Philadelphia Original Lager | Red Bell Brewery & Pub

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Philadelphia Original LagerPhiladelphia Original Lager
15 Ratings
Philadelphia Original LagerPhiladelphia Original Lager

Brewed by:
Red Bell Brewery & Pub
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: American Pale Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.80%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Scoats on 06-05-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 15 |  Reviews: 14
Reviews by Scoats:
Photo of Scoats
3.5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It seems with new owners and whoever the current brewer is, they changed the recipe. This used to be brewed by Red Bell in Philadelphia. It is now contract brewed, either at the Lion or FX Matt, though the label still claims it comes from Brewerytown neighborhood of Phiadelphia.

I recall from years ago that this beer was golden. The current version is amber. So it's an amber lager, and thus is positioned to compete with Yuengling Traditional Lager. Unlike other similiarly positioned beers, this one doesn't come off overly sweet. It's not sweet at all; it has a rather bitter hop taste, much like what I recall mainstream beers used to taste like in the mid 80s. I found that rather enjoyable.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
3.48/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a lighter shade of amber with light to medium head,aroma is lightly malty with a lingering grassy aroma of hops.Hops,hops,hops, that the main thing in the flavor of this brew a slight malty backbone but quite a grassy hop flavor thru and thru with this brew.Not a bad beer better than expected and rather cheap.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
3.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Philadelphia Original lager is just a contract brew, and in reality, it's really just re-labelled Saranac Lager. There was a time when it was something different, but Red Bell has gone through so many changes that it's irrelevant to even mention it. Accept it. I'm not even sure that it'll be around for that much longer considering the brewpub at the Wachovia Center has closed. On the other hand, Red Bell has weathered more than that - it's like the brand that just won't die. That said...

P.O.L. pours a clear, yellow-gold body that's capped by a short but creamy bright-white head. It drops readily but maintains a decent collar and thin surface covering. It leaves some limited lace that sticks just above the level of the beer. The nose expresses a thin, wheat-like malt and some nice hops that are floral and a touch lemony. The body is thin with a very fine, median carbonation that's crisp in the mouth. The flavor delivers a delicately balanced combination of gently sweet and lightly tangy malt; citrusy and floral hop flavor; and firm bitterness. It finishes dry with some lingering malt and hops. I'm not sure why they decided to label it a "pilsener" as it's a great American wheat! It's clean, light, and delicately balanced with enough character to keep it interesting beyond a serving or two. It's very refreshing and enjoyable!

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Photo of BuckSpin
3.2/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This interesting lager eventually grew on me (I bought a case). Unlike most lagers I have tried, this one, with its orangish-amber hue, had an unusual quality in its, well, inability to show its true self. It seems confused, should it be hoppy on the front or swallow? It was level, but not in a very satisfactory way, and swallowed a little metalic. A little sharp at first, but with each one I grew to slowly appreciate it for what it is - a good, run of the mill microbrew lager. There are much better, there are much worse. This would be a good choice if you wanted something above a large commercial "micro", but unless its on tap or someone else offers, I'll go on to others.

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Photo of TheDeuce
3/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A maltier style lager, slightly red amberish color with minimal head, taste is bittersweet, reminiscent of malt juice, english style lager it seems.Goes down thick with a weird funky aftertaste, not sure about ABV.

Different lager, not really my style.

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Photo of woodychandler
2.66/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This poured without any head whatsoever, even with a vigorous pour. I got a light wispiness but that evaporated and NOTHING remained - no head, no CO2 bubbles, nada. It had a sweet, malty nose, almost honey-like. It was a deep amber in color. It had a light mouthfeel with some odd, off flavors accompanying a light sweetness. The finish was lightly sweet, but just that. This beer needs work. It is not something that I am going to reach for again anytime soon.

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Photo of jdhilt
2.65/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours with a light brown head that fades slowly, leaving a some lace. Light-medium carbonation. Clear amber color, light bodied, starts malty/hoppy, finishes hoppy. Nose is uncooked bread dough. Unusual lager. $1 for a 12 oz bottle from Hoosick Street Discount Bev. Troy, NY.

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Photo of ROGUE16
3/5  rDev -9.4%

Photo of Weissenheimer
4/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A vigorous pour yields a pale crystalline amber with a nice big head. Bubbles coat the bottom of the glass and waft upward. The head slowly dimples downward into a dreamy cloudscape. The well-balanced scent is hoppy, crisp, and floral, with some sweetness and caramel malt. As I make my way through the pint the head leaves pleasant rings of lacing.

My first mouthful gives an impression of powerful carbonation with lots of nuttiness at the end. As I make my way through the pint I'm able to parse out the tastes a little more. It comes on bubbly and nutty. The middle is highly carbonated, with some creamy caramel maltiness. The finish carries a crisp and metallic hop bitterness but its rounded, reserved character makes this quite appealing.

I agree with Maestro that this beer does not quite qualify as a lager; it's more of a mostly-lager-hybrid. In this case, though, the hybridization is a very good thing. I'll be coming back to this.

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Photo of stirgy
2.61/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured an orangey-iced tea color with a decent head of white foam. The aroma is musty and has some caramel and peach like notes. The taste is muddled and strange. Caramel and bittersweet grains are strong, and the hops are indistinctive and hidden. The body is there, medium and semi-sweet, and finishes with a cardboard staleness. This beer isn’t that bad, but many better choices are out there.

