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It Flowed from Fairmount: Brewing History Talk, Tour & Tasting 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, April 29, 2023


12:00pm - 4:00pm


Fairmount Water Works
640 Water Works Dr.
Philadelphia, PA 19130

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.

TALK – 12-1

Join beer historian Rich Wagner for a talk, walk, and tasting highlighting the heritage of Philadelphia’s breweries on the Schuylkill. Wagner is our region’s foremost brewing historian and the author of Philadelphia Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty The afternoon will begin inside the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center with a lunch lecture on our city’s beer history featuring views from early maps and photographs of the breweries and their advertising images.

TOUR – 1:00-2:30

On the walking tour we’ll see some of these places in person with a visit to significant beer history sites in East Fairmount Park. We’ll begin where it all began for the park – the Fairmount Water Works, which delivered the clean water essential for the brewing process. From there, we’ll head into the park to visit Lemon Hill Mansion, which served as a lively beer garden for German residents.  Continuing along the Schuylkill River, we’ll visit sites that were the birthplace of lager beer in America and head up Brewery Hill Drive to get a panoramic view of a few remaining Brewerytown breweries. The walking tour concludes in the Fairmount neighborhood to see the Bergdoll building, which is one of the finest examples of brewery preservation in the nation.

TASTING – 2:30-3:30

We’ll end the afternoon in style with sips, songs, and scenic views of the river at the Fairmount Water Works’ promenade and gazebo. Meredith Rebar Williams of Home Brewed Events will lead a guided beer tasting that celebrates the new face of Philly brewing, featuring beers made by female and Black-owned breweries.

BRASS BAND – 3:00-4:00

The tasting will be accompanied by a jazz performance by Timberdale Brass in the gazebo. Feel free to grab a seat or spot in the grass with a beer with brass! : ) 


  • Regular Ticket (Talk, Tour, & Tasting): $25
  • VIP Ticket (Talk + BOXED LUNCH, Tour, & Tasting): $40


  • Please dress according to weather conditions.
  • Please wear sturdy shoes suitable for hiking.
  • Bring water and a snack.
  • There are bathrooms at the beginning and end of the walk.
  • Appropriate for adults ages 21+ ONLY.

Plenty of FREE parking in the Waterworks Dr. lot behind the Art Museum and next to Lloyd Hall Recreation Center (2 hour time limit is not enforced). As always, NEVER leave valuables in your car! 

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.


Rich Wagner has been researching Pennsylvania brewing history since 1980. In 1990 he brewed at Pennsbury Manor using reproductions of seventeenth century equipment. Two years later he worked with a cooper to make his own system and has taken it on the road to demonstrate the brewing process of antiquity at historical sites and festivals.

In 1994 he earned a diploma in brewing technology from the Siebel Institute in Chicago and worked in Philadelphia craft breweries over a seven year period. Since his retirement as a high school science teacher, he has devoted his time to writing and speaking. He has given tours of breweries in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Lehigh Valley and South-Central Pennsylvania and published guidebooks to go with each tour and is the author of Philadelphia Beer, the Heady History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty (The History Press, 2012)

Visit his website for more: http://pabreweryhistorians.tripod.com

Meredith Rebar Williams has a passion for brewing and creating unique, and specialized events around beer. Meredith began her career managing and producing special events and concerts at the Abbey Bar as part of Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg, PA. She  was also part of the Tasting Room event team that opened the new Troegs Brewing Company location in Hershey, PA.  After moving to Philadelphia to be a part of the burgeoning beer scene, she joined Origlio Beverage as a Corporate Communications Specialist, writing articles for the seasonal publications, Draught Lines and Heady Times, developed background knowledge of beer wholesaler operations and craft beer sales and how to incorporate social media to develop business growth. In addition to running HBE she is brewing professionally at Saint Benjamin Brewing Company, chairs the Philly Loves Beer Education Committee and is a founding member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Pink Boots Society.

To learn more and book an experience with Home Brewed Events, visit: https://homebrewedevents.com

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.