basis?

(LM) We offer a dozen cans at any given moment. The list changes as new brands or more inventory become available in our market.


recycle or risk public shaming!


(CC) Do you provide glassware with the cans or do most folks just drink straight from the can?

(LM) Straight from the can baby. (And if you don't drop your cab tab in the charity recycling collection bucket when you're done guzzling from that can, we shame you publicly for it.)


(CC) Does Memphis Taproom host any canned beer themed events?

(LM) We had a movie night in the Beer Garden recently and showed Raising Arizona. We offered a special on Sly Fox's Phoenix Pale Ale (har har har) during the movie. You know, the season is now almost over and it occurs to me that we didn't really offer too many other canned beer themed events. Next year for sure!



(CC) What is the general reaction of customers when it comes to drinking craft beer that comes in a can?

(LM) I think I had one email at the beginning of the spring that said "You know, you should really offer proper glassware..." but all in all, people get what we're doing out in the Beer Garden. It's casual and low key and the canned beer on our menu is just fine right out of the can. Inside we can offer about 80% of our bottles in properly branded glassware. Outside, you get a can, a paper napkin and a picnic table. There are options for every sensibility. 


(CC) What is something people might not know about Memphis Taproom?

(LM) You mean besides the bodies in the basement...?


(CC) Why is Philly such an awesome beer city?

(LM) I would like to pleasantly defer to my husband & partner Brendan on this one. He is the biggest champion of Philly I know, and I don't want to deprive him of the chance to answer this one. 

(BM) I think what makes Philly the best beer city is the camaraderie of everyone in the industry. The common motivation is to make the craft beer industry better as a whole as opposed to just personal gain.


(CC) Cheers and see you soon!


2331 East Cumberland Street


Posted by Russ