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Friday, May 31, 2013

Philly Beer Week 2013, Day 2 Preview: Saturday, June 1

Since a solid majority of respondents to the survey said that it was more important to them to receive daily previews throughout Philly Beer Week, I'll continue this year as I have in the past with a daily snapshot of what's to come and what you might find most interesting or that you may have missed on the calendar of events.

It may not be a perfect science, but I've pored over the calendar of events and come up with the following to share with you. Next up is day two, June 1.

All day
  - The Institute is doing all sorts of fruited beverages including sour beers, ciders, and lambics. They'll have fruit-appropriate accompaniments as well.
  - An annually proven great day of firkins and British-style music at Johnny Brenda's.

Try a new place
  - There'll be a bunch of German beers that I'm betting many of you have not had at a bar that most have not been to, Brü Craft & Wurst. Here's a chance to check off both after 4 p.m.
  - At Cedar Point Bar & Kitchen will be a great chance to check out a relatively new brewery and its brewer, Neshaminy Creek, and a whole lot of their beers and a new bar in town. Stop by after 7 p.m.

Afternoon
  - Brunch at Standard Tap is dependably good. With Dogfish Head taking over the taps, it should be great.
  - The Block Party at Varga Bar is always a blast with all sorts of beer, food, and entertainment to keep the party hopping all afternoon.

Evening
  - Run, eat chicken, drink beer at American Sardine with the Fishtown Beer Runners.
  - Sweet Baby Jesus at The Industry sounds like a good call.

Late Night
  - This could go under new places or here. I'll put it here because with Bruton owner/brewer from Italy in the house at Alla Spina, it's guaranteed to be a fun night on North Broad.
  - I'm guessing that Jose Pistola's will wind up on this late night list more than once this coming week. Here's the first instance with its Ludacrismas event back again in 2013. Merry Ho-Ho!

Suburbs
  - A few decent looking things happening in the suburbs on this Saturday. First up is Firestone Walker features at Pinocchio's in Media.
  - Then, there's something that appears to be a Can Jam Tournament with Sly Fox on the roof of Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting.
  - If you miss Neshaminy Creek Brewing in Philly, you could always catch them closer to home in Bucks County at The Hulmeville Inn.
  - Finally, over in New Jersey (Westmont to be exact), Keg & Kitchen is featuring nothing but "local and rare" as part of the Haddon Township Pub Crawl.

Each year, I've said I would stop by the Christ Church Burial Ground for its Brew 'n' History tour. It runs this year from Saturday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. It seems like a great educational stop to make when in transit to or from another Old City-based event. Maybe this year.

What about you? What have I missed?



The 2013 Inquirer Brew-vitational Awards

(Welcome to the 2013 Inquirer Brew-vitational Awards. I was in the right place.)

As a judge in this year's Brew-vitational Awards, I'm a bit more inclined to write about them than I would have been in the past.

See, I'm extremely proud of the outcome, not because the results were nearly in line with my own personal scoresheet, but because of the strong showing of all the breweries and their submissions.

I was most pleased with the Pilsner category. Allow me to explain. (And stick around for the pictures at the end.)

As I mentioned in the judges interview, Pilsners have a special place in my heart dating back to the Pilsners of the early 90s from Dock Street and Stoudt's. I can drink the big over-the-top in every way (hops, alcohol, esters, coffee, fruit, etc., etc.) beers with the best of 'em and enjoy them all day and night long.

But, at the beginning and end of it all, I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the brewers that can nail a Pilsner with the perfect profile and refreshing balance of malts, noble hops, and clean finish. As most brewers will attest, it's not the easiest style to master.

Here in the Philadelphia region, which seems to generously extend from south-central to northeastern Pennsylvania and even over in to south Jersey and maybe even northern Delaware on an occasional day, we have an ever-growing reputation for brewers with an expert knack for consistently cranking out top-notch Pilsners.

Think Dock Street, Lancaster, Sly Fox, Stoudt's, Tröegs, and Victory for starters. These days, you may have heard of some solid Pilsners coming out of the newer Neshaminy Creek (I named them one of the most memorable of 2012) and Gunpowder Falls (out in York County I told you about a couple of months ago).

We had a bit of a lively discussion after we submitted our individual judge's scores where I, and a few others, took the position that "imperial" Pilsners had no place in the Pilsner category that we were judging.


(You can see a video of how some of the tasting/judging went down via this link.)


My thoughts and comments went along the lines of the following:
  • On the topic of Pilsners, I've continued to think about it and remain steadfast in my belief that while the Imperials entered were above average beers, in a region where we have such high quality Pilsners being turned out, there's little reason in my mind not to exclude nontraditional versions. Just as there are Double IPA fests and competitions (with so many in the style crowding the market more than ever) to distinguish them uniquely from "regular" IPAs, I think we can look at judging Pilsners separately from Imperial Pilsners.
  • After conversations I've had in different parts of the country in the days just since the competition tasting, I'm more convinced than ever of the pride we should have in our German/Czech/Bohemia brewing roots and the quality that current brewers have carried on. Folks in other parts of the country, both hardcore and average beer geeks, don't seem to be experiencing the same level of quality and appreciation in Pilsners as are we.
I'd sent these follow-up notes to Craig LaBan as we reflected upon the judging results. It was the second bullet that really sent me to further reflection. Every opportunity I had to share my judging experience from Atlanta to San Francisco to Los Angeles with supposed appreciators of better beer just could not completely wrap their heads around the idea that Pilsners could be interesting enough to judge a whole panel of them, not to mention that in the world of beer geekery, Pilsners are just not interesting enough. (Unless it's a hot summer day and you just want to chug something alcoholic and on and on with the seemingly endless canned, and stereotypical, responses.)

Well, I think I've put more than my two cents out there on the topic of Pilsners. It was a true treat and a monumental challenge, to say the least. My approach was to quickly sniff and then sample a small taste to see if I could discard any immediately strictly based on any obvious aroma or flavor flaws. There were none. Well done, my local brewers. Well done, indeed.

Lest you think I've gone off the rails from my earlier comment, I likewise could not have been more pleased with the New Beer category. Did I name a 10% beer a best-of? I sure did. It was bursting with all the wonderful flavors that I mentioned in the video. My praise, while a bit effusive, was genuine nonetheless. There were some wild sensory rides from some of the beers in the various categories and the top three were well-deserved of their finish place.

By the way, did I mention the results? You may have already read up on the final results. Here they are below, with my judged ranking in parentheses.

Pilsners
  Tröegs Sunshine Pils (1st in my finals round and 1st in my preliminary round of Pilsners)
  Victory CBC Tettnang Pils (3)
  Dogfish Head My Antonia (4)

New Beers
  Weyerbacher Riserva (1st in both my preliminary judging of "special/barrel-aged" and in the final round of New Beers)
  Tired Hands HandFarm (3)
  Free Will Rapunzel (4)

Now, for the visual evidence. Don't waste time, though, looking for photographic evidence of the elusive ringleader of this competition, Craig LaBan. He played the role well in guiding us through the competition and the approach. But, publishing photos of the longtime (hard to believe, fifteen years now) food journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer would not have been the prudent thing to do if I wish to be considered for future similar gigs, now would it?

