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Tuesday, July 20, 2010
A Weekend in the Life of Philly Beer, Part 2
23 pictures in a single post may be a record around here. Perhaps I should have put them up over in Picasa where I normally throw up large batches of pictures. But, I figured with the heat, I didn't want to over-exert you guys more than you needed to be. No need to be breaking a sweat around here, right?!
(another hot one in Philly)
In Part 1 of this mini-series, I mentioned how my own personal weekend began with a killer Friday night of beer, cheese, and good neighbors that took us well into the late night/early morning. No way I'd be up at 7am making coffee and watching Le Tour, now is there?
After way too many years of being "programmed" to wake with the roosters (particularly during my teen years of working summers on my uncle's dairy farm and getting up before the roosters...but, that is an entirely different story for yet another day), it just comes naturally.
But, awoke I did...watched another thrilling Stage did I....drank down a couple of good cups of coffee before getting ready to head out the door for brunch at Memphis Taproom and shopping at their Handmade Market. Actually, the shopping was more for Patty, but I enjoy browsing...at least for a little bit. And, then I get hungry, thirsty, and cranky. Perfect entry point for Memphis Taproom, don't you think?
Memphis Taproom - With summertime Shore traffic, getting in and out of the City on a Saturday can sometime be more difficult and frustrating than during a weekday rush hour. This was the case as we attempted to head in to the Port Fishington home (Port Richmond, Fishtown, and Kensington as they like to say) of Memphis Taproom. I've lost track, but it may have been the first time this calendar yeat that we've stopped in there. With the Handmade Market being held in the neighboring lot and along the sidewalks, it was a great excuse to make the trip for some Saturday morning Brunch.
(Memphis Taproom and their annual Handmade Market overtakes the side property and spills on to the nearby sidewalks)
If I took a wild guess and said there were 30 vendors of artwork, jewelry, clothing, and whatnot I probably wouldn't be too far off. This seems to be a nicely coordinated event that's gone over well in the neighborhood and it could probably make sense to do this as often as quarterly.
(dog days, and puppy days too for that matter, of summer at Memphis Taproom in Philly's "port fishington")
Something else 'nice' about this visit was the opportunity to see both husband and wife of the Brendan and Leigh ownership team at the same place and at the same time. Er, strike that. They were at the same address, but never sat down actually together to prove that they were, in fact, at the same place at the same time!...ah, the life of a mini-empire ownership team with a third wheel in the baby carrier--no rest!
(Memphis Taproom supports The Session Beer Project)
This turned out to be the perfect first stop of our day. Kibitzing with Leigh, scarfing down breakfast (oops, "Breffis" I should say, right?) kielbasa, eggs, scrapple, potatoes, and "bruncheros", and chased by a very nice cask-conditioned Wells Bombadier Bitter (a perfectly acceptable first beer of the day after a long night of beer the night prior), a Sly Fox Collaboration Brotherly Suds, and a Rodenbach Grand Cru. Yeah, this was going to be a good day. Oh yeah, and a surprise appearance by Mike Fava (brewer, Nodding Head) extended our stay a bit too. Always nice to see these guys away from their place of employment.
Devil's Den - Since the drive took almost twice as long as it should have to get to Memphis Taproom and we sauntered around the Handmade Market and chatted a little too leisurely, something was going to have to give in our original plans for bopping around the City on this particular Saturday. It was going to be Devil's Den. Since there was nothing particularly "special" going on at Devil's Den, I felt comfortable giving them the bump. They do, however, have an ongoing contest during the Tour de France, but from the way I understood, it is simply a signup for a giveaway and a few select specials available at all times. Hopefully, can get back there before next Sunday....maybe Brunch with the last day of Le Tour.
The Institute - So, at the risk of trying to squeeze too much in, we dropped Devil's Den and headed to The Institute where Charlie and Heather were throwing a provocatively titled event, "Bite Me." I thought it might be a good opportunity to finally dip my palate into The Bruery's Coton. Taking the weather, the driving, and the rest of my day into account, I thought better of this 14.5% ABV beer...And, remembered that the Hulmeville Inn would be serving same the following day. Instead, it was one Founders Red's Rye for the lady, and one Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca for me.
(Waiting for The Institute to open, we noticed something across the street that we hadn't before)
This was a short visit, but a worthy one since it'd been a while since I've last stopped in to The Institute. Was nice to see another ownership duo both onsite that we could casually chat with during our visit. We made the ride back out the Schuylkill Expressway, where the Shore traffic headed home from its week at the Shore was now picking up. Still not as bad as all of the new Shore traffic heading down in the morning.
(just another solid 'A' taplist at The Institute's "Bite Me" event)
Teresa's Next Door - Here was the cornerstone event of Saturday...one that had missed a lot of people's radars. But, logic says that this was not necessarily a bad thing. Of course, TND advertises their events...but, some of them more so than others. This one, called "PBW Recap" was listed, of course, on The Beer Yard's and The Brew Lounge's calendar of events. But, it had missed BeerAdvocate's and Rate Beer's. What that meant was a comfortable crowd in TND's long, narrow space and a lot of beer that was still on their draft list as of yesterday....including all 4 from the Russian River Consecration Vertical.
(how many Consecration Verticals do you think have been spotted outside of Santa Rosa)
Yes, the Consecration Vertical. If you didn't know, now you do. I haven't done any scientific research, but I wondered out loud how many times this type of event has happened outside of Northern California, even outside of Santa Rosa. What's a Consecration Vertical, you may ask? Take 4 draft versions from 4 batches of Consecration and serve them on tap at the same time for folks to sample and attempt to discern differences between them to see how well, or not, they age. This rare event had one each from April '09, September '09, February '10, and June '10 batches.
