Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ray Deter, a great guy suffers a terrible accident

I realized I only posted on Facebook about the terrible news of Ray Deter's (d.b.a.) bicycle accident in NYC a few days ago. And, realizing that Facebook messages only travel so far, I'm here now trying to get you caught up on the news.

If you read around at other beer-related sites, I'm sure you've seen the news by now. But, if not, the short story involves long-time bar owner, booster of and fixture in the world of craft beer, Ray Deter, who was involved in a terrible bicycle accident late Monday afternoon.

Deter owns two d.b.a. bars in New York and one in New Orleans. The original location, on First Avenue, is where I can recall one of my first experiences with truly good tequila. A few great local craft beers have been known to pass my lips there as well in addition to some pizza from across the street (byof).

Ray has been found traveling the world for great beer, wine, tequila, and whiskey. I've been fortunate to share a table with him and dine together at Monk's and tossed back some great beers together the last time I saw him -- at Ommegang's BCTC 2010.

As a good friend of Ray, Tom Peters put up a touching note about their relationship through the years on Monk's website.

One of Ray's most recent endeavors has been co-hosting the weekly-produced Beer Sessions Radio out of Brooklyn with Jimmy Carbone (Jimmy's No. 43) and Dave Brodrick (Blind Tiger).

Producer, Bree O'Connor (Beer Sessions Radio/Heritage Radio Network), wrote yesterday on the company's Facebook group page the following:

For those of you who are not aware, our good friend Ray Deter was in a serious accident on Monday night. At the moment, we are taking cues from his family as to how to proceed and when they are ready to update everyone on Ray's condition we will let you all know. Thank you for your kind words and offers of support.

In the meantime, I got caught up yesterday with the three most recent episodes of Beer Sessions Radio. The first two of which Deter was his typical self -- drinking beers and telling stories to sometimes keep the show moving and sometimes to head down a tangent, usually to the bemusement of Carbone :)

If you haven't checked them out before, do so. If you're from the Philly area, you'll recall that I've mentioned in the past that they (particularly Ray) give lots of love and props to Philly and our beer scene.

Episode #68 - The Good Beer Seal Awards
Episode #69 - Charlie Papazian & Grape Hops Tours (plus a bit of Philly Beer Week Recap from Ray Deter)
Episode #70 - Cider, Brewpubs, and Hops (the first episode without Ray)

The Almanac (beer) says tonight will be a good night in San Francisco

It's been a while (February?) since I've shared anything with you from the West Coast.

I found this exciting news posted in an e-mail from downtown San Francisco's City Beer Store, one of the Bay Area's premier craft beer retailers and tasting bars, owned by the husband-and-wife team of Craig and Beth Wathen.

Jesse and Damian are two great guys -- brewers, foodies, artists, all-around fun guys, and both fairly recently married to two wonderful and supportive spouses -- whom I've had the pleasure of getting to know in recent years visiting San Francisco. The Incanto/Magnolia dinner (Chris Cosentino/Incanto & Dave McLean/Magnolia) a couple of years ago was certainly a highlight, you may recall me writing about it.

Jesse and Damian got the ball rolling on their Almanac Beer Company last year and are ready to share their tasty creations with you.

I had my first opportunity to taste some of their first barrel-aged beers at San Francisco Beer Week (you can check back here for some of my words and pictures from SFBW '11).

Their excitement and anticipation for going to market was palpable and also evident in the beers. They warned me that likely by my next trip to the Bay Area, I'd be able to find some of their beers available commercially. Looks like that time has come.

They've got a philosophy of "farm-to-barrel" brewing in keeping with the four seasons of the year which should make discovering and re-discovering their brewing talents throughout the year a treat for Northern California beer fans.

Even if you're not reading this within 20 miles of San Francisco, be sure to put Almanac Beer on your to-find list during your next visit to San Francisco.

Here's the notice from City Beer Store.

Thursday, June 30: Almanac Beer Company Bottle Launch - 6:00pm

Almanac Beer Company was dreamed up by home brewers Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan, both skilled in the fine art of barrel aging and blending. Drawing inspiration from the lush, plentiful farms in their neighboring towns, they sought to establish their own label.

Their first offering is the Summer 2010 Blackberry Ale, a delicate Belgian style golden ale brewed with fresh blackberries from Sebastopol Berry Farm. Further details you should know:

*Summer 2010 Blackberry Ale will be on draft as well as in bottles.

*Bottles limits will apply.

*A special draft only keg of 2010 Vintage Sour will be poured during the event.

*Hapa Ramen will be barside serving tasty morsels to enjoy with the Almanac selections.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beer Calendar: What To Do in July 2011

As the weather heats up around Philadelphia, so does the Beer Calendar. Wilmington is putting on their own Beer Week and some of the events look well worth a train ride or drive. I've captured many of their events below; but here's a link to their website for the most up-to-date and complete.

Stay cool, and hydrated, at any of the fine-looking beer events scheduled throughout the month of July.

If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know.

$20 and under, down to and including FREE...Pay As You Go (PAYG) also included here

Fri. 7/1 - Sierra Nevada Exportation Tapping @The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 7/1 - Free Sampling (Lancaster Brewing) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/1 - Central Waters Sampling @Bella Vista Beer Distributors, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/1 - Free Beer Sampling (Victory) @Trolley Car Diner, Philadelphia, PA (5:30pm-7:30pm; Free)
Sat. 7/2 - Mountain Getaway @Biba Wine Bar, Philadelphia, PA (3:00pm-12:00am; PAYG)
Sat. 7/2 - Duvel/Ommegang & Tour de France @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm; PAYG)
Mon. 7/4 - Dogfish Head Hellhound On My Ale @Tria, Philadelphia, PA (3:00pm; PAYG)
Tue. 7/5 - Movie Night (Weekend at Bernie's II) @Dock Street, Philadelphia, PA (9:00pm; Free/PAYG)
Wed. 7/6 - IPA Cask (Ithaca Hop Stash) @Khyber Pass Pub, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 7/8 - Free Sampling (River Horse) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/8 - Alexander Keith's Sampling @Bella Vista Beer Distributors, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/8 - Xmas in July @The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 7/9 - Sierra Nevada Homebrew Cup Announcement Party @Tavern 17, Philadelphia, PA (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Mon. 7/11 - Mad Monday (Dogfish Head) @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (11:30am; PAYG)
Tue. 7/12 - Movie Night (Back to the Future) @Dock Street, Philadelphia, PA (9:00pm; Free/PAYG)
Thu. 7/14 - Harry Potter Quizzo Movie Release Party @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (8:00pm-11:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 7/15 - Free Sampling (Victory) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/15 - Dogfish Head 10 Taps o' Fun @The Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-11:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 7/15 - Brooklyn Brewery Sampling @Bella Vista Beer Distributors, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free)
Sat. 7/16 - Tröegs Tap Take-Over featuring Buffalo Wings @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 7/16 - Sustainable Saturday: Zip Code Honey with Local Cheese and Beer @Biba Wine Bar, Philadelphia, PA (2:00pm-3:00pm; $20)
Sat. 7/16 - Saison Brunch @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA (11:00am; PAYG)
Thu. 7/21 - Belgian Independence Day @Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 7/22 - Sixpoint Brewery Tap Takeover @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 7/22 - Belgian Beer Sampling @Bella Vista Beer Distributors, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/22 - Free Sampling (San Diego beers) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Sun. 7/24 - Savage Sixtel Sunday 3rd Anniversary Party @Kite & Key, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 7/29 - Meteor Sampling @Bella Vista Beer Distributors, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/29 - Free Sampling (Flying Fish) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Sat. 7/30 - The Kenzinger Clambake @Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG)