Big cheers to all of the winners and bring on Philly Beer Week 2013.

(First up: the Pilsner category of ten.)

(Then, speciality/barrel-aged.)

(judges seated, from left: Dan DeLuca, Natalie DeChico, Steve Wildy, Andy Rich, and William Reed standing)

(Pizza Brain provided the perfect intermission.)

(Pizza Brain up close.)

(Then the Belgian-style category, oh my.)

(Discussing the scores amongst half the judges seated, from left, Dan DeLuca, Natalie DeChico, Steve Wildy, Andy Rich.)

(This looks like a beer sampling/judging.)

(Final round in the New Beer category.)

(Coming down the home stretch. In addition to those judges already mentioned at the right table, William Reed and Tara Nurin at the left table.)

(the top 3, from left, in the Pilsners category.)

(the top 3, from left, in the New Beers category.)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Philly Beer Week 2013, Day 1 Preview: Friday, May 31

Since a solid majority of respondents to the survey said that it was more important to them to receive daily previews throughout Philly Beer Week, I'll continue this year as I have in the past with a daily snapshot of what's to come and what you might find most interesting or that you may have missed on the calendar of events.

It may not be a perfect science, but I've pored over the calendar of events and come up with the following to share with you. Up first is tomorrow, May 31.

Hammer Of Glory
  - This is really deserving of its own category as this epic twelve hour procession of the iconic Hammer of Glory around the City truly signals the kickoff of the ten-day Philly Beer Week.
  - It's really 19 events spread across nearly twelve hours of the first day and the details can be found here.
  - The Hammer will see roller girls, kinetic sculptures, rolling bookcases and staircases, motorcycles, horses, and wheelbarrows just to name a few of the spectacles at stops along the way
  - This year, there appears to be no strippers (or exotic ladies of the evening?) on the itinerary to the delight of many, the sorrow of others.
  - Experience all of it, if you can, or bite off just a few stops. But, if there's a more spectacular gathering of characters, beers, sights, and debauchery during PBW, I'd like to hear about it.

All day
  - Gose and other German sours at Brauhaus Schmitz
  - Loving the Daisy Cutter from Half Acre right now. At Local 44, Perennial will be there too. Both pouring all day; brewers after 4 p.m.

Try a new place
  - The Victoria Freehouse is doing British styles starting at 4 p.m.
  - The Cambridge is doing a whole bunch of tasty stuff from Shangy's beginning at 6 p.m.

Afternoon
  - "Something epic" at Kite & Key means that after the #HOG2013 leaves, with Tröegs in the house, the party begins at 2 p.m. and won't stop for quite some time
  - Beer and gelato at City Tap House. They definitely have the right weather for it.

Evening
  - Opening Tap. The Hammer of Glory tour comes to a close (pause?), Brew-vitational awards will be handed out, and all the local beer you need to know about will be served to properly kick off Philly Beer Week. Plus, TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb will be laying down the soundtrack for the evening.
  - Perch Pub. If you missed Half Acre earlier at Local 44 (plus billed as "meet the brewer")

Late Night
  - Looking like quite a party at Khyber in Old City after 9 p.m.
  - And a solid night of music and beer with John Train and Sly Fox at Fergie's after 10 p.m.

Suburbs
  - Coming into City from the west by way of the R-5/Downingtown train? Teresa's for 2-2-2 to take the train (2 beers for 2 bucks for 2 hours. This day's is 120 Minute IPA and one World Wide Stout from Dogfish Head Brewery!)
  - North of the City? Isaac Newton's in Newtown for Perennial from St. Louis.

At some point would like to stop by Free Library for its ongoing display (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, except Sundays with hours from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) called "Brewed in Philly: A History of Brewing". It's just around the corner from Kite & Key and it's free, so it seems like something that should definitely not be too difficult to add to the itinerary.

What about you? What have I missed?



Beer in Philly (Inquirer) everywhere today. Philly Beer Week and Brew-vitational edition

Have you caught the Food Section of today's Philadelphia Inquirer? The print edition is out today where you'll see all sorts of tasty stuff including the judging results of the fourth annual Brew-vitational that Craig LaBan and the Inquirer have conducted.

As you may have known, or about to learn, I was one of the eight judges and the results of our five-hour-long labor of love are detailed in the paper.

Much of the print version is available online as well as some video. I've included links below to speed your way. I'll come back later to elaborate some more on my thoughts about the Pilsner category, which I voiced some passion about during the judging. (Spoiler: I love 'em.)

The Brew-vitational winners and "Meet the Judges" video.

Brew-vitational: Tasting the Winners, the video

Brew-vitational: Gallery of pictures

Pilsners and Scoats' love of them.

Joe Sixpack's guide to Philly Beer Week.

Dan DeLuca, a fellow Brew-vitational judge, presents his music to drink beer by

The dynamic husband-and-wife duo behind PhillyTapFinder.com

And, while this isn't the Inquirer, Beer Sessions Radio featured Philly Beer Week and Chris Wilson from Weyerbacher this week. Check out the podcast here.


Beer Calendar: What To Do in June 2013

And.......heeere weeeeee goooooo.

As always, 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

Philadelphia
To all my good friends of Philadelphia (or anywhere in the region with a scheduled Philly Beer Week event May 31 through June 9, you won't be getting an individual listing here. I'm a diligent worker bee, but with over 150 venues hosting roughly 900 events during Philly Beer Week, even I know my limits and I had to draw the line somewhere. If you have events scheduled after PBW '13, feel free to toss them my way and I'll get them on here. Until then, I'll point the readers here over to PhillyBeerWeek.org for a full up-to-date calendar listing or my spreadsheet-ized version (with event info current as of May 26) for those that like that kind of thing.


Also, The Brew Lounge's weekly calendar updates will be going on a two-week hiatus in order to keep up with the PBW madness that will surely ensue and consume my time. Plus, I trust that most of you will be out and about with schedule in hand for PBW with no real need for a weekly calendar update until the next scheduled one on June 13.

In the meantime, read on for events beyond June 9 or those not listed with Philly Beer Week 2013. They're just as worthy and a part of the Philadelphia region of excellent beer.

