With so many brewpubs opening these days, it can be hard to stand out.
So why not do it with dessert?
That is exactly what's happened with the "beeramisu" at Second District Brewing, the latest Point Breeze creation from developer John Longacre (South Philadelphia Tap Room) and Curt Decker (ex-Nodding Head).
Yes, the roll-up garage door walls and industrial chic decor are very cool, and the beers from brewer Ben Potts are great, including a crisp house ale called Bancroft that was a finalist in the new-beer category of this year's Inquirer Brewvitational.
But one of Second District's most distinctive brews, the "Huy" Vietnamese Coffee Stout made in honor of a longtime employee, with chickory coffee (its roasty flavor evoking the pho halls of nearby Washington Avenue), earns double distinction for its use in a beery twist on chef Doreen DeMarco's favorite dessert.
DeMarco simply replaces espresso in the traditional Italian recipe with the Vietnamese-flavored coffee stout, dipping lady fingers into the nitro-poured brew before layering them up in a four-tiered parfait with sweet mascarpone, crushed espresso beans, and a towering pouf of whipped cream.
The brewery is a great example of the dramatic change that keeps transforming South Philadelphia's neighborhoods.
And the beeramisu is a perfect fusion metaphor for two cuisines that (along with a more recent Mexican wave) have fueled the nearby Italian Market's continued vitality. I'll definitely drink to that — especially when the next batch of stout is back on tap within a couple weeks.
In the meanwhile, I'll devour it with a spoon.
— Craig LaBan
Beeramisu, $7, Second District Brewing, 1939 S. Bancroft St. (at McKean), seconddistrictbrewing.com