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
throughout July - Christmas in July @Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA (PAYG)
Fri. 7/1 - Friday Night Sampling (4th of July theme) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/1 - Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company Sampling @The Beer Store, Southampton, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free)
Thu. 7/7 - First Thursday Beer Tasting @Whole Foods, Plymouth Meeting, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/8 - Friday Night Sampling (Flying Fish) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/8 - Friday Night Sampling (Victory) @Mr. Bottle, Berwyn, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Sun. 7/10 - Beer Geek BBQ, part deux @Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, PA (12:00pm; PAYG)
Thu. 7/14-Sat. 7/16 - 3 Day Saison & IPA Event @Capone's, Norristown, PA (PAYG)
Sat. 7/16 - 2nd Anniversary Party @Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ (12:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG)
Thu. 7/21 - Feastdag @Pinocchio's, Media, PA (PAYG)
Fri. 7/22-Sun. 7/24 - Non-Denominational Winter Solstice in July @Pinocchio's, Media, PA (PAYG)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Fri. 7/1 - Friday Night Sampling (Miller Lite) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/1 - Firkin Friday (follow Twitter for details) @Iron Hill, Phoenixville, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 7/2 - Free Sampling (Landshark Lager) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA (1:00pm-3:00pm; Free)
Wed. 7/6 - Specialty Keg Wednesdays (Dogfish Head Burton Baton) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (11:30am; PAYG)
Fri. 7/8 - Friday Night Sampling (Reading Premium and Hoptimus Prime) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/8 - Phoenixville Blob Fest Beer Release @Iron Hill, Phoenixville, PA (11:00am-10:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 7/9 - 16 Mile Portfolio Complimentary Tasting @Piccolina Toscana, Wilmington, DE (Free/PAYG)
Sat. 7/9 - West Coast Brewery Promotion @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (12:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 7/9 - Breakfast with Hefe @Appalachian Brewing Company, Harrisburg, PA (9:00am-2:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 7/9 - Iron Hill Twilight Criterium @downtown West Chester, PA (4:00pm; PAYG)
Mon. 7/11 - Evolution Craft Brewing Complimentary Tasting @Piccolina Toscana, Wilmington, DE (6:00pm-8:00pm; Free/PAYG)
Thu. 7/14 - Night of Hatters @Craft Ale House, Limerick, PA (6:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 7/15 - Friday Night Sampling (Fish Brewing) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Fri. 7/15 - Firkin Friday (Yards, Evolution & Fordham) @Washington Street Ale House, Wilmington, DE (PAYG)
Fri. 7/15 - Rut Returns...with Hopkowski @Iron Hill, Wilmington, DE (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 7/16 - Better than Leftovers @TJ's, Paoli, PA (4:00pm-11:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 7/16 - Free Sampling (Shocktop White and Raspberry) @Goshen Beverage, West Chester, PA (1:00pm-3:00pm; Free)
Thu. 7/21 - 17th Anniversary Party @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:00pm; PAYG)
Fri. 7/22 - Friday Night Sampling (Craft Beer in Cans) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free)
Sat. 7/23 - Duvel/Ommegang's Belgian Independence Day @TJ's, Paoli, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG)
Mon. 7/25 - Christmas in July @Victory, Downingtown, PA (11:30am; PAYG)
Fri. 7/29-Sat. 7/30 - 16th Anniversary Party @Stewart's Brewing Company, Bear, DE (PAYG)

Events Over $20

Fri. 7/1, Sat. 7/2, Fri. 7/8, Sat. 7/9, Fri. 7/15, Sat. 7/16, Fri. 7/22, Sat. 7/23, Fri. 7/29, Sat. 7/30 - Philly On Tap Walking Tours @City Hall, western plaza, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; $35)
Sat. 7/2, Sat. 7/16, & Sat. 7/30 - Craft Beer and Artisanal Cheese Tour @Old City, Philadelphia, PA (3:30pm-5:30pm; $49)
Tue. 7/5 - An American Beer and Cheese Pairing @Garces Trading Company, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; $65)
Sat. 7/9 - Royal Stumble @Nodding Head, Philadelphia, PA (1:00pm-5:00pm; $45)
Tue. 7/12 - Allagash Gone Wild @Tria, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $60)
Tue. 7/12 - Yards Brewing, Culton Organics & Kennett Come Together @Kennett Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-11:00pm; $65)
Wed. 7/13 - Beer-B-Q @Square 1682 (at Hotel Palomar), Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm; $40)
Wed. 7/13 - Weyerbacher Beer Dinner @White Dog Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-9:30pm; $50)
Thu. 7/14 & Thu. 7/28 - A Philadelphia Ale & Arts Adventure @World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA (5:30pm-8:00pm; $35)
Sat. 7/16 - Good Food, Good Beer & the Rest is History @The Shambles, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; $25/$30)
Sat. 7/23 - Lobster & Clam Bake Street Party @White Dog Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $55)
Thu. 7/28 - Oskar Blues Beer Dinner @Chifa, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $65)

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Fri. 7/1, Thu. 7/7, Fri. 7/15, Wed. 7/20 - Intro to Brewing Class @Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, PA (6:30pm; $40)
Fri. 7/8 - Next Step Brewing Class @Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, PA (6:30pm; $40)
Sat. 7/9 - All-Grain Brewing Class @Keystone Homebrew Supply, Montgomeryville, PA (10:00am; $75)
Sat. 7/9 - Beer Wars II (Weyerbacher vs. Allagash) @High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ (12:00pm-2:00pm; $25)
Mon. 7/11 - Beer & Cheese (with Hunter Fike from Di Bruno Bros.) @Iron Hill, North Wales, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $24.95)
Thu. 7/14 - Beer & Food of Summer Tour @Wegmans, Malvern, PA ($30)
Sat. 7/16 - Pour-a-palooza @PJ's Pour House, Westmont, NJ (12:00pm-4:00pm; $35/$40)
Thu. 7/21-Sat. 7/23 - Belgium Independence Week: Hogfest @Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA (PAYG)
Wed. 7/27 - Brewmaster’s Summer Beer Dinner @Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ (7:00pm; $65)
Wed. 7/27 - Summer Beer Dinner @Kaya's Cuisine, Havertown, PA (7:00pm; $65)
Sat. 7/30 - Beer Wars II (Tröegs vs. Unibroue) @High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ (12:00pm-2:00pm; $25)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Tue. 7/5, Wed. 7/27 - Intro to Brewing Class @Keystone Homebrew Supply, Bethlehem, PA (6:30pm; $40)
Wed. 7/6 - The Return of Randall the Enamel Animal (DFH Burton Baton) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (5:00pm; PAYG)
Sat. 7/9-Sat. 7/16 - 3 Course Prix Fixe Dinner @Piccolina Toscana, Wilmington, DE ($30)
Sat. 7/9 - Victory Beer Dinner @Harry's Seafood Grill, Wilmington, DE (5:30pm; $60)
Sat. 7/9 - Craft Beer Bus Tour, Philadelphia Pickups in Limerick, PA and Manayunk section of Philly (11:00am-5:00pm; $55)
Sun. 7/10 - Belgian Beer Tasting @Domaine Hudson, Wilmington, DE (4:30pm-6:30pm; $25)
Sun. 7/10 - Samuel Adams Beer Dinner @Union City Grille, Wilmington, DE ($45)
Tue. 7/12 - Five-course Paired Dinner with Harpoon Beer @Vinoteca 902, Wilmington, DE (6:30pm; $50)
Tue. 7/12 - Flying Fish Brewery Tasting @Domaine Hudson, Wilmington, DE (5:00pm-7:00pm; $25)
Wed. 7/13 - Summer Seafood Brewmaster's Dinner @Iron Hill, Wilmington, DE (7:00pm; $65)
Thu. 7/14 - Beer Week beer dinner with Dogfish Head @Chelsea Tavern, Wilmington, DE (4:00pm; $59)
Thu. 7/14 - Perfect Pairings six course Beer Dinner @Domaine Hudson, Wilmington, DE (6:30pm; $55)
Sat. 7/16 - Beer & Cooking Class with Chef Robbie @Piccolina Toscana, Wilmington, DE (TBD)
Sat. 7/16 - Unibroue Tasting Dinner @Union City Grille, Wilmington, DE (TBD)
Sat. 7/16 - Four-course Beer Dinner with Old Dominion & Fordham Brewery @Deep Blue Bar and Grill, Wilmington, DE (6:30pm; $TBD)
Sat. 7/16 - Pints for Pups @Reading Phillies Stadium, Reading, PA (5:00pm-9:00pm; $20/$40/$50/$75)
Sat. 7/16 - Selinsgrove Beer & Wine Festival @downtown Selinsgrove, PA (2:00pm-6:00pm; $10/$45)
Sat. 7/16 - Victory Beer Dinner @Harry's Seafood Grill, Wilmington, DE (4:00pm-7:00pm; $25)
Sun. 7/17 - Food & Spirits Festival @Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum, Lancaster, PA (2:00pm-7:00pm; $45/$55/$60)
Sun. 7/17 - Craft Beer Bus Tour, Homebrewers Tour Pickup in Limerick, PA (12:00pm-4:00pm; $50)
Sat. 7/23 - Delaware State Fair Battle of the Brews @Delaware State Fair, Harrington, DE (12:00pm-3:00pm; $5.25 admission and up)
Sat. 7/23 - Summer Ale Festival @Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-10:00pm; $30/$60/$90)
Tue. 7/26 - Coast to Coast Brew Dinner @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA (7:00pm-9:30pm; $50)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Free Beer Tonight...everywhere!

