Thursday, December 26, 2013

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: December 26 - December 31

Filed under "oops, the post-holiday hangover must've delayed this calendar". It was all ready to go yesterday; I must not have had the pre-publish button pushed properly. Nonetheless, catch up on some leftover goodies today at Memphis Taproom, Kraftwork, and The Victoria Freehouse from their events yesterday. And, do enjoy these last five days of the year.

Check out the entire December 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 and Special One-offs or Debuts
@Goshen Beverage, West Chester, Pa.--- Fri. 12/27 - Friday Night Sampling (4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beer from Oskar Blues.)

@Trolley Car Diner, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 12/27 - Finally Friday Beer Tasting (5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beer from The Shed.)


Brewery Promos and "Takeovers"
@Kraftwork, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 12/26 - The Brewery That Stole Christmas (10:30 a.m.; $PAYG for a special Russian River event.)

@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa.--- throughout December 2013 - Brewery of the Month (7 p.m.; $PAYG on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in December for specials on He'brew drafts.)


Anniversaries/Parties, Festivals, and other noteworthy events
@World Café Live, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Fri. 12/27 - Winter Beer Festival (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $40 to sample the offerings of over 30 breweries.)


Food and Beer events
@Hawthornes Café, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 12/31 - New Year's Eve Beer Dinner (8 p.m. - 10 p.m.; $100 for a five-course meal served with Maui Lemongrass Saison, Half Acre Vallejo IPA, Surly Bender, Anchor Christmas Magnums, ​Hof Ten Dormaal Cognac Barrel Aged Project Brew, and a surprise beer.)

@Monk's Café, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 12/31 - New Year's Eve Beer Dinner (6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. seatings; $65-$125 for a four-course/five-beer (early) and six-course/seven-beer (late) dinner plus a couple of gems from our deep cellar of vintage beers if you're at the late seating.)

@The Cambridge, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 12/31 - New Year's Eve Beer Dinner (6 p.m. and 9 p.m. seatings; $75 for a four-course/five-beer dinner featuring Maine Red Wheelbarrow, DuClaw X6 Winter Warmer Wit, Ballast Point Victory At Sea, Bullfrog Apricotdabra, and Cigar City Peach Jai Alai from the firkin.)

@World Café Live, Wilmington, Del.--- Sat. 12/28 - Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer Tasting (3 p.m.; $40 for two of the best things on Earth paired together. Bring your vegetarian friends, too – we can accommodate them on all pairings.)


Assorted seasonal extravaganzas
@Bainbridge Street Barrel House, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 12/31 - New Year's Eve Party (9 p.m.-2 a.m.; $80 for a four hour top shelf open bar, grand buffet, and 25 world class draft beers including local, imported, winter, barrel-aged beers, and sours. Midnight Toast of complimentary pours of Corsendonk abbey triple and Champagne.)

@Brauhaus Schmitz, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 12/31 - Ring In The New Year (9 p.m.-2 a.m.; $125 for a buffet of authentic German fare, an abundance of booze, and live entertainment all night long with The Eine Kleine Oompah Band.)

@Manayunk Brewery, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 12/31 - New Year's Eve Gala (8 p.m.-12 a.m.; $65-$85 for premium open bar, hors d'oeuvres, champagne toast, and more.)

@Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 12/26 - Boxing Day (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG as you get a $1 off each draft beer for every new children’s book you donate.)

@Strangelove's, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Tue. 12/31 - New Year's Eve Beer Bash (8 p.m.; $125 for passed hors d’oeuvres, a four course meal (full vegan menu also available), an open beer bar featuring a spectacular draft line up, and a Tilquin Gueuze toast at midnight.)

@The Victoria Freehouse, Philadelphia, Pa.--- Thu. 12/26 - Boxing Day (11 a.m.; $PAYG to celebrate Christmas the British way on Boxing Day, featuring Bubble and Squeak, full English Breakfast, freshly baked pastries, and all day beer specials.)

@Vault Brewing Company, Yardley, Pa.--- Tue. 12/31 - Hop Drop 2014 (9 p.m.-1 a.m.; $75-$85 for an all-you-can-drink beer/wine and all-you-can-eat buffet.)


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Philly Beer Week 2014 is underway

(Looking like they just won the World Series, consumer and Dock Street fan, Daniel Neuner, catches overjoyed head brewer Justin Low after their winning names were announced.)

Not to suggest that Philly Beer Week is not a year-round endeavor for many around the Philadelphia region, but if there was any question of when it begins, it was surely answered yesterday at The Field House.

For the fourth consecutive year, Philly Beer Week has raised awareness and money for itself by conducting a raffle whereby one winning individual gets an all-expense paid trip to Belgium to brew a "Philly Beer Week beer". As part of the prize, he or she gets to take along their favorite local brewer.

