Monday, May 11, 2009

FunkFest at Triumph Brewing: 5/9/09

It'll be interesting to see how long my stomach decides that it doesn't mind the sour beers. Until then, I'll thank my biological stars and enjoy them for all they're worth. It makes sense that the FunkFest was held at Triumph on Mother's Day weekend, because some of the beers featured were quite the mothers of brewing invention. Isn't this what we love about brewing? Other than fitting to a style of "sour", pigeonholing these beers into a style is virtually pointless.
(Saturday was a perfect day for some sidewalk sittin')
After my morning 5-k run, not the easiest after a late concert night in Camden/Philly but still a very good run, I cleaned up and caught the train into Philly. The weather on Saturday was nearly perfect, though just warm enough to make me happy to step in off the street (Chestnut, that is, in Old City Philadelphia) for some freaky beers and funky music.
(Up first in the day were ten goodies from around the Philadelphia region)
(Waiting in the wings for beers in round 1 to kick)
Patrick Jones, head brewer at the Philadelphia location of Triumph (and aka The Cheese Monger at Ale Street News), was holding court with nearly 20 beers of varying degrees of funk. Only a few of them could go on the regular tap lines. Others, as you could imagine, were tapped directly at the bar to avoid line contamination.
(Sherrie and Steve look strong as they make their way through the draft lineup)
We sat together for a few minutes to chit chat about a little of everything. But, I was particularly impressed with his Tarte d'Or, so he spent considerable time talking about how it began as a Honey Wheat, made its way into a neutral barrel where it was introduced to a couple of Brett strains, and then has sat for almost now two years. The result? Brettanomyces of my favorites of the day.
(BFFs, April and Casey)
One of my other favorites of the day was the Eddy from Iron Hill. To have this beer twice in three days is to be very fortunate. A nice clean beer from a wine barrel, with a very noticeable Brett character, made for a very nice, dare I say, sessionable funked-up Brett beer (maybe not at 7.3%, but everyone has different thresholds).
(Steve never saw a picture he couldn't ruin..I mean, here's a picture of friends showing off food, funk, and friendship at Triumph)
Also making my highlights of the day reel was the Bière des Fraises from General Lafayette (don't recall where I've had this before, but the mild strawberry flavor makes for a real nice summer fruit sipper), the FunkFish from Flying Fish (where the brandy barrel character is noticeable but doesn't ride roughshod), and the Sour Raspberry Wit from Triumph in Princeton. Of course the standard sour bearer (the kind that would make a great Mother's Day gift) Berliner Weisse from Nodding Head was there and pouring perfectly as well. In the let's-see-how-this-changes category was the Permanent Midnight from Iron Hill's Lancaster location. I enjoyed the beer and its multi-layered fruit, funk, and barley. Paul insisted that it should have been more carbonated and promised it to show up in Cooperstown for Ommegang's Belgium Comes to Cooperstown event later this summer.
(The Band played on, even to a crowd-requested encore)
On the topic of offbeat and unusual, someone has to mention the experiment with Good Seasons salad, I mean the Scottish Red Vinaigrette (yes, you read that correctly) from the New Hope location of Triumph. Now I don't personally know the Triumph guys up the river (Brendan Anderson, right?), but I have always thought that there must be a little something in the water farther north up the Delaware that makes New Hope just a little bit different, ha! This beer was tapped after we'd already left, but I needed to return to pick up a growler that brought with me but never had filled (cuz the Historical District doesn't approve of such crimes against proper society) and Patrick said something like, "here, try this." So, what's a good beer writer to do? Let's just say it certainly was interesting and delivered on the vinaigrette aspect of its name. I believe 'mouth-clenching' was a descriptor used. But, more than an ounce or two would have been too much for my liking.
(How's this for a mantle masterpiece? from left: Patrick Jones, Triumph; Paul Rutherford, Iron Hill-Lancaster; Casey Hughes, Flying Fish; Mike Fava, Nodding Head)
You all should be happy (and impressed I'm sure) that my camera was working again come Saturday morning. We had our little talk and it agreed to be more agreeable in the future. With all the party people in the house, brewers and hoi polloi alike, it was an event that screamed out for people pictures, something I've always vowed to do a better job at. Oh, and the music...I didn't get the name of the band, but they provided the appropriate music for FunkFest. After a couple good hours of getting funked up at Triumph, we made our way across town to catch up with Mike Fava at Nodding Head. You'll be able to catch him behind the bar on Sunday nights to, not only talk about, but pour beers as well. It was nice to see that he's joined the ranks on the wall with his own likeness, very appropriately on a bike, with a keg, during Philly Beer Week.
(The Fava Express hangs in Nodding Head's dining room)
And, to the brewer whose beer made it into my growler for a firepit session last night after mowing the lawn and doing garden work, it was tres excellent! Otherwise, I don't believe I should say whose or which...except, Thank You. All in all, one of the best ways I can figure to spend a warm spring afternoon in the city.

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