Friday, March 27, 2009

Keeping Up

Time's been a little tight lately and will continue to be over the next month or so. Here's just a few words about the last 24 hours and what's been helping to keep time in short supply. Some tasty empanadas to go with a Blue Point Rastafar at St. Stephen's Green. Pleasant conversation with a couple of blokes at the bar. Must go back for a longer experience. At The Beer School observing a Belgian Beer Class led by the affable Dean Browne of Philly Brewing (Porterhouse, too). Well done. A stop-in at Monk's for a sampling of the 75 Minute IPA (yessir, it's a hop-forward beer) from Dogfish Head and their "simul-cask" event. Showed up a couple hours after Wendy tapped her first firkin to get the festivities rolling at 7:50pm. Tasty hop treat, though not quite what I expected...maybe not exactly what DFH was expecting...dunno, more research needed. Kibitzing with some of the scene's usual suspects. No karaoke this time; perhaps a good thing for some that it's only a once-in-a-very-long-while thing. And, even though 6 minutes remained before my train home, I resisted the call of Nodding Head (Fava's Revenge), Ladder 15 (grand opening), and Bridgewater's Pub (as easy as you know I usually make that happen). A pre-long run meal at TJs (pasta, salad, soup, bread, beer). Get to bed for early morning 19 miles.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beer Calendar: What To Do in April 2009

So, if March goes out like a lamb...(ha! really? with Calagione doing a simul-cask?)...then how does April come in? It can shower all it wants. Baseball is back and more great beer events continue to roll in. Philly is done with its imperial-sized Beer Week for 2009 and Washington, D.C. is gearing up for the return of Savor later in May. Nationwide, the movie Beer Wars debuts on April 16th with an airing of the movie at local theaters and a discussion led by Ben Stein. Across PA, NJ, and DE, you'll be able to find participating theaters in Bensalem, King Of Prussia, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Voorhees, Warrington, and Wilmington. Check out the official site for all the details and to pre-order tickets. Let's see what April has to offer. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know. Enjoy! $20 and under, down to and including FREE...Pay As You Go (PAYG) also included here Philadelphia Thu. 3/26 - 75 Minute IPA Simul-Cask @Devil's Den, Grey Lodge, Memphis Taproom, Monk's, and Standard Tap, Philadelphia, PA (7:50pm; PAYG) Sun. 3/29 - Russian River Draft Promo @Capone's, Norristown, PA (10:00am; PAYG) Wed. 4/1 - 1 Year Late Grand Opening Party @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 4/1 - Firkin Wednesday (Flying Fish Farmhouse) @Standard Tap, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 4/2 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (Belgian Golden Ale) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6pm; PAYG) Sun. 4/5 - Dogfish Head Red and White on tap for Phillies Season Opener @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (11am; PAYG) Fri. 4/10 - Stoudt's-Don't Be Afraid of the Dark @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (6pm-9pm; PAYG) Sat. 4/11 - Split Thy Skull @Sugar Mom's, Philadelphia, PA (TBD, PAYG) Mon. 4/20 - 4/20 Everybody Must Drink Stone @Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, PA (5pm-8pm; PAYG) Wed. 4/22 - 1st Anniversary Party @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (5pm; PAYG) Tue. 4/28 - Meet The Brewer (Nøgne Ø) @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (5:30pm-7:30pm; PAYG) Philadelphia's close suburbs Tue. 3/31 - Meet the Brewer of Dock Street, Ben Potts @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 4/4 - Cleaning Out The Walk-in @TJs, Paoli, PA (4:00pm; PAYG) Sun. 4/5 - Russian River Brunch @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (11:00am; a la carte, PAYG) Sun. 4/19 - Bock Fest @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (11:00am; PAYG) Fri. 4/24 - Friday Night Tasting (New Holland) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; free) Sat. 4/25 - Hop Fest 5 @The Drafting Room, Spring House, PA (12:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 4/25 - Hallertau Hop Queen Visits Victory @Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA (1:00pm-3:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 4/30 - Pint Night with Founders Brewing @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Wed. 4/1 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (Sour Raspberry Witbier) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6pm; PAYG) Fri. 4/3 - Blue Point Promo (Hoptical Illusion cask plus Rastafar Rye) @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (4pm; PAYG) Fri. 4/3 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (Aged Imperial Stout) @Triumph, New Hope, PA (6pm; PAYG) Mon. 4/6 - Home Brew Supper Club @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ (6:30pm; BYOHB, that's Home Brew plus $20) Thu. 4/9 - Thursday Night Tasting (Philadelphia Brewing) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Fri. 4/10 - Triumph's 500th Brew Tapping (Über Pilsner) @Triumph, New Hope, PA (6pm; PAYG) Sat. 4/11 - Easter Hop Fest @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (1pm; PAYG) Wed. 4/15 - BEER 101 @Triumph, New Hope, PA (7pm; $20) Fri. 4/24 - Cask Ale Night (Victory: HopDevil, Hop Wallop, Storm King) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 4/24 - Hopback Firkin @Union Jack's, Boyertown, PA (4:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 4/30 - Thursday Night Tasting (Weyerbacher) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7pm-9pm; free) Elsewhere Thu. 3/26 - 75 Minute IPA Simul-Cask + A Full Lineup of Dogfish Head PLUS Sam Calagione himself @Barcade (Brooklyn), New York, NY (6:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 4/1 - The Magic Hat April Fools Bash @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Wed. 4/8 - The Smuttynose Event @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Thu. 4/9-Sun. 4/12 - 1st Cask Festival @The Gate, New York, NY (all day; PAYG) Wed. 4/15 - The He'Brew Slam @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (call for details) Wed. 4/29 - The Best from Duvel/Ommegang @Blind Tiger Ale House, New York, NY (4pm; PAYG) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Tue. 4/21 - Beer Dinner with Jean of Cantillon and Yvan & Bernard of Brasserie De la Senne @Monk's Cafe, Philadelphia, PA (7pm; TBD) Sat. 4/25 - Brew Fest Extravaganza @Manayunk Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (currently sold out, see website for details) Philadelphia's close suburbs Sun. 3/29 - 4th Annual Homebrewers Contest @High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ (12pm-3pm; $25) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Sun. 3/29 - 4th Annual Homebrewers Contest @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ (12:00pm-3:00pm; $25) Thu. 4/16 - For the Love of Chimay Tasting @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (6:30pm; $40) Sat. 4/18 - Flying Dog Beer Lunch @High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ (12:00pm; $45) Sat. 4/18 - The Big Beer Dinner Series #1 @Appalachian Brewing, Harrisburg, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; $50) Tue. 4/21 - Fine Feathered Friends Beer Dinner @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA (6:30pm; $40) Sat. 4/25 - Brewphoria 5 @Canal Street Pub & Restaurant, Reading, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; $35) Elsewhere Sat. 3/28 - 3rd Annual Spring Craft Beer Festival @Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY (12:30pm-4:00pm, 5:30pm-9:00pm; $45 general, $10 D.D.) Sun. 4/19 - Wide World of Cheese, A DFH Beer Dinner @Dogfish Head Brewery + Eats, Rehoboth Beach, DE (6:30pm; $57) Sun. 4/26 - The Biergarten Celebration @Hershey Gardens, Hershey, PA (1:00pm-4:00pm; $35)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pittsburgh, for beer and hockey