Past brewers that have benefited from their fan bases include Brian O'Reilly (Sly Fox) with Belgian brewery DeProef, Chris LaPierre (Iron Hill) and Brasserie Dupont, and Chris Wilson (Weyerbacher) who brewed with the highly-regarded Brasserie de la Senne in Brussels.

This year, beer enthusiast Daniel Neuner won the raffle and chose Justin Low from Dock Street for the brewing excursion that will result in a beer collaboratively brewed at Brouwerij Dilewyns with head brewer Anne Catherine Dilewyns. I think this has worked out extremely well as Dock Street continues today to carry on its twenty-five year tradition (albeit with a short "break" in the late 90s) of representing the Philadelphia brewing scene.

The beer will make its debut at the annual kickoff to Philly Beer Week, "Opening Tap", and be available at events all around town during Philly Beer Week 2014 scheduled to run from May 30 to June 8.

The Field House served as a spacious venue to host the attending brewers from 25 local and regional breweries and the fans that came out hoping to win the grand prize. The drawing went off without a hitch for both Neuner and Low yesterday compared to November 2010 when the 2011 PBW collaboration trip was raffled off at McGillin's and neither the brewer nor the winning consumer was in attendance.

Gift box prizes were also raffled off, one of which was awarded to Mrs. Brew Lounge herself. See below for a picture of all the "swag", including some of the liquid kind from the relatively new Saucony Creek in Kutztown, Pa., that came with the prize box.

So there you have it. We now know who will be brewing what with whom over in Belgium. The dates have been locked in and Philly Beer Week 2014 will be here and gone before we know what happened to the next six months.


(Brewers being introduced with Fegley's (Bethlehem) Brew Works' Josh Bushey on the mic.)

(Brett Kinzer from Stoudt's taking his turn during brewer introductions)

(Tom Peters of Monk's Café and ("free beer for") Sparks, technical mastermind behind PBW.)

(Tom Kehoe, the main man behind Yards, always good with getting a rise out of the crowd. Here, during brewer introductions.)

(Jim Kirk, PBW board member and co-owner of Kite & Key, kept a close auditor's eye on the raffle entries as Andy Farrell, managing partner of City Tap House, drew the winning ticket.)

(Tom Peters, with assistance from Sparks, reveals the grand prize winner.)

(Daniel Neuner, left, and Justin Low (Dock Street) react to their winning names being announced during the Philly Beer Week grand prize raffle at The Field House.)

(Justin Low of Dock Street and brewery fan Daniel Neuner recreate their winning moment.)

(Justin Low, left, of Dock Street, and Daniel Neuner are going to brew Philly Beer Week's 2014 beer in Belgium.)

(from left: Sasha Certo-Ware of Dock Street; Tom Peters of Monk's Café and PBW board member; Justin Low of Dock Street; Daniel Neuner, 2014 Philly Beer Week grand prize winner.)

(The third box prize raffle was won by Mrs. Brew Lounge and continued a generous bevy of beer goodies from Artisanal Imports, Bell's Brewery, Devil's DenDogfish Head, Nodding Head Brewery, Philadelphia Brewing Company, Philly Beer Week, Philly Beer Scene, Saucony Creek Brewing Company, Smuttynose, and Stoudt's Brewery.)


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: December 19 - December 25

Not much left to do in these last days of 2013 other than to take the holiday edge off with a few celebratory beers at any of the events scheduled around the Philadelphia region during the next seven days. Hope you're all doing well out there.

Check out the entire December 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 and Special One-offs or Debuts
@Goshen Beverage, West Chester, Pa. — Thu. 12/19 - Thursday Night Sampling (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of Stella Artois.)
@Goshen Beverage, West Chester, Pa. — Fri. 12/20 - Friday Night Sampling (4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of Saranac beers.)

@Hop Angel Brauhaus, Philadelphia, Pa. — Thu. 12/19 - Mad Elf Night (7 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for a night of Tröegs Mad Elf.)

@Pinocchio's, Media, Pa. — Thu. 12/19 - Sam Adams Rebel IPA Tasting (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG as Tyler from Sam Adams will be here and he's bringing his Randall. Try the new Rebel IPA infused with several different hop varieties.)

@Sly Fox, Phoenixville, Pa. — Fri. 12/20 - Third Friday Firkin Fest (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG for firkins of Christmas Ale and London Calling Porter alongside our year round Chester County Bitter.)

@Total Wine, Claymont, Del. — Thu. 12/19 - Craft Beer Tasting (3 p.m.-5 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of select brews from Sierra Nevada brewing.)
@Total Wine, Claymont, Del. — Thu. 12/19 - Craft Beer Tasting (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of select brews from Yards brewing.)
@Total Wine, Claymont, Del. — Fri. 12/20 - Craft Beer Tasting (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of select brews from New Belgium, Goose Island, and Sly Fox brewing companies.)