All types of notices about free pourings around the region tonight. Your local sources for great beer are trying to keep you cool and hydrated in this hot and humid weather. No particular order...

Left Hand at Bell Beverage in Philly.

Philadelphia Brewing at Mr. Bottle in Berwyn.

Tröegs at Global Beer in Philly.

Victory at Exton Beverage in Exton.

Sixpoint at Beer Heaven in Philly.

Yards at Goshen Beverage in West Chester.

Sly Fox at Philadelphia Beer Company in Fishtown neighborhood of Philly.

Philly Beer Scene and Joe Canal's team up for an A+ draft night in West Deptford, NJ. Hit 'em up on the way to the Shore. Free swing-top growler (not necessarily free beer, though.)

Did I miss any?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Beer Camp with Sierra Nevada at Station Taproom

A full room of people couldn't do the job that you'll be counted on to do today: kick a keg. Too many very decent beers from Sierra Nevada, its Beer Camp, and beyond were on draft last night at Station Taproom in Downingtown, Pa. You'll be in luck stopping by today as all on the list above still remain available on draft today.

As could be attested to by the temperature at the restaurant, there was no doubt that folks turned out for this event. If you could say there was a feature beer, it was probably the ExPortation, the ExPorter brewed by local Philly beer people (click back here for more details) last year at Beer Camp #25 which later had a portion of it shipped off to Santa Rosa for a little wood barrel-aging at Russian River Brewing.

Now, the ExPorter's got a sour (but not too much so) character, has been named ExPortation, and has been served during Philly Beer Week. The last of the kegs are making their rounds at places like Station Taproom. Word has it that there are still at least a couple more in "safe storage" at Teresa's Next Door for future fun.

Sean McGettigan's (owner, Station Taproom) Lighter Shade of Pale from Beer Camp #46 and Jim Crane's (Goshen Beverage) much-more-roasty-than-hoppy 'Double Black Ale' from Beer Camp #48 were also on tap as were other Sierra Nevada goodies like Southern Hemisphere. Oh, and speaking of the good people at Russian River, Pliny the Elder was on tap for good measure and more California representation as well.

Not too much to report otherwise at Station Taproom. We focused as much on the dinner that we desperately needed by the time we arrived. Focusing on the food at ST is easy because the kitchen continues to put out quality food to accompany the stellar beer list.

Last night, it was an awesome arugula salad with goat cheese, candied pecans, and roasted beets (I could eat these every day), Thai Red Curry Mussels (signature dish at ST), and a chorizo/red pepper sandwich. Oh, and my fingers found their way across the table numerous times into a bowl of awesomely-sea-salted edamame, or soy beans if you will.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Brew Lounge gets smarter on-the-go

Ugh, yes there is yet one more administrative detail to get out of the way before I get back to this semi-serious beer writing that I do.

Do you have a "smart phone"? (Is it smarter than you? I know mine is more than I!)

Well, now The Brew Lounge is (finally) compatible with your smart phone. You probably know that I have no idea how this technology works; I've never really wanted to.

I type words (a lot of them, in fact, right?) and upload pictures and hope that it all makes sense to you.

This bliggedy-bloggedy stuff and the website/service/software that goes along with it is just sort of a means to an end for me.

But one thing that I've been frustrated with for a while is Blogger's slow move to mobile device-enriched blogs.

Now it's there. And, now you can pull up and mingle in The Brew Lounge while on the go with much less headache than before. Go check it out!

It looks something like the picture above (at least on the iPhone it does).

While you're at it, feel free to let me know if there are other ways that reading/"using" The Brew Lounge could be easier for you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm the 16th most _______ beer blog in the country!

I mentioned yesterday that we'd get back to beer talk today. Just one more administrative detour before we do such things.

I lost track of this little goodie amidst the Philly Beer Week hoopla. The title is sort of Mad Lib-ish. Feel free to fill in your own adjective.

Thing is, with Wikio, I don't know if I should assume that their ranking means that I'm the 16th most popular, most smart, most clever, most hard-working, best linked, ....or whatever beer blog.

Of course, those of you who know me well enough know that I cringe just hearing the word 'blog', period. Nonetheless, Wikio is taking a stab at ranking the blogosphere. Not just beer, but all blogs categorized by industry or at least topic of interest.

They presumably use some criteria and algorithms which then get applied against all blogs without bias. So, in that sense, being compared against peers becomes an interesting thing. However, with each of the many hundreds (nearly 700 at last count, according to Beer Bloggers Conference) of us writing a different message intended for different audiences in different geographic regions with different styles and desired end games, I (and we all should) take this with a grain of salt.

I can tell, for near certain, that if all that was being measured was simply site visits/page views, there's no way I'm in the top 20, probably not even top 50 judging from other company in the top 50.

Since I'd been lobbying the admin folks at Wikio for nearly six months to include me in the 'beer' category (and since there oddly seems to be a growing number of folks "out there" who are insatiably curious about my site traffic), I figured now that I am being properly classified for the past two months, I should at least make mention of it.

They even supplied me with a "badge" that I can put on The Brew Lounge for proper display and recognition (you'll see it over there somewhere on the right side of the screen), though I must admit it feels a bit odd to do that and draw attention to it -- sort of like a Sports Illustrated cover in Spring Training, I'm bound to go down next month!

So to the extent that you all play a role in boosting me up to #16, I thank you and will do what I can to continue providing beer information worthy of the ranking.

Now let's all get back drinking some great beer :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Boss, The Big Man, the music, my life

So far, so good. I haven't "lost any friends" on Facebook.

If you're "friends" with me on Facebook (the Bryan guy, not The Brew Lounge page), you've likely seen me reeling off the first 16 of 30 "top" Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band songs/videos linked from YouTube.

I rarely venture here into my personal life in areas where beer doesn't intersect, but the news of Clarence, The Big Man, Clemons' death this past weekend has me in a sharing mode as I've been thrown into a whirlwind trip down memory lane.

Being a product of the Northeast region of the country, I became a huge fan of Springsteen's music and lyrics as a pre-teen nearly 30 years ago. My brother-in-law, one of the most important men in my life in those years, was a major factor in the introduction. His drum wailing on Paradise by the "C" with the recorded version on in the background is one memory, amongst many, that I'll never lose.

Obviously, I was just a bit young to have experienced him and the band in its early years at places like the Stone Pony, The Point, Tower Theater, and NYC clubs as people I know just a few years older than I did in the 70s and early 80s.

Nonetheless, their music is indigenous to and resonates more in the Northeast than anywhere else. Not to say the music can't be appreciated and loved by people around the country and world. It's the first-hand experience of life along the northeast and mid-Atlantic seaboard that cannot be captured anywhere else.

That, on the other hand, is what can make the band's music downright repulsive to others. I realize, and respect, that.

When they say the 'show goes on', it's so difficult at this point to see the stage, typically anchored by Clemons, missing his large presence on tambourine, saxophone, and supporting vocals. The band has so many identifiable and strong characters, yet given his long and special relationship with Springsteen it becomes nearly impossible to see future concerts without him. At least we have the music.

As I've posted up these videos beginning yesterday morning after the news of Clarence Clemons' death broke, I wondered if there would be any hate mail or unfriending activity on Facebook because of the perceived annoyance of posting 30 video links to Springsteen's music.

For the sake of sharing with those of you not on Facebook, or not inclined to wander over there (and it being a semi-closed network, in a sense), here's a rundown of the video links that I'm posting up over there, due to conclude by Wednesday.

Grab a beer, enjoy a trip down memory lane, and raise a toast to The Big Man. And, if you feel like sharing a few of your favorites as well, please do.