I'm going to keep the recap of my Pittsburgh trip this past weekend more to the pictures than the words. Wait, is that a dare I hear? You don't think I can do it, do you? Well, give a guy credit for trying... This was the annual hockey and beer trip to Pittsburgh. Though, this year was a bit subdued with, well, just two guys. But, where there are two guys, hockey, great beer, and a road trip, there are good times to be had...so party on Wayne...I mean Scott. Scott and I did a 36 hour roundtrip excursion to the west side of the state. Easy trip out and easy trip back, no snow in the mountains as occasionally happens on these trips. This being Scott's first trip to Pittsburgh since he was a wee laddie, I made sure that we stopped in at Fat Head's to watch the Villanova game. Food, sports, people-watching, and great beer...gotta be Fat Head's. He loved it. Surprisingly, it may have been the lightest crowd I've ever seen. Mind you, Pitt wasn't playing again until the next day and the Penguins as well. Still, there was a waiting list for tables, but room to breathe at the bar. The tap list? Admirable, as usual...see picture below. The food? Just what the doctor ordered...wings, fries, and all that good typical pub grub type of stuff. So, a handful of beers at Fat Head's during the easy Villanova win and we were off. Oh, by the way, the Cleveland outpost of the Fat Head's brewpub is slated for opening in just a couple of short weeks, April 7th to be exact. Needing to shed some of the bloat, we walked the almost exactly one mile from Fat Head's to the new Hofbräuhaus, just opened within the week prior of us walking through the doors. Popular this new place obviously is. According to an employee on Saturday afternoon, roughly 2,000 customers walked through the doors on Friday, the night before, alone. The outdoor patio seating that overlooks the river seems to be a perfect place to while away a perfectly good afternoon with a few liters of beer. The bar and biergarten area is nearing completion for the spring. Inside, row after row of communal style table seating allows strangers to become friends very quickly as they eat German fare, drink glasses of various German-style beers, and dance on the wooden tables and benches (strongly encouraged). Front and center in the hall is where the band (after 5pm) adds ambiance to the room and leads the customers in traditional German beer drinking songs. We put back the Dunkel and Hefeweizen before heading out. Unfortunately, not enough time (or appetite) on this trip to stick around for platters of wurst, schnitzel, or sauerkraut. Brian Parker had much more of a complete visit during his trip to Pittsburgh just days before mine. I suggest checking out his review if you'd like to know more details about the food and beer. One more stop for Scott and me before putting a wrap on the beer portion of this Pittsburgh trip. Church Brew Works puts out some decent beer, particularly some of their "specialty" (non year-round) beers and the food to complement the beers is likewise recommended. But, especially for first time visitors, the brewpub is must-see for the visuals. If you don't already know, CBW is located within a de-sanctified church (St. John the Baptist) in the Lawrenceville neighborhood just north of the Strip District. CBW is in its 13th year of operation and going strong. We stopped in for dinner (potato pierogie pizza) and a few more beers. The place was packed and Scott was duly blown away by the stained glass, the pipe organ, the beer, the crowds, and oh yeah the brewhouse on the former alter. It was a full day and we had Sunday with Flyers/Penguins hockey and the return trip home. It was finally time to call it a day. Pittsburgh has a great brewing and beer bar scene. We'll save more of it, perhaps, for a baseball trip. Pittsburgh, like Scott and I agreed, is a city whose appeal seems to only become evident after your first visit. If you'd like any tips, ask and I'll be glad to supply you with an itinerary for your visit. Now that wasn't too bad, was it? On to the pictures...
(just your average character on Carson Street in the Southside)
(New and Coming to Fat Head's)
(If you can't find something to your liking on Fat Head's tap list, then...)
(the usual suspects lined up outside the front entrance doors of Pittsburgh's new Hofbräuhaus)
(finishing exterior touches remain at the new Hofbräuhaus in the new SouthSide Works along the Monongahela river in Pittsburgh)
(Signs of München)
(a full hall of family, friends, and Gemuchlicheit on a Saturday afternoon)
(Roll out the barrel....prost!)
(Dancing on tables and benches is both allowed and suggested)
(a typical Saturday afternoon crowd or curious customers during opening week?)
(Ein groß Bier bitte!)
(Flyers captain, Mike Richards, prepares to take the faceoff...great seats, eh?)
(the Flyers goaltender, Martin Biron, awaits the faceoff)

Pyramid Rollicks in the Spring

I'm going to detour this conversation about Pyramid's latest Rollick Amber Lager before I even get started. I've received complimentary beer in the mail for some time now from breweries that apparently want me to taste their beer. Presumably, they also want me to write about it...likely with praise. Which I do, occasionally, but not often. I think this is worth more of an explanation. I wish to explain for two reasons. One, there seems to be no shortage of those out there in the bliggedy-blog world of beer writing who are more than pleased with themselves to point out each and every complimentary beer that they receive...and it's these who give at least light praise, if for nothing other than the beautiful packaging that the beer arrives within. (On the other hand and to be fair, I do realize that many bloggers who review beer do it fairly and out of their own pocket) Either it's a point of braggadocio or it's like they feel obliged to go as far out of their way to say something nice about it if for no other reason than it was sent to them for free and they might feel some sort of expectation to do so...and that they must comply, for fear of my next comment. Two, for not writing about beers that I've received, I'm almost certain that I've been dropped from brewery mailing lists. Now, mind you, at the end of the day I simply could not care less. As far as it concerns me and my personal consumption and written reviews, I have ample access to great beers from around the country and world. It never hurts to have more (and having them sent is awfully darn convenient), but receiving free beers in the mail ain't exactly gonna make or break my writing. That being said, why a brewery would drop me from a mailing list just because I haven't written about the beer they sent seems foolish. My circle of beer drinking friends (and, yes, perhaps influence) is wide. And, just because I choose to not write about it doesn't mean that it still won't be shared and/or discussed with friends. So, for any breweries out there who choose to do this free beer sample type of thing, listen up...this is how I approach the topic. If you send me a beer and I'm floored by it, it's a virtual stone-cold lock that I'll say something about it at The Brew Lounge. (And, in one of my favorite examples, if it's a really freaking good 12-pack of Gordon Biersch Dunkleweizen, I'll drink a few and give the rest out to friends for them to sample!) If you send a beer to me and it's good, but not great, it's a toss-up depending upon the state of my writing queue at the time. And, if it turns out to be a clunker, I'll promise to never write about it until I've found to be consistently clunky from my bottled mail sample, to a draft sample (anywhere), to a sample fresh at the source. Then, a negative review may just be in order if I feel it will benefit those who read it. That last comment I feel quite strongly about is how anyone writing any type of review-style comment (be it in a blog, a forum, or a ratings site) should approach their reviews. One sample does not always make an informed judgement. We would all do well to apply this to more than just beer reviews in our daily lives (boy, talk about calling Dr. Phil...sheesh!) HEY! There's actual a carrot here at the end of this quasi-rant. Pyramid's recent Rollick Amber Lager. I received this just before I left for San Francisco Beer Week...actually received two of them. Drank one the night before I left, loved it, and swore I'd write about it when I returned. So, two months go by and here I go. I finally drank the other one last night, and it still made me happy. It's a nice and clear filtered beer with a amber color (um, great call in the name!) and a modest head that hangs around for a while. The draw to me is the balance that Pyramid has created between an early summer tease of a nice easy lager (with a tiny bit of a spicy hop kick, a la pilsener) and a more substantial beer (the Rollick comes in at 6% ABV) suitable for colder spring nights. It turns out to be a great 'here comes summer' beer that pairs well with food too. Last night it was with a chicken-based wrap that it stood up well to and complemented. I realized I needed to get the word out to you when, first, I saw it on tap at the Oakland airport, and more recently when I checked Pyramid's website to see that it's only a spring seasonal that will start disappearing soon from store shelves. My advice? Get a six-pack while you still can.