Brewery Promos and "Takeovers"
@City Tap House, Philadelphia, Pa. — Sun. 12/22 - Deschutes Cup of Cheer (1 p.m.; $PAYG for an open house afternoon filled with food, great beers, and friends. The New Familiars bring their style of honky tonkin' American Rock n Roll and Deschutes will be our featured brewery with Jubelale, Mirror Pond Pale, Black Butte Porter, and Chainbreaker White IPA on draft. The Abyss, Smoked Porter, and Conflux available in bottles.)

@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa. — throughout December 2013 - Brewery of the Month (7 p.m.; $PAYG on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in December for specials on He'brew drafts.)


Anniversaries/Parties, Festivals, and other noteworthy events
@John J. Jeffries, Lancaster, Pa. — Sun. 12/22 - Bah Humbug Sour Tap Takeover (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $PAYG for Bullfrog Brewery's Rood Bruin Koffie (Barrel Aged with Coffee), Crime of Passion (Barrel Aged with Passion Popper Kiwiberries), Rood Bruin Druiven (Barrel Aged with Merlot Grapes), Rose Ezel (Blend of Barrel Aged and Blonde Beer Finished with Plums & Raspberries), Apricotdabra (100% Wild Tank Aged Ale Steeped with 250 Pounds of Apricots), and more TBA.)

@Kite & Key, Philadelphia, Pa. — Sun. 12/22 - Savage Sixtel Sunday (7 p.m.; $PAYG as Savage will be in top form for this celebration and as always the list will be top secret.)


Food and Beer events
@The Beer School, Philadelphia, Pa. — Fri. 12/20 - Craft Beer & Food Pairing (7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; $56.99 to enjoy three or four courses with top-notch beer pairings selected by one of our top beer sommeliers.)


Assorted seasonal extravaganzas
@Bainbridge Street Barrel House, Philadelphia, Pa. — Thu. 12/19 - Battle of the Christmas Elves and Ugly Sweater Contest (6 p.m.; $PAYG to celebrate some of the coolest elf beers we can get our hands on. Come out and vote for your fave by ordering and we will tally the votes at the end of the night to see who wins our first annual elf beer battle. Come out in your holiday best..er..ugliest and win cool swag.)

@Craft Ale House, Limerick, Pa. — Thu. 12/19 - Yuletide One On (5 p.m.; $PAYG as the stumbling, bumbling, slurring elf from Tröegs, St. Nick Johnson brings, Dreamweaver Wheat, Hopback Amber, Troegenator, Perpetual IPA in a Firkin, Mad Elf 2012, Mad Elf 2013, Impending Descent Imperial Stout, Scratch 123 Belgian Brown Ale, and maybe some other surprises.)

@Forest and Main, Ambler, Pa. — Sun. 12/22 - Night Before Christmas ($PAYG to belt out your favorites during Carol-oke and enjoy our early children's reading. Later, an adult version of the classic poem. Wassail, candlelight, and riotous fun.)

@Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, Pa. — Sun. 12/22 - Festivus (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for Feats of Strength, Airing of Grievances, Festivus Miracles, and a greatest hits of Xmas beers on tap.)

@Hop Angel Brauhaus, Philadelphia, Pa. — Wed. 12/25 - Christmas Morning Brunch (10 a.m.-2 p.m.; $PAYG for details TBA.)

@Iron Hill, Phoenixville, Pa. — Fri. 12/20 - Ugly Sweater Party (5 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for the release of Ugly Sweater, our popular Winter Warmer ale brewed with holiday spices and featuring a special holiday menu.)


Friday, December 13, 2013

More locals than you can shake a mash paddle at

(Double Overhead IPA from Ship Bottom Brewery would not wait for a picture)

If you tune in to my social media channels, you may have noticed that I've been lately making up for lost time by getting out to some quality events around the Philly region. Anniversary parties, special appearances of people and their beer, etc.

Two of the events have featured "the little guys". For all the talk of the explosion in nano- and pico-sized breweries, it's nice to see bars paying attention to them and giving them some tap space to showcase their talents to the public.

A couple of weeks back, TJ's brought in Armstong Ales from nearby Phoenixville. I only had 25 minutes or so before catching a train, so I made the most of it by chatting up the owner, Steve Armstrong, for a few minutes and sampling some of his beers. I learned of his setup already established in a commerical space off of route 23 in Phoenixville and was really pleased with the Scrupulous Lupulus IPA and Bold Thady Quill Irish Stout that I tasted. He's on his way.

Last night, it was a visit to Capone's in East Norriton Township to find out what Ship Bottom Brewery is doing. Owner Rob Zarko has been homebrewing for nearly 20 years and has turned his home garage into a 1-barrel commerical brewing space where he's putting out beers that people are talking about. I just missed a beer of his when I was researching an article about the Borough of Ambler at one of my stops, the Broad Axe Tavern. So, he's been on my radar now for a little while and last night presented the perfect opportunity, since it's also been too long since I've paid a visit to Matt Capone and his crew.

