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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Philly Beer Week 2012: Day 5 Wrap-Up

-->A link to the Philly Beer Week Index

-->A link to Day 4 highlights

-->Look ahead to a Day 6 preview
-->A link to Day 6 highlights

The beauty of doing a Philly Beer Week wrap-up is that there's almost no way in which I, or anyone else, can be wrong in my assessment. After all, with an average of 80 or so "events" a day (and let's be honest, after five years, there are still quite a few questionable "events" on the calendar, but let's move along), no one will or can see it all to render an opinion on how the whole of the day went down.

So, instead, here is my account of the fifth day, June 5, of Philly Beer Week 2012 based upon my whereabouts. To the extent that I have credible second- or third-hand accounts of the day, I'll be including them in each day's wrap-up as well.

First, a link here to my pictures from day 5 of Philly Beer Week 2012.

Here, then, are some brief notes in no particular order other than perhaps chronologically.

~ Before I get to the blockbuster event at Nodding Head, I thought I'd point out I've heard no accounts of busted events until yesterday. Either everyone I speak with goes to only the "best" events, or most events truly did generate the turnout that most would hope for. Later, you'll read about how I stopped in at Kite & Key and while there, owner Jim Kirk (also on the PBW board) did point out how they were pleased with the additional event screening that apparently took place this year at PBW-central. So, that's good. Except for Fox & Hound, where a few people ventured in to a very sparsely attended cask festival. I can only surmise that this could be an example of an establishment misplaying its target audience. But, moving along...

~ Once I learned that Sean Paxton, The Home Brew Chef, was returning to Philly Beer Week for a second consecutive year, it quickly became clear that I knew where to be for happy hour on day 5 of PBW '12.

~ The format at Nodding Head was much the same as last year. An establishment run by great beer people with interesting beer with creative food being served to a room full of beer loving folks at a reasonable price. Live music was a nice touch this year, though the DJ'ed punk rock last year was fun too. A recipe for success, right? Right-o, you betchya.

~ It was also fun to see a not-so-usual crowd of beer and food geeks in the house. Not that it makes them any lesser so, but when hopping from one event to another, often times the crowd can look a bit of the same (I think you have to experience it to understand where I'm coming from). Here, I knew a handful of people and got to know a few more during this event which turned out to a nice formula.

~ The event flows with so much good karma and, as with last year, it all starts from and is due to the graciousness of the three principals in this event: Curt Decker (owner of Nodding Head and host), Sean Paxton (The Home Brew Chef from Sonoma, Calif.), and Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head). Calagione did his usual meet 'n' greet with nearly everyone in the room and went above and beyond the call even as his back was beginning to fail him as the day wore on. Eventually, he went off to the hotel to rest up a bit (before presumably hitting the town again for late night socializing) but not before shaking a few more hands and posing for a bunch more pictures with fans of his brewery. As you can tell, I really do recommend that you attend a Home Brew Chef event at some point to experience the wonderful intersection of food, beer, and people. Be sure to see the pictures that I've linked to for even more illustrative proof of the story.

~ Everything, and I mean everything went down like a dream, but the two best pairings of the evening that stood out for me were the Foie Gras (poached in Chateau Jiahu) Crostini, which made the Noble Rot taste different and better than I've ever experienced, and the Duck Confit with Crosby Tears. Not far behind, to be fair, was the Coconut Prawns with the Berliner Weisse. ay, ay, ay. Or, as beerbistro's Brian Morin said to me, "He [Sean Paxton] always teaches me something new everytime I see him." High praise.

~ And for those wondering about the beer, here is a quick rundown: Dogfish Head Saison du BUFF; Nodding Head Grog; Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA infused with bitter orange Campari; Nodding Head Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse with fruit and molasses infused syrup; Nodding Head Rascal; Nodding Head Goldihops; Dogfish Head Noble Rot; Nodding Head Crosby Tears; Dogfish Head Positive Contact ["World Premier"]; Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, randallized with cocoa nibs, hazlenuts, and vanilla beans with a splash of Dogfish Distillery's Peanut Butter Vodka Cocktail. Yes, all those beers.

~ After the dinner, I meandered up to London Grill to meet Patty and The Pup, figuring some outdoor dunk tank action (scheduled 'til 9 p.m. supposedly) would still be taking place. But apparently not even at 7 p.m. Oh well, it was a tasty-as-usual Perpetual IPA from Tröegs and off we walked to Kite & Key. Tough to pass up Elysian at The Belgian Café along the way, but alas.

~ The pub was on the downside of its earlier event with Founders, which worked perfectly for us to sit outside with The Pup, with all but two (KBS and Blushing Monk, first to kick) still flowing. So, a Cerise and a Better Half along with some small bites (like the awesome Fried Pickles, perhaps best I've ever had) while having enjoyable conversation catching up finally with owner Jim Kirk made for a great way to close out day 5.

~ Allagash (and at least one Coolship beer) with Rob Tod at Barcade and City Tap House's mondo night with Avery, Bell's, Left Hand, and New Holland both presented strong cases for extending the night by another hour or two, but we live to see another day with PBW '12. Trust you're all holding up well out there.

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