Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Writing This Ship

Has it really been more than six weeks since I gave you some fresh content around here? Have I really missed the last three months of publishing the monthly/weekly calendars? Yes. Yes, I have. But the ship will soon be righted (or would that be writed?) and you'll start seeing again what you've come to expect from me through the years. I could blame the Craft Brewers Conference/World Beer Cup in May, Philly Beer Week in June, the day job, the also busy and time-consuming summer activities. But I'm not big on blame, so I'll just get back to work. Expect more soon.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Philly Beer Week 2016. The Heat is On

Ah yes, and then there was the 90+ degree day of Philly Beer Week. It was bound to happen eventually this year as it does every June. Usually more than just once. It's when the conversation rears up yet again about the glory years of Philly Beer Week when it was held in March ('08 and '09). We'll let that rest for the time being.

Yesterday was my dog Callie's day to finally debut during Philly Beer Week 2016. Course it had to be the hottest day of the week with nary a cloud to provide temporary relief. Lots to do outside, so here we go...

- first up was a benefit for Morris Animal Refuge at Devil's Den. It's where Patty and I adopted our first dog all the back in 1997. At Devil's Den, it was a good thing the Shepherd mix was adopted or a very good chance he could have come home with us. Chef Trowbridge cooked up some dog-themed specialties for the menu and the Double Dog Dare Ya was no joke. Wow. Great dog, pulled pork, and cheese. Perfect start to the day.

- we then moved on to FestivAle on Frankford Avenue outside Johnny Brenda's, Fette Sau, Frankford Hall, La Colombe any many others. This annual festival has grown into a spectacular neighborhood party in Fishtown with live music, food, beverage (mostly beer), and assorted vendors. And, plenty of dogs. At this point, Callie had been having her patience tested so it was a quick Sly Fox Helles Lager from the trailer tap truck, a 2SP Pils, and a stop at a few vendor tents to check out their offerings and then back to South Philly.

- while I attempt to promote as much local goodness during Philly Beer Week as possible, it's impossible to ignore what Deschutes brings to their Street Pub. It's a model that I hope other local breweries can embrace and implement in future years. It's a takeover like none other. A full lineup of regular Deschutes beers, limited beers, and special timed-pourings. Live music (Swift Technique was absolutely killing it on stage). Food by Vetri. And a VIP lounge where Callie and I could hang out without the stress of the crowd. Plus complimentary The Dissident bottle pours. Yup, this was the high point of the day.

- then I had a very good Saltwater Brewing Watermelon Gose but I won't tell you where because of the pathetically shitty service.

- finally, since it still hadn't rained and Free Will was setting up with Evil Genius to show off their respective beers and their collaboration at McCrossen's Tavern near the Art Museum, we made one last stop and sat outside with John Stemler of Free Will as the sun set on day 9 of Philly Beer Week. A good, if not sweaty, day showcasing the best that Philly and region have to offer.

- Sunday will likely see me working through this beautiful Liaison Saison pictured below from St. Benjamin Brewing Company that I picked up on Friday evening. Seems appropriate for another warm June day.

Philly Beer Week 2016 - The Index

No one can ever do it all....Here's a handy summary with links to everything I did and saw during Philly Beer Week 2016.

My Itinerary
Day 1 - Fri. June 3 - The Wrap-Up [link]  -  The Pictures[link]
Day 2 - Sat. June 4 - The Wrap-Up [link]  -  The Pictures[link]
Day 3 - Sun. June 5 - The Wrap-Up [link]  -  The Pictures[link]
Day 4 - Mon. June 6 - The Wrap-Up [link]  -  The Pictures[link]
Day 5 - Tue. June 7 - The Wrap-Up [N/A]  -  The Pictures[N/A]
Day 6 - Wed. June 8 - The Wrap-Up [N/A]  -  The Pictures[N/A]
Day 7 - Thu. June 9 - The Wrap-Up [N/A]  -  The Pictures[N/A]
Day 8 - Fri. June 10 - The Wrap-Up & Pictures [link]
Day 9 - Sat. June 11 - The Wrap-Up & Pictures [link]
Day 10 - Sun. June 12 - The Wrap-Up [xx]  -  The Pictures[xx]