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Photo of tgbljb
2.96/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

poured a hazy deep amber color with modest long-lasting tannish head. Smell is minimal though I do detect the scent of broccoli?? Taste bings some caramel notes along with toasted grains. Finish very botter with strong hop presence. This was an OK beer but the strange broccoli smell every time I took a sip was very strange and somewhat of a turn-off.

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Photo of maek228
3.7/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

looks like carbonated iced tea. i must say, this beer gave me a wonderful pour...has a real nice head to it and the perfect level of carbonation. the only other lagers i consistently drink are yuengling and sam adams, and i have to say, this philadelphia lager has them both beat. its light bodied, but still retains its lager-ness.

the beer has a sweet smell to it, with undertones of caramel and toffee....albeit very light undertones. overall though, the smell is pleasant. it is the kind of smell that lends itself to a sweet summer afternoon, yknow what i mean? i dont care if you know what i moving on to the taste of the beer.

like i previously said, the beer is rather light bodied for a lager, but it doesnt skimp on taste. the initial taste is sweet, but then it moves onto alil toffee and caramel...and all the while it remains hearty, like a lager should be.

this beer feels crisp and refreshing in the mouth and it makes a top notch session beer. goes down like water....good water. being that im from philadelphia, i make it a point to buy this delicious brew as often as possible.

p.s. i dont know if it is just becuase i live in philly....but this beer is CHEAP!!! 5 bucks a six pack and under 20 for a case. buy it if you see it.

ALSO - mix it with woodchuck cider for a great drink called a "snakebite"

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.49/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Fellow Flyers hockey & Sixers b-ball fans unite! This is the Flyers & 76ers official stadium Red Bell brewery's flagship beer at our sponsored by the big Unmentionable Corporate Bank (who puts the "offal" in "official") sports arena. This pour starts off with Motumbo-high tip-off 4.5 / 5.0 honors. A welcoming desirable ½ “ lumpy, bubbly, cratered-surface-of-the-moon Vanilla hued head covers over a clear, coppery body with rising carbo bubbles. Looks good enough to win the Stanley Cup. Thinest slices of lace stream down the glass while drinking. BA brownie points: Head retained excellent the whole serving. Starts great! except, it only goes down hill from here. In Philly, get ready for dissapointment when sports are involved. I guess beer is no exception.

Brown sugar & malt aroma. Famous first: Nutmeg & cabbage(?!) undertones. There is alotta action already in this pour esp. for a mid-priced (local) brew.

Full carbonation fills the mouth. A lingering metallic "offsides" like taste as if I were swiggin’ from an airport water fountain. Penalty. Coppery hue: Good. Coppery taste ??? Not so good, but fortunately, quickly drops off on the "rebound" aftertaste to dull, unexcited, dry malts. I’m not getting any hoppiness here. Reminiscence of generic root beer, or flat RC cola. Time to score for the win.

A medium to light body, surprisingly. A few good burps soon follow. Last swigs: Flatter by the end. [I agree with BA reviewer Scoats that this is brewed to compete with Yuengling Trad.] Don’t get me wrong tho’ this wouldn’t prevent further Red Bell offerings. It’s just not a great beer, but an Original Philadelphia Lager moniker isn’t meant to be. Tie game in overtime.

Price: Others say $17 a case here in Yeungling-ville. I wouldn’t pay more, but grab a sixer for a finskie, no more, if you are curious about beer like me. When I finish my next bottle of this, I will update. Final score? Tie.

*** Here is my update, as promised: This is not at all a bad brew. Top notch session brewability. Quite drinkable. I had this at the 6th annual Main Line, PA fest. Much, much better than my initial brew. Tasty good brew. Clean and worthy. BA score goes up, quite a bit, from 3 to 4.6. Good relatively cheap brew. I'd stock this as a session.

Beer is good. Happy beering.

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Photo of beermanbrian
3.35/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear amber color with thin head that disipates quickly. Lightly carbonated. Toffee sweet smell and taste. Light body that goes down smooth. Good beer, especially at the price. This beer seems to have been made to compete with Yuengling and compares favorably. Purchased a full case that grew on me as i drank it. A nice beer to have around for when you want a cool beer on a hot summer day.

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Photo of Maestro
4.25/5  rDev +28.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a most amazing beer. I was traveling on a train last month through Philadelphia and I saw a sign for Red Bell. I jotted the name down in my journal because I wanted to try it. I found a case this week at the distributor for a mere $17. It is absolutely amazing. The nose is quite clean and slightly hoppy. The head is a fair white to off-white collar that lingers and leaves a nice lacing. The initial taste is quite nice...lots of hops and lots of malt. It is definitely a well-crafted lager. There is a refreshing dry quality in the middle and it finishes quite smoothly with hints of citrus. I would recommend this to anyone who is not a big lager fan. The whole time I am drinking this I am questioning the fact that it is a lager. A great beer at a great price. Seek it out and give it a try.

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Philadelphia Original Lager from Red Bell Brewery & Pub
Beer rating: 3.31 out of 5 with 15 ratings
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