Starting off with a sessionable IPA (at 4.4% ABV) called Stupid Paddle IPA, brewed in conjunction with Pinocchio’s of Media, was the right way to go, but the Double Overboard IPA might have been the star of the night for my palate. At a reported 10.4% ABV, it almost scared me off, but I'm glad I hunkered down and dove into this deliciously smooth and citrusy double IPA which hid the alcohol quite well. If I wasn't driving, I'd have had a second for sure.

(Capone's famed Bee Sting Wings and a Baconator Stout from Ship Bottom Brewery.)

After those two beers, some food was in order. Capone's e-mail announcing this event also mentioned their famous Bee Sting Wings now available on Thursday nights when they previously were only available on Mondays. I knew nothing of them — but they're "world-famous" right? — and they made the perfect choice to go with the Ship Bottom Baconator, which was packing its own heat at 8% plus a combination of coffee, bitter chocolate, and a bit of smokiness. It went so nicely with the wings which themselves struck the perfect balance of heat, spice, and sweet characteristics.

The Barnacle Bottom Stout is another beer that sounds like it's worth our while to keep an eye open for but was not available last night. You might have picked up that many of the beer names, as well as the brewery name, make reference to his wife's hometown on Long Beach Island and adds a nice element to the brewery's back story.

No doubt, it's a fun time to watch the beer industry grow with endeavors of every size and ambition. Armstrong Ales in Chester County, Pa. and Ship Bottom of Delaware County, Pa. are two worth watching.

Cheers to successful 2013, their growing businesses, and an ever-expanding access to a variety of great beer.

At the risk of, but with no intention of, stealing thunder from these new "little" guys, I'd also stopped by the Station Taproom in Downingtown a few days ago when they were featuring the Sour Sisters from Goose Island. When we talked of going, I said honestly that I was not sure which I was looking more forward to, a long overdue dinner at the well-regarded Station Taproom, or the sour/barrel-aged beers from Goose Island. Neither disappointed, with the order of preference: Gillian; Juliet; Lolita; and Halia. Though, Halia, even its fourth position on my preference list is a darn good beer.

(Goose Island's Sour Sisters at the Station Taproom in Downingtown, Pa.)


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: December 12 - December 18

Lots of ways to celebrate the holidays at this time of year. Here are 29 examples.

Check out the entire December 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 and Special One-offs or Debuts
@Beer Yard, Wayne, Pa. — Fri. 12/13 - Friday Night Sampling (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Philadelphia Brewing.)

@Exton Beverage, Exton, Pa. — Fri. 12/13 - Friday Night Sampling (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Yards.)

@Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa. — Mon. 12/16 - Happy Hour (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Dominion.)

@Total Wine, Claymont, Del. — Thu. 12/12 - Craft Beer Tasting (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of select brews from Magic Hat, Starr Hill, and Sly Fox breweries.)
@Total Wine, Claymont, Del. — Sat. 12/14 - Craft Beer Tasting (1 p.m.-3 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of select brews from Evolution and Fordham brewing companies.)


Brewery Promos and "Takeovers"
@Capone's, Norristown, Pa. — Thu. 12/12 - Meet the Owner/Brewer Event (6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; $PAYG to meet owner/brewer Rob Zarko from Ship Bottom Brewery and three of his drafts.)

@Fingers Wings and Other Things, Conshohocken, Pa. — Wed. 12/18 - Bell's Brewing Event (12 p.m.; $PAYG for some holiday fun with Bell's Brewing and their Christmas Ale, Expedition Stout, Winter White, Two Hearted, Java Stout, and maybe more.)

@Hawthornes, Philadelphia, Pa. — Wed. 12/18 - Goose Island Tap Invasion & Migration (6 p.m.-11 p.m.; $PAYG for bottles and drafts of Goose Island's sours affectionately known as The Five Sisters. Lolita--Raspberry, Juliet--Blackberry, Halia--Sour Peach, Gillian--Sour Strawberry, and Madame Rose--Sour Cherry.)

@Kraftwork, Philadelphia, Pa. — Tue. 12/17 - 12 Beers My True Love Gave to Me (12 p.m.; $PAYG for a tap takeover featuring Great Lakes.)

@Lemon Hill, Philadelphia, Pa. — Wed. 12/18 - Yards Brewery Tap Takeover (7 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for Yards specials going on all night long and plenty of rumors of Santa Claus and the Grinch.)

@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa. — throughout December 2013 - Brewery of the Month (7 p.m.; $PAYG on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in December for specials on He'brew drafts.)
@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa. — Tue. 12/17 - He'brew Night (7 p.m.; $PAYG for Jewish inspired food, playing dreidel, watching some great Mel Brooks movies, and Schmaltz Brewing Company's Jewbelation Reborn 17, Bittersweet RIPA, St Lenny's, Hop Manna, and Geektoberfest.)