Thu. 6/6 - Victory Day @Oyster House, Philadelphia, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Tue. 6/11 - Open Brew Day with Yvan de Baets @Nodding Head, Philadelphia, Pa. ($PAYG)
Wed. 6/12 - Beer School (June subject: TBA) @Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, Pa. (4 p.m.; $Free)
Wed. 6/12 - Southern Fried Hippie Hoedown@The Sidecar Bar & Grille, Philadelphia, Pa. (3 p.m.; $PAYG)
Mon. 6/17 - Meet the Brewers: Nøgne Ø@Kraftwork, Philadelphia, Pa. ($PAYG)
Fri. 6/28 - Finally Friday Beer Tasting (Boston Beer Company) @Trolley Car Diner, Philadelphia, Pa. (5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.; $Free)


Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Sat. 6/1 - IPA War @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Sun. 6/2 - One Year Anniversary Party @Tired Hands Brewing Company, Ardmore, Pa. (12 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sun. 6/2 - Bourbon Barrel/Big Beers @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG)
Mon. 6/3 - Widmer Meet the Brewer @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (6 p.m.; $PAYG)
Tue. 6/4 - Wartsteiner Keep the Glass @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $PAYG)
Tue. 6/4 - Founders @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (6:30 p.m.; $PAYG)
Wed. 6/5 - Free Will @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Wed. 6/5 - Full Pint @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (6 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 6/6 - Flying Dog Meet the Brewer @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (6 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 6/7 - Dogfish Head @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Sat. 6/8 - Thirsty Dog Meet the Brewer @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (6 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sun. 6/9 - Draft Week Closing Event @Capone's, Norristown, Pa. (10 a.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG)
Wed. 6/19 - Iron Brewer @Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ (7 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG)


Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania / Other (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Sat. 6/1 - Dogfish Head Total Tap Attack @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, Pa. (5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.; $PAYG)
Mon. 6/3 - Special Tapping (Lost Abbey Deliverance) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, Pa. ($PAYG)
Tue. 6/4 - Smuttynose Event @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, Pa. ($PAYG)
Wed. 6/5 - Pennsylvania Brew Pub Attack @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, Pa. ($PAYG)
Fri. 6/7 - Half Moon Firkin (Triple Dry-Hopped Perpetual IPA) @Tröegs, Hershey, Pa. ($PAYG)
Fri. 6/7 & Sat. 6/8 - California Hop Fest Weekend @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, Pa. (5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sat. 6/8 - Belmont Stakes @Iron Hill, Wilmington, Del. (4 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG)
Thu. 6/13 - Hooray for IPA beer class @Total Wine, Claymont, Del. (6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; $15)
Thu. 6/13 - White Clay IPA Release Party @Iron Hill, Newark, Del. (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 6/14-Sun. 6/16 - Pints for Prostates @Iron Hill, West Chester, Pa. (5 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sun. 6/16 - Honey Do Wit Beer Release @Iron Hill, Lancaster, Pa. (11 a.m.-7 p.m.; $PAYG)
Sun. 6/16 - Pints For Pops @Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. (10 a.m.; $PAYG)
Fri. 6/21 - Third Friday Firkin Fest @Sly Fox, Phoenixville, Pa. (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG)
Sat. 6/22 - Hopslam! @Iron Hill, West Chester, Pa. (1 p.m.-5 p.m.; $PAYG)


Events Over $20

Philadelphia
While early June in Philly is dominated by Philly Beer Week, Center City at the end of June will play host to the American Homebrewers Association's (AHA) National Homebrewers Conference (NHC). While not open to the general public, you can bet the calendar around town will be sprouting events at bars and breweries to draw in the thousands of anticipated attendees. Stay tuned for more.

Mon. 6/24 - Brew and Chew @Cavanaugh's Rittenhouse, Philadelphia, Pa. (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $25)


Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Sat. 6/15 - Father’s Appreciation Beer Brunch @Iron Hill, North Wales, Pa. (11 a.m.-2 p.m.; $45)
Sat. 6/22 - Garden State Craft Brewer's Guild Festival @Battleship New Jersey, Camden, NJ (12:30 p.m.-5 p.m.; $19.95-$55)


Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania / Other (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Thu. 6/6 - Meet The Brewer Beer Dinner @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, Pa. (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $45)
Sat. 6/15 - Harrisburg Brewers Fest @2nd & Locust Streets, Harrisburg, Pa. (12 p.m.-3:30 p.m., 5:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; $10-$50)
Sat. 6/15 - Steamtown Beer and Music Festival @Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain, Scranton, Pa. (12 p.m.-4 p.m., 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.; $50-$89)
Fri. 6/21 - Beer vs. Wine Dinner for a cause @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, Pa. (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $85)
Sat. 6/22 - Lansdale Beer Fest @2nd & Wood Streets, Lansdale, Pa. (12 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; $20-$85)
Sat. 6/22 - PBS39 Brewfest @Coca-Cola Park, Allentown, Pa. (2 p.m.-5 p.m.; $5-$50)
Sat. 6/22 - Brews & Bites @Pennsbury Park, Morrisville, Pa. (4 p.m.-8 p.m.; $25-$75)
Mon. 6/24 - Beer School 101 @Bulls Head Public House, Lititz, Pa. (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $24.99)
Sun. 6/30 - Goose Island Beer Dinner @Station Taproom, Downingtown, Pa. (6 p.m.; $75)






Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Philly Beer Week 2013 is ready to throw down the hammer

If 2013 has taught me anything, it's that I likely won't get caught up with much of anything until well into the next year. Still, I promised before I hit the sack tonight, I'd get the first look (well, my first look, at least...finally) of the PBW '13 schedule out to you. I'm sure that many of you have had several looks at it already.

Plus, I took a piece of the survey response into account (ha, like I already didn't know what the answer would be!) and threw together another one of those ever-so-handy-dandy spreadsheets that many of you have loved in the past. Here's the link to the spreadsheet.

Of course, my standard disclaimer holds again this year: "this spreadsheet was assembled using information as of early Sunday morning, May 26. For the most up-to-date and "official" information concerning PBW '13 events, consult PhillyBeerWeek.org or, better yet, directly contact the host establishment/organizer."

Here are a few more links that you may find handy. I know. I'm apologize; there's a lot going on here in this one post.

~ A Philly Beer Week Keepsake from Philadelphia Weekly. You're sure to come across the printed copy during the next couple of weeks. Here's a link to the PDF version.

~ The all-important Hammer of Glory Route Guide. Looks like they might plan to use the Twitter Hashtag #HOG to follow sightings of it on Friday, May 31. Though, it seems to be fairly commonly used elsewhere but I'm betting on May 31 it could be trending in Philly.

~ Opening Tap is usually a see-and-be-seen kind of event. Plus, the annual Brewvitational Awards will be presented. I was honored to be a judge and will be anxious to discuss your thoughts of the winning beers/breweries.

Oh, right. And how about a few observations from this May 26 list of events?

I count...
* 164 unique locations

* 1,089 listed events
* though, 896 what you might consider "unique" events when reducing by the total number of multi-day duplicates

* 748 in Philly (83.5%)
* 148 events outside Philly (16.5%)

* Counting only the "unique" events, you can spot nearly a perfect bell curve that peaks on Thursday.

