Ship Bottom Brewery Joins Wave of Businesses Irrigating Previously Dry Town

With the Broad Table Tavern, Village Vine, and the CO-OP all serving alcohol, it can be difficult to remember that alcohol sales were banned in Swarthmore until relatively recently. After Swarthmore residents voted in favor of the borough granting liquor licenses in a 2017 referendum, Swarthmore quickly lost its status as one of the twelve then-dry or partially dry municipalities in Delaware County. The CO-OP began beer and wine sales in November 2020 and Village Vine opened in late 2020, so the Ville now boasts plenty of places to drink.

Joining these establishments later this month is Ship Bottom Brewery, a new bar that will neighbor Hobbs on Park Avenue. Swarthmore will be Ship Bottom Brewery’s fourth location, the current closest being the Beer Garden at Linvilla Orchards in Media.

In an interview with The Phoenix, Robert Zarko, the company’s president, said that Ship Bottom Brewery started as a small operation in his hometown of Wallingford in 2012 before expanding to brick-and-mortar locations. He expressed that the Swarthmore location is going to be more focused than other locations on the art of brewing.

“It’s going to be a different kind of setup than our other setups … This one would be more about the beer. How we produce it, how we make it, about just enjoying the beer and kind of a more eased-back and relaxed setting.”

Even though Ship Bottom Brewery will be a bar, Zarko said that the company’s current locations are family-oriented and more relaxed compared to typical bars.

“Our locations right now are very family oriented even though it is a brewery,” he said. “We have a lot of people that come with their kids and hang out at our locations … We don’t consider ourselves a typical bar. It’s a place that people go to have a nice experience and enjoy themselves.”

Zarko added that his personal favorite Ship Bottom Brewery beers are the lighter ones, though the Swarthmore location will have a variety of options for patrons to choose from.

“I like our Surf Czech Pilsner and our Mexican Cerveza the best. … We’ll have a combination of lighter and higher beers at our Swarthmore facility. You’ll be able to drink any of our beer brands, cider brands, or seltzer brands at the bar or be able to take those home for six packs.”

In addition to indoor seating, Zarko expressed excitement about customers being able to enjoy their beverages in the building’s adjoining garden, Theodosia Gardens, when the weather becomes more clement. Though some Swarthmore residents have been vocal in expressing their opposition to the brewery’s opening, Zarko looks forward to the Swarthmore location’s opening.

“I’m very excited to be in town. I’m hoping that everybody tries out the different offerings we have. I think we have something for everybody.”

Ship Bottom Brewery’s Swarthmore location is still under construction, with a fridge full of the company’s beverage offerings and a cutout for Abominable Snow Monster Ale, one of the brewery’s seasonal offerings, facing the exterior windows. For Swarthmore students and residents who are impatient to try the brewery’s offerings before its opening in late December, the CO-OP currently carries a selection of its brands.

Anatole Shukla

Anatole Shukla '22 is an Editor Emeritus of The Phoenix. He is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and studied economics, linguistics, and Russian language while at Swarthmore.

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