#30 If I Should Fall Behind (watch for The Big Man at 2:45, beautiful)
#29 You're Missing (The Big Man in a supporting role)
#28 My City of Ruins (not necessarily a focus on Clemons but what he was a part of with the Band)
#27 My Hometown
#26 Brilliant Disguise
#25 She's the One (love the red suit)
#24 Kitty's Back (an absolutely great, great song with fun pictures, too, that many are probably not familiar with)
#23 Atlantic City
#22 Reason to Believe
#21 Glory Days (wow, more than 25 years old. how young everyone looks!)
#20 No Surrender (still a favorite after all these years. saw this fun version in person back in '04 up in north Jersey)
#19 Prove it All Night (provin' it all night at 5:27)
#18 Streets of Philadelphia
#17 Spirit in the Night (killin' it at 3:57)
#16 Johnny 99
#15 Out in the Street (The Boss lets The Big Man out in the street at 2:25)
#14 Cadillac Ranch (One of the first songs to get me hooked on Springsteen and the E Street Band in the early '80s. Clarence opens up his engine and lets it roar beginning at 1:31)
#13 Backstreets
#12 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) (Clemons gets all patriotic on the 4th of July around 4:20)
#11 The River
#10 Darkness on the Edge of Town
#09 Racing the Street (racing across the pond, around 3:22 and again later, a wonderful rendition)
#08 Thundercrack (this song, if you've never heard it, is as big as The Big Man, who takes over around 3:43)
#07 Rosalita (Clarence jumps a little higher starting after 1:05)
#06 Jungleland (Undeniable sax after 3:03)
#05 Paradise by the "C" (Not sure why I don't call this #1, I LOVE this song. This is at least 50% Big Man. My brother-in-law used to play along on drums. Clemons does is thing around 0:40)
#04 Born to Run (Simply an E Street Band celebration; catch the Big Man at 2:12)
#03 Badlands (Clemons wanders into the Badlands at 3:05)
#02 Thunder Road (The Big Man really starts to take it home Thunder Road around 4:05. If you didn't get goose bumps in any of the previous 28 songs, this should do it.)
#01 Tenth Avenue Freeze Out (If #5 was 50% Clemons, this is near 100%. Vintage awesomeness from the cornerstone of the houserocking, pants dropping, brain-shocking, earthquaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, lovemaking, sexifying, electrifying, women shrieking, grown men crying, legendary E Street Band.)

We will resume our beer talk tomorrow. Until then, RIP Clarence Clemons, and thanks for the music!

Harrisburg Brewers Festival in Harrisburg, Pa: 6/18/2011

~ Link to Festival Pictures at Google's Picasa
~ Link to Video #1 of Starsan on stage
~ Link to Video #2 of Starsan on stage

Just as I'd begun to write off most beer festivals as the "same-old, same-old" and more trouble than they're worth, I finally, after all these years of being asked, get myself to my first Harrisburg Brewers Festival. Patty was under-the-weather, so I grabbed my nephew Ryan who is always up for a good beer expedition.

Controlled crowd of roughly 1,500 per session spread out comfortably across three city blocks.

Plenty of reasonably-priced food.

Nearly 50 breweries bringing both at least a not-quite-so-core brand or two in addition to their core brands.

Water and rinsing stations.

Live music.

Plenty of brewer support (hotel rooms, pizza, ice on demand, and an "honorarium")

Big donations to a reputable cause.

These are just a few of the reasons I heard yesterday for why brewers, reps, and attendees all love the Harrisburg Brewers Festival.

The festival is now in its 8th year, with Cystic Fibrosis as title sponsor and beneficiary and Tröegs as the chief organizer. (Tröegs' future involvement -- after their move to Hershey -- is still undetermined and under consideration.)

If I recall correctly, I believe I heard quoted yesterday that proceeds donated to CCF last year were in the $110,000 range. I've already seen publicized today that $115,000 is the donated amount after this year's fest.

Should make other "charitable" beer festivals blush embarrassingly in comparison. This is not, by the way, a lone editorial comment.

Walking around the festival, it was more fun spotting the not-so-usual suspects lining the streets with their tap handles than trying to figure out who wasn't there.

Straub...Old Forge...Market Cross...Marzoni's...Fat Head's...Otto's...even Brew Works and Union Barrel Works. A few out-of-staters like Oskar Blues, 21st Amendment, Capitol City, and Ithaca. All amongst just about all of the local guys you'd expect to see.

On stage, the Tröegs Brewery house band, Starsan & the Chill Haze Horns fronted by Ed Yashinsky, rocked the middle set of the day.

It was probably good that I had family obligations at night back near Philly. It kept me from having a second (or third, fourth.....) Moscow Mule at McGrath's, one of downtown's pre-eminent craft beer bars and all-around solid local watering hole and gathering spot in the shadows of the Capitol building. The drink is simply vodka with ginger beer and a lime wedge. It's dangerously refreshing and easy-to-drink...quickly. Thank you, Mr. Mullin, for the introduction.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Meeting Florian Kuplent and his Urban Chestnut beers at Capone's: 6/17/2011

I needed to stop by and pick up a bottle that Matt was holding for me at Capone's this past Friday night. I wasn't looking to make too much out of my first post-PBW Friday night.

So when I saw that Urban Chestnut beer would be at Capone's, along with founder and brewmaster Florian Kuplent, I figured this might be a nice way to spend an hour or so.

That plan worked out quite nicely.

Mike Gretz, your if-he's-not-a-Philly-Beer-Geek-I-don't-know-who-is, was helping to introduce Florian and his beers to the region. Kuplent drove in from Missouri with his wife, native of New Jersey, and the kids for barely a two day visit to the Philly area while his beers are on a 60-day trial registration with the State.

We had a pleasant chat about his departure, along with many others, from Anheuser-Busch to the realization of a lifelong dream at the 20-bbl Urban Chestnut brewery. The name is a bit of an homage to German beer gardens.

He's been going at it now for around six months and is ramping up quickly to meet local demand first as he also tests the waters abroad in the well-renowned Philadelphia market.

Only two beers came along for the introduction and they were certainly two wise choices. He brought the flagship and very well-made Zwickelbier and the Winged Nut, the first in the 'Revolution Series'.

The latter is a 6.5% ABV ale brewed with finely-milled chestnuts which leaves a sweet, nutty flavor to the beer. But, not too sweet or cloying to be difficult to drink; a nice beer for sure.

It made for a perfect follow-up to the quite enjoyable 4.8% ABV Zwickel, from the 'Reverence Series' which celebrates traditional European brewing methods. The Zwickel is unfiltered, though just slightly cloudy, with tons of tasty Munich malt flavor and a just-noticeable undercurrent of Noble Hop bitterness mainly from Hallertau Mittelfrüh. Sessionable for me and would be quite happy with this all-afternoon long.

If you can get to Capone's this weekend, you may still find them on tap, but of course there are no guarantees. If you miss them at Capone's, keep your eyes, ears, and mouths open for this fun new brewery from Missouri.

With brewery distribution expansions and contractions a growing conservation and debate of late, how long Urban Chestnut will be in the Philadelphia market remains to be seen; but be sure to check them out while it's here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Philly Beer Week 2011: One last wrap-up until 2012

How to go about wrapping a 10-day festival of beer and nearly 1,000 beer "events"?  (First off, don't forget that I have a whole "Index" that I'd been maintaining on a daily basis throughout PBW '11. There you'll find links to pictures and plenty of words from things I saw and did throughout.)

Let's start with the way PBW ended in 2010. Again, this year, the PBW crew wants you to fill out a survey, which I strongly encourage, and in return you'll be entered into a drawing for 2012 Opening Tap tickets. Here's a link to the survey.

I strongly encourage it because, as with many things in life, if you don't make your voice heard, it becomes more difficult to complain later when things don't go as you'd like or expect. Take the survey by Monday, June 20 to be eligible for the Opening Tap tickets.

Next, there's media of all sorts on the Web regarding Philly Beer Week 2011. Here's a nicely produced YouTube video (not entirely sure who's responsible) centered on Opening Tap. They also have a short one posted there as well from one of my favorite venues and events of the week.

The more I want to dive in deep and explore and analyze the guts out of Philly Beer Week, after three previous years of doing such a thing, five days post-Day 10, I honestly don't have the energy for it.

Plus, I realize that there is almost no "right answer" to the question "How was Philly Beer Week?" There are so many ways in which to partake, that the answer becomes extremely personal.

Philly Beer Week is ten June days of approximately 1,000 events that is concentrated primarily within city limits. There are a dozen different ways to look at it to try and determine how successful it is and how long of a run it will have over time. Maybe I'll explore it more as we get farther away from 2011 and closer to 2012.

For now, I'll do as Foobooz suggests and quickly point out highlights and regrets of mine from PBW '11.

- Making new friends without any warning. The 75-year-old couple from Jenkintown at Varga. They were looking to explore some new beers. What a pleasant hour of sharing a table next to them. Ed from Harrisburg at Iron Hill when he and I were almost the only two in Phoenixville drinking barrel-aged beers for brunch. A cab ride across town with Larry Sidor from Deschutes and his team of Jason and (was it?) Megan. Too bad I didn't get the "scoop" before it was announced the following day on his intentions to leave the brewery.