  • Fri. May 31- 90 events
  • Sat. June 1- 79 events
  • Sun. June 2- 80 events
  • Mon. June 3- 82 events
  • Tue. June 4- 95 events
  • Wed. June 5- 105 events
  • Thu. June 6- 110 events
  • Fri. June 7- 94 events
  • Sat. June 8- 80 events
  • Sun. June 9- 46 events

* 24 listed as Free
* 653 listed as PAYG
* 105 with a dollar figure up from $5-$150 (47 of them $25 or under)
* The rest are either over $25 or not listed with a cost approach

* Some other anecdotal observations, that appear obvious to me but may or may not be substantiated by a more careful comparison. In 2013, I seem to see:
  • greater use of CAPITAL LETTERS to get the customer's attention
  • more scheduling on the :30, perhaps in effort to stand out when filtering based on time of day
  • more jockeying for first events by gaming the calendar with either what seem to be very early start times or long spans of time like basically "all day"
  • more late night events. Can't explain the drive behind this, but I like it since there have always been, and will be understandably, so much competition in scheduling "prime time" events.
  • a lot repeating events. In other words, the same thing every day which leads me to cast suspicion on some (not all, mind you, some) of the events.
  • more specials/sales for the sake of an event. For example, I find it difficult to argue that serving a particular food item, discounted beer, or special pairing for ten days counts as ten events.
But, make of it what you will. It's beer week for the people. There's so much choice, it'll be hard for you to go wrong. For sure, you won't be able to argue that there aren't enough options.

No matter how you slice and dice it, Philly Beer Week 2013 will undoubtedly once again put on an unequaled display of great beer and people.

(Did you miss the spreadsheet link up above? Here it is again.)



Taking The Brew Lounge to Origlio

Here in issue #27, I take my Brew Lounge talents to the Origlio publication, Draught Lines. Page 9 to be exact.

Filling the large shoes of the inimitable Lew Bryson. You know what they say about large shoes.

Seriously, pleased to be partnered with a reputable beer and beverage distribution company like Origlio Beverage. Want to know more about what they do? Check out their craft brands page.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Three questions about covering Philly Beer Week 2013

If you've hung out here in The Brew Lounge long enough, you know how I have put a whole lot of effort in to each of the five Philly Beer Weeks (PBW).

They've typically consisted of preliminary content building up to PBW in various forms from brewery profiles to personal insights on the impending ten days of PBW debauchery. Then, during PBW, each day has been previewed in the days prior and wrapped-up in the following days. Plenty of pictures and words have typically ensued.

Then, in the days following Day 10, I have usually put together a retrospective and summary of all ten days culled from my own experiences as well as anecdotal evidence from those I've encountered along the way.

This year? Well, this year, I feel like I'm at a bit of a crossroads with regard how to "cover" Philly Beer Week.

While historically the content I've assembled has generated decent traffic and response, it definitely comes at a cost. Mostly in time and lost sleep. Not that I'm complaining; it's been part of my M.O. since this thing got started around here in 2005. For little to no pay, you probably realize that it's not the reason I do it.

With social media more popular than ever, I figured it's time to ask for a little input when it comes to covering Philly Beer Week.

Please check out the simple three questions below and take just a few seconds to respond to help guide me in providing you all the most useful content from May 31-June 9.

And, thank you.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Weekly Second-Hand Brews News Update: 5/25/13

I long ago lost the ability to keep up with even half the beer news out there in the wild and wacky world of craft beer. There was a time I attempted daily (or even more frequent) updates with interesting tidbits from around the brewniverse along with small contributions of my own thoughts.

That has yielded to my weekly updates that you'll find here every Saturday morning with some of what I consider to be some of the more interesting news out there that you might like to add to your weekend reading list (or Monday morning at work, depending upon your preference).

Enjoy.

PHILADELPHIA
~ And the Philly Beer Scene results are in. Unfortunately, for a second straight year, I missed the awards party at World Café Live. From the looks of things, they got along just fine. Though, no list yet available anywhere that I can track down. And, me? I'm honored to be nominated yet again (four straight years a bridesmaid?)

~ DrinkPhilly.com brings you their early look at Philly Beer Week, something I should probably be doing soon as well.


EASTERN PA, NJ, DE, AND OTHER NEARBY PARTS OF MID-ATLANTIC
~ A return to a slightly more normal state? I know I can certainly get behind this.

~ Tanks have arrived.

~ Oh my.


THE REST OF PLANET BEER
~ I suppose until I see it in person, I may never truly understand or appreciate what this is all about.

~ This. This should really surprise no one who look at the issue without bias.

~ CraftCans.com named their 2013 winners.

~ Construction is fun to watch, especially when beer is at the end of the project.

~ Congratulations to Alabama for catching up.



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: May 23 - May 31

The calendar thins out a bit here at the end of May. That's easily explained, though, by the impending Philly Beer Week, which begins May 31. I won't be listing any of the scheduled events here from May 31-June 9 since there's way too many, not too mention they have a website, and an app I believe, that does its job in gathering them all together in one place. Might I put a spreadsheet together again this year, many of you have asked? Well, don't count on it, but do stay tuned just in case.

Check out the entire May 2013 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, don't hesitate to let me know.


Tastings/Samplings/Freebies
@Beer Yard, Wayne, Pa.--- Fri. 5/24 - Friday Night Sampling (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Yards in Philadelphia, featuring Doug the rep, the Signature ales, and the newly-released Saison.)

@Exton Beverage, Exton, Pa.--- Fri. 5/24 - Friday Night Sampling (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Fegley's in the Lehigh Valley.)

@Wegmans, Malvern, Pa.--- Sat. 5/25 - Yards Sampling (3 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Yards in Philadelphia. The rep, Doug, will be featuring their Signature Ales, Saison, and Grand Cru.)


Brewery Promos and "Takeovers"
@Iron Hill, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 5/30 - Lex Luthor IPA Release Party (5 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG for Lex Luthor IPA, Kryptonite IPA, Sweet Leaf IPA, and Nelson Muntz IPA on tap, each paired with a specially seasoned chicken wing.)

@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 5/1 through Fri. 5/31 - Brewery Of The Month ($PAYG for daily specials on beers from breweries in the great State of Pennsylvania.)

@Pinocchio's, Media, Pa.--- Thu. 5/23 - Weyerbacher Night with Mike (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG for a selection of Weyerbacher beers.)


Special One-offs or Debuts, Anniversaries/Parties, Festivals, and other noteworthy events
@Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa.--- Wed. 5/29 - Wednesday Keg Tapping (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG for a specialty keg tapping of Lost Abbey Deliverance.)


Homebrewing, Charity, Schooling, and Miscellanies
@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 5/30 - Dinner & A Movie (7 p.m.; $PAYG to meet the brewers and enjoy four great beers from Duck-Rabbit, a dinner menu with duck and rabbit on the menu, and Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck Cartoons on the big screen.)

@Rino’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, Exton, Pa.--- Thu. 5/23 - Beer Class (7 p.m.; $24.95 for an educational food and beer experience centered around Otter Creek, Long Trail, and Wolaver’s.)



Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weekly Second-Hand Brews News Update: 5/18/13

I long ago lost the ability to keep up with even half the beer news out there in the wild and wacky world of craft beer. There was a time I attempted daily (or even more frequent) updates with interesting tidbits from around the brewniverse along with small contributions of my own thoughts.

