I don’t spend much time in the suburbs of South Jersey. Most trips are to see family or an occasional trip the mall or Wegman’s. I’m usually miserable while venturing over the bridge and angry in traffic on route 73 or 70. However, there is or was one place that I happily hopped on PATCO so I could hang for the day with friends. That was the Irish Mile.
Of all the reasons I thought that I might venture into Jersey, a bar was never one of those reasons. I’ve been to far too many of them and walked away disappointed or indifferent. The Irish Mile was different.
I’ve been to the chains like PJ Whelihan’s, Yard House, Chammps, and they are all the same nondescript, generic, unremarkable. I’ve had beers in mom-and-pop places like Jay’s Elbow Room, the Jug Handle Inn, and The Marlton Tavern. The atmospheres were far better than the chains in that each place has its own vibe, but I often found the beer selections lacking and never felt at home.
When a good buddy moved over to Haddon Township, I was skeptical when I agreed to watch NCAA Tournament games with him at the Irish Mile. He assured me it was a great spot and only a block from the Westmont PATCO stop. Ten minutes and a beer into the Mile and I felt like I was at home in a perfectly good Philly local watering hole with an insane beer selection.
The staff was always personable. They could’ve all been bartenders at classic Philly spots like Murph’s, the Locust Bar, Oscar’s Tavern, McGlinchey’s, etc. They had character and were welcoming. The locals sitting next to you were eager to hear your life story or discuss the greatness of the Irish Mile’s Sunday Special $4.00 stromboli. Those jawns were the size of a loaf of bread and tasty enough to charge $8.00 while working as the perfect sponge to soak up the beer from their 72 drafts. 72 DRAFTS!
That’s right, 72 drafts, 60 of which were craft beers. That picture above is just a partial of their chalkboard draft list. The Irish Mile hands down had the best draft beer selection I’ve seen in the Delaware Valley. It wasn’t just the amount of beers, but also the selection. Tons were local, but they even had Belgian Tripels like St. Bernardus on tap.
The Mile turned me onto the great work by Tonewood Brewing and one of my favorite current beers. I highly recommend Tonewood’s Fuego, a 6.2% Hazy IPA if you can find it. Tonewood has a tasting room at their spot in Oaklyn, NJ.
I gotta say that I never thought I’d be depressed to hear about a South Jersey bar closing, but this one hurts. Yes, the Irish Mile is no more. Rumor has it that the PJ Whelihan’s folks have bought it and are thinking about making it a taco joint. I can only hope that they hold onto more of the Mile’s casual, quirky, cozy charm than they do the typical generic PJ’s vibe.
The Irish Mile was a place without pretension. No one at the Mile gave ya a second glance if you felt like dancing on the bar, around the bar or putting on an air guitar show to your favorite jukebox song. Trust me, our buddy did all three multiple times (videos below).
The Irish Mile was a simply place where you could be yourself, where people went to chill with friends, chat with strangers, and enjoy a ton of great beer.
It shall be missed. The fact that a no-frills, old-school local joint with great people and amazing beer couldn’t survive in South Jersey depresses me, until I remember that I live in Philly. I feel for my friends in the Collingswood, Haddonfield, Westmont corridor. You guys lost a good one in the Mile.
If you know of another great local watering hole in the burbs that can fill the void for our South Jersey crew, shoot us a tweet or leave a comment on Facebook.
In the meantime, Brewers Town Tavern they’re South Jersey free agents and they’re looking at you.