Media Mentions
- Philadelphia Inquirer's Brew-vitational (Summary -- Judges -- Contenders -- Winners)
- -- Can't Miss Events
- Philadelphia Magazine -- Philly beer history
- Philadelphia Magazine/Foobooz -- Opening Tap
- -- Opening Tap
- Visit Philadelphia -- Top 15 Events
- -- Checking in on Philly Beer Week
- -- Spruce Street Harbor Park

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Philly Beer Week 2016. The Home Stretch; Day 8

Finally back on the Philly Beer Week bandwagon again. Had a bunch of work and a death in the family to attend to. Hope you've all been enjoying Philly Beer Week and some great encounters with beers and people along the way.

For me, day #8 was all about my Beer Lover's Mid-Atlantic book signing event at St. Benjamin Brewing Company. My interest and enthusiasm for these guys has grown substantially over the last eight months. Their Inca India Cream Ale. Their various Saisons. Their Foul Weather Jack English Mild. Their Franklin's Abbey series of beers. The quality ambassadorship of great beer and the City found in the people working the SBBC business.

And now? Their taproom. Opened just in the nick of time for the Craft Brewers Conference in May, the taproom is an immediate and bona fide destination for local and traveling fans of great beer experiences.

A comfortably relaxed environment in a building with historical significance. A full lineup of draft beers and one handpump. A menu of food ranging from spiced peanuts to tacos to full plates like Shrimp & Grits. The taproom is open six days each week and I strongly urge you to check out all the good stuff they have going on in the best new addition to Philadelphia brewing scene in some time.

After my event, since I drove into the city, getting around was just a bit more difficult. Case in point, made a valiant attempt circling South Street to check out both the Terrapin Tap Takeover at Jon's Bar & Grille and the Nodding Head/Philly Brewing event at Good King Tavern. Was really looking forward to checking out a new place (Good King) that I haven't before visited, but it wasn't meant to be.

So, the consolation prize (ha!) was a collection of Wicked Weed beers that Teresa's Next Door was pouring in Wayne. Their earlier crush had subsided, so it was a nice visit with a couple of half-priced tacos that helped close out the night for me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Philly Beer Week 2016. Monday. Yes, but it's Monday, Day 4, of PBW.

Click for a gallery of pictures from Day 4 of 2016 Philly Beer Week

Day 4 was a very targeted set of events for me. Even though distractions and diversions are always welcomed and entertained, today I was hoping to stay as true to plan as possible. It also was going to be the most accurate of how healthy Philly Beer Week is here in its 9th year. Even though I attended three events of at least "75 scheduled", would they be well attended by a diverse spectrum of beer lovers or would they look more like industry insider events? My unscientific observations say they looked more like the latter than the former. worked out pretty well if I do say so. A little something like this...

- trained it into the city with a beer from the other side of the state. Have always loved the perfectly balanced East End Big Hop IPA and it served its role quite well. Jumping off the El at Girard allowed me to see what appeared to be the broken remnants of the Hammer of Glory's conveyance during Friday night's parade from Johnny Brenda's to The Fillmore.

- Amtrak to El to Uber gets me walking through the door at Memphis Taproom just 70 minutes after leaving home. For all the connecting transport involved this was pretty darn good time; way better than driving during rush hour. And way better to get a ten-year-old Nodding Head Philly Phunk into my hands ASAP! Followed quickly by a Lost Abbey Red Poppy and finally by a Highway Manor Say John Saison. Lots of funk all around and just what I expected at my first stop of the night. Also learned that I must still learn more about this new Highway Manor.