Monday, March 23, 2009

PBW 2010: Be the First

I needed to change the subject here from '09 to '10, cuz I said I'd have nothing more to say about PBW 2009. Well, I don't...but "the organization" does. So, I'll twist it a bit and say this is about 2010 because the crafty folks at Philly Beer Week want your opinion and, in turn, want to make you among the first ticketed attendees of Philly Beer Week 2010. Read on and participate. Make your voice heard. You've been given the opportunity; don't squander it.
We are conducting a short survey to find out more information about your Philly Beer Week 2009 experience, and your time in the Philadelphia area. When you complete this survey you will be put into a drawing to win a Pair of Tickets to Opening Tap 2010 (5 pairs of tickets will be given away). In order to be eligible to win the tickets, please complete the survey by March 30th. Just cut and paste this link into your web browser (or click it, that works too) http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/?p=WEB228Y4G2BSWJ Thanks again for a great Philly Beer Week! We will not share your personal information with anyone. Cheers!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Philly Beer Week 2009: One Man's Quest to Cover Beer Week in Philadelphia

This page will be kept at the top and updated every day during Philly Beer Week with links to what I might do, what I did, and pictures of said stuff. I can't promise update times, so check back each day to find some new material that should hopefully give you a good insight into the wonder that is Philly Beer Week. (These daily links will go live each day after...) PBW 2009 - The Brew Lounge Wrap-Up ~ Day 1 Summary of What I Heard/Did; Day 1 Pictures ~ Day 2 Summary of What I Heard/Did; Day 2 Pictures ~ Day 3 Summary of What I Heard/Did; Day 3 Pictures ~ Day 4 Summary of What I Heard/Did; Day 4 Pictures ~ Day 5 Summary of What I Heard/Did; Day 5 Pictures ~ Day 6 Summary of What I Heard/Did; Day 6 Pictures ~ Day 7 Summary of What I Heard/Did; Day 7 Pictures ~ Day 8 Summary of What I Heard/Did; Day 8 Pictures ~ Day 9 Summary of What I Heard/Did; Day 9 Pictures (be sure to click "Show Info" in top right corner, I needed to switch over to Flickr) ~ Day 10 Summary of What I Heard/Did; Day 10 Pictures Schedule of Events ~ The Brew Lounge's Master List (downloadable spreadsheet, updated 3/5/09) ~ The Brew Lounge's Wish List of Events to Attend ~ Getting Around on $9 and Sippin' Safely with SEPTA ~ Mobile Maps corresponding to the Brew Lounge's spreadsheet of events, courtesy of Adam at BB2 ~ Philly Beer Week (official Website) ~ A Guide to PBW2008 Menus & Lists ~ Debuting Beers during Philly Beer Week, courtesy of Joe Sixpack ~ Opening Tap (List) at Comcast Center, via Jack Curtin ~ Following the Opening Tap's Hammer of Glory ~ Real Ale Invitational at Yards ~ Zythos America at UPenn ~ Smoke 'Em if you Got 'Em at Yards A few brewery profiles ~ Earth Bread + Brewery ~ Flying Fish ~ Sly Fox ~ Triumph ~ Victory ~ Yards Various takes on Philly Beer Week ~ Collin Flatt lets us know what he'll be up to during PBW over at Phoodie.info ~ Philadelphia Weekly Video, featuring George Hummel of Home Sweet Homebrew ~ And several more beery videos at Philly Weekly ~ Uwishunu's featured events ~ Don Russell's notebook ~ Philadelphia Weekly's featured events, per Suzanne Woods

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.

PBW 2009: Fritz Maytag brings Anchor to The Four Seasons

I may still have reservations about not attending The Four Seasons beer dinner with Fritz Maytag during Philly Beer Week. Fortunately, though, I'd stopped in for a bit of the meet and greet prior to the dinner. Certainly one of the highlights of my Philly Beer Week 2009. Since Bruce Nichols attended, I asked if he might like to share his reaction to the dinner. Keep in mind that he is one of the Philly Beer Week "committee members." But, I'm guessing that if he really wasn't all that thrilled with the dinner, he would have politely turned down my offer to write a few words for The Brew Lounge.
From Bruce Nichols: The Four Seasons Hotel can spot a star; they booked Fritz Maytag for a Philly Beer Week dinner early on and watched the reservations roll in. Then the waiting list swelled; then they opened an adjacent dining room. Lots of people wanted to spend an evening with the father of the craft brewing movement. Fritz has been a supporter of craft beer in Philadelphia for decades; at a 1992 Michael Jackson event at the Penn Museum, he launched Ninkasi, his recreation of the ancient beer spoken of in a hymn to Ninkasi, Sumerian goddess of beer. Most recently, he spoke at the memorial celebration for Michael Jackson at the Museum during Philly Beer Week 2008. This year, Fritz was enjoying himself. Before each course, he got up and said a few words about the Anchor beer being served. But at the table, he could not stop talking about the food. The chef had created a special five course beer dinner menu and Fritz was awestruck. He has probably soldiered through some less than sterling beer dinners, but this one hit his quality zone head on. He was a happy man. What else was on his mind? He waded right in to current controversy over the significance of style labels in beer. "What makes a beer a bock?" came a question. His answer: "Because it says so on the label," came his response; a recognizably Fritzian distillation that dismisses dimwits and pundits alike. He seemed to take a position very similar to that of Randy Mosher, another Philly Beer Week visitor, who views style labels at best as "markers" rather than exact guidelines or descriptors of the beer itself. But that is another topic. Andy Musser is Fritz’s local rep, and he brought us around to talking about Philly Beer Week 2010. How could Fritz help? I put the question to him directly: what would you like to do during Philly Beer Week next year? Anything you want me to, he said—which I took as a sign that he knew something very special is happening around beer in Philadelphia, something he wants to continue to be part of. Fritz inspires, just by being himself. Come out and meet him yourself next year.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

PBW 2009: Philadelphia's Beer Scene in the News

Over the past couple of weeks, mainstream media in the Philadelphia market has sure been awash in craft beer scene reporting. Most of it has been geared towards and inspired by Philly Beer Week. No matter the intent, the message has almost uniformly been very positive and likely a very good thing for the recognition and acceptance of (good) beer by the vox populi. Here's a quick index..... ABC-WPVI ~ Don Polec, on Beer & Chocolate at Iron Hill and Eclat in West Chester, PA ~ Karen Rodgers & Adam Joseph with a short FYI clip ~ Jim Gardner with an Opening Tap report from the Comcast Center ~ Matt O'Donnell with Tom Peters at Monk's ~ Matt O'Donnell's favorite beers ~ The "Big Story" at 5pm is Wegmans and Pennsylvania State beer sales and laws FOX-WXTF ~ Magic Hat Beer and their Thrill Show in Fairmount ~ Sam Calagione stops by for some schooling on beer, cheese, and chocolate ~ Jim Koch represents Sam Adams ~ Bruce Nichols describing and tasting PBW exclusives ~ Hugh Douglas at Pub & Kitchen cooking Mussels with Yards Brawler ~ Chris Leonard points out how Food & Beer Pairings can work ~ The Opening Tap kickoff at Comcast Center ~ Don Russell makes his choices for affordable beer CBS-KYW ~ CBS3 index of coverage ~ My Dock Street-to-Dock Street Beer Run ~ A slideshow of the Dock Street Beer run ~ KYW-1060 Opening Tap coverage ~ KYW-1060 Interview with Tom Peters NBC10 ~ Suzanne Woods on the 10! Show