How do you ignore Russian River's Supplication?....Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Exporter?....Pennichuck's Pozharnik?....Cantillon's Cuvee St. Gilloise (the renamed Cuvee des Champions)?....Charlie & Ken's Imperial Bock?....Allagash's Black out of the firkin?....Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout?....well, it's easy when you're staring at all of the beers on the board at once. Unless you have a driver and an endless thirst for palate-busting beers. Like I said, good thing that many of these are still available as of today. Go check 'em out for yourself.
The day finished itself out with neighborhood picnicking and then Late night swimming with Lord Chesterfield. Well, I should say drinking cans of Lord Chesterfield ale and swimming. There, that sounded better!
Hulmeville Inn - Sunday brought around what grew by the minutes/hours into one heck of a beer event that on the surface to many may not have sounded like much. "Philly Beer Geek Day" is what they called it and it celebrated their own Steve Hawk and his victory as 2010's Philly Beer Geek.
(The Hulmeville Inn's tribute tap list for Philly Beer Geek 2010, Steve Hawk)
If you made the effort to head out to Hulmeville Inn on Sunday as Patty and I did, you know that this turned into something pretty special. Something that I was saying looked more worthy of a Philly Beer Week event than did many "events" that were on the PBW schedule this year. More people, more special beers, more cameras documenting the event, more beer dignitaries, more of the beer geekerie. And, free food! Burgers and hot dogs off the grill, salads and beans, and a tribute cake emblazoned with Steve's image. Everything you'd want in a mid-July beer geek picnic.
This was only my second visit to the Hulmeville Inn, but I can see that something pretty special has happened here over the past couple of years as they have taken on a much more decidedly craft beer destination status. Beer events occur here with regularity, brewers show up for them, they have access to very special beer, and they treat their customers well. So well, in fact, that it's very obvious how tight-knit of a customer base they really do have. As with other bars that are so integrally wrapped into the fabric of its community, there's a sense of loyalty amongst customers and between them and the staff.
After all, Steve Hawk is but one resident beer geek at the Hulmeville Inn. They sponsored him, he won, and they threw him a celebratory party like none other. Oh and one more thing: when they learned of Lew Bryson's father's passing, they took the proceeds from that day's sales of the Sierra Nevada Exporter beer that he helped design during Beer Camp plus additional contributions from a "passing of the hat" and donated it ($800-ish is what I recall hearing) to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network foundation.
Not convinced that they're part of "the scene" yet? According to their online "keg counter", in 2009 they kicked 300 kegs. YTD 2010? They are at 315. Something's happening here, and the something seems pretty damned good. Even with the tobacco smoke that's still allowed to float free in the bar's air, if I lived anywhere in lower Bucks County, this very well could be "my local."
See more Hulmeville-related pictures farther below.
Wegmans - The opening of Wegmans in the western suburbs of Philadelphia is no longer cause for great curiosity or wonder as it was, say, five years ago or so when the Downingtown location opened. I stop in at that one on average of 2-3 times a week for lunch, groceries, beer, etc. But, as many of you have heard me say before, the selfish allure for me is that I can walk 0.5815 miles from my front door to the new Wegmans of Malvern's front door. This, as you can imagine, will be quite convenient. With the attached pub and one of the largest grocery store beer selections around, you can imagine my average Wegmans visits per week will likely go up.
(and now introducing...a Wegmans within walking distance of my house!)
In this case, we only stopped for 15 minutes or so on the way home from the Hulmeville Inn to see how things were going. It was crowded, but not annoyingly so. I picked out a 6-pack of Philadelphia Brewing's Fleur de Lehigh ($8.99), Rogue's Chatoe First Growth Dirtoir ($5.49), and Brooklyn's Local 1 ($8.99). Oh yeah, and a gallon of milk and some half-and-half. We said our goodbyes and promised to return soon :)
And, thus ended a perfect example of a weekend full of beer events that is not only typical around these Philly parts, but when summed up over the 52 weeks of the year continue to make Philadelphia one of the best beer drinking city regions of the world. It was quite a sneaky one...one that I would have never anticipated to have included so many great people, great bars, and so many great beers of the Philadelphia region, but sometimes those that are least planned turn out to be some of the best.
More pictures from the Philly Beer Geek Celebration at the Hulmeville Inn
(Chaz, no last name required)
(Steve Lyford and Christine Gummper, kindred peripatetic beer geeks)
(Bryan Kolesar, The Brew Lounge (where you're at now!) and Carolyn Smagalski, Bella Online with a new bottle of Dogfish Heads Squall IPA...bottle conditioned, and dry-hopped 90 Minute IPA)
(Steve Hawk's Philly Beer Geek title came partially thanks to Carolyn Smagalski, organizer and emcee, and yours truly Bryan Kolesar, a judge...but, really, he earned it and needed no one's help)
(Steve Hawk, Philly Beer Geek, and another judge, Lew Bryson)
(Steve Lyford has the camera turned on him for a change)
(Lew Bryson, Mike Sodano, and Christine Gumpper...Mayor Mike apparently is saying "no pictures of the bathing beauty artwork hanging on the wall behind me!")
(Cathy and Lew Bryson, enjoying a break from a very busy and emotional last couple of months)
(Steve gets a little thirsty from time to time)
(Steve Hawk thanks everyone for their support)
(And, with pleasantries out of the way, Steve Hawk is off to work the crowd with the fundraising Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Exporter strapped to his back)
(Mike Sodano welcomes the crowd and reminds them of the fundraiser)
(Mike Sodano passing around the hat for Pancreatic Cancer Fundraising)
(Carolyn Smagalski, Bella Online, and Steve Hawk, Philly Beer Geek 2010)