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TRAILS TO ALES: Brewing History Hike in East Park with Rich Wagner

Sure, people have loved drinking beer in the park for years, but did you know that beer was also made on these lands?


Saturday, March 18, 2023


1:00pm - 4:00pm


Mount Pleasant Mansion
3800 Mt Pleasant Dr
Philadelphia, 19121

Join beer historian Rich Wagner for a history of brewing and beer gardens on a hiking tour of East Fairmount Park. Naturally, we’ll end the hike at a modern day park beer garden: The Ciderhouse bar at Cosmic Café!  Wagner is our region’s foremost brewing historian and the author of Philadelphia Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty

As the name of the Brewerytown neighborhood that borders East Park indicates, Philadelphia was a beer brewing town. In fact, in the late 19th century, with over 30 breweries, we were the brewing capital of America! Before the city created the park, the banks of the Schuylkill River were valuable to emerging breweries for the harvesting and storage of ice and the cold storage of lager beer in underground vaults. Also, after acquiring several historic houses with the establishment of Fairmount Park, the city sought ways to re-adapt them and the properties were leased as beer gardens enjoyed by a growing German population. The hike will discuss this and many other intoxicating aspects of beer history in Fairmount Park.

CHEERS!! Our friends at Cosmic Cafe are offering all hike attendees a complimentary first drink of your choice (soft drink, beer, or cider) at their outdoor Ciderhouse bar! 

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT a loop hike. It’s a one way hike beginning at Mount Pleasant Mansion and ending at Cosmic Cafe next to Lloyd Hall. We strongly suggest using Uber or Lyft to arrive at the starting point so you do not have to return for your vehicle / bike.

Pay what you can – $15, $20, or $25
[ Not sure what to pay? Please refer to this Sliding Scale Pricing FAQ for additional info. ]


  • Please dress according to weather conditions.
  • Please wear sturdy shoes suitable for hiking.
  • Bring water and a snack.
  • There are nearby bathrooms at the end of the hike.
  • Appropriate for adults ages 21+ ONLY.
  • The event officially ends upon arrival to Cosmic Café. The choice to enter the premises is at the individual discretion of each attendee.

There is plenty of free parking in the park. As always, NEVER leave valuables in your car! However, we strongly recommend arriving with Uber, Lyft, Indego Bike Share, or public transportation. Take SEPTA’s Route 32. At 33rd St & Oxford Street, there’s an Indego dock and bus stop. From there, it’s a 10 minute walk into the park along Reservoir Drive. 

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS:  By registering for this event you are agreeing to follow ALL of these protocols:

  • This event has limited capacity. Please only register if you fully intend to attend and let us know if you need to cancel ASAP.
  • If you or anyone in your household are exhibiting COVID-19 systems, please stay home.

GUIDE BIO: Rich’s interest in brewing began in 1980 with a summer vacation camping and visiting Pennsylvania breweries for tours and hospitality. The landscape between stops was littered with the industrial skeletons of long-closed brewing plants. Over the next seven years, he visited approximately four hundred brewery sites throughout Pennsylvania and found something to photograph at about half of them: everything from complete factory complexes to foundation walls and lagering cellars dug into the sides of hills. He began researching the state’s brewing history and self-published guidebooks and conducted tours in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, the Lehigh Valley and the central region from Reading to York. In addition to his guidebooks Rich is the author of Philadelphia Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty (The History Press 2012) and a frequent contributor to a number of publications aimed at the craft brewing industry and breweriana collectors.

Enjoy our programs? Become a Supporter of Fairmount Park Conservancy to help ensure that Philadelphia’s parks are enhanced for generations to come! Supporters enjoy special benefits like early registration access for events and our Park Perk Pass, which offers discounts and benefits throughout Philadelphia.

This event will take place in light rain. In the event of heavy rain or other severe conditions, the event will be cancelled and attendees are eligible for a full refund.