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

PBW 2009: Day 10 Wrap-Up, It's A Wrap

Link to Day 10 Pictures What I did: I've got a new recipe for better running results. The day prior...Walk the city, ride in a car, drink a few beers during the day, and have a couple more with close to a pound of pasta at night at TJs. Wow, it worked! Sunday morning saw me have one of my strongest long runs ever. Period. I was so dumbfounded, that I mapped the route twice to make sure I'd mapped the route correctly the first time. I think I now have a new superstition... @Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at University of Pennsylvania, Zythos America Festival ---> By the time I cleaned up my stink from the run, rehydrated and refueled, printed forgotten tickets, we were a bit late getting to the tutored tasting with Chris Bauweraerts from Chouffe. We slithered in to two seats and caught up quickly with the first beer, Duvel (Classic, not Green). The tutored beer tasting moved on to Chocolate Indulgence and Abbey Ale from Ommegang, Houblon Chouffe, and Maredsous 10. The session went nicely and I'm going to try and keep things civil here, but everyone once in a while I need to throw out a reminder that we are all supposed to be mature adults, or at least act like them when the time calls for it. This message isn't for everyone, but yet should serve as a reminder to us all. Just because you've paid an admission and drizzle a few ounces of alcohol down your gullet does not (emphasize NOT) give you the right to be rude to an invited guest who is speaking to you all in a presentation style format. So, please, in these types of settings, remember what your parents (hopefully) told you when you were young: be courteous, shut yer yap, and pay attention. At least if you can't pay attention because (wah!) I can't understand his accent or (boo hoo!) this doesn't interest me...then please, still, just...shut...up. There are, believe it or not, people around you that are interested in what the speaker has to say. (I've resisted the use of all caps, but I'm close...watch it.) I saw this behavior a couple of years ago during Michael Jackson's last tasting at the Museum and was appalled then as I was this past weekend. Unfortunately, I was not so much surprised, I suppose, as I was just dumbfounded that such rude behavior could be displayed by people who want to be considered VIPs. Mind you, if you weren't there let me point out that the speaker took notice. Your rudeness continued beyond his pleas for "please," "your attention please," and "I'll wait." Perhaps, my dear friends, you are not the type that would display such boorish behavior. I believe that many of you that I know have better sense than that. But, how about the next time you're sitting next to someone like this, you and I both can make a huge spectacle of these people by sending up a big "SSShhhhh". What is wrong?! Breathe, Bryan, step away from the keyboard...can someone help reach for his blood pressure medication...okay better now. The funny thing is that it must have been the euphoric endorphins that still had not worn off yet from my morning run because, bothered as I was at the time, it seems that I more incensed now, dunnint? I don't like to use this place as a bully pulpit, but every once in a while some things must be said. Thanks for bearing with me. I'd say this unfortunate {insert adjective here} behavior extended into the general admission tasting upstairs as well. One brewer, who'd come from Yards Real Ale Invitational, mentioned that he only wanted to stop in briefly at Zythos because he feared that Zythos would have a higher {insert adjective here} quotient (or maybe it's an adverb, I sometimes get them confused) than would the event at Yards. He said he was right. Let's leave it at that. Belgians abounded. Italians were there and gone. And Belgian-inspired beers from American brewers were sprinkled between. Tables were shut down left and right as bottles and kegs were drained. This was a good thing, as which brewer/rep wants to take beer home? Unfortunately for me that meant while I was rinsing the glassware from a lovely Hanssens Gueuze, Bill Moore's (Lancaster Brewing) Tripple disappeared as quickly as I was speaking with him. This happened many times I we made our way around the festival. For as well as The Brewer's Plate went in this venue, a couple of suggestions are worth offering up related to the Zythos America festival. And, these can certainly be applied to other festivals as well. In no way are these challenges unique to this festival. First, water should be made more readily available for two things, rinsing glasses and drinking. Perhaps I don't understand the economics of a well-run beer festival, but that free drinking water cannot be supplied by the organizers or a sponsor somehow escapes me. And, for rinsing? Rule of thumb, every table should have a pitcher of rinse water...simple. Especially at a festival like this where the flavor and texture of the beers being poured nearly requires it. Second, please for better signage at the tables. How difficult it was to find what we were looking for around the Museum or craning our necks to simply see what was in front of us at the time was incredibly painful. I'll bet a good reason I didn't find many of the beers that I would have liked to find before they disappeared to the crazed beer seekers was because of poor signage and/or lack of a venue map. Sure these were some issues that concerned me. Don't take this has too harsh of criticism, though. Behavior of attendees is certainly out of the control of anyone except the individuals and the festival shortcomings that I pointed out plague many festivals. However, the lines to move people inside appeared quite efficiently run and the politeness of museum staff and volunteers was quite evident. The quality of beers brought? Outstanding. There aren't many festivals around that pour a better lineup of beers that was offered at Zythos America. And, on one final note. It was not totally unexpected, but still a bit of surprise to end PBW the way I began, sharing a beer with Dane Wells. A distinguished (he was the one in a sports coat and tie, not acting like one of those fools I described earlier, in case there was any question) gentleman educated in the ways of good beer for many years, Dane, his wife, and a friend shared a Flying Fish Abbey Dubbel with me at Doobies at my very first stop on the PBW tour Friday the 6th. Here at Penn, we recapped the week and our impressions of the VIP session (he concurred, by the way) over a couple of Brooklyn beers. Hm, but would I have preferred the Real Ale Festival? We'll never know... @Fergie's for One Last Call for T.U.D. ---> The great thing about the Philadelphia Beer Region (the best kind of PBR, ha) is that Philly Beer Week never really ends. Every day and night around these here parts easily shows why this region is one of the country's best. But, after 10 solid days of selling, repping, talking, showing off, and traipsing around town, those who made Philly Beer Week happen all descended upon the most likely place to celebrate their success...Fergie's on Sansom Street. I heard at least a couple of brewers talk of 20-30 events that they each conducted during the 10 days. I conducted one of my own, attended at least a part of 30 others, and dropped in on 4 establishments while they were "off-event." To say that everyone needed a little unwind time on Sunday night might have been an understatement. Sleep could come later. Let's see what else can I share with you. I like to say that the T.U.D. is an event where cameras go away, notepads and memories should likewise be turned off and everyone relaxes outside the limelight of PBW. But, when folks like Ric Hoffman, Tom Kehoe, Mike Fava, Collin Flatt, Michelle Woods, and Fergie Carey are swinging the mic, well things like that is what YouTube is for. You can check out my stills or head over to this page for videos that are sure to delight. Ric, love the tenor. We reluctantly gave up our front-and-center parking spot just before 11pm. I can only imagine how much longer the antics inside continued. So, there you have it. Ten days of beer mischief and discoveries in Philadelphia. Did you think we could do it? Everyone was confident. That said, Philly Beer Week 2009 exceeded, I believe, everyone's expectations...even given its massive scope. The energy around the region was amazingly palpable. Now, for an encore...time to start planning for 2010. (Don't think these conversations haven't already begun.) Check back later this week for my one last wrap-up of PBW 2009 observations.

