After 14 days in Belgium and just a few days later embarking upon 10 days of Philly Beer Week (not to mention "pre-gaming" with a decadent 9-course beer dinner with Russian River and Sierra Nevada at Monk's Café just a couple of nights before PBW officially kicked off), I'm not in much of a mood to get all that introspective to talk about PBW '12 from the inside out.
(If you'd like to check back in on the day-by-day from my perspective, jump back via this link.)
From the outside looking in, though, it was another year of 10 days of events ranging from simple tastings to brewer visits from far and wide to geeky special beer releases to more homebrew events than ever to lunches, brunches, and dinners to extravagant shows of hilarity and, yes, (shameless self-promotion) a 5-K race that exceeded everyone's expectations and jumped up to get a lot of deserved attention.
Comparing (at least on paper) Philly Beer Week to almost any other Beer Week (there are now reportedly over 100 of them in various shapes and sizes) around the country is pointless. Philadelphia set the standard back in 2008 and, more importantly, continues to impress each year by maintaining a format that works for most involved from the brewers to the distributors to the bar owners and to the consumers.
Is it more than is necessary? Most agree yes. Many say privately and some agree publicly that PBW subtracts more than just 10 days of their lives from them and that keeping up in Philadelphia's competitive beer market is a struggle enough during the other 355 days of the year let alone the additional stress that accompanies the 10 days of PBW. It's a format that's been debated and criticized, but it's difficult to argue the success (financial, career, or otherwise) that has resulted for many. Or to argue that it is just, at the end of the day — or 10 days — down-right fun.
But what is not debatable is the well-deserved international recognition and praise PBW brings to the countless hundreds that are involved in making the Philadelphia region one of the best all-around beer cultures in the country.
That seems like a pretty good note to leave things on until Philly Beer Week 2013 rolls around.
P.S. I've caught wind of and am sharing with you here a link to a Philly Beer Week survey where you will be entered into a drawing for Opening Tap tickets in 2013. Remember: it can't get any better if they don't hear from the most important factor of Philly Beer Week — You.