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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Very Good Holiday Weekend in Philadelphia

I guess you could say the Memorial Day Weekend started for me on Thursday night at Victory. It was my first run-in with their German-themed night, Follow the Liter. The night was replete with a Strongman competition, a special menu, and an abundance of typically good beers. We rolled in too late to catch any of the competitive theatrics, but that didn't stop us from finding some friends to share a booth with and getting down to business. The food menu certainly accentuated the talents of the kitchen staff like I don't believe I've ever previously tasted. Save for the change in the preparation of dried leeks in the Thrice Fries (please say this was a one-time anomaly)...the Pine Nut & Goat Cheese-stuffed tomato, the "German" pretzel, and the Schweinshauxe made for an unforgettable night of grub and grog. Meeting up with friends made it even better. How's by beer? The beers made for this year's CBC in Boston made an appearance and several may still be on line. I dipped twice into the Saphir Pils, once with food once without. Either way, this is one mighty fine brew. So was the Abbey 6, consistently good as in the past, and it made its way home with us for some Friday night tippling by the firepit. (The Herkules and Hallertau were also sure-fires.) Friday night after work was all about the firepit. Abbey 6, then moved on to some of the unfiltered Double Simcoe from Weyerbacher that certain people wish me to bring along to a certain weekly meetup. Hm, let's see if there's any bottles remaining in my cardboard box. Saturday was a day long grind of house and yard work. These things, though, must be done to get just rewards at night time. Rewarded we were in an easy-breezy trip down the Schuylkill Expressway (how often do you hear those words uttered?). We obviously weren't winning the Powerball on Saturday night, because after making a trip from Malvern to 44th/Spruce streets in 34 minutes (those not familiar with the Philly region don't realize how near impossible that feat is in reality), we then scored a parking space 4 spots away from the front door of Local 44. Then inside, customers lined the bar, save for two seats...obviously with our name on them. Food bites came out in short order as did a few beers. The Reuben Fritters were stuffed with a bit too mushy of a filling for my liking. I would have preferred the reuben ingredients to be more identifiable in their taste and texture. What did hit the mark perfectly, though, was the shrimp tacos. Three shrimp each stuffed inside of three soft taco shells, spiced generously and lined with a bit of citrus lime flavor, made for the perfect starter for the night and accompaniment for the beer. The beers in question for me on this Locals Only weekend at Local 44 were Iron Hill's Eddy, Philadelphia Brewing's Fleur de Lehigh, and Victory's Bags Packed Porter on the handpump. These are not among your usual suspects on taps around town. That's why, for the 4th time in the past three weeks or so, I made it an urgency to get an Eddy to kick off the night. Solid, but not overwhelming Brett character, a good...very good....drinker...for those uninitiated. The Fleur de Lehigh is such a herbaceously wonderful and refreshing beer that I hope to see this on as much of a regular basis as their capacity and ingredients supply will allow. It paired up nicely with the shrimp tacos. The Bags Packed Porter. I wondered if this has ever made it out of Chester County up until this point? This brew is new(er) since the brewery's expansion and pub's renovations last year. Either way, this solid porter with obvious java influence (and so smooth from the cask) was a nice way to finish out the session at Local 44. Then, it was another quick jaunt down the Schuylkill Expressway to South Philly Tap Room. Again, something/one was smiling upon us as we scored another primo parking spot...walked in and planted ourselves at the "head table" in the front corner of the bar. Plenty of room, perfect for people watching...could the night get any better? We stopped in for the unveiling of Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout. If I understood correctly, this was the beer's debut in Pennsylvania, but we were not necessarily the first...understandably. But, SPTR is special in their relationship with Founders, and the availability of this brew in PA will be quite limited. I'd seek it out if I were you. It's their Breakfast Stout aged in a maple syrup barrel. As much as that may sound like a turnoff to some of you, listen up. It carries a light aroma of syrup-y sweetness, though it all but disappears in the taste, where the expected rich Breakfast Stout flavors come to the forefront. A nice experience indeed. (I trust anyone with more correct information than I've put forth will feel free to offer it up in the comments below.) The one for the road had to be the Russian River Damnation. Well, it didn't have to be, but it was...and it was good. And a 32 minute drive home from South Philly was awaiting us to end a very, very good night of keeping it local in Philly. Ah, the food? Maybe not the perfect pairing, but when at SPTR, the Wild Boar Tacos are not to be overlooked. Oh, and yes, SPTR's spinoff "Brew" down the street is open, sans beer for the time being. But, grab a coffee and some compost to go. It'd be the right thing to do and your tomato and pepper plants will thank you for it. Sunday was a bit quieter on the beer front as I had some serious painting to do in our under-construction sunroom. That was enough to knock me out until Monday, when I indulged in some Buckbean Brewing Company beers (from Reno, NV). More later on those beers. If I began the weekend a day early, perhaps I can say I ended it a day late. After a haircut last night not far from Teresa's Next Door, I figured it'd only be proper to stop in and relieve them of a Pliny the Elder...or two. Cuz that's the kind of guy that I am. Uh, er, okay...scratch that. A Longshot (Cranberry Wit) from Boston Beer Co. with dinner instead. But, that shouldn't stop you from stopping in at TND and having one of them there Plinies, cuz that's the kind of person you are. Hope your weekend was as enjoyable.

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