Monday, March 16, 2009

PBW 2009: Day 9 Wrap-Up and Day 10 Preview

Link to Day 9 Pictures What I did: This was intentionally a "slow" day for me. With an 18-mile run in front of me on Sunday morning, I needed to dramatically scale back my involvement in PBW's Day # Nine. Here goes...(went) @Kite & Key, Throwdown in Franklintown ---> In my quest to visit 10 new bars during Philly Beer Week 2009, number 7 came on day 9 at the Kite & Key just down the road from where I used to live. I've run by Kite & Key several times over the past 6 months or so, never stopping in...crazy willpower thing. This was a must-do event on my PBW calendar. I had the vision of an event that would be the perfect marriage of people, spectacle, beer, and community. Boy, was I right on. When the beer can even take a back seat, it becomes even better. Seriously, meet and greets can be fine. But, work in a burlesque show, a cheesesteak cook-off, a beer geek trivia contest, or a sumo wrestling match and you've got the makings of something special. Compare how much fun you can say you had at a meet and greet compared to a sumo wrestling match featuring local beer personalities. Sure, it's nice to meet someone that you admire who makes a food or beverage that you enjoy. You may even get a pointer or two that could help you in your own pursuit of cooking food or beer. But, fun...did you have fun?That's what these events are all about. Beer, People, Fun...and not necessarily in that order...oops, did I already make this point? I only met one person all week who didn't seem to care about having fun, just negativity. And, I think if you read just a little closely, who know what I think of him. Back on topic, please. This was a top 5 event of the week. I've already come out and said this. You could have served me Yuengling Lager all afternoon (some of you may know my aversion to the Lager...not all of Yuengling's products, just the Lager) and this still would have been one of the week's best events. I mean, seriously. Did you check out my pictures? (link is at top of page...okay, fine, I'll put it here too) Did you check out the linked video at The Beer Lass's? So let me try to sum this up for you. ~ Steve Mashington channeling his best Michael Buffer. ~ Tom Kehoe, from parts unknown and weighing in at one metric ton, was brought in on a forklift across the street from the beer distributor. Led by geisha girls compliments of IPA Beer Club. ~ Jim Kirk (partner in Kite & Key), not to be outdone, brought in by Philly Finest from the 9th District, full lights and sirens blaring. Who has video of this? ~ Nipple tweaking, head butting, ring around the rosy, and two overstuffed guys who couldn't get up without help from others. ~ What more do you want?! ~ Okay, beer highlight at Kite & Key: Yards Love Stout on handpump. Seriously, is there anywhere that Yards wasn't this year? Did they make up for not quite being ready to re-open at last year's PBW? Smoke 'Em, Cask Ale, Throwdown, Firkin Tastings around Town. These were just a few of the highlights from a PBW that has everyone talking Yards. By the way, has everyone wished brewer Tim Roberts congratulations on the birth of his and wife's baby girl (Grace Claire)? Cheers Roberts Family! (Sorry you had to miss a lot of this) @The Belgian Cafe with Chouffe & Chris Bauweraerts ---> Our dogs had the great pleasure, though I'm still not quite sure if they saw it this way, of attending two beer events this year. We figured, back in the old neighborhood, with at least one event being outdoors, that it would be a great opportunity to get the dogs some exercise during PBW instead of leaving them at home yet again. I think they enjoyed the beginning of the Throwdown, but then got tired of standing and dropped to the ground. They had a nice walk to The Belgian Cafe, where we showed up in time to catch up with Chris from Chouffe, Larry Bennett and Megan Maguire from Ommegang. Chris had given a PowerPoint presentation to a packed room of eager participants. Then, had them all vote for their favorite from the tasting flight. And if I heard correctly, the participants then all received a complimentary glass of the beer they'd chosen as their favorite. Quite a nice afternoon of generous beer from the sounds of it. So, I chatted a bit with Chris, his friend from New Jersey (apologies for the name or lack thereof), Larry, and Megan. They were pleased with the afternoon attendance and were looking forward to the next day's events at UPenn's Museum event. I grabbed a couple of beers to take outside where Patrick generously set us up with a couple of chairs so that we didn't have to tie up the dogs and leave them alone. We had a nice visit with an old friend and a couple of new ones out on the sidewalk. In just a few short weeks, I'm sure tables will start popping up outside where we can sit and nosh with the pooches by our side, Cuvee Notredame style, or Tavern on Green style if you prefer...or maybe it's just simply Belgian Cafe style. Ah, spring is coming... @TJs, Weed & Breckenridge ---> Now it was time to buckle down and get back to Chester County for a proper carbo-loading meal for the next morning's run. I'd kept things pretty well under control during the day. A couple beers at each stop and water in between as well. After dropping off the dogs at home, it was back to TJs in Paoli to see which of the Weed beers remained from the event earlier in the day. Apparently they only had two to begin with, Amber and IPA. I chose IPA, I chose poorly! I got the last 1/4 glass of it and let the head settle. Nice aroma, seemed to drink decently for an IPA, even one that represented literally the bottom of the barrel. The amber was fine and seemed to go well with my french onion soup, but overall did not knock my socks off. Somehow, gee wonder how, I'd missed that Saturday was a two-fer at TJs. They had John Jordan (brewer) from Breckenridge in and Bernie from Stockertown to represent. John's wife Judy (please say that I got your name right) accompanied him and paid me a nice compliment. She said, listen up PBW webbie peeps, that they (at the brewery) relied on my spreadsheet extensively to plan their trip after getting frustrated using the official website. So on multiple days of being around town, they were easily able to figure out what to do and then quickly recalibrate their plans when conflicts arose. You know I'll have more to say about this in my final wrap-up and thoughts later this week. So, it was 3/4 pound of pasta, bread, soup, salad, and two Breck Beers (IPA and Bock) to give me my pre-run fueling. I learned a little bit about John's present in Colorado and his past in Glassboro and a brewing neighbor of his...Kevin Finn (yes, Iron Hill). Then, with all of my discipline and willpower intact, even in the face of a proffered beer, we went on into the good night to do battle once again on Sunday. What I might do tomorrow: Sunday will be the day to end all Philly Beer Weeks. While I'd love to be a superstar and try to hit both Real Ale (at Yards) and Zythos (at Penn) on opposite ends of town, the lineup at Zythos looks just so great that it's gonna win out this time. Plus, with only so many hours in the day and the need to get in my 18-miler, it'd be the prudent thing to do, y'think? 3pm; @UPenn Museum, Zythos America ---> Getting to attend two festivals in a week under the Museum's Rotunda will be an added treat to an already great week. Plus, lots of great beer from across the pond, and some from here too. 7:05pm; @Fergie's, T.U.D. ---> The oh-so-Unnecessary, but totally you've-got-to-do-this Drink. Everyone unwinds, sings, laughs, drinks, and talks about how it's time to get back to "normal." Good luck with that! Can't wait...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

PBW 2009: to be continued

I had such a great 18-mile run this morning, thanks in part to a huge pasta meal last night at TJs, along with a Weed Ale and Breckenridge Bock. Thanks guys. My run gave me about 2 1/2 hours to think about why PBW is one of the greatest things to happen to the beer and food industries. I'll share some of that with you later this week. Now, I'm ready to drink some great beer at Zythos on Day 10, this last totally necessary day of Philly Beer Week 2009. Unfortunately, with only so many hours in a day, Day 9's & 10's wrap-up will have to wait until at least tomorrow. Day 9 pictures are up on my index at the top of the page here, so go and check them out. One thought I'll leave you with. If anyone tells you that the Tom Kehoe/Jim Kirk Throwdown in Franklintown yesterday was not a Top 5 event of PBW 2009, they're either lying or they weren't there. So there :) I'll have much more to share with you about it later. Carry on...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

PBW 2009: Day 8 Wrap-Up and Day 9 Preview

Link to Day 8 Pictures What I did: Okay, so the word that I got is that two stellar beers, Da Phunk (Nodding Head) and Jay's Way (Triumph) are gone. Da Phunk will be seen again, but only by a select lucky few. Jay's Way is due to return in about 6 months. Stay tuned... @Yards, Smoke 'Em ---> The Yards brewery was a perfect venue for hosting a meat 'n' greet. A whole lot of meats prepared different ways from around 15 entrants in the BBQ contest. Around 20 beers from the U.S. and Germany to round out this smokin' event. By 1:30pm, all 288 specially-designed glasses that had been ordered for the event were gone. Estimates were placed close to 500 over the course of the afternoon for this well-conceived event. By 5pm, only a couple of guests beers remained, people were still coming through the door (some presumably returning from The Grey Lodge), and Yards was pulling out some their brands. The beer was good, the food was better, but to me the winner factor in the day at Yards was the people and camaraderie on a beautifully brisk Friday afternoon in the city. Guys milling around outside puffing a stogie, people mingling through the brewhouse checking out Yards relatively new brewing operation, music pumping through the tasting room area (home to a future restaurant operation?), and people just generally relaxing and enjoying good food and drink is what made this one of the week's best events. Here's hoping that Tom Kehoe also got his share of carbs, and not just protein, on Friday in preparation his big wrestling match on Saturday at Kite & Key. @Standard Tap, Victory ---> Standard Tap is barely a 10 minute walk under I-95 from Yards. So, getting back from the waterfront to wherever I was going next seemed to make sense by way of Standard. Happy to oblige common sense since this would make my second trip of the week to one of Philly's classic corner bars. Victory was due to be flowing from 4pm-6pm (believe the calendar may even still reflect this, ggrrr.) And, it actually was. I wasn't sure anyone would be there representing the brewery, but not matter. I ran into the cycling beer lover, Jeff Appletans, and shared a WildDevil with him. Later come to find out that Tracy and Bill were en route, but my time was up and I was moving on. They were there from 6pm-8pm and with a full chalkboard of great Victory beers, plus a couple on handpump, I'm sure it was a great night. @13 at Marriott, Sam Adams ---> I posted the press release for this event at this new bar in the Downtown Marriott. I had a nice sample of Blackberry Wit, which was being released in Pennsylvania early, in conjunction with PBW. I couldn't see making the Wit a permanent fixture in my lineup, but it certainly had a nice identifiable fruit flavor, though just a tad heavy on my palate, that I could imagine enjoying once in a while and one that I know others would enjoy even more. @Irish Pol, Weyerbacher ---> The Irish Pol is the former Jaegers, right? Never been there either. The Irish Pol seems like a great drinking bar and is just down the street from Benneluxx and across from National Mechanic's. The scene was a bit chaotic. Chris Lampe was standing in for Weyerbacher and AroundMainLine.com's Sarah Lockard (who'd recently done a nice profile of the brewery) was there to help promote as well. So, it was just a quick Double Simcoe (is there such a thing?) and I was off. I was crashing quick. Between my morning run and walking the city, I was exhausted. Patty and I arranged to meet TJs for that oh-so-special T.U.D....this time a Renard D'Or from Sly Fox. Nice....then a pizza pickup and home to go horizontal. By the way, it was my first day's experience with the SEPTA $9 pass. What a steal. I believe my estimation was that I got over on SEPTA by around 10 bucks. Don't tell them, or we may not get the same deal next year. What I might do tomorrow: Methinks Saturday will be a light day storing up my energy for an 18 mile run on Sunday, to be followed by a crazy last day of PBW 2009. If my morning was freer (that's a word, right?), I'd stop by to hears Tales from Jack at Standard Tap, but it won't be in the cards. 2pm; @Belgian Cafe, Chouffe ---> I missed Chouffe at Eulogy on Friday, so a stop in for a glass or two at Monk's sister establishment in Fairmount should be a no-brainer. 2:30pm; @Kite & Key, Smackdown ---> Chouffe is a no-brainer, because it's just a few blocks from Kite & Key, and my must event for Saturday. Many of you have heard me say that I enjoy spectacles...not just the eyepieces, but events that a bit unusual, interesting. Well, this is certainly one of them. Tom Kehoe, Jim Kirk, wrestling. Should be a blast. Then, it's back to TJs for some leftover Weed. Cuz, I haven't had weed in a while ;-) Weed is a brewery out of Northern California. You thought Californians were different? Northern, way northern, California is out there. Weed came to PA recently, and TJs is promoting them on Saturday. I'm sure I'll miss whoever's repping them, but we'll stop in for a big pasta/carb dinner and grab whatever's left of the weed...I mean, Weed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