@Pinocchio's, Media, Pa. — Thu. 12/12 - Goose Island 12 Beers of Geesemas (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG for 12 Goose Island beers on tap including Bourbon County Brand Stout and Bourbon County Brand Barleywine.)

@The Pour House, Westmont, NJ — Thu. 12/12 through Tue. 12/24 - The Twelve Beers Of Christmas ($PAYG for a daily tapping of a new Christmas beer leading up to Christmas Eve.)


Anniversaries/Parties, Festivals, and other noteworthy events
@Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, Pa. — Fri. 12/13 - Friday The Firkinteenth (12 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for almost 30 firkins split into two sessions, a day session at 12 p.m. and an evening session at 6 p.m.)

@Iron Hill, Media, Pa. — Sat. 12/14 - Bob’s Barrels (1 p.m.-5 p.m.; $PAYG for a bourbon-inspired event with Bourbon Russian Imperial Stout, Bourbon Tripel, Vaporizer – with Jeff O’Neil from Peekskill Brewery, Bourbon Wee Heavy, Bourbon Madness, and Russian Imperial Stout on tap.)

@Pinocchio's Beer Garden, Media, Pa. — Sat. 12/14 - 4th Anniversary Party (10:30 a.m.; $PAYG for an incredible beer list to celebrate four years.)

@Sly Fox, Phoenixville, Pa. — Fri. 12/13 and Sat. 12/14 - 18th Anniversary Weekend ($PAYG for a two-day-long party at Phoenixville that will feature 30-plus beers on tap, hand-selected beer flights, an ugly sweater contest with prizes, and live music.)

@The Pour House, Westmont, NJ — Sun. 12/15 - The Great Stout Bout ($PAYG for 2011 Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, 2012 Dogfish Head Miles Davis' Bitches Brew Stout, 2012 Goose Island Cherry Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout, 2012 Neshaminy Creek Leon Stout, Ommegang Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout, Port Brewing Older Viscosity, Sierra Nevada Narwhal Stout, and Stone Espresso Imperial Stout.)


Food and Beer events
@Iron Hill, Phoenixville, Pa. — Sat. 12/14 - Burning of the Phoenix (2 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for the release of Winter Warmer, our medium-bodied dark ale finished with classic winter spices and featuring “fire” inspired fare in celebration of the Firebird Festival.)

@The Goat's Beard, Philadelphia, Pa. — Wed. 12/18 - Victory Beer Dinner (7 p.m.; $50 for a four-course meal paired with beers from Victory.)

@Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. — Thu. 12/12 - Holiday Beer Dinner (6:30 p.m.-9 p.m.; $65 for a five-course meal paired with Victory's Throwback Lager, Sunset Dunkel, Winter Cheers, DirtWolf Double IPA, and vintage Dark Intrigue.)


Homebrewing, Charity, Schooling, and Miscellanies
@Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa. — Wed. 12/18 - Beer School (5 p.m.; $PAYG to learn a little something about the beer we love to serve at Local 44. You can pay what you wish and 100% of your Beer School donation goes directly to Share Our Strength.)

@Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. — Sat. 12/14 - Beer and Yoga (9:30 a.m.-12 p.m.; $25 for a morning yoga class followed by a selection of light appetizers paired with Victory beers.)


Assorted seasonal extravaganzas
@Allentown Brew Works, Allentown, Pa. — Sat. 12/14 - Children’s Holiday Luncheon with Santa (11 a.m.; $PAYG for a bountiful lunch buffet loaded with kid favorites, photos with Santa, and gifts for every child.)

@City Tap House, Philadelphia, Pa. — Sat. 12/14 - LLS Ugly Sweater Holiday Party (7 p.m.-10 p.m.; $50 for a three-hour open bar, hors d'oeuvres, raffles, and live music by 12:01 Social.)

@Kite & Key, Philadelphia, Pa. — Fri. 12/13 and Sat. 12/14 - Christmas Extravaganza ($PAYG for taps lined with holiday cheer and of course Santa will be here. This event is not for kid the kids!)

@Sabatini's, Exeter, Pa. — Wed. 12/18 - Santa Comes To Sab's (12 p.m.; $PAYG for limited winter beers like Gouden Carolus, St. Bernardus Christmas, Vicaris Winter, Dupont Avec Les Bons Voeux, Port Santa's Little Helper, Bell's Winter White, DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus, and a firkin of Fegley's Simcoe Claus.)

@Strangelove's, Philadelphia, Pa. — Sun. 12/15 - Brunch with Santa (12 p.m.-3 p.m.; $PAYG for a special Christmas draft list on draft all day and free treats for the kids.)

@Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, Pa. — Tue. 12/17 - Shelton Christmas IV: A New Poem ($PAYG for a night to remember, or not.)

@Tröegs Brewing Company, Hershey, Pa. — Tue. 12/17 - Full Moon Firkin ($PAYG for a special firkin on a full moon Tuesday.)