- The Four Seasons. Even though I could certainly read "you don't need to enter through the front door" a couple of different ways, they generally did seem to warm to the "idea" of beer. But, then again, when the Tourism Bureau is involved, that certainly helps to grease the skids. Even though they don't do draft beer, I would like to stop in a few months from now and see how the approach to beer is the same...or not.

- Kan Jam. Speaking of The Four Seasons, I'm not sure there was a more interactive event at the hotel, than Thursday night's Kan Jam with Sly Fox. William Reed and I teamed up to fall just a point short of moving on to the Finals. Fun times, for sure.

- Philly Beer Run. I was (selfishly) pleased that my event made a few to-do lists ("Top 25", Funkiest, Philadelphia Weekly). 75 RSVPs prove that there's a great interest amongst the running community in Philly Beer Week. In fact, by rough count over 150 people took part in the various runs and bike rides occurring during Philly Beer Week.

- Discovering new places. This also falls under regrets, since I only delivered once on my promise to discover a new place. In this case, it was Cooperage on 7th Street. They hosted Dogfish Head on the day we stopped by and numerous other events as well. They seem to get it. Plus, they're in the Curtis Center, home to the Dream Garden mosaic, a "hidden" must-see Philadelphia attraction.

- Hammer of Glory. What a spectacle. One that everyone should experience at least a leg or two of during Philly Beer Week.

- Hosting Sean Paxton. Well, not like I was the only one helping to show Paxton around, but we did spend some considerable time together. The guy's got a lot of energy as was displayed from the moment he touched down to when he left on Wednesday. And, as I've said numerous times before, truly one of the nicest guys in the industry. Oh, yeah, and his Finger Sandwiches to Nodding Head's Punk Rock went perfectly with Sam Calagione on a Monday afternoon. You've never heard of an 8-course, 3-hour lunch?

- Food, Glorious Food. There were food and beer events at nearly every turn of the street and the clock during Philly Beer Week. In addition to the Finger Sandwiches at Nodding Head, within the 24 hours that it occurred, I also dipped into an 8-course dinner with Iron Hill at Good Dog and a 4.5 course dinner with Deschutes at London Grill. Philly Chefs and brewers are loving this pairing thing :)

- Not visiting enough new places. Already made that point above. Places I'd hoped to get to for the first time included: Farmers Cabinet; Kennett; any place on Passyunk Ave (start with P.O.P.E.?); The Blockley; or The Dandelion to name just a few of the new places I've not yet visited.

- Not reading closely enough to know that the Vintage Beer Brunch at Memphis Taproom was by reservation only. Brendan said we might be able to remedy my absence from the Saturday brunch.

- Not asking enough questions about the importer/wholesaler/distributor angle on PBW. Given their active role in the "direction" of Philly Beer Week, their control of the locations of beers and beer people during PBW is certainly an intriguing one that I may look more in to.

- Not making the T.U.D. for the second year in a row. I'd been to the first two and had plenty of T.U.D.s at Fergie's and the event is certainly a lot of fun. A chance for all to let their hair down and "off the clock" without fear of people like me snapping photos and trying to "document" the event and what people did, said, (and sang!) makes for an extremely fun and relaxed atmosphere upstairs at Fergie's. Now that my annual run has been on the last day of PBW for two years, I have found myself exhausted physically and mentally and just looking to settle in with a couple of tasty T.U.D.s at home instead.

What does PBW 2012 look like?
Well, I won't pretend to know anything about the planning for 2012; they wouldn't trust me with that information. ;-)  I can suspect that it will look very much the same as 2011. As I'd mentioned in passing earlier in the week, from conversational anecdotes around town and in the 'burbs, suburban-brewed beer will certainly continue to be a part of PBW. I'm just not sure how many PBW events will continue to occur in the suburbs.

In the first year or two, spreading the PBW love and respect across the region made a lot of sense. As the last three years have flown by, scads of new, and mostly above average, venues for great beer have opened within the city limits. For the amount of beer, the number of beer people, and the number of venues in the City, it could be quite logical and conceivable that PBW draws a line and says that only venues with a city-based ZIP code may post events on the official website.

Last year's breakdown where brewers, reps, and owners were being double-, sometimes triple-booked, with little to no chance of fulfilling obligations many miles apart, seems to have been largely rectified this year. But, still, with somewhere between 80%-90% of all PBW events in 2011, over 900 total events to be almost-exact, taking place within City limits, it doesn't seem inconceivable that some lines might be drawn.

Will it still be in June? Ha, what a question! There's not much doubt for me that this was again the most talked-about topic of PBW '11 amongst those on both sides of the tap handles. There may be no ideal weather month in the Philadelphia region and while June may not be a lot of people's number 1 or 2 choice for a PBW celebration, it's not going to change.

Many of us prefer March. (I know, my apologies for again so loosely and vaguely using the term, 'us'.) Numerous proprietors and participants alike commented to me about the shame it is that PBW has moved to June. Here are a couple of paragraphs that I never fit into any of my mid-PBW updates.

"It's June and, while the first few days were more ideal than we could ask for in June, reality has set back in here in the middle of the week and will linger on through the end of PBW. It's hot (101), it's humid (80%), and there was even a tornado warning."

"Not only do I not want to be at outdoor events nor driving/walking/cabbing/schlepping from one event to another in this weather, most bars and restaurants do not have air conditioning systems equipped to deal with weather like this to make indoor conditions comfortable when attracting a large, capacity crowd to their events."

"And it's life, too. Life, as I've said for the last couple of years in the argument against June as the host month for PBW, is just simply more busy for just about everyone in June. I, and many other PBW-goers, have home responsibilities, vacations, graduations, end of school, kids sports programs as just a few of the reasons why we can't make it to as many events as we might otherwise if March was the host month.

"Maybe the question (or one of them) comes down to the demographic hoped to be attracted to Philly Beer Week. Is it young, single, and with a limited budget? Those with discretionary vacation time to spend on PBW? June might work just fine in that case."

As it relates to getting around town, two other stray thoughts are left here at the end. What ever happened to the PBW Shuttle Buses that were attempted back in '08 (maybe '09, too?)

And, the PBW special SEPTA pass? I wonder how this fell through the cracks this year.

Perhaps it's unfair to give the impression that I'm ending on a sour note. Nothing's farther from the truth. The ten days comprising PBW, and to be fair the other 355 days of the year as well around the region, is nothing short of a spectacular display of the incredibly rich and diverse region of great beer that we all enjoy.

When everyone works together, it can/should only become stronger. Because in a niche segment of a small, but growing industry, long-term goals and visions are what really count.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sly Fox plans for the future

Not a whole lot of time this week for extensive (or intensive writing), but if you haven't already come across the news yesterday, I've pasted below the text from the Sly Fox press release.

I grew up in Berks County, never then and still not a hot bed of brewing or great beer bars (here and there, but not nearly overrun). From Lancaster County to the west and Chester and Montgomery Counties to the east, Berks County seems to have been skipped over in some regards.

But the encroachment continues. With this news of Sly Fox's intentions to close their Royersford location (the second of two current locations) and open a larger production facility in Pottstown, great beer is getting closer than ever to the home turf of my youth.

Here is the press release text:


June 14, 2011 — Sly Fox Brewing Managing Partners John and Peter Giannopoulos said today that the family-owned company, which opened its first brewpub in Phoenixville in December 1995, will open a large production brewery in Pottstown later this year. As a first step, the company is selling the restaurant side of Sly Fox Brewery & Restaurant located at 312 N. Lewis Rd. in Royersford, which opened in November 2004, to a long time employee and her husband.

The 30,000 sq. ft. new brewery, situated on six acres at 331 Circle of Progress in the Pottstown Airport Business Center, has housed the brewery’s executive offices and been serving as a warehouse since the beginning of this year when Sly Fox took possession. In addition to the new brewery, a tasting room/pub will eventually be added if a zoning variance is granted by the township.

The brewery will feature a fully automated 50-hectoliter BrauKon brewhouse from Germany which is expected to arrive by November and be up and running by the end of the year. Production capabilities will be tripled with the new brewhouse. Currently, Sly Fox can brew 25 hectoliters twice a day but will be able to brew 50 hectoliters three times a day at the Pottstown location. The company will purchase three new 150-hectoliter fermenters from JV Northwest and will move 11 50-hectoliter fermenters from the Royersford location to the new plant. “We’ve already raised the roof over a 1,000 sq. ft. section of the new building to accommodate the bigger tanks,” John Giannopoulos said. A 2,500 sq. ft. cold storage box is already in place.

