Tired Hands Fermentaria - Ardmore, PA
For the longest time I've wanted to visit Tired Hands in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. I had heard so many good things about their beer but had never been able to visit. If you are familiar with Tired Hands from the beer aspect, then you know most of the can releases are done on a weekday, which made it virtually impossible for me to ever attend one. Thankfully, I've had some friends mail a can or two to me and it had me genuinely convinced that I needed to visit at least one of the two locations in Pennsylvania.
I browsed both tap lists and the menu and settled on the newer location of the two, the Fermentaria. Opened for just a little over a year, the Fermentaria has quickly cemented its position in the downtown area of Ardmore as a premier place for beer and food. Having some experience with some of the beers and all of the hoopla surrounding Tired Hands, I made it a personal mission to finally visit.
The Fermentaria has a huge footprint, much more immense than I expected. I did know I was going to a brewpub, but did not expect the sheer size of it. The bar area is L-shaped and is adjacent to the kitchen. If you fancy a beer by the bar, as I do, then you get to sit and chat with the bartenders and are able to witness all the action within the kitchen.
The first thing I did appreciate was how much light comes into this place. If there's anything that an amateur photographer loves upon walking into an establishment is fantastic beer and great natural light.
A myriad of beers were tried on this fine Sunday afternoon including the Hop Hands, Negative Knuckle, Alien Church, Stop Today, and the SaisonHands. Every single one was fantastic, but the Hop Hands, SaisonHands, and Stop Today was top notch. Hop Hands is their delightfully silky, smooth American Pale Ale. Tapping in a 5.5% and brewed with what is rapidly becoming one of my favorite hops - Simcoe - this beer combines the best of drinkability and flavor.
The SaisonHands is a tremendous saison for any person willing to try something different from an IPA. If you're going to start with any saison, you might as well start here at Tired Hands. The Stop Today was a fantastic coffee oat porter. What immediately stood out to me was how much flavor was packed into a 4.2% beer. Enjoy at least a sample of this after whatever meal you are having, it will not fail to fulfill your expectations of what a great porter should be.
As much as I enjoyed the beer here, I definitely wanted to talk about the food. The "Chips and Stuff" were ordered first. I wasn't expecting much at first, because it's chips... and stuff. And for $9, it seemed quite a bit overpriced for just some chips with guacamole and salsa. I have to say, I was impressed... not necessarily with the chips, they were okay, but with the guacamole and the salsa rojo.
I won't lie, I absolutely detest guacamole. I don't know if it's the consistency or just the flavor of it, but whether it's in avocado form or guacamole form or Pokemon form, I just don't like it. Yet, I found myself actively dipping the chips in the guacamole at the Fermentaria. It's very well-seasoned, with pumpkin seeds and tiny slices of jalapeño peppers. If I can like this guacamole, then it must mean it is awesomeness in a tiny bowl for anyone else. The salsa rojo was spicy, but not over the top and perfect for the chips. I will admit, by the end of this, I mixed in some guacamole with the salsa rojo and spread it over the chips. Yum.
I recently started a small obsession with street corn. I've normally avoided corn because the routine of just adding butter is ridiculously tiresome for me. But seeing how chefs are now beginning to express their creativity with even the most boring of vessels is exciting to me. The cilantro on the lime crema and queso cotija makes everything pop. Spritz some more lime on it, or don't, it's still good.
I really want to lick the computer monitor right now. To say that I am disappointed that I didn't actively try to have every taco on the menu doesn't even begin to explain how much I enjoyed the Barbacoa Tacos here at Tired Hands. They are cooked with onions, cilantro, queso cotija, and salsa borracha and dear Lord, the meat is delicious. You are given four little shells and enough filling for all four. At first glance, the $12 price tag looks like a lot for just two tacos, but once you uncover that there really is enough for 4, you overlook the price tag. As I was enjoying the Barbacoa tacos, I watched other people enjoying some of the other variety of tacos. I'm really not disappointed in passing up some of the other menu items like the burger or the ribs. I am disappointed I didn't get to try the fish tacos or even the blue crab tacos. Still, the Barbacoa tacos were a phenomenal choice. If I needed to sum this taco up in one word: Delicious.
The trip to Tired Hands for beer was worth it, but I was really impressed with the food offerings as well. I had heard some criticisms in the past of pricing, but it seemed on par for what I would pay for here in New Jersey. The chips seemed slightly overpriced even for guacamole I would eat, but I won't lie... I'd order it again on a future visit. The street corn is a done deal, I'll order that too. The only thing I wish I had a chance of doing was mixing and matching a little bit of every taco... maybe a taco sampler were you can get one of each for a flat rate - why isn't this a thing!?
If the Barbacoa Taco is an indication of what Tired Hands can do as a brewpub, then I am sure the rest of the food must be stellar. The place is bright and spacious and really lends itself to a vibrant atmosphere where people can come together and enjoy the company they are with or even begin conversations with those next to them. I had the chance to converse with not just the bartenders but some of the people around - some coming from as far as New Jersey (like myself) to Delaware.
I'd highly recommend a visit for any aspiring craft beer geek not just for the beer, but also for the food. The location is in a really nice part of Ardmore, but I do warn that if you come here, bring a few quarters for the parking space. Still, it's worth a visit for anyone wanting to find some of the best beer in Pennsylvania. I cannot wait to go back and have some more extraordinary brews along with some remarkable and imaginative dishes.