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sly Fox takes over



This is something the likes of which The Brew Lounge has never seen. Three beers from the same brewery on tap at the same time at The Brew Lounge. When three of four taps are dominated with beers from the same brewery (75% for some quick, high-order math), that sounds like a bona fide tap takeover to me. (Not three out of thirty, don't get me started.)

Around the time of my running of the NYC Marathon, I had a fortuitous note from the good people at Sly Fox that a bit of smooth and delectable Oatmeal Stout would be available at the brewery in Pottstown. They know of The Brew Lounge's (and the Missus') fondness for the occasionally-brewed Oatmeal Stout. Very little of it makes it outside of the brewery and is typically on tap at their two locations around this time every year, depending upon their brewing capacity and schedule.

While talking sixtels, I casually asked without any expectation if/when Black Raspberry Reserve might find its way into kegs for the retail market. (The old adage that goes something like "you'll never know if you don't ask" applies in this case, for sure.) This, also a wonderful beer and one of The Brew Lounge's favorites from this 18-year-old Pennsylvania award-winning brewery, likewise rarely makes it out into the broader marketplace, save for 750ml caged/corked bottles.

A mighty fine beer any time of day, it can also serve as a great brunch beer with its dominant fruit flavor and smooth texture. If you think breakfast drink options consist of stouts, mimosas, or bloody marys, this is one you should definitely consider.

Lucky, lucky. They'd just brewed a small batch and it would be available within a week or so. I couldn't say "yes, please" quickly enough.

So, what's left? Well, in the two plus years since Exton Beverage installed The Brew Lounge's kegerator, if there was a beer that has earned anything close to permanent tap marker status, there's no doubt it would be the Saison Vos from Sly Fox. I've long considered this to be (and still hold it to be) one of the finest of its style this side of the ocean.

"I might as well pick up one of these too, right? We'll call it a tap takeover."

And that's the story of how The Brew Lounge stumbled into its first ever Tap Takeover. This will be fun. For reservations at The Brew Lounge, drop a note to me and we'd be happy for you to stop in for a taste :-D

Otherwise, stop by the Pottstown or Phoenixville locations for the year-round Saison Vos or Pottstown (only) for the Oatmeal Stout — while supplies last, that is. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon your preference), the Black Raspberry Reserve is currently available only for retail in 750ml bottles.


Monday, December 09, 2013

TJ's 10th Anniversary Party in Paoli, Pa., December 7, 2013


(pictures follow below)

Ah, TJ's. How it seems like yesterday that we were talking about the big five-year anniversary. The seventh. The eighth and ninth.

Time and few things of ambiance are the only things that seems to have passed. Over ten years, TJ's has lost its old look in an updated and tasteful remodel this year, was many years ago one of the first in the area to kick out cigarettes and experiment with a smoke-free bar before it became law, ditched the chalkboard menus in favor of one of the most advanced digital draft boards around, and replaced the space for to-go coolers with more room for customers.

The model of consistency, however, is evident in the most important things: a solid beer list; an interestingly varied and quality food menu; and friendly service that is expected in a neighborhood restaurant/bar from a staff that has remained much the same.

The staff loyalty is inspiring at TJ's in Paoli and was on full display this past Saturday as co-owners Jeff Miller and Terri Villante thanked not only those that have been there a few years, but the handful that have been there since day one as well. A restaurant succeeding for ten years is amazing enough; having so many staff mates that have stuck around since the beginning (or nearly as long) is also quite a testament to the success.

The 10th Anniversary Party was long touted as a must-stop for well-traveled beer enthusiasts since it came onto the beer events calendar back in the late-summer/early-fall. Miller had been saving up and plotting the draft list for many months in order to present the best possible celebration for the beer enthusiasts who have long flocked to his Chester County destination. But to call it only a beer destination would be underselling the place, since they have been promoting an environment for enjoying creative and great food along with beer since their early days. They might be what you'd call an early adopter in this regard.

As for the beer, stouts (mostly of the "imperial" variety), barleywines, and sours seemed to mostly rule the day. Big flavors and big ABVs for a big party. When it was time to take a break and back off the ABVs, doing so with a Tilquin Gueuze (4.7% ABV) was no sacrifice whatsoever. Slipping a few other comparably ABV-ed beers on the list might have been nice, but I quibble. We're all grown-ups and (hopefully) know how to measure our ABVs and balance accordingly with water and food. For the record, Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine was the first to kick. Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break Natale and Firestone Walker XVI were not far behind.

In addition to the festive nature on the draft board, a bike was raffled off courtesy of Goose Island and Penn Distributors, event shirts were given away, and a bevy of rare and interesting beers were also part of a free raffle for all in attendance. (Full disclosure, not sure that's really necessary but anyway: I won a bottle of Struise Earthmonk.)