A new rotary Cime canning line from Italy will complete the Pottstown production facilities. That equipment, which will fill 60 cans per minute vs.the 28 cans per minute done by the existing line, will actually go on line in Royersford next month and then be moved to the new plant. The current brewhouse, several 25-hectoliter fermenters and the existing canning line will be sold when the new plant goes on line.

Peter Giannopoulos said that the sale of the restaurant will enable the company to concentrate on its core business and take advantage of emerging opportunities. “We have to be able to make more beer in order to meet the demand and we also want to grow the business in both our present markets and look to expand into some new markets. We want our focus to be entirely on beer going forward.”

The new owners at Royersford will be Bryan and Stacey Hebert. “Stacey has been part of the Sly Fox family for nearly ten years,” said John Giannopoulos, “and one of our best and most trusted employees. She started at Phoenixville and is currently the general manager in Royersford and she knows the business from every perspective. Best of all, she is a familiar face to all the regular customers and will maintain a sense of continuity for the restaurant. Under our agreement, Sly Fox will still operate the restaurant until the liquor license has been transferred and we will continue making beer in our brewery in the rear of the building until our new plant is operational, which we hope will happen before the end of the year.”

In a joint statement, the managing partners agreed that “building the new brewery is a major step forward in Sly Fox history and will give us the capacity to continue to offer the great beers produced by Brian O’Reilly and his team to the consumers who have been supporting us every step of the way and to also introduce those beers to new audiences. Between this new facility and Sly Fox Brewhouse & Eatery in Phoenixville, where it all started, we plan to continue being a major player in what we believe is the best beer market in the entire country.”

Monday, June 13, 2011

Beer Calendar: What To Do in June 2011

As you take a breath today, assuming that you took in at least some part of Philly Beer Week, sit back and ponder the remainder of the month in Philadelphia regional beer events. As we get in to July, I'll resume the weekly and monthly calendars that you're accustomed to seeing and depending upon.

If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know.

$20 and under, down to and including FREE...Pay As You Go (PAYG) also included here

Fri. 6/17 - Free Sampling @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Ithaca Brewing beers)
Fri. 6/17 - Victory Sampling @Bella Vista Beer Distributors, Philadelphia, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free tasting samples of Victory beers. Plus, each customer that purchases a case of Victory beer will receive a free Victory Pint glass.)
Sat. 6/18 - 3 Year Anniversary Party & Sprinkler Room @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (10:00am-9:00pm; They'll be giving out burgers and hot dogs and having some special brews on tap for the day. They are the only bar in the city with an outdoor sprinkler room. So come cool off with some great brews and a run through the sprinkler room and relax at our outdoor seating area and don't forget to bring a towel.)
Tue. 6/21 - Kick the Keg @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (4:30pm; PAYG and help the kick the keg at a discounted price)
Fri. 6/24 - Free Sampling @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Left Hand beers)
Tue. 6/28 - Kick the Keg @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (4:30pm; PAYG and help the kick the keg at a discounted price)
Thu. 6/30 - General George's Beer Garden @National Constitution Center, Philadelphia, PA ($15/$20 admission includes food and drinks as well as access to all of the Center's acclaimed exhibitions)
Thu. 6/30 - Long Trail Promo Night @Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, PA (4:30pm; PAYG for 'keep the pint night' with Long Trail Brewing)

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Fri. 6/17 - Friday Night Sampling @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free tasting samples of Victory's HopDevil, St. Bositerous, and Whirlwind Wit or get your first taste of the new (and delicious) Summer Love Ale. Did we mention Helios?)
Fri. 6/17 - Beer Sampling @Big Top Beverage Market, Roslyn, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; Free tasting samples of Harpoon beer plus glassware and goodies with every Harpoon purchase)
Fri. 6/24 - Friday Night Sampling @Mr. Bottle, Berwyn, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Philadelphia Brewing's fresh brews. Get a free pint glass when you purchase any PBC case.)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Fri. 6/17 - Friday Night Sampling @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Lancaster Brewing beers)
Fri. 6/17 - Beer and Cheese Pairings @Iron Hill Brewery, West Chester, PA (5:00pm-8:00pm; Free tasting samples of Manchego cheese paired with Belgian Tripel)
Mon. 6/20 - Meet Brùton Brewery and Brewer Iacopo Lenci @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG to meet the punk rock brewer and share bottles of Brùton Bianca, Brùton di Brùton, Brùton Stoner, Brùton Lilith, Brùton Momus, Brùton Dieci)
Wed. 6/22 - Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Night @Station Taproom, Downingtown, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG to join them for the tapping of A Lighter Shade of Pale (Beer Camp #46), Hop Smack Double Black Ale (Beer Camp #48), and ExPortation (Beer Camp #25))
Wed. 6/22 - Specialty Keg Wednesdays @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (11:30am; PAYG for Ithaca Excelsior 13 Double Hoppy Wheat Ale)
Thu. 6/23 - Brewery Promo Night (Blue Point) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG for Rastafar Rye, Blue Point No Apologies II IPA, and Fresh Hop Pale Ale)
Fri. 6/24 - Friday Night Sampling @Exton Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free tasting samples of Victory beers)
Sat. 6/25 - Colonial Brewing Demonstration (with Rich Wagner) @Morgan Log House/Mid-Summer Festival & Craft Fair, Lansdale, PA (11:00am-4:00pm; $6 admission to the festival, see website for all the details)
Thu. 6/30 - Grand Opening @Appalachian Brewing Company, Collegeville, PA (5:00pm-12:00am; PAYG for food and drink specials all night long, with a raffle for door prizes including a free Mug Club Membership, and Hoots & Hellmouth will be finishing up the evening with a 10pm performance.)

Events Over $20

Tue. 6/21 - Brùton Brewery Dinner @Fish, Philadelphia, PA ($80 for a six-course meal paired with Bianca, Brùton di Brùton, Lilith, Momus, and Stoner)
Sat. 6/25 - BBQ at the Ballpark @Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA ($60/$65 for baseball, BBQ, tailgating, and beer from Yards, Victory, Weyerbacher, and Philadelphia Brewing)
Tue. 6/28 - Sly Fox Beer Dinner @Matyson, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $75 for a five-course meal paired with Royal Weiss, Route 113 IPA, Ichor Quadruple, Saison Vos, and Incubus Tripel)
Wed. 6/29 - Gambrinus Dinner @Triumph Brewing Company, Philadelphia, PA (8:00pm; $65 for a five-course meal paired with Triumph beers)

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Wed. 6/15 - Italia Today Beer Dinner with B. United and DiBruno Bros. @Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $60 for five courses of food paired with Birrificio Italiano Cassisona, Birrificio Baladin Nora, Birrificio Del Borgo Reale, Birrificio Montegioco Quarta Runa, and Birrificio Grado Plato Chieri Choccarrubica)
Sat. 6/18 - Beer Wars II @High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ (12:00pm-2:00pm; $25 for three courses of food and Allagash versus Oskar Blues)
Sat. 6/18 - Garden State Craft Brewers Guild Beer Festival @Battleship New Jersey, Camden, NJ (1:00pm-5:00pm; $45 a tour of the Battleship, a souvenir sampling mug, music from the Cabin Dogs, food concessions, and, of course, beer from 16 breweries from New Jersey)
Tue. 6/21 - Summer Solstice Brewmaster's Beer Dinner @Iron Hill Brewery, Media, PA (7:00pm; $75 for a five-course meal paired with Belgian Wit, Hefeweizen, Smokin’ Blonde, Saison, Iced Cherry and Dunkel Weiss, and Peach Berliner Weiss)
Tue. 6/28 - Brewmaster's Summer Beer Dinner @Iron Hill Brewery, North Wales, PA (6:00pm; $65 for a five-course meal paired with Saison, Vienna Red Lager, Czech Pils, Abbey Dubbel, and Honey Double Wit)
Wed. 6/29 - Sly Fox Beer Dinner @Uno Chicago Grill, Bensalem, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $TBD)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Tue. 6/14 - All-American Beer Dinner @Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA (6:00pm; $50 for a five-course meal paired with with Sunrise Weissbier, Summer Love, Headwaters Pale Ale, Throwback Lager, and Helios)
Sat. 6/18 - Harrisburg BrewersFest '11 @downtown Harrisburg, PA (12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-8:30pm; $40 for beer samples from up to 50 participating breweries, a collector’s sampling mug, and entertainment from several bands. There will also be reasonably priced food concessions available.)
Sat. 6/18 - Brew & Brunch @Iron Hill Brewery, Phoenixville, PA (10:00am-11:00am; $30 gets you a short class and brewery tour, in addition to selected beer tastings. Reservation includes brunch entree paired with a 10oz beer.)
Mon. 6/20 - Connoisseur’s Event @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $45 to meet the founder, owner, and brewmaster, Iacopo Lenci, of Brùton Brewery and five of his beers, Di Bruton, Stoner, Lilith, Momus, and Dieci)
Tue. 6/21 - Summer Solstice Beer Dinner @Union Barrel Works, Reamstown, PA (6:30pm-9:30pm; $TBD)
Wed. 6/22 - Italian Beer -- Bruton Tuscan Craft Beers @Dilworthtown Inn, West Chester, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $65 for a four-course dinner, with wines included)
Sat. 6/25 - Lansdale Beer Tasting Festival @downtown Lansdale, PA (1:30pm-4:30pm; $10/$20/$35/$45/$70)
Tue. 6/28-Wed. 6/29 - Brewmaster's Summer Beer Dinner @Iron Hill Brewery, Lancaster, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; $65 for a five-course meal paired with Berliner Weisse, Cranberry Wit, German Pilsner, Rye IPA, and Ron Burgundy)

Philly Beer Week 2011: The Index

This is a page that will serve as a central gathering point of most of what I publish, in all its gory detail, related to Philly Beer Week 2011.

