Tired Hands Brewing Company, Ardmore

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Put simply, Tired Hands Brew Cafe is one of the most exciting local openings in recent memory. It didn’t bring big city pedigree like White Dog Wayne, nor did it bring the hype of Xilantro. So why is it exciting? Because it’s a downright cool place that, unlike those other two, is also the type of place you want to visit every weekend. It’s comfortable, but modern and extremely well-designed (chalkboards! exposed beams! exposed brick!). You can go with your buddies. You can go on a date. You can bring the kids. And every time you go, there’ll likely be different beers on tap and different food on the menu.

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Beer Buy: Old Forge T-Rail Pale Ale

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Though my favorite pale ale remains Victory Headwaters, Old Forge’s T-Rail – brewed somewhat nearby, in Danville, PA –  is another worthy of consideration. It’s got all the markings of a classic pale: light caramel malts bring a touch of sweetness, while forward (but balanced) hops create a crisp, refreshing finish, perfect on a warm day.

It’s also worth noting the value on display here; a sixer of 16oz cans – that’s right ladies and gentleman, pounders – is only $10.49 at Wegmans. Cans, which were once considered to be the sign of cheap swill, are making a comeback. New lining has been developed to prevent the can itself from imparting flavor, and the better seal and complete protection from light (beer freshness’ foremost enemy) actually make cans the superior vessel to bottles (ProTip: pour either into a glass). As such, more and more craft brewers are distributing in cans (though pounders are less common).

Beer Buy: Great Lakes Doppelrock

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Trying to crown the best American craft brewer would be a thankless, somewhat pointless task. With so many different styles, and so many individual tastes, it’d be impossible to placate everyone. That said, if the main characteristics were consistency and balance, Great Lakes would have to be near the top of the list. Every beer from the Cleveland-based brewery is well-made, achieves a remarkable balance between malt and hops, and is wonderfully tasty.

Though I have yet to have a bad Great Lakes beer, if pressed to pick a favorite, it would likely be The Doppelrock, a Spring Seasonal / bock offering. Like others from Great Lakes, this brew manages to pack a huge amount of malty love, hoppy goodness and alcohol power into a smooth, stunning beer that never seems off-center. The malt brings loads of chocolate, caramel and nutty sweetness, but there are just enough hops on the finish to even things out. Despite it being close to 8% abv, the heat is barely noticeable. This is everything great about a traditional Spring bock, “amped” up in truly American style (hence the dueling guitars on the label).

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Le Bus Bakery Outlet, King of Prussia

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File this under the “who knew?” category: In King of Prussia, just off Henderson Rd. (near Renaissance Blvd.), sits the commercial bakery and offices for Philly favorite breadmaker Le Bus. In addition, there’s an outlet store attached!

It’s almost strange to call this an “outlet,” because it’s much more than that. Almost all the bread has been cooked that day (day olds would be clearly marked), but instead is the result of overruns or bakery imperfections, which are still darn tasty. They serve breakfast (pastries, breakfast sandwiches, coffee), as well as lunch (salads and sandwiches), and carry just about all the breads that are made by the bakery.

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Armenian Delight, Broomall

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The Newtown Square / Broomall area is an interesting one for Main Line food-lovers. It’s likely that many people who live on the true “main line” (especially blue-bloods) don’t think of NS as a place to go for food, despite its proximity to just about every town between Bryn Mawr and Paoli. That said, there are some extremely interesting food options here, many of which are somewhat under the radar on the food scene.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that restaurants and food stores in this area tend to be very traditional and less trendy that what you might find on the Line. We’ve previously discussed the fantastic selection of Italian-style pork sandwiches along the Route 3 corridor, and old-school Italian restaurants like Valentino’s remain quietly successful after all these years. Along those same lines, Weinrich Bakery (which, for some reason, we’ve yet to profile on MLD) offers a great selection of traditional German (and PA Dutch) specialties like butter cake. A little further down Route 3 lies Armenian Delight, a small storefront selling Middle Eastern groceries and prepared foods.

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