From all reports on both sides of the bar, the day went quite smoothly. All staff hands were on deck and ensured optimal service, the crowd was omnipresent in both the bar area and dining room but never crushing, and the customers all appeared happy and content. Just in case you might critique my sweeping and seemingly generalized grandiose statements, I was there plenty long enough to make these observations. I'd feel like I was coming up short with any less an effort!

To cap off a fantastic weekend of beer, food, people, and memories at TJ's in Paoli, the restaurant held a special brunch on Sunday. With the rapidly falling snow outside and the Eagles football game live on the televisions, there was no better place to spend a couple of hours than with the smoked salmon panini, duck eggs benedit, or chicken and waffles, and a couple of "leftover" beers.

For those of you that missed it all, fear not. Check out their live, always up-to-date online draft list and stop by in the next day or two to find several of the special party beers still remaining at the bar. Who knows, you might even find one or two of them on the daily "keg kicker happy hour special list".

Cheers and Kudos to Jeff, Terri, and the entire staff at TJ's for a continued job well done.

Now...enjoy the pictures.



(An empty parking lot at TJ's in Paoli, Pa. awaits the opening for the popular bar/restaurant's 10th Anniversary Party on December 7, 2013.)

(Nearly 50 people lined up to be amongst the first at TJ's 10th Anniversary Party in Paoli, Pa. on December 7, 2013.)

(Tim brought a chair and secured the first spot in line more than an hour and half prior to opening.)

(Scott Blaine, one of many favorites behind the bar at TJ's, had the early shift and manned the taps during TJ's 10th Anniversary Party.)

(Jeff Miller, co-owner of TJ's, prepares the celebratory toast with an eight-year-old Russian River Damnation generously donated by friend and frequent guest, Greg Gaughan.)

(Jeff Miller, co-owner of TJ's, begins the Staff Toast by thanking customers for their years of support.)

(Jeff Miller, co-owner of TJ's, begins the Staff Toast by thanking customers for their years of support.)

(The five-to-ten-year staff watched and, probably, got a bit choked up as Jeff Miller, co-owner of TJ's, delivered a heart-felt thank-you message to the staff.)

(The full-ten-year staff watched and, probably, got a bit choked up as Jeff Miller, co-owner of TJ's, delivered a heart-felt thank-you message to the staff.)

(Staff at TJ's with a well-deserved thank-you toast and sip at the 10th Anniversary Party on December 7, 2013.)

(Another "original", and favorite of many, bartender Staci Klostas delivers a thank-you message from the staff to owners Jeff Miller and Terri Villante.)

(Staci Klostas delivers a thank-you message, toast, and gift basket from the staff to owners Jeff Miller and Terri Villante.)

(The staff at TJ's delivered a gift basket to owners Jeff Miller and Terri Villante to mark ten years of business in Paoli, Pa.)

(Co-owner Jeff Miller announcing the special and rare beer raffle.)

(Duck Eggs Benedict and an Evil Twin Biscotti Break for the big-time Sunday Brunch Win.)



Thursday, December 05, 2013

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: December 5 - December 11

As we enter the month of December, colder temperatures, and the presentation of bigger beers, it stands to reason that we'll be finding more food and beer events as we near the holidays. Plus, all the usual debauchery at beer/Santa and other such events. We're going to warp speed now. Fifty events listed below. Go get 'em.

Check out the entire December 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 and Special One-offs or Debuts
@Ambler Beverage Exchange, Ambler, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Friday Night Sampling (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Tröegs and free pint glasses with purchase.)

@Beer Yard, Wayne, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Friday Night Sampling (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Flying Fish.)

@Iron Hill, North Wales, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Rudolph’s Revenge Release Party (5 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG for some holiday cheer with the release of Rudolph’s Revenge.)

@Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa. — Mon. 12/9 - Happy Hour (6 p.m.-8 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Yards.)

@Sly Fox, Phoenixville and Pottstown, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Incubus Friday (11:30 a.m.; $PAYG for the incredible Belgian-style Tripel that pours until the keg kicks.)

@Total Wine, Claymont, Del. — Thu. 12/5 - Dogfish Head Beer Tasting (3 p.m.-5 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of beers from Dogfish Head.)
@Total Wine, Claymont, Del. — Fri. 12/6 - Craft Beer Tasting (4 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of select brews from Lancaster and Fordham brewing companies.)

@Wegmans, Cherry Hill, NJ — Fri. 12/6 - Weyerbacher Tasting (5 p.m.-7 p.m.; $Free tasting samples of Weyerbacher's Winter Ale, Merry Monks, and more.)


Brewery Promos and "Takeovers"
@Geraghty's, Burlington, NJ — Wed. 12/11 - Weyerbacher Tap Takeover and Radio Feature (6 p.m.; $PAYG.)

@Grey Lodge, Philadelphia, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Anchor OSA Flashback (6 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG for two Anchor OSAs on tap, 2012 and 2013.)