This page will continue to evolve (complete with new links each day) as PBW marches on.

If you'd like to see what I've compiled in the past, check here for 2010's wrap-up, click over here for 2009's, and back here for the 2008's inaugural go-round.

The Brew Lounge's Daily Dose
~ Days 1-5 recommendations
~ Days 6-10 recommendations

~ Day 1 Wrap Up --- Day 1 Pictures --- Day 1 Video
~ Day 2 Wrap Up --- Day 2 Pictures
~ Day 3 Wrap Up --- Day 3 Pictures
~ Day 4 Wrap Up --- Day 4 Pictures --- Day 4 Videos (Video #1 and Video #2)
~ Day 5 Wrap Up --- Day 5 Pictures
~ Day 6 Wrap Up --- Day 6 Pictures
~ Day 7 Wrap Up --- Day 7 Pictures --- Day 7 Video
~ Day 8 Wrap Up --- Day 8 Pictures (no pictures, no link)
~ Day 9 Wrap Up --- Day 9 Pictures
~ Day 10 Wrap Up --- Day 10 Pictures --- Day 10 Video

~ Philly Beer Week 2011 Wrap-Up

The Calendar, 2011 style
~ "The Spreadsheet"
~ The Official PBW website calendar
~ Hammer of Glory
~ Philly Beer Run
~ Analysis, not paralysis

Media Mentions
A growing list

Philly Beer Week 2011: Day 10 Wrap-up

Link to Day 10 Pictures (Google/Picasa)

Video from Dock Street Music Festival (YouTube)

Did, Saw, Heard: There was really only one thing that I had my sights set on for Sunday and that was my annual Philly Beer Run. This year it was called Dock Street to Dock Street, and it followed the format from '09 where runners met at the Dock Street in Society Hill and ran to the Dock Street Brewery & Restaurant in West Philly.

This is the fourth year that Dock Street has hosted my run and until Mother Nature's forecast put a damper on things, it was shaping up to be the best attended. Nearly 75 RSVPed, but threats of thunderstorms and heat/humidity kept the number down near 45 instead. A respectable turnout nonetheless.

Still, conducting these runs, regardless of turnout, always brings great amounts of beer karma to my world...and from what I hear, to the worlds of many others as well.

I'll continue to say that the best beer events are the ones that get the customers involved -- involved way past the simple buy-drink-stand-around concept. The occasional geek-out over process and ingredients is fine, I suppose, but the bike events, the quizzos, the Philly Beer Geek competition, the runs, the dunk tanks, fundraisers, etc. are all ways to get customers more involved in beer events and where I see them leaving feeling more satisfied about their expenditures.

The run went off well, the weather cooperated better than expected, and the pizzas and beers at Dock Street were way above par as usual.

Big thanks, by the way, to all of the prize contributors. The runners are always ecstatic to walk away with prizes. The contributors this year included: Dock Street, Nodding Head, Philadelphia Brewing, Sly Fox, Victory, Yards and the Local 44/Memphis Taproom/Resurrection Ale House family of bars. Their generosity was well noted yesterday and the day would not have been the same without them.

After I completed the awards ceremony, it was time for the annual Dock Street Music Festival. This event, as well, has taken off and become a fixture in West Philly during Philly Beer Week. This year, they picked up Subaru as a major sponsor which contributed free shuttle rides to various points back across the Schuylkill River.

We stayed for two bands and our ears and souls could not have been any more pleased. City Wide Specials and TJ Kong & The Atomic Bomb filled the air with great local music and provided a fun and relaxing way for runners to come down from their running high earlier in the day.

One important beer note to make: if you like a refreshing and tasty, low alcohol saison, be on the lookout for Ben Potts' Saison Erbé. At 4.5% ABV, it made for a few glasses worth of enjoyment while sitting out in the sun listening to music.

Because our dogs had "had it" with the sun and were completely exhausted, we decided to head home. Patty stayed in the car with the dogs while I had my last city-based T.U.D. at Local 44. Instead of picking up a Russian River leftover from the morning festivities, I opted for yet another Exportation, the "soured" (at Russian River coincidentally) Sierra Nevada Beer Camp porter that a bunch of locals brewed last year in Chico, Calif. There is still some on tap around town at places like London Grill, Teresa's Next Door, and Local 44, but it won't last long and when it's gone, as they say, it'll be gone for good. You'll have another chance on 6/22 at Station Taproom when Greg Ramirez's keg goes on tap.

So, in a sense, I suppose I did take in Russian River beer at Local 44 :) Like I said, in a sense.

Missed (according to others): Without my running event on the schedule, I might have checked out a brunch. Like Nodding Head at Southwark, Russian River at The Drafting Room, Tröegs at Kennett, Kegs & Eggs at Varga, or the Extreme Beer Brunch at South Philly Tap Room. I heard good things from others that stopped in at these events. Plus, if you have kids, there was even a "kid's beer brunch" at the P.O.P.E. with a Shel Silverstein tie-in. Sounded like fun for both parents and kids.

I always hear great things about Nancy Rigberg's annual Ladies Beer Tea at The Belgian Café. Not that I'd be able to witness it first-hand, har har, but a sellout room of ladies usually do. It occurred yesterday as well.

Then, at night, I succumbed to the luring call of my (newly-installed) central air conditioning at home, growler of Iron Hill beer from the day before (Chardonnay-aged Honey Saison, so very good!), and a bottle of Russian River Consecration. We caught up with Breaking Bad on DVD and made the most of our own T.U.D.s at home. Dogs were grateful to be home as well after a long week of running around town.

Nonetheless, it sounds like the T.U.D. event at Fergie's had every element of crazy that it's had in past years. I made it there the first two years, but am now on a two year cold streak. Should really try to break that next year. Maybe a hotel room on the last night of PBW would make that an easier proposition.

The Day After: And on the 11th day, we Philly Beer Folks rested. Or did we? It does seem like great weather to once again get caught up, like last Tuesday, on household and lawn/garden responsibilities.

But, then again, there's still that 1/2 growler of Iron Hill's Chardonnay-aged Honey Saison. Perhaps that's the reward for finishing yardwork tonight.

Now it's time to get back to business as usual around these Philly parts. That's 50 weeks and 4 days of making, selling, and drinking great beer.

Cheers to all who participated in the mayhem that is Philly Beer Week. There truly is nothing else like it in the country.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Philly Beer Week 2011: Day 9 Wrap-up

Link to Day 9 Pictures (Google/Picasa)

Did, Saw, Heard: Caught up with some more of my local friends. Paid a visit to Iron Hill in Phoenixville. It seems like weeks ago since Patty, Paxton, and I sat down for an Iron Hill Dinner at Good Dog. For lunch, it was 6 barrel-aged beer samplers, all brewed by head brewer Tim Stumpf, with a Fish Taco and chit-chat with brewer Tim Stumpf, and co-owners Mark Edelson and Kevin Finn that got my Saturday off to a great start. The Chardonnay-aged Honey Saison, likely my favorite with the Bourbon Tripel and Cabernet Dubbel very close seconds. Also met Ed Garrett from the Harrisburg area who had come to "town" to sample some PBW events. Later saw him at.....

.....The Drafting Room, where a deliciously aromatic glass of cask-conditioned Hop Stoopid from Lagunitas was being poured from the bartop. Two homebrewers, a Foley and a Clair were also at the bar...not on it....not at least while I was there. Anyone doing the Russian River brunch today at TDR might want to first inquire if there is any Hop Stoopid left. It's a great example of a hop-forward beer that shines on cask.