PBW 2009: Day 7 Wrap-Up and Day 8 Preview

Link to Day 7 Pictures What I did: @Four Seasons, Meet Fritz Maytag ---> After missing Fritz Maytag at Anchor's kickoff to San Francisco Beer Week, I wanted to check out the Four Seasons for two reasons: to see one of the industry's most vaunted figures, and to see how the high-end hotel chain accommodates the kind of beer we enjoy. The meet and greet reception was a bit tough to get a gauge on the hotel's approach to craft beer. They did have a formal presentation of the beer in the middle of the room, but yet no one from the restaurant staff to advise guests on how to actually obtain a beer. We got our beer from the bar, but even that seemed a bit awkward. No worries, I suppose. I made my way to speak with Andy Musser and Fritz Maytag. It looks like I blew my one chance to get a taste of the Potrero-aged Anchor beer the other night when Andy brought a bottle of it to Brother Paul's in Eagleville. When I hit that proverbial fork in the road on Tuesday, I went home fearing that a trip to see Anchor could turn into a later night that I was planning for. Ah, those forks in the road... So, it was a nice meetup with Fritz, Andy, and a few other beer fans at the Four Seasons. Their dinner was about to begin. I'll be anxious to hear from Bruce Nichols, who stayed for the dinner, and his reactions to the dinner. My road from here was somewhat undecided...and so, to a certain degree, was Jennie Hatton's. We left together and plotted our course as we went. @Tir Na Nog, Chimay/Bobo ---> Well...not exactly. In keeping with last year, Bobo has stayed one step ahead of The Brew Lounge. This time, after leaving the Four Seasons, Jennie and I stopped in at Tir Na Nog hoping to find some Chimay before his scheduled 6:30pm departure. Turns out that departure was a bit premature. So, we departed as well. Can't chalk up this event. @Time, Green Flash ---> Here, at Time, we found some friendly faces in Chris Leonard and Chuck Silva of Green Flash. Chuck provided some of the background of their relationship and Chris gave some unedited, of which will go unprinted, blog outtakes ;-) The Trippel, which I feel that we don't see all that often around Philly...maybe I'm wrong, went down real nicely and then was followed by a double stout, which was also very well done but I don't think my palate was quite ready for at that time of early evening. Hated to leave Chuck and Chris, but our cross-town journey continued. @Triumph, Klash of the Kaisers ---> But, continued to Triumph it did not. No worries, we'd get there right? Well, not with my late night train awaiting me and three other stops that we made before Triumph. There had originally been no doubt that my Day 7 night would center around this event. (See, I need to be really dramatic about this point, so that Jennie feels badly that she got out of the cab in Old City and I kept going when the time came to 11pm. I'll be waiting on my growler of "Jay's Way.") Two reasons I looked forward to this event and hope that it lived up to them. One, in the midst of all the barrel, sour, abv, adjunct hype, an event that celebrates well-made pilsners sounds like a great event. Plus, two, there was a tribute (both a toast and a special beer, I'm guessing a toast with said beer) to Jay Misson. Beer lovers far and wide owe it to Jay's short, but well-lived life to show up tonight and raise a glass. Then, you can go back to your triple imperial barrel-aged Brett beers with gooseberries thrown in the secondary ;-) @Dark Horse, Yuengling ---> These next three events I could never had predicted I would arrive at, but with Jennie committed to making visits, I thought that they all sounded pleasant enough, so what the heck? And, I wouldn't turn back on one of them. At Dark Horse, ah the old stomping ground of the Dickens Inn, they were hosting Yuengling reps, including fifth-generation Yuengling---Wendy. Apart from having an extremely pleasant meetup with these folks, I had the chance to try the Yuengling Bock. And, how about that? Mighty impressive. Now, I'll need to have at least one more run at it to see if my palate still tells me the same thing, but I'm guessing that my reaction to this easy-drinking but firm bock was right on. @O'Neals, Atwater Block ---> After a slice of Lorenzo's pizza (a longtime gem on South Street), Jennie and I headed to O'Neals on 3rd Street just off South. Again, not one of my first list of events, but once again a very nice meetup, this time with Atwater Block owner, Mark Rieth and Peter/Bear Brett from Stockertown Beverage. The Voodoo Vator, wow! One of the sneakiest 9.5% ABVs I've had in quite a while. The taste, not the alcohol, really shines in this doppelbock. Also had a try of the Dirty Blonde, which at least at the moment was a bit too heavy on my palate for a wheat beer. I'm still deciding whether to rant about an unfortunate run-in with a blowhard at O'Neal's. We'll see; I don't do that sort of thing too much around, so if I do you can be sure it'll be a doozy. @For Pete's Sake, Allgash/Rob Tod ---> And, the nail in my night that canceled any Triumph plans came in the form of Rob Tod, Curt Decker, distributors, and a houseful of Allagash beer at For Pete's Sake, one of the city's lesser known gems. A good time, might even be one of those unexpected highlights of PBW, that I would never turn down. But, being down in South Philly with an approaching train clear across town, there was no way that I'd be getting my pilsners on this night. Hopefully, when I cruise through Old City on Friday, they'll still be pouring Jay's Way tribute pilsner. Please... What I might do tomorrow: 9am; @Grey Lodge, Friday the Firkinteenth (shuttle from Yards) ---> I may only go to this if the shuttle bus appears convenient between Yards and Grey Lodge. Even though I expect the Yards event to be extremely popular, should I apologize for not wanting to throw elbows at Grey Lodge to toss back small glasses of beer? 11am; @Yards, Smoke 'Em ---> At Yards' brewery, I expect crowds but with the ability to move around and, weather and permits permitting, even outside. This is one of the top 5 events I was looking forward to going into PBW 2009; I'm trusting it won't disappoint. I may even come and go more than once. By the way, there is now a $25 option that covers all beers instead of the $15 cover which includes one beer (unless Mashington was just making that up the other night?) 4pm; @Plough and Stars, Fergal Murray and Guinness ---> At some point during PBW, I will get the chance to toss back a Guinness with the brewmaster. It seems to make the most sense to do it in Old City after Yards and on my way back into Center City. 5pm; @13 at Marriott, Sam Adams ---> I posted the press release for this event at this new bar in the Downtown Marriott. If for nothing else, I may stop by at 5pm for the special PBW release of Blackberry Wit. 6pm; @Irish Pol, Weyerbacher ---> Just curious as to what The Irish Pol is all about. Weyerbacher being there doesn't hurt either. DINNER??? ---> Dinner, dinner...where to get dinner? 7pm; @Eulogy, Chouffe ---> Dinner will probably be in Old City. Because after the Guinness toast with Fergal, it's a 42 second walk to Eulogy for some lovely Chouffe beer. 7pm; @Good Dog, Sly Fox/Southampton ---> Suzy, Spencer, Sly Fox, Southampton...sure. 8pm; @Moriarity's, Ballast Point ---> Had a brief taste of Ballast Point during Sunday brunch at Bridgid's. Hope to get more of it at Moriarity's before heading home.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