That has yielded to my weekly updates that you'll find here every Saturday morning with some of what I consider to be some of the more interesting news out there that you might like to add to your weekend reading list (or Monday morning at work, depending upon your preference).

Enjoy.

PHILADELPHIA
~ I was invited to judge the annual Philadelphia Inquirer Brew-vitational this past week. While I can't talk about the results (which I can quite proudly stand by, btw) until they are revealed on May 30, I can point you back to the first year's results in 2010, number two in 2011, and the third go-round last year in 2012.

~ Collaborations are all the buzz this coming Philly Beer Week. The Brewvolution II seems pretty darn unique.


EASTERN PA, NJ, DE, AND OTHER NEARBY PARTS OF MID-ATLANTIC
~ Jeff reports about more FU Sandy on its way.

~ "Death of a Contract Brewer"

~ When is a simple six-pack not so simple?


THE REST OF PLANET BEER
~ Stop and taste.

~ Jim Koch on success.

~ I never imagined there could be so many questions about this beer.

~ After hearing a recent interview on The Brewing Network, I came across this article.

~ Pretty cool. Wish I'd picked up on this before it funded on KickStarter.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: May 16 - May 22

We continue to plow through the month of May's beer calendar with wild abandon. You wouldn't know Philly Beer Week is upon us with the rate of beer events lining up the weekly calendar yet again this week. No rest for the thirsty.

In the 19468, Suburban Beer Week continues on through Sunday, May 19. It's at Craft Ale House, French Quarter Bistro, Lucky Lab Tavern, and Railroad Street Bar and Grill. There are scheduled tastings, pairings, and a raffle on Sunday, the last day, to give away two tickets to Opening Tap of Philly Beer Week and an overnight stay at a nearby hotel for that same evening of May 31. To qualify for the drawing, you must attend an event at each location.

Check out the entire May 2013 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, don't hesitate to let me know.


Events with Tap Lists via PhillyTapFinder.com
@Barcade, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 5/16 - Stone Brewing Night (4 p.m.; $PAYG for a special event draft list lineup brought to you by PhillyTapFinder.com)


Tastings/Samplings/Freebies
@Arroga's Draft House and Sports Bar, Harrisburg, Pa.--- Fri. 5/17 - Firkin Friday with DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus (5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.; $PAYG to celebrate American Craft Beer Week with a firkin of DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus. Stop by the draft house for a pint and grab some free glassware while supplies last.)

@Craft Beer Outlet, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 5/16 - Philadelphia Brewing Tasting (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Philadelphia Brewing.)

@Iron Hill, Lancaster, Pa.--- Fri. 5/17 - Hop Attack (11 a.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG for Dark Ritual, Nor’easter IPA, Sweet Leaf IPA, Rye-sing Sun, Nelson Muntz IPA, and Kryptonite Imperial IPA.)
@Iron Hill, Wilmington, Del.--- Sat. 5/18 - Preakness Stakes (4 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for the release of Belgian Tripel.)

@Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa.--- Wed. 5/22 - Wednesday Keg Tapping (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG for a specialty keg tapping of Stone Oaked Smoked Old Guardian.)

@Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 5/20 - Bottle Shop Happy Hour (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beer from Founders in Michigan.)

@Sly Fox, Phoenixville, Pa.--- Fri. 5/17 - Third Friday Firkin Fest (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG for O'Reilly's Stout on the handpump in addition to Standard Porter and our always available Chester County Bitter.)

@The Beer Shoppe, Ardmore, Pa.--- Fri. 5/17 - Friday Night Tasting (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beer from 21st Amendment in San Francisco and Uinto in Utah.)


Brewery Promos and "Takeovers"
@30th Street Station, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 5/16 & Fri. 5/17 - The Porch Beer Garden (3 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG to experience the outdoor Beer Garden at The Porch at 30th Street Station, the second busiest train station in America. Bridgewater's Pub will offer German and craft beers while you enjoy the fresh air and live music.)

@Earth Bread + Brewery, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 5/16 - Stoudt's Promo (4:30 p.m.; $PAYG for a lineup of beers from one of Pennsylvania's pioneering craft brewers.)

@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 5/1 through Fri. 5/31 - Brewery Of The Month ($PAYG for daily specials on beers from breweries in the great State of Pennsylvania.)
@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 5/16 - Pennsylvania Brewery Night ($PAYG for a night of beer, schwag, and fun focused on the Pennsylvania breweries of the month.)

@Pinocchio's, Media, Pa.--- Thu. 5/16 - A Night with Flying Fish (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG for a selection of beers from the highly-regarded NJ brewery.)

@Uno Chicago Grill, Newtown Square, Pa.--- Thu. 5/16 - Yards Happy Hour (5 p.m.; $PAYG for an IPA firkin, Love Stout, Saison, and Grand Cru all at happy hour pricing.)


Special One-offs or Debuts, Anniversaries/Parties, Festivals, and other noteworthy events
@Firewaters, Atlantic City, NJ--- Fri. 5/17 - 10th Anniversary Beerfest (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $25 for over 45 beers to sample from over a dozen local brewers and a complimentary buffet.)

@Iron Hill, Media, Pa.--- Sat. 5/18 - Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers' Festival (1 p.m.; $5-$45 for nearly 25 local breweries and all of the proceeds will again go to the Media Youth Center.)

@South Delaware Avenue, Yardley, Pa.--- Sat. 5/18 - Yardley Beer Fest (12 p.m.-5 p.m.; $10-$65 for over 50 breweries, 100+ beers, live music, lots of food, homebrewers corner…All under a huge tent; Rain or shine.)

@South Philadelphia Taproom, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 5/18 - Wheaties Fest (12 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG as they pour 30+ wheat beers from Abita, Allagash, Bell’s, Philly Brewing, Ommegang, Tröegs, Unibroue, Weihenstephaner, and many many more. Mouth-watering street BBQ and live music from West Philadelphia Orchestra, Robotrippers, Arrah and the Ferns, and Adam and Dave’s Bloodline.)

@Union Jack's, Glenside, Pa.--- Sat. 5/18 - Suburban Wood Fest ($PAYG for twelve oak-aged beers on draft including 2011 Southern Tier Oaked Pumking, Goose Island Bourbon County, Nebraska Hop God, Anderson Valley Barney Flats, Evolution Migration, Flying Dog gonzo, Southern Tier Backburner Barleywine, and many more.)

@World Café Live, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 5/22 - Philly Beer Scene Awards (7 p.m.-11 p.m.; $75 for very limited seats available to the general public.)


Food and Beer events
@Fairmount neighborhood (22nd/Fairmount), Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 5/16 - Night Market (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG at the city's best restaurants and street food vendors including Fairmount favorites like Alla Spina, Lemon Hill, Rembrandt's, and Urban Saloon and cool new vendors like The Tot Cart, Poi Dog Snack Shop, and The Cow and The Curd. Plus, local music, local brews, and lots of fun.)

@Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ--- Tue. 5/21 - Spring Beer Dinner (7 p.m.; $65 for a five course meal served with Full Nelson, Maibock, Rauchbock, #100, and “The Stout Will Rise Again”- Bourbon Russian Imperial Stout.)


Homebrewing, Charity, Schooling, and Miscellanies
@Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa.--- Sun. 5/19 - Run for Ryan (1 p.m.-4 p.m.; $25-$35 for a 5-k race benefiting the Ryan McCall scholarship fund. Post race festivities at the Victory Brewing Companies complex.)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Weekly Second-Hand Brews News Update: 5/11/13

I long ago lost the ability to keep up with even half the beer news out there in the wild and wacky world of craft beer. There was a time I attempted daily (or even more frequent) updates with interesting tidbits from around the brewniverse along with small contributions of my own thoughts.

That has yielded to my weekly updates that you'll find here every Saturday morning with some of what I consider to be some of the more interesting news out there that you might like to add to your weekend reading list (or Monday morning at work, depending upon your preference).

Enjoy.

PHILADELPHIA
~ After last week's desperate search for brews news around Philly, here's a nice guide to get you primed for Philly Beer Week.

~ Yeah, Philly's on this list where it belongs. I'm not going to debate the placement, but no doubt it belongs on a list of the country's top eight.

~ And a few more good bits about Philly's beer scene.

~ Some are really excited about Shiner coming to town. I'm not so much, well not at least for the Bock. I've been to Texas enough to know that I'm rather indiffernt about the Bock. The Hefeweizen and Black Lager, on the other hand, hit me right where I like 'em.


EASTERN PA, NJ, DE, AND OTHER NEARBY PARTS OF MID-ATLANTIC
~ I'm a big fan of the Legend Pilsner too. I know a lot of people like Pilsners (and Pilseners too), but often times we have difficulty describing our love for them.


THE REST OF PLANET BEER
~ Wish I'd written this, as it's been on my mind quite a bit in the past couple of years (then why wouldn't I just come out and say so? I know, I know) "when US craft will stop trying to pretend all brewers are small start ups"

~ Anyone who knows me knows why I love this perspective..from a brewer no less

~ You technical brewers will probably really dig this.

~ You ever hear me tell of that bar in San Francisco that I would have like to try this approach to bill resolution?

~ Sigh, sure give me one of those boutique beers, I suppose.



Friday, May 10, 2013

Writing this ship, Part IX (Providence, RI and Manchester, NH)

While this series of Writing the Ship could go on for a baker's dozen, I'm really trying to get this done with and in our collective pasts (unless, of course, I'm the only one reading them) in ten episodes.

In keeping with habit, I'll provide you links back to The "Intro", Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, and Part VIII.

So I'm combining these two — Providence and Manchester — into one. They should fit quite nicely with each other since neither one alone will make this entry into The Brew Lounge burst at the seams.

But, as I've said plenty in the past, there's nearly nowhere you can go in this fine country these days without finding some sort of a better beer scene. Whether they're importing decent beer or making it, most places you could ever imagine finding yourselves will be able to pour you something decent.

Providence. I feel I've spoken in dribs and drabs of Providence through the years. For my day job, I've been there many times in the past six years or so. Enough to determine that, when there, I rarely want to be anywhere other than Julian's.

(The always stellar draft tower at Julian's in Providence, RI)

Julian's for their breakfast, lunch, dinner, live music, indoor seating, outdoor seating, cozy/friendly seating the small bar overlooking the kitchen, or sitting in the comfortably eclectic one-room restaurant. The beer list is as interesting and diverse as the food menu.

(A creatively satisfying sandwich off the specials menu at Julian's in Providence, RI)

Every time I'm there, without fail, some sort of interesting conversation takes off at the bar and a few decent beers are consumed. I've been to a handful of other spots around town, Julian's remains my favorite.

(Out back of Julian's in Providence, RI)

(The dining room at Julian's in Providence, RI)

Those others? Well, there's been the John Harvard's at Union Station (nice location and atmosphere in a former train station with decent enough beers). There's the "local-themed" Local 121 which has a nice lineup of beers on tap to keep things interesting amongst an even more interestingly-conceived food menu of fresh, seasonal, and local.

Turns out, I later learned that there's an ownership relationship between the Trinity Brewing Company just around the corner and Local 121. Trinity has been around for a while and delivers some decent beer in what comes across as a younger, more "hip" environment. Their Irish Stout and IPA have treated me consistently well in the past.

(An excellent seasonal corn and crab soup at Local 121 in Providence, RI)

For retail beer, there are two on opposite sides of town that have served me well through the years. The first, Nikki's Liquors, is on the edge of North Providence (that's a separate city, btw, in case you need to know this sort of thing). Tucked away in an unassuming strip mall, Nikki's is stocked with a good representation of regional beers as well as an impressive inventory of beers from around the world.

Closer to the airport in the area of Cranston is Wines & More of Rhode Island. More alcohol supermarket-style in layout, they have row and cooler after row of beers from around the region and world at competitive prices. Conveniently located next to a Whole Foods Market, it makes for a great one-two shopping stop for beverage and food.

The one place to close out the discussion of Providence with is nearly just across the street from airport. If it came to it, walking from Track 84 to the front door of the T.F. Green airport is not impossible at just under a half-mile. But, did I use the word unassuming above? I'll use it again where here it is probably even more appropriate.

Track 84 sits, appropriately, along the railroad tracks leading from the south into Providence and up eventually to Boston. If I had a picture (oh, what the heck, here's a Google street view), I'd show you how nondescript of a small building it is.

But inside, you'll find friendly service with a local flair, a simple but sufficient and satisfying sandwich menu and free popcorn, a decidedly local crowd of no-nonsense but friendly folks, and a beer list that rivals some of the best around. There's a kick-ass jukebox as well to keep the energy flowing.

But, don't press your luck, as I did, and get ensconced in happy hour revelry and run the risk of missing your flight. I took my trust of the flight tracking app on my phone as far as I should and made my flight by the slimmest of margins. Still, I wouldn't trade those last memories of beers in Providence (or Warwick, if we're being more specific) for sitting at the gate any day. Don't believe me, check out the draft list via this link.

Up the road a piece in New Hampshire is Manchester, a town to which I'd never been until late last year. I can't tell you that there's much happening in Manchester but, then again, I can't tell you that there's not much happening there either. It was just one night passing through on the way to Boston, but that was enough to check out Strange Brew Tavern and Milly's Tavern.

Strange Brew is in the heart of downtown and while the city streets appear sleepy (though, I suppose I can give them a break, it was bitterly cold after all , the hustle was bustling inside. Every Sunday, they run a special that's hard to beat. $3 draft specials and 1/2 price appetizers. With a few White Birch beers on the draft menu at $3, my mind was made up right quickly. With a very solid draft list (with great regional representation from breweries like Smuttynose, White Birch, Shipyard, Magic Hat, Otter Creek, and Trout River and a food menu consisting of solid pub favorites like fried pickles, wings, nachos, and quesadillas and heartier dishes like meatballs, fish tacos, short ribs, jambalaya, and Shepard's Pie, this is a dependable recommendation for any thirsty beer traveler passing through the region.