Then it was off to Teresa's Next Door to see what the Main Line JazzFest was all about. Can't say that I was all that impressed by the show of vendors and the music (which was very good otherwise) that was masquerading as Jazz.

But, impressive was the lineup of Tröegs both at the bar and setup in the cafe, which served as a bit of a respite from the outdoors. Cask-conditioned HopBack Amber is another beer that shines beautifully from the firkin and played a nice accompanying role to the BBQ sampler platter that we got. Ribs, Chicken, Brisket, and Pulled Pork on a platter with Collard Greens, Fries, and Deviled Eggs left us more than satisfied.

Oh, and the De La Senne Tarus Boulba and a run-in (finally!) with Exportation helped with the satisfaction as well.

The Exportation? If you haven't heard of it, it's the Tröegs version (done at Russian River, no less) of Exporter that our local beer heroes brewed at Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp last year. With it's brett-y funk, the porter, I believe, tastes even better than the original brew.

Missed (according to others):Well, there's no doubt that I missed Phreddie and the Phunks at Nodding Head. If I hadn't missed the train, and if the doom and gloom reports (double-verified) of the Schuylkill Expressway traffic nightmares had reared their nasty heads, I'd been there for sure. But, I suppose I've been rewarded with enough smooth trips on that sorry-excuse-for-a-major-highway-entrance-to-a-major-city that I was due for one of these letdowns.

Capone's blowout sounded like something else I should have stopped in at. For as close to home as it is for me and for the nice job that Matt Capone continues to do for the industry, it's a shame I didn't get there during PBW. Still, big props to Matt and his team for putting on some of the most talked about events during PBW '11.

Today, Day 10: Time is running short here this morning. It's time for me to head off to the City and get the 4th Annual Philly Beer Run underway. It's the return this year of Dock Street to Dock Street format. Dock Street (the actual street in Society Hill) to Dock Street (the actual brewpub in West Philly).

Nearly 75 have RSVPed. Let's see how many show, given the moderately crappy weather.

No matter, after I distribute awards, we'll all stick around for the 3rd Annual Dock Street Local Music Festival.

Then, maybe on to Local 44 to see what Russian River "scraps" are left after the geeks get done ripping through there in the morning and early afternoon.

By the time I get cleaned up, we'll make the gametime decision as to whether a trip to the T..U.D., or even a T.U.D. in and of itself, is still necessary.

Party on PBW people!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Philly Beer Week 2011: Day 8 Wrap-up

No Link to Day 8 Pictures (Google/Picasa), the Pentax got a break on this eighth day of PBW

Did, Saw, Heard: Thought about heading back in to the City, but by the time I had some idea of what seemed like the right plan of attack, we were at TJ's and I was enjoying a Sünner Kölsch. I really, really like this German beer and have only had it on draft once before, at Meddlesome Moth in Dallas, Texas last year.

Quite a treat, for sure. Then, for "dessert", I did my part to help clean up from the prior night's Great Lakes tap takeover. The Doppelrock, the Cleveland brewery's decadent 7.6% ABV take on a German doppelbock, was one I hadn't previously come across and proved to be a great choice.

Before you know it, we were at home enjoying a Saison Dupont.

Missed (according to others): Anything I said I might do, anything anyone recommended to do, I missed. Am I PBW-weary? Maybe, perhaps. After hitting the first four days hard, then backing off for the next two days, I haven't been able to get "back in gear" for the last two days. Sure, the Kan Jam at The Four Seasons and the homebrew event at The Drafting Room helped to fill in the days, but nothing else nearly to rival the frenzy of the first four days.

But more likely, it's the weather and it's life. They both are the biggest risks to complete enjoyment and participation of PBW in June. I'll get in to this more in my post-PBW wrap-up.

Tomorrow: Today, however, I will get back in gear. Will there be a glass of Hop Stoopid from the firkin at The Drafting Room? Maybe some barrel-aged beers at Phoenixville's Iron Hill? Capone's for a crazy end of week blowout? Teresa's Next Door for a Tröegs Beer and Barbeque event coinciding with Wayne's JazzFest?

All quite possible. First, though, I need to make sure that I have everything I need for tomorrow's Philly Beer Run.

Then, maybe, if that all works out, I'll find myself sipping on some sours at Nodding Head from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Philly Beer Week 2011: Day 7 Wrap-up

Link to Day 7 Pictures (Google/Picasa)

Video from Sly Fox Kan Jam 2011 at The Four Seasons (YouTube), this one's for you Jack

Did, Saw, Heard: Life is full of coulddas, shoulddas, woulddas and last night was no exception. I could have stopped at Memphis Taproom for lunch, but was running short on time as I was picking up the last of the prizes for my Philly Beer Run event on Sunday at Dock Street.

William (Reed) and I should have moved on to the Finals of Sly Fox's Kan Jam 2011, but a bit of miscommunication cost us some points and our tough opponent seized the opportunity and put us away. But, it was a great run nonetheless. The Tossers shall return!

I would have hit up a handful of other beer events last night after the Sly Fox party at The Four Seasons 'With Love Beer Garden', but with a large family in attendance, we opted for a more comfortable group setting, Rose Tattoo, across the street from Kite and Key.

This turned out to be a nice, relaxing dinner after my afternoon "athletic endeavors" with plenty of room to spread out and catch up with family that we haven't seen in a little while. And, from a beer perspective, I discovered that the restaurant's beer list has come a long way since Patty and I used to stop in there regularly in the early 90s. Back then, it was typically beverage of the grape variety that we opted for in this horticulturally-inclined restaurant.

So I had an Allagash White with dinner. Not too shabby and in total keeping with the theme of Philly Beer Week.

I'd be remiss if I didn't back up here for a second and commend the tourism bureau and The Four Seasons for putting on a great show of local craft beer each day this week in the lovely courtyard between the office building and the hotel. Even with the stifling heat yesterday, the courtyard, the misters, the shade of the trees and buildings created a nice oasis for hanging out before and after, or in between other events.

The daily "show" has been put on with just the right amount of class that you'd expect from the high-end hotel chain, though without being "too much". I did get a kick out of, however, their insistence that "you don't need to walk through the hotel to get to the Beer Garden". That could definitely be taken a couple of ways.

Also commendable is Sly Fox's tremendous event that gets consumers involved. Standing around a bar, geeking out about the malt bill, hop profile, brewer/barrel stats gets a little old after the 119th time. You may, or may not, be surprised at how many people have mentioned this to me just this week alone.

Playing games or otherwise getting customers involved in an event outside of simply buying and tasting beers is something that Sly Fox (thanks to Corey Reid and his team for organizing this event) gets.

Missed (according to others): I checked in occasionally to the vast network of computers to find that the Memphis Taproom Vegan Dinner was very well received. Kite and Key packed 'em in for another Dogfish Night (if you haven't had the Hellhound yet, you may be missing out on something you'd like quite a bit...and quite a bit more of!). City Tap House put more Victory beer on tap than at the home brewpub. I haven't run across any opinions yet on the Night Market, but this was something else I was very interested to experience. Local 44 was hosting geek-worthy Laurelwood Brewery from Portland, Oregon. Exportation, which many that have had it really seem to be digging, at London Grill and Teresa's Next Door.

A takeover by Great Lakes at TJ's should have been the last stop on our tour yesterday, but the night just simply got too long and tiring and it was time to go home for dog duty -- as in dog 'responsibility', shall we say? :)

But, what's really to "miss" when there are still 3 more days of Philly Beer Week?

Today, Day 8: This is a tough one. I still need to make final preparations for the Philly Beer Run on Sunday. So, it's either tonight or tomorrow to do that. A lot will depend upon how life feels come the 5 o'clock whistle today.

What does sound nice for some Friday sampling, however, if I do choose to go the way of PBW, are things like: Christ Church Burial Ground tour; Sly Fox/Southampton Firkin-off at Good Dog; Wild Onion beer at Sticks and Stones; White Birch at North Star; Rob Tod and Allagash somewhere around town; Nebraska at The Sidecar; Craft Cans at Varga; Yards pin at Kennett; Abbey of Christ at Grey Lodge. Just a few choices in the city, right?

Or, more simply tracking down some Deschutes locally here at The Drafting Room, Great Lakes leftovers at TJ's, and/or the off-chance of running into some Exportation remnants at Teresa's. 'Riding the Rails with Boxcar' in West Chester also sounds like a great way to spend the last Friday of PBW '11.

Another day, another bunch of tough decisions to make. There are worse problems to have.