PBW 2009: Some new Sam Adams at a New Bar on Market Street

I didn't plan to litter my Philly Beer Week coverage with press releases, but this is a new one that seems like it's timely and deserved a bit of attention. As I'd mentioned somewhere in the recent past, I wanted to see two things during PBW (well, primarily two). One, I wanted to get to ten new places I hadn't been to before. Two, I wanted to see how higher-end establishments were presenting and promoting craft beer. This press release appears to fit both. A new restaurant/bar in the Downtown Philadelphia Marriott is serving up Sam Adams beer, one per hour for 13 hours. At least one will be a new product, the Blackberry Wit. And the timing my fit my schedule just right for a late afternoon/early evening visit. Here you go...
13/13/13 at Philadelphia Marriott Downtown: Sample 13 beers for 13 hours at 13 PHILADELPHIA, PA— 13, the new-American restaurant in Center City’s Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, will host “13/13/13” on Friday, March 13 in celebration of Philadelphia Beer Week. Thirteen just became Philadelphia’s lucky number. 13/13/13 is a beer aficionado’s dream. Beginning at noon on Friday, March 13, and continuing through midnight, patrons will enjoy free samples of thirteen styles of famous Sam Adams beers—one new style unveiled each hour for thirteen hours at 13. Customers will savor samples ranging from Hefeweizen to Cherry Wheat to Irish Red Ale to Cream Stout while complimentary appetizers will fortify guests until the next round. And when patrons focus on a favorite brew, they can also enjoy $3 specials on any Sam Adams beer all day long. Plus, 13 will unveil new Sam Adams Blackberry Wit at 5pm. Though not available elsewhere in Philadelphia until April, this newly crafted beer will debut at 13 and continue to be served here exclusively throughout the month. 13/13/13 is the beer lover’s event that will satisfy the palate while introducing a beer enthusiast to fantastic new brews. 13 styles of Beer • 13 hours • 13 Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Thirteen—The stylish new restaurant and bar in the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown draws its moniker from the original 13 colonies and features vibrant American cuisine, stepped up and inspired with modern culinary verve and regional influences. Thirteen is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. 1201 Market St., 215-625-6795.

PBW 2009: Day 6 Wrap-Up and Day 7 Preview

Link to Day 6 Pictures What I did: Thanks to Mrs. Brew Lounge for grabbing the camera. You'll notice more pictures of me in here than ever before recorded here at this site! Center City Pub Crawl ---> By the time we joined up with the crew, they were already at McGlinchey's (Yards Smoked Polish Wheat) meaning we'd missed them there and previously at Jose Pistola's (Stoudt's Pilsner). We decided to head straight to Good Dog (Iron Hill Pig Iron Porter) and secure a spot before the crowds showed up. Funny thing is that's what many others attempted to do as well. It was hard to tell if Center City is simply a great, teeming bar town on an average Wednesday or if a lot of the crowds at the Pub Crawl stops were at least partly attributable to Beer Week? There was no bar that we stopped at that wasn't already at least moderately crowded even before the Pub Crawl showed up. Once again, like last year, with a tap in one hand and the cowbell in another, a gaggle of brewers and their followers criss-crossed the city streets from bar to bar kicking quarter kegs (last year was sixtels) in near record time everywhere they went. Pub Crawl t-shirts were available for sale this year. (There may still be some left on Friday at Yards.) Classy t-shirts this year with caricatures of local beer personalities (matching caricatures, done by local artist Jim Comey, hang on the restaurant wall of Nodding Head) decorate the shirt. A 180 degree classiness turnaround from last year's unforgettable t-shirt design. We joined up with Partyin' Pub Crawl at Good Dog, Black Sheep (Flying Fish Hoppy Belgian Tripel), Nodding Head (Nodding Head Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse) and Fergie's (Tröegs Nugget Nectar). A small, um, snafu found the Nugget Nectar gone (as in, no more for you or any of your crazy vagabond friends) at Fergie's even before the Tröegs brew crew (Nick, Chris B., John) showed up. Some stayed, as we did, to have some of their HopBack Amber or other decent beers that Fergie's typically carries. Others skipped ahead to Time (Sly Fox Gang Aft Agley), while we skipped Time and joined everyone at McGillin's (All 7 brewers and their beers). Timeout: Didn't know where to fit this, so here goes. A new entry to my list of favorite beers of Philly Beer Week is Da Phunk from Nodding Head. This beer won't last long and is a Brett beauty. This is a beer so good that you could simply sit and smell all day...and the tart and funky flavors lived up to the aroma. On this night, it pleased me much more than the Berliner Weisse. Timeout over, game on... And, when I say everyone, I mean...EVERYONE. Chris Mullins, proprietor, welcomed everyone and kicked things off. Don Russell stepped up to the mic for a few words. It may be time to start compiling a Joe Sixpack quote book. Who needs Ben Franklin's "Beer is living proof....blah, blah" when you have Joe thanking everyone for making Philly Beer Week successful and proclaiming that real Philadelphia beer drinkers always double-fist (I did hear that correctly, did I not Don?) Every brewery that was represented on the Pub Crawl has their beer in the newly and beautifully renovated second floor of McGillin's. Upstairs was good thing given the hideous karaoke being, must I say, performed downstairs. Even the Nugget Nectar was here and that was of course a very good thing. As was the Exit 4 from Flying Fish, the Pig Iron Porter from Iron Hill and whatever else was thrust into my hand. Dunno what else I can share with you about the night. What do you want? It was another legendary pub crawl, replete with brewers from both near and far, beer fans of every stripe, with tons of mash tun tomfoolery to go around. It's not really so much a night to write about. It really needs to be seen first hand to be experienced. Or it needs to be experienced to be understood...or something like that. Oh, and of course, the daily T.U.D.? At Bridgewater's, duh. For some reason, with 4 minutes to spare for the train, we thought a Lancaster IPA was a good idea. At least we shared one glass instead of getting one for each of us. We is smart, ja? What I might do tomorrow: @Field House, Sierra Nevada ---> I walked right by the new Field House (former location of now defunct Independence Brewing Co. at the Reading Terminal Headhouse) and didn't poke my head in. I'd like to see what they're all about and get a quick taste of maybe something new from Sierra Nevada. @Tir Na Nog, Chimay/Bobo ---> Chimay & Bobo are two reasons to make me stop at Tir Na Nog, which might otherwise not happen @Four Seasons, Meet Fritz Maytag ---> I'm very anxious to see how a high-end hotel like The Four Seasons accommodates craft beer and what type of clientele shows up @Triumph, Klash of the Kaisers ---> If I do only one thing on Thursday night of Day 7, it will be this. A bunch of locally-made pilsners and a tribute to Jay Misson is all you need to know. Be there! @Good Dog or P.O.P.E., Ithaca ---> Love Ithaca...and love the show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. That would get me to the P.O.P.E. But since that's a bit of a hike from Old City, I might settle for catching up with Ithaca instead at Good Dog...a good bar. @Monk's, Elysian/Buhler ---> And, if there's any energy left in the tank before train out, a visit in to Monk's for the visiting Dave Buhler from the excellent northwest's Elysian.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

