Thursday, March 19, 2009
PBW 2009: It's a Wrap & My Two Sense
This. Will. Be. My. Final. Posting. On. Philly. Beer. Week. 2009. Period. (honestly) Where to begin, where to end. Well, I probably said as much as needed to be said each day of the Imperial Week as we went along. It's hard to believe that it all began two weeks ago. Hopefully, you had some fun keeping up with the words and pictures that I sprinkled out there. Even though I know there are some superstars out there that sampled more than I did (and how I didn't see you along the way is not all that surprising, given the, oh, 700 events), I'm hoping that my little journal along the way has given everyone a glimpse into what it is that makes the Philadelphia region the great beer drinking and making mecca that it is. I didn't know quite how to put a bow on everything that I experienced during the week. So, while it may be a bit repetitive and prosaic at the same time, here's my attempt at closure...after which we may resume our normally scheduled imbibing. Top Beers (that I tasted for the first time) Nodding Head, Da Phunk - I could have taken in only the aroma all night along and that would have been fine. Fortunately, the tart, fruit flavors backed up the expectation that the aroma built. Some remains in hiding, and will come out to play sometime later this year. But, when and for how many remains a closely guarded secret. Dock Street, pick 'em - I hope that Rosemarie is happy with Ben Potts because I know a lot of people, myself included, that are very happy with his beers. Man Full Of Trouble (Porter), Prince Myshkin (R.I.S.), and Hop Garden (imperial IPA) are all very well done beers that deserve accolades and your tasting. The Bitter (second runnings from Barleywine) ain't too shabby either. Iron Hill/Yards, Smoked Pol - One of the less unanimous beers of the week, smoke in the aroma, disappears in the flavor of the wheat...though not all agreed, it was one of the most interesting and tasty beers of my PBW. Yards Love Stout (cask) - If I don't recall having this beaut in the past, then I'm disappointed in myself. A very fine version of this beer. Yuengling Bock - a surprise here for sure. This is a nice easy drinking, yet a firm enough, bock. Rogue/Issaquah Frog Rye IPA - Such a great drinker and beautiful blend of rye crispness, hop bitterness, and rich maltiness. Ballast Point Victory at Sea Imperial Coffee Porter - A great breakfast beer if I've ever had one. With brunch at Bridgid's it gave me the perfect wake-up call with my eggs benedict and the impetus to get to The Brewer's Plate. Uerige Alt - It's been at least a couple of years since I've had this gem from Düsseldorf and I'd so forgotten how much I enjoy it, that I'm putting it on my new beer list of winners for the week. Top Events of the Week (that I attended) Smoke 'Em if You Got 'Em @ Yards - Great combination of indoor/outdoor, food, beer, cigars, music, competition, camaraderie Throwdown in Franklintown @ Kite & Key - One of the best spectacles of the week. I encouraged everyone to seek out a spectacle...be it Burlesque, Cheesesteak Battle, Smackdown, Throwdown, Thrill Tour, etc. You name it, I'm betting this was one of the highlights of the week for anyone who attended Saturday afternoon. Fritz Maytag at The Four Seasons - Only attended the Meet 'n' Greet, but the atmosphere was so conducive to meeting with a seminal figure in this country's craft brewing scene. I can only imagine how magnificent the dinner was...or so I'm told by Bruce Nichols. Center City Brewers Pub Crawl - This rollicking mess is fun to witness, but better to be a few minutes ahead of the main pack. But, honestly, the real fun begins at the end with McGillin's hosting a come one and all party with $2 beers from each of the brewers participating in the crawl. The Brewer's Plate at Penn - Still the best food and beer pairing event for quality and for value. Best venue since the Reading Terminal Market. Observations ~ The creativity behind some of the events was incredible. The Smoke theme at Yards. Cheesesteak cookoff at the P.O.P.E. Magic Hat Thrill Show in Fairmount. New Holland and Burlesque, also at the P.O.P.E. Homebrewing at Jose Pistolas. Arcadia and New Holland cheese pairing event at The Sidecar. Two running events, Two cycling events. Brewers Pub Crawl. Philly Beer Geek contest. These are just a few of the great examples that show the diversity of what 10 days of Beer Week can encompass. ~ Regardless of how ready they were for last year's PBW, there was absolutely no doubt that Yards was a huge part of this year's and pulled off their involvement this year with great aplomb and craftiness in more ways than one. ~ The lungs on Ric Hoffman. The obscenity of Collin Flatt. The sex appeal of Fergie Carey. These sorts of things can be experienced each and every time the karaoke machine makes an appearance at Fergie's during the T.U.D. Must be seen in person to be fully experienced and appreciated. ~ No snarking around...Even in his absence, Jack Curtin still provides some the best PBW coverage out there. ~ Two local and young female writers who appear to do nothing but love great Beer and Food, Gina Talley and Steph Weber gave us insights into homebrewing, commercial brewing, and good eating during Philly Beer Week. Even though I've never (not to best of my recollection) met either of them, their writing comes highly recommended. ~ I could mention something yet again about the management of the PBW calendar on the official website, but it'd probably be overkill at this point. Oh well...Every one knows it needs improvement next year. From events whose times and/or details were incorrect (witness around 10 people show up late for The Throwdown because the actual time was 2pm, not the published 2:30pm) to a calendar that just simply did not facilitate multiple day planning, the calendar did not work for a many, many people. The number of downloads of the spreadsheet calendar that I put together combined with comments that I received every day both in person and online along with participants who said that they'd given up on PBW's and began using my calendar, it's evident that better direction and supervision is needed next year. I was even stopped twice on the street by people who I just took for strangers to thank me for the work I'd done on the spreadsheet. And at one bar, I spied a couple of guys with the spreadsheet laid across the bar next to the Philadelphia Weekly pullout section. My hat's already in the ring. ~ On a slightly related note...700 events? Necessary? Reality? Accomplish-able? Maybe, almost yes, and definitely yes. Somehow each day (maybe there were really closer to 600 than 700, but who's counting, right?!) was able to pack in crowds at a very high percentage of the scheduled events. Maybe that just says that, really, no calendar needs to be published...just say "PBW is On," host an event, put the word out (virally?), and people will show up? dunno. The PBW organization is planning follow-up surveys with all participants to better gauge the success of the events. With this information, it should help to guarantee that next year, regardless of the number of events, should be back again for a raging encore. I believe I've said enough for PBW 2009, y'think? I could call out hundreds of others and events that I crossed paths with during the 10 days. But, I think you get the picture. If you're not a part of Philly Beer Week, you need to get with it. That goes for producers, distributors, and consumers alike. Hope you all had your piece of fun as I did. See you in 2010.