Over by the campus of University of New Hampshire-Manchester along the Merrimac River, Milly's Tavern is an interesting spot. It is Manchester's only brewery so that is certainly part of the initial draw. Finding it is not an obvious slam dunk, though I'm sure the second visit would be easier than the first.

Once you find your way to a parking spot and down the few steps into Milly's, you'll find yourself in room with a stage in the front and a bar in the back. There they combine live music, some decent beer made on-premise, and a satisfying food menu of standard pub grub, salads, wraps, and sandwiches.

While the Oatmeal Stout and Red Tail were solid and enjoyable beers, after putting away the BLT sandwich, it was time to head out as Sunday night head-banging (and mediocre, to boot) music was not high on my list of wants. Still, if in Manchester, not a bad place to stop, but certainly don't bump Strange Brew for it.

That's about all I can share from Manchester, unless you count the attempted visit to The Tap in Haverhill along the Monday evening drive to Boston. CLOSED MONDAYS?! Yes, that was my exclamation (question mark and incredulity included) when arriving at a darkened downtown storefront whose beers I've had numerous times at Ommegang's summertime BCTC festival. Here I was a bit excited to consume some on site and CLOSED MONDAYS. Sheesh.

Well, that door closed, so the one that opened was up the street at Krueger Flatbread, which must be said was an excellent stop for pizza (er, pardon me, flatbreads) and a Sierra Nevada before heading off to Boston.



Thursday, May 09, 2013

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: May 9 - May 15

Festival season is in full swing as the lovely spring weather grips the region. On no other day should this be more evident than on Saturday, May 11 with at least five festivals plus a few other events thrown in for good measure all listed below. Be calm, grab a beer, and carry on.

Check out the entire May 2013 calendar over here. If I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, don't hesitate to let me know.


Events with Tap Lists via PhillyTapFinder.com
@Flanigan's Boathouse, Conshohocken, Pa.--- Thu. 5/9 - Dogfish Head Tap Takeover (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for a special event tap list served up to you by PhillyTapFinder.com)

@Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 5/10 through Sun. 5/12 - Bocks and Brats ($PAYG for a special event tap list served up to you by PhillyTapFinder.com)

@Morgan's Pier, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 5/9 - Second Season Re-Opening Party ($PAYG for a special event tap list served up to you by PhillyTapFinder.com)

@The Institute, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 5/11 - S.O.S. (Sixteen Outstanding Smuttynose) Tap Takeover (12 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG for a special event tap list served up to you by PhillyTapFinder.com)


Special Tastings/Samplings/Freebies
@Devil's Den, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 5/9 - Belgian Beer Night with St. Killian Importers (7 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for a selection Belgian beers like Corsendonk Apple White, Triple, and Dubbel along with Grimbergen Dubbel & Moa St. Joseph's on draft with Grimbergen Blonde in bottles.)

@Exton Beverage, Exton, Pa.--- Fri. 5/10 - Friday Night Sampling (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Oskar Blues in Colorado.)
@Exton Beverage, Exton, Pa.--- Sat. 5/11 - Saturday Sampling (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Stoudt's in Adamstown.)

@Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa.--- Wed. 5/15 - Wednesday Keg Tapping (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG for a specialty keg tapping of Dock Street Fresh Saison.))

@Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 5/13 - Bottle Shop Happy Hour (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beer from Oskar Blues in Colorado.)

@Side Bar, West Chester, Pa.--- Fri. 5/10 - 10% on the 10th ($PAYG to join Sierra Nevada for a true 10% ABV on the 10th Happy Hour with Narwhal (10.2%), Ovila Quad w/ Plums (10.2%), 2010 Bigfoot (aged at Side Bar, 10%), and a special release 10.4% brew not named yet on tap.)

@The Beer Shoppe, Ardmore, Pa.--- Fri. 5/10 - Friday Night Tasting (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beer from Weyerbacher in Easton.)


Brewery Promos and "Takeovers"
@Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 5/10 - Anchor - the San Francisco Treat (6 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG for Anchor's Steam, Liberty American Pale Ale, Porter, Humming, Bock, Zymaster Stout, Summer, and 2012 Our Special Ale. We will think up a contest or two. There will be glassware and prizes.)

@Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa.--- Mon. 5/13 - Harpoon Tap Takeover (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG as Sean from the brewery offers up several Harpoon beers on draft and giveaways.)

@Nodding Head, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 5/11 - May (Be Some) Flowers (3 p.m.-6 p.m.; $PAYG for a floral-inspired beer event highlighting the LAVA (lavender and vanilla ale), the hibiscus infused Saison, and the return of the mighty Warthog, plus other Nodding Head favorites.)

@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 5/1 through Fri. 5/31 - Brewery Of The Month ($PAYG for daily specials on beers from breweries in the great State of Pennsylvania.)
@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Mon. 5/1 through Fri. 5/10 - 10 day 10th Anniversary Celebration ($PAYG as we kick off our 10th Anniversary celebration. The traditional 10th Anniversary gift is tin or aluminum so we will be offering $1 off all canned beers for 10 days.)

@The Bards, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 5/15 - Yards Tap Takeover (6 p.m.; $PAYG for eight Yards ales. Drink up with Rick and Doug.)

@The Cambridge, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 5/10 - Hill Farmstead Brewing ($PAYG to welcome Shaun Hill from Hill Farmstead Brewing to the only Hill Farmstead event happening in Philly, including Beer Week. We will be tapping "Ephraim Imperial Pale Ale" along with several other offerings from this great brewery. Stay tuned for more details.)


Special One-offs or Debuts, Anniversaries/Parties, Festivals, and other noteworthy events
@Campbell's Field, Camden, NJ--- Fri. 5/10 - Brews At The Ballpark (6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; $35 for a sampling of Philadelphia craft beers (Victory, Yards, Stoudt's, Philadelphia Brewing, and Tröegs) plus a two hour all-you-can-eat buffet.)

@Cannstatter Volkfest Verein, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 5/11 - Greater Northeast Beer Festival (1 p.m.-5 p.m.; $10-$35 for 60+ beers in attendance this year. Great local bands will be performing throughout the event featuring "The Bare Knuckle Boxers". Great food for sale provided by Cannstatter's.)

@Hawthornes, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Sat. 5/11 - IPA Block Party (2 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG to choose from more than 24 IPAs, live music, and "street grub" consisting of various grilled meats and veggies.)

@Mount Hope Estate, Manheim, Pa.--- Sat. 5/11 - Mount Hope BrewFest (11 a.m.-3 p.m.; 4:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; $20-$45 for a variety of beers from different breweries from across the country and enjoy live music and complimentary food.)

@Stoudt's, Adamstown, Pa.--- Sat. 5/11 - Microfest (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $35-$40 to enjoy over forty beers from America's finest breweries, great food, and music.)