- then it was a quick ride across town to find the Free Will/Hof ten Doormal tag team wonder showing their stuff at Monk's Cafe. It was dinner time, so a Hof ten Doormal-New Belgium collaboration Blonde beer was just the ticket with a Monk's burger. Also, following my sample serving from Opening Tap with s full glass at Monk's confirmed for certain that the collaboration beer between Free Will and Hof ten Doormal that has been whiling away the days in oak since last PBW has indeed turned out very well. It's called Brew And Destroy and you should seek it out ASAP! (that's two ASAP-exclamation points in one day, btw)

- finally it was on to the Logan location of City Tap House where a special beer - Cuvée Buonanno - was brewed and put on tap by Yards to honor the beer legacy that was Tom Buonanno's, aka Tommy B, who passed away last year. Although I arrived too late for the beer, I learned there are a mere 17 sixtels available for the market. Only three will be available during PBW, Yards will hold a few back for the brewery's taproom, and the remainder will be found around the region post-PBW.

That's it. Three very good events for three very good reasons. After a few days off, you'll see me back around town on Friday. Keep it going....Cheers!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Philly Beer Week 2016. And on the third day, a two-fer of two-fers

2016 Philly Beer Week Day 3

As I mentioned in Saturday's notes, some unfortunate family business has come up to deal with this week and that began yesterday. Undeterred, however, there was some time for Philly Beer Week. Here's where I found Day 3 events along the way. Four stops at three places, two sets of two of them related. Doesn't make sense, does it?

- it began with an excellent brunch in Wayne at Teresa's Next Door, which is really a must-stop for visiting Belgian brewers as well as Belgian beer fans. Here they were pouring 1 Kaapse beers and 6 De Molen beers, including the PBW '16 collaboration brew done with Yards Brewing Company - Fire Flood & Plague. Paired up with a tasty menu of brunch items with fun names inspired by all the principals involved in the event, it was a great, if not boozy, way to begin the day. Also nice to see Kevin Brooks from Shelton Brothers Importers once again and Larry Porter from Porters' Pub in Easton, Pa. for the first time ever.

- after the family stuff in northeast Philly, it made sense to pop into Grey Lodge for a couple beers to debrief. They were preparing for a night of Brewer Olympics that brought together St. Benjamin, Heavy Seas, Manayunk, and Evolution breweries. Naturally, all their beers were already on tap so, for me, that meant a St. Benjamin's Inca Cream Ale (have had several times in past and really enjoy) and St. Benjamin's Bayside Saison (new to me and one I'll look for again). Good practice, I suppose, for my event on Friday at the brewery selling and signing books while sipping on their special firkin of the week.

- torrential rains were approaching and we slipped into the sister establishment to Grey Lodge - Hop Angel Brauhaus - for the second day of their annual Lobster Bake and Wheat Beer Weekend. Plenty of lobster-themed dishes and German-themed glasses of beer to make waiting out the passing thunderstorms nicely tolerable.

- then, because one visit a day is not enough, for an event as big as the De Molen beers, there was just enough time for a one-last-once at Teresa's Next Door to grab a little something that was not earlier in the day. Plus a random spotting of Mr. Suburban Beer Distributor of the Year, Matt Guyer, led to some Monday night planning of events. We shall see; until then.....

Philly Beer Week 2016. Second day, more than the first

Click for a gallery of pictures from Day 2 of 2016 Philly Beer Week

The words on Saturday morning were no sooner out of my mouth and through the keyboard when I began to fall behind in my daily wrap-ups. So far, I've got Day 1 words and pix out to you as well as Day 2 pix. But some unfortunate unplanned family business to attend to yesterday will put a twist on the rest of the week, so bear with me and carry on as you were with your own plans!

Of the three weekend days to begin PBW 2016, Saturday was looking like the most pleasant day to be outdoors. A bit warm and humid, but dry nonetheless. That bode well for the numerous outdoor block parties and events. My tentative schedule had a little bit of everything on it initially strung together in the plans by mostly walking and maybe a car or subway connection along the way. Here's how it actually went down.

- train beer this day was by Iron Hill. Long timer Paul Rutherford had slipped me a pounder of the quite poundable Crusher IPA ("west coast session IPA") at Opening Tap the night before and, at 5%, was the perfect beginning to Saturday afternoon's excursion.

- first stop was Jose Pistola's for something I had many questions about. Fortunately, owner Casey Parker had the answer. The Answer brewpub is new and a sister establishment to the lauded Mekong Vietnamese and craft beer bar in Richmond, Va. So what do creative people like Parker do? They get this brewery registered to bring a Berliner Weisse and a Double IPA done three different ways, plus the brewer Brandon Tolbert, get a basketball hoop, and a cutout of Allen Iverson (aka The Answer) and host a beer event slash dunk contest. As you can imagine fun times and hilarity ensued. The pictures just begin to tell the story.

- then it was off just a block away to Good Dog where they were pouring the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America beers. I'd had these at a special sneak peak during the Craft Brewers Conference last month and they are all quite well done. If pushed, I might tell you my favorite of the six is the Stout Of The Union Robust Stout. Or is it the Sweet Sunny South Southern Table Beer. More just a lineup of beers than an event with any "flair" to it, but a great way to taste any of the six beers at once at a solid Center City bar.

- if you know the geography of Philly, you'll know that Good Dog and Jose Pistola's are on 15th Street, so no more than a ten minute walk down 15th Street gets you to South Street and the 1500 block was closed off and labeled "A Joint Event" between Cambridge and Bob & Barbara's. The signs were not good at first for a great craft beer selection, seeing all the PBR signs plastered every imaginable. The typical stuff of block parties from cornhole to live music. Then we found the Fat Head's table and Terrapin table and, maybe not so coincidentally, a half dozen area reps from other breweries as well. Nice stop and chit-chat to break up the walk to the other side of Broad.

- across South Street and down 11th took us to the next stop of Devil's Den where they were hosting McKenzie Brew House. Very nice to see the brew team (and this time with owner Bill Mangan in tow) out during both CBC in May and now PBW in June for events hosting them around the city. Ugly Pear, Beautiful Pair and Layin' Fallow turned out to be two excellent choices you should track down if still on tap at Devil's Den or back at any of their three Chester County locations (Devon, Malvern, Chadds Ford).

- time for last stop before the train took us for dinner to Brauhaus Schmitz. They'd been running a weekend long special on Goses (ten of 'em if I recall correctly) and now seemed as good of time as any to stop in and get into a couple of them with dinner. While the Freigeist Geisterzug Rhubarb stole the show for me, the Bayischer Bahnhof Gewürzgose was no one's second place and Nomad Freshie Salt 'n' Pepper Gose was a complete unknown to me and worth mentioning. And, while missing the planned train is never intentional, when the cause was the Schweinshaxe (y'know, right? a crispy roasted pork knuckle - one of the best pork meals I've ever had on a plate), I guess all's well that definitely ended well.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Philly Beer Week 2016 Begins...

Click for a full gallery of pictures and videos from 2016 Philly Beer Week Day 1

I'm not sure I'm going to have ton of time left to put a lot of words to what I experience along the way of this year's Philly Beer Week. Trying to balance each day's calendar plus day job plus potential half-day getaway to the National Homebrewers Conference in Baltimore.

Yesterday, however, my snapshot of Day 1 in PBW 2016 included:

- Train beer was a Brotherly Suds, the 2016 collaboration Ryebock Lager beer between Iron Hill, Tröegs, Victory, Sly Fox, Yards, Flying Fish, and Stoudts. A good theme beer that you should find for yourself during Philly Beer Week.

- Kite & Key for the Hammer of Glory Relay handoff from Brauhaus Schmitz to the K&K and Tröegs tagteam crew. Channel 6/ABC and John Rawlins showed up to document it too.

- The Belgian Cafe to see Terry McNally and her London Grill team handoff the Hammer at which point Fergie rocked the streets (great videos, you must check them out) en route to Jose Pistola's. Excellent bowl of mussels too (Van Damme style) plus an Ommegang Rosetta, very nice.

- Speaking of Ommegang, walked across town to Brü Craft & Wurst when I learned that Megan from Duvel Moortgat was just showing up for an Ommegang event which featured some of their new stuff which continues to be very good.

- Then down Chestnut Street to Eulogy Belgian Tavern where they were featuring local Belgian-style beers, including three from Royersford's Stickman Brews.

- Finally, up to Opening Tap at The Fillmore. The new event venue for Philly Beer Week's opening celebration elevated this event once again back to where it belongs after a couple of unfortunate last couple years at The 23rd Street Armory. Great stage, great space for crowd flow, and of course plenty of great beer showed up for the four-hour event. A very nice tie-in to the neighborhood's brewing history to have Joe Ortlieb tap the first keg of Brotherly Suds. Really, please do check out the 6 minute video that I included in the Picasa gallery which contains the arrival of the Hammer of Glory, a brief history by William Reed, and the tapping of the keg.

- Closed out the night with a much-needed sandwich at Standard Tap and caught the train home.

Picked up a fair amount of positive energy in my travels (some griping too, but I'll save that sharing for another day). What about you? What did you see, do, drink, hear?

Even if I come up short in words each day throughout Philly Beer Week, what I will stay on top of is uploading pictures for those of you that like the visual storytelling.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

A prelude to Philly Beer Week 2016 - t minus 1 day

Sleep comes later. Tomorrow, the ninth annual installment of Philly Beer Week launches. Once again, the Hammer of Glory and its storied past leads the charge into what I've always affectionately referred to as our Imperial Beer Week, where only ten days will do in defining a week of great beer in Philadelphia.

Weather forecast be damned. Here's where you can catch the Hammer of Glory on its tour around the city with all the frivolity that surrounds it en route to the Opening Tap in the evening. See you there.

6 a.m. --- Preston & Steve Show at 93.3 FM WMMR (1 Bala Plaza, Bala Cynwyd)
6:45 a.m. --- PHL17 (5001 Wynnefield Avenue)
7:45 a.m. --- Dock Street & FOX29 (5000 Baltimore Avenue)
8:45 a.m. --- Red Owl (433 Chestnut Street)
9:58 a.m. --- SawTown Tavern (4717 Princeton Avenue)
10:24 a.m. --- Grey Lodge Pub (6235 Frankford Avenue)
11:02 a.m. --- Hop Angel Brauhaus (7980 Oxford Avenue)
11:21 a.m. --- SEPTA Fox Chase Line (11th and Market Streets)
12:06 p.m. --- Sky Garten (1717 Arch Street)
12:27 p.m. --- Kite and Key (1836 Callowhill Street)
12:53 p.m. --- London Grill (2301 Fairmount Avenue)
1:14 p.m. --- Belgian Cafe (601 North 21st Street)
1:45 p.m. --- Jose Pistola’s (263 South 15th Street)
2:06 p.m. --- Opa & Drury Beer Garden (1311 Sansom Street)
2:18 p.m. --- Time (1315 Sansom Street)
2:44 p.m. --- Garage (1231 East Passyunk Avenue)
3:01 p.m. --- 12 Steps Down (767 South 9th Street)
3:28 p.m. --- Varga (941 Spruce Street)
4 p.m. --- German Society (611 Spring Garden Street)
4:25 p.m. --- Bar Ferdinand and El Camino Real (1030 North 2nd Street)
4:42 p.m. --- Heritage (914 North 2nd Street)
4:59 p.m. --- Yards (901 North Delaware Avenue)
5:21 p.m. --- Standard Tap (901 North 2nd Street)
5:43 p.m. --- Saint Benjamin Brewing (1710 North 5th Street)
6:15 p.m. --- Philly Brewing (2440 Frankford Avenue)
6:40 p.m. --- Frankford Hall (1210 Frankford Avenue)
6:51 p.m. --- Fette Sau (1208 Frankford Avenue)
7:02 p.m. --- Johnny Brenda’s (1201 Frankford Avenue)
7:20 p.m. --- Opening Tap at The Fillmore (26 East Allen Street)