Stick with me here, this is gonna be another long one packing in a lot of weekend goodness. Otherwise, you'd be hearing tales from this weekend 'til the dawn of the next decade. We'll get through this here together.
All you've heard about, if you're following the local beer calendar here in Philly, was how crazy this weekend was going to be. Forget about the Belmont Stakes and the Bike Race. Though both great excuses to drink great beer, there were plenty of other things from City to Suburbs and from free to expensive to take in for great beer events.
I suppose the (beer) weekend for me actually began on Thursday night...or Tuesday or Wednesday in New York, take your pick. But, I've already told you about the NYC excursion, so let's say for sake of argument that the weekend started on Thursday. In Phoenixville, to be exact.
Of the many characters I ran into this weekend, one of the most ambitious beer bloggers of late has been beer aficionado, (Dr) Joel of GrainBill.BlogSpot.com. Along with other plans which he will reveal to us sometime in the near future, he is embarking upon the Bridge Street Tastings series. His concept is to pair local retailers with "related" beers (based on each business type, or model) and doing a tasting for the customers of the retailer. This first installment was an attempt at bringing organic beers into Earthmart, an ethically-responsible and eco-friendly store in Phoenixville. Perfect match, well done beers. Well done sir.
I've had a couple Wolaver's and Peak Organic here and there in the past but, to be quite honest, never had given a whole lot of thought to them. On this night, the Brown Ale from each brewery stood out on my palate as the best of the night. Each brewery was presenting 3 beers (Brown, Amber, & Pale from Peak Organic and IPA, Brown, and Pale Ale from Wolavers) while Tom Larochelle (regional sales guy for Peak Organic) and Joel were there to discuss the merits of each.
Speaking of ambitious and hard working, Don Russell and Nick Johnson ain't schlepping through the suds either. Don's still out on book tour and on Friday night brought some books to sign and his flexible wife Theresa (easy savages! I'm referring to her recently opened yoga practice) to the Beer Yard in Wayne, PA.
Nick Johnson from Tröegs was there pouring Troegenator from their new bomber sized bottles along with a handful of other Tröegs staples. Cases were flying off Matt's shelves left and right (did I catch the number as being, 31?) with souvenir glassware included. Nick also provided homemade potato salad and hamburgers from Tröegs-spent-grain-fed cattle from a local Harrisburg farm. Brother Ryan was manning the grill and serving up the perfect accompaniment for the Troeganator and a particular barleywine Scratch beer (#4?). Well done, also, good sirs.
Then, it was on to Iron Hill in West Chester to check out their Ring of Fire porter. Out of all of the local beer calendars, mine included, this event seemed to miss the radar. Good thing I got a text message from a certain lass to suggest meeting up. Below this paragraph was where the first published lass and lance picture (to my knowledge) was due to be found. That is, until my camera decided to go the way of her last camera. Maybe the publicity wasn't meant to be. I did get a curious look when I asked if the picture was permitted for Brew Lounge use. Anywho, it seems as if my camera is happy to still take some decent flash-less outdoor pictures, but the flash-assisted exposures are no longer reliable.
Back to the topic at hand. Accompanying the release of this fiery porter was the way-excellent local Johnny Cash cover band, David Stone & The Johnny Cash Experience. If we had planned our evening more carefully, we may have arrived later and stayed later. But, this was a weekend with a lot of non-beer stuff to do (I know, hard to believe, given the content of this log) and we were intent on sticking to our vow to "keep it under control."
The Ring of Fire porter comes in at 5.4% ABV and is extremely drinkable, even with the mild heat that you feel in the finish of the beer. But, up front and throughout the drink, the chocolate roastiness and slight bitterness are pronounced. I'll save more tasting notes for when I officially review a bottle that I brought home with me, courtesy of brewing/blending master Chris LaPierre.
We stopped out front and purchased a few more bottles for gifts and grabbed a growler of Rye IPA. I'm finishing the last glass of said beer as I type this Sunday evening. IPA for sure, galena hops make it an interesting drink. But, rye? Not getting that so much under the hop onslaught. Pleasurable, nonetheless. Fitting that we left to Folsom Prison Blues as we moved a little farther down the line.
After a morning run, yard work, and household chores on Saturday we headed out for a graduation party in the Trevose area. From where we live, how else would you get there other than through Port Fishington? After all, when you get an e-mail saying that one of the State's best new beers received in 2008 (Black Bavarian from Sprecher in Wisconsin) was being cracked open and poured from the bartop at Memphis Taproom....well, you don't think twice. You zip down the Schuylkill Expressway and up Aramingo Avenue to a parking spot reserved for you directly out front of said joint.
Disappointed, we were not. Spanky (eh-hem, Brendan), Leigh, and Jessica graciously served up a Black Bavarian (even better from the cask than forced CO2), an Amber also from Sprecher, and a Maredsous 8 along with our Chicken Fried Chicken (I've always giggled at that name for some reason) and things could not have been more perfect. The air conditioning and fine tap list could have kept us there all afternoon into the evening but a graduation party with a Nittany Lion ice luge was beckoning.
Graduation party was enough to kill off our day. As much as we would have loved to swing by Grey Lodge (Fleur de Lehigh debut from PBC) or TJs (smoke-free Beer Advocate event), the day was without a doubt, OVER.
A lot of good housework accomplished on Sunday led us to reward ourselves with another quick trip (or "zipping on over," I believe is how I described it to Mr. Guyer) to Philly...this time to Grey Lodge after an e-mail from Scoats confirmed that the Fleur de Lehigh from Philadephia Brewing was still pouring from the night before. A nice crowd, apparently, but not enough to kill the keg (this was another last minute e-mail, so perhaps not surprising). Lucky us! A tomato pie along with this Belgian ale (with a lot of herbal goodness reportedly added...cardamom, ginger, lemongrass, rose hips, even rhubarb) worked better than expected.
As much as I wanted to go for a second one, it seemed like it was enough after one. I certainly got the cardamom and ginger, and it was probably the rhubarb that gave off some of the tartness. But the Rowhouse Red was on too and I couldn't pass up the chance to put back another of these goodies. The FBL isn't being bottled, so catch it while you can. We left some for you at Grey Lodge and it will be appearing at Memphis Taproom on Monday the 9th.
One more stop, believe it or not, was in store for us. On the way home from Grey Lodge, we made a stop at the Main Line Jazz Festival in Wayne....coincidentally (?!) the home of Teresa's Next Door....who just so happened to be celebrating their first year anniversary, with a mighty fine tap list as usual. All said, of course, with tongue firmly in cheek.
We arrived after the festival was over; that was sort of the point. Figured the crowds would have dissipated some by that point. A bowl of dirty mussels (blue cheese, bacon, and onions) and a bread board (prosciutto, sausage, cheese, and bread) along with a North Coast Pranqster, Allagash White, and Cantillon Saint Lamnivus helped bring the weekend to a perfect close. Then that Guyer guy came in to the picture, working the crowd and unwinding after a long weekend of his own.
Now, I need to get myself to Texas, where there'll be quite a few less beer options. To be sure, it's gonna be a busy week of work, so that's not such a bad thing after all. For now, I'm gonna revel in what was a great, great weekend of beer in Philadelphia and its rich region. It almost felt like a mini-Philly Beer Week!
Did you make it to the end of all of this? Really? Didja read every word? Well, if you did, I'll quiz you next time we see each other and maybe buy you a beer if I'm impressed.