@The Piazza at Schmidt's, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 5/10 - Living Social's Craft Beer Festival (6 p.m.; $39 for unlimited 2-ounce pours of more than fifty craft beers. Live local music. Access to top-notch Philadelphia food trucks and restaurants on site (at additional cost). Backyard lawn games and activities. Complimentary pair of LivingSocial sunglasses. A BeerFest mini stein to take home.)

@Washington Crossing Historic Park, Washington Crossing, Pa.--- Sat. 5/11 - Washington Crossing Brewfest (12:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; $10-$40 for beer tasting, live music, food, and fun.)


Food and Beer events
@High Street Grill, Mt. Holly, NJ--- Wed. 5/15 - Beer Wars Dinner (7 p.m.; $50 for four courses of food each paired with a beer from both Carton and Heavy Seas breweries. This will be a blind tasting where you must judge which beer pairs better with each course.)

@Iron Abbey, Horsham, Pa.--- Wed. 5/15 - Tröegs Beer Dinner (7 p.m.; $60 for a five-course meal served with Sunshine Pils, HopBack Amber Ale, Perpetual IPA, either a Scratch beer or a firkin of something, and Mad Elf '12.)

@Revolution House, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 5/15 - Neshaminy Creek Beer Dinner (7 p.m.; $50-$55 for a four-course meal served with Tripel, Leon, County Line IPA, and Croyden Cream Ale, plus one more.)


Homebrewing, Charity, Schooling, and Miscellanies
@Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Wed. 5/15 - Beer School (5 p.m.; $Free to get some in depth beer training right along side our staff.)



Saturday, May 04, 2013

Weekly Second-Hand Brews News Update: 5/4/13

I long ago lost the ability to keep up with even half the beer news out there in the wild and wacky world of craft beer. There was a time I attempted daily (or even more frequent) updates with interesting tidbits from around the brewniverse along with small contributions of my own thoughts.

That has yielded to my weekly updates that you'll find here every Saturday morning with some of what I consider to be some of the more interesting news out there that you might like to add to your weekend reading list (or Monday morning at work, depending upon your preference).

Enjoy.

PHILADELPHIA
~ Gots to find me some Philly beer news around here. Anyone?

~ How about that Philly Beer Week kicks off in less than a month? The calendar is a-loading up.


EASTERN PA, NJ, DE, AND OTHER NEARBY PARTS OF MID-ATLANTIC
~ Nice.

~ Love reading about this on the other side of the state.

~ Suzanne Woods, aka The Beer Lass, has some new brewery news.

~ For those of you that like reading up on the business side of beer distribution.


THE REST OF PLANET BEER
~ A request for tax breaks.

~ A voice of reason from north of the border.

~ "Breweries, he said, come up against their own popularity."

~ A divide amongst the proposed legislation.

~ More talk of legislation

~ A good piece about the continued hand-wringing and the potential damage it leaves in the wake.



Friday, May 03, 2013

Writing this ship, Part VIII (Pittsburgh, Pa.)

(University of Pittsburgh from the air. No kidding, right?)

(Bridges over the Allegheny River. A keen eye for breweries may be able to pick out Penn Brewery on the North Shore.)

All you need to do is Google "brewlounge.com pittsburgh" to find that I've written quite a bit over the years about our sister city on the other side of the state from Philadelphia. I could link you over to any number of articles I wrote about my beer-y travels around the City.

I've been there for work a number of times. Flyers/Penguins, Eagles/Steelers, Phillies/Pirates weekend trips. And as you read this, I'm prepping for my third running of the Pittsburgh Marathon. Suffice to say, I've had a chance to take the pulse of the city, its beer, and the bar scene.

And, although, I'm not a typical proponent of rooting for one's enemy (e.g. would never, ever root for the Giants in the Super Bowl, the Mets in the World Series, etc.), I actually did find myself not hating the Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup the other year. But maybe I won't let our Pittsburgh friend, Brian, hear that. Though, my opinion of Sidney Crosby remains still just as negative.

But, about the beer scene, I've had plenty to say. If you do that Google search I mentioned above, you'll find a bunch of references. My records show, though it seems light, that I've tagged 19 articles with the word Pittsburgh. Here's one that, back in 2009, did a pretty good job of summarizing the beer scene around the 'burgh at the time.

And now? I was last there back in November on a simple one-nighter along the way to Chicago. So it meant time for just a well-executed plan of hitting up Fat Head's, Piper's Pub, and Smokin' Joe's.

They were all predictably excellent stops based upon my past experience and short amount of available time on this one particular evening. A few things I was struck by that are worth sharing with you.

(On the South Side, Fat Head's beer menu never fails to impress.)

(Never any shortage of food at Fat Head's. Here's the 3 Little Pigs plate which, even listed as a "munchie" on the menu, is more than any one average person really needs. But, oh my...)

It seems that the number of Fat Head's-brewed beers on the tap list (from its production facility outside Cleveland, OH if you didn't know) increases every time I visit the pub on Carson Street. This time, it as first time run-ins with both the Sunshine Daydream and Bumble Berry that kept me impressed as always with the brewery's solid brewing record.

(Scotch Egg at Piper's Pub with a locally-brewed East End Snow Melt.)

Across the street at Piper's, they still make a strong case in my book as one of the friendliest pubs in town. Comfortable bar atmosphere, European soccer/football on the television, and interesting and easy conversation with both the staff and fellow customers. A must stop for pub and beer lovers...and Scotch Egg lovers. Also, a dependable source of decent cask-conditioned beer.

Then, a few more doors down Carson Street, Smokin' Joe's still a great place for beer, darts, and pool.

But, the real surprise during this trip came to me after I figured my run-ins with food and/or beer to report back to you were complete. The Pittsburgh airport, what would you expect? Bar Symon? As in the award-winning chef and culinary personality Michael Symon.

How's that for starters? So you know you can expect decent food. But, how about a lineup of beer that included Rogue Dead Guy, Tröegs Dreamweaver Wheat, Founders Breakfast Stout, East End Fat Gary, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold, Stone Arrogant Bastard, and Bell's Two Hearted Ale?

(The Lola Burger at Bar Symon at Pittsburgh International Airport)

Since I'd just days earlier conquered the Harrisburg Marathon, I felt justly deserving of the Lola Burger (with fried egg, pickled red onions, thick bacon, cheddar cheese, on a challah bun), Rosemary & Parmesan Lola Fries, a superb Fat Gary Brown Ale, and a Breakfast Stout to go. Yes, to go. Because that's the way many airports roll; you just have to ask.

(That reminds me. Have I ever shared with you what is likely the greatest compilation of airport beer information on the Web? I contribute to it as often as I can in order to help the cause.)

Decadent, it surely was. And the service was top notch, speeding the beers and the food even on our barely 30 minute window. If you're traveling through the Pittsburgh airport, you probably can't do much better for both food and beer.



(Looking back at the Armstrong tunnel under Duquesne University from one of many, the 10th Street, steel bridges.)

(Franco Harris at Pittsburgh International Airport)

(Even George Washington at Pittsburgh International Airport)