@Isaac Newton's, Newtown, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Allgash Tap Take-over (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG as the incomparable Suzy Woods brings no less than eleven beers, including some vintage and rare beers like White, 2013 Confluence Ale, 2012 Vintage Confluence Ale, Four Quadrupel, Victoria Ale, Victor Ale, Hugh Malone Ale, Fluxus 2013, Bourbon Barrel Black, James Bean, and Midnight Brett.)

@Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, Pa. — throughout December 2013 - Brewery of the Month (7 p.m.; $PAYG on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays in December for specials on He'brew drafts.)

@Pinocchio's, Media, Pa. — Thu. 12/5 - Evolution Tap Takeover (7 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for a full lineup of beers from Evolution.)

@The Pour House, Westmont, NJ — Thu. 12/5 - Firestone Walker Tap Takeover (6 p.m.; $PAYG for Firestone Walker's 14th Anniversary, 15th Anniversary, 16th Anniversary, 17th Anniversary, Double Double Barrel Ale, and Velvet Merkin.)

@Ulysses Gastropub, Wilmington, Del. — Wed. 12/11 - Old Dominion Brewery-Pinup Girl Beers ($PAYG for a tap takeover featuring beers from the Old Dominion Pinup Girl Series.)

@Varga Bar, Philadelphia, Pa. — Thu. 12/5 - Sam Adams Night (7 p.m.; $PAYG for Golden Yuzu, Rebel IPA, Black & Brew, Chocolate Squirrel, Old Fezziwig ale, and a secret draft.)


Anniversaries/Parties, Festivals, and other noteworthy events
@Allentown Brew Works, Allentown, Pa. — Sat. 12/7 - Craft Beer Festival (12 p.m.-4 p.m.; $10-$45 for over 25 of the best local and national craft breweries, beer vendors, pub favorites, and munchies.)

@Field House, Philadelphia, Pa. — Tue. 12/10 - Win A Trip To Belgium (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG to vote for your favorite local brewer between now and Tuesday, Dec. 10. Then, in a fun afternoon of vote-counting, we'll draw one lucky ballot. The lucky winner will accompany his or her favorite local brewer on a trip to Brouwerij Dilewyns to help brew the 2014 PBW Collaboration beer with head brewer Anne Catherine Dilewyns, the youngest female brewer in Belgium. Plus, this year, even more prizes will be awarded to additonal winners, including great beer, gift certificates, and festival tix.)

@Good Dog Bar, Philadelphia, Pa. — Sun. 12/8 - 10th Anniversary Party (7 p.m.; $20 for a classic good dog menu items and raffle ticket. Good Dog will donate 10% of sales and match 100% of raffle proceeds to benefit The Morris Animal Refuge of Philadelphia. Plus, a special 10th anniversary beer unveiled by Yards and winners of our 10th annual photo contest announced.)

@Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, Oaks, Pa. — Sat. 12/7 - Valley Forge Beer Festival (12:30 p.m.-4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.; $10-$60 for an incredible variety of beers from the local area, from across the country, and from around the globe.)

@The Cambridge, Philadelphia, Pa. — Thu. 12/5 - Repeal Day (7 p.m.; $PAYG for classic cocktails, boilermaker pairings, and 21st Amendment draft specials with live bluegrass and ragtime music from The Broad Ridge Spur.)

@Station Taproom, Downingtown, Pa. — Wed. 12/11 - Goose Islands Sour Sisters (3 p.m.; $35 for a 5.5oz sample of each beer; Lolita, Halia, Gillian, and Juliet and a Goose Island Glass to take home.)

@TJ's, Paoli, Pa. — Sat. 12/7 - 10th Anniversary Party (11 a.m.; $PAYG for what is shaping up to be a party of epic proportions with timed events and tappings all day long. Hot chocolate & donuts for the early risers waiting in line outside beginning at 10 a.m.)


Food and Beer events
@Cavanaugh's Headhouse, Philadelphia, Pa. — Thu. 12/5 - Brew and Chew (8 p.m.-10 p.m.; $20-$25 for a two-hour beer tasting with paired appetizers.)

@Hotel Monaco, Philadelphia, Pa. — Sun. 12/8 - Bacon and Beer Festival (12:30 p.m.-5 p.m.; $45-$60 to sample from the restaurants and brewers as a fundraiser for Manna.)

@Iron Hill, Philadelphia, Pa. — Tue. 12/10 - Elements of Beer (7 p.m.; $65 for a five-course meal paired with Golden Child (American Wild Ale), American Brown, Big Red Wibby, Weizenbock, and Barleywine.)

@Monk's Café, Philadelphia, Pa. — Tue. 12/10 - Holiday Beer Dinner (7 p.m.; $85 for a seven-course meal served with seasonally-appropriate beers.)

@Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, Pa. — Thu. 12/5 