PBW 2009: Pub Crawlin' in Phoenixville, March 14th, 2009

It doesn't look like I'll make it to Phoenixville's Pub Crawl on Saturday the 14th. If you'll be in the area looking for some fun people, interesting brewers, and great beer, here's a list of why I'd go if I were you. Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant ---> Iron Hill cleaned up this year at GABF in Denver. Most of the reason was probably due to my presence. But if you stop by Iron Hill on Saturday, you'll get a chance to taste any or all of the rest of the reason for their success: the beer and the brewers. They're calling it Heavy Medal (a t-shirt for this sounds like a great idea!) and the 6 beers are: Vienna Lager (Gold); Saison (Gold); Lambic de Hill (Gold); Roggenbier (Gold); Cherry Dubbel (Silver); and Cassis de Hill (Bronze). A few of the brewers will be there too. Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery ---> Will be very cool to see the reverse meetup of William Reed (Standard Tap owner/former brewer) in Brian O'Reilly's house. Their collaborative beer, Standard Ale, is a 5.6% cask-conditioned ale that's back for another year of Philly Beer Week antics. Columbia Bar & Grille ---> Charming building with Charming Brewer Bill Moore from Lancaster BC 101 Bridge ---> I know nothing about 101 Bridge except for its facade that I pass on Bridge Street. A meetup with Stoudt's is as good of a reason as any to learn more. Molly Maguire's Irish Restaurant ---> Is there any place in the 'burbs that seems more appropriate to meet the Guinness Master (Fergal Murray from 1pm-3pm) than at Molly Maguire's? If you've got any ill conceived notions about Molly's, put them aside for an afternoon, go and check it out, then get back to me. By the way, Bill Covaleski will be there from 3pm-5pm. How about a Donnybrook/Guinness Challenge? Pickering Creek Inn ---> I love Blue Point Toasted Lager as an easy-drinking almost session beer. When I was told that Pickering Creek had tapped it, along with an ever-improving beer list (Russian River, anyone?), they came up on my radar list. Then Jack Curtin wrote about them. Now they're featuring Weyerbacher (Chris Lampe) & Southampton (Spencer Neibuhr) during the Pub Crawl. PJ Ryan's ---> Flying Fish Brewing's Drew Perry...maybe with some Exit 4, some Abbey Dubbel, HopFish, or remaining Grand Cru Winter Reserve would be great. Epicurean Restaurant & Bar ---> Another Yards Throwdown? He might meet his match against Dogfish, the two breweries pouring at Epicurean, a pleasant restaurant a bit hidden along route 113 on the way south out of Phoenixville. Don't know who either brewery is sending, especially when all eyes will be on Tom Kehoe at Kite & Key. Epicurean's takeout is another bit of a hidden gem and reason to stop there on Saturday.

PBW 2009: Day 5 Wrap-Up and Day 6 Preview

Link to Day 5 Pictures What I did: @Exton Beverage, a tasting of barleywine ---> On my way to wherever the car would lead, I stopped off at Exton Beverage, knowing that they were doing a daily style sampling for their customers during PBW. Happenstance happened and it was barleywine that was being poured on Tuesday, Day 5, from Brooklyn, Clipper City, Sierra Nevada, and Victory. Not too shabby for a tasting, eh? The daily tastings, plus a beer education table shows that the guys at Exton Beverage are serious about helping customers learn more about the beer that they are (or maybe are not) drinking. @The Drafting Room, for no reason ---> I moved up the road a mile or so to find my Lancaster County correspondent dining with a friend at The Drafting Room's bar. I figured that I probably would not get another chance to check out TDR during PBW, so this was a nice and short happy hour with a friend (and Sean, Heather, and Howard too!). But, I got a chance to see the excellent two beer/two courses special that they're running all week along. Check it out over here. @Uno Chicago Grill, Sly Fox and craft beer ---> If you read closely around these parts, you probably know that I have been a bit critical of some of these so-called "events" during Philly Beer Week. I don't mind if a bar of suspect nature hosts a little something for their customers. I do believe that there are, though, different levels of trying. And, at some point, there are establishments that have crossed the line, in my opinion, between an event that promotes craft beer in the way that Philly Beer Week aims to and an event that is just a mere advertisement for their business. So, you can imagine my curiosity (and, admittedly, skepticism) for places like Uno Chicago Grill and the degree that they would go to to promote their so-called events. After all, there were something like 33 events at 7 Uno locations on the official calendar. I still don't believe that Uno's should be permitted to list an event every day on the Philly Beer Week calendar, thereby for example counting as 10 events at its Exton location. Considering especially that only one of these days in Exton had an actual representative from the brewery, the other days were not even offering any type of special or discount to promote the beers...merely the "opportunity" to taste these beers. But, at the end of the day, this is really mostly about promotion right? And Uno seemed to be doing it right. All that being said, before I even opened the door in Exton, I noticed that Uno's spared nothing at promoting their recently revamped beer menu. Notices around the front entrance about PBW and Sly Fox, table tents on the bar and tables, and signs in the men's restroom (can't speak for the ladies...though, that would be interesting to note as well)...all good signs...but what about the staff? The staff would be the ultimate test. Do they get pre-shift meeting notes about the beer? Can they simply get through the beer list without stumbling or coming across as underinformed? In my case, the bartender Brian that took care of me was all over the beers....happy to promote them, willing to talk about Philly Beer Week from his perspective, and enthusiastic about the new direction that Uno's taking with regard to beer. With a positive experience from the minute I walked in the door, I figured I could indulge in a deep dish pizza. It's been a long time since I've done this, so I started with Phoenix Pale Ale (hey, that makes two days in a row with this Sly Fox beer), then added a Weyerbacher Fireside Ale to go perfectly with my pizza. There you have it. Another chain/"mainstream" restaurant taking a fresh look at its beer offerings. Kudos to Uno's. So ended Day 5. Nice and easy. I had plenty of reasons that I could have once again hopped the train into center city. But, after 4 days of running (both literally and figuratively), scaling back just a bit on Day 5 seemed appropriate given what the next 5 days are expected to bring. I'm anxious to hear recaps of things like Victory's Beer Dinner at The Four Seasons, the Cheesesteak Throwdown between Sly Fox and Lagunitas at the P.O.P.E., and other frivolity around the city. Come to think of it, there is one recap that's already out there. Jack Curtin came out for his first PBW event and made every minute of it worthwhile from the sound of his description. Go check out his review of what sounded like an amazing brunch at Teresa's Next Door with Dogfish Head riding shotgun...or was it the other way around? He links to Gina Talley, where The Femme Fermental supports his glowing review and provides pictures as well. What I might do tomorrow: Wednesday night will primarily focus on the Center City Pub Crawl, one of 2008's highlights. Center City Pub Crawl ---> The ordered lineup kicks off at 6pm and includes: @Jose Pistola's (Stoudt's Pilsner); @McGlinchey's (Yards Smoked Polish Wheat); @Good Dog (Iron Hill Pig Iron Porter); @Black Sheep (Flying Fish Hoppy Belgian Tripel); @Nodding Head (Nodding Head Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse); @Fergie's (Troegs Nugget Nectar); @Time (Sly Fox Gang Aft Agley); @McGillin's (All 7 brewers and their beers) @Jose Pistolas, Stone ---> maybe some Stone can be found there during the Pub Crawl; thing is, the stops on the crawl don't last very long, so we'll see @Black Sheep, Sprecher ---> ditto the Jose's comment; but like Stone I would love to find some Sprecher along the PBW this year (last year's Day 1 of PBW was where I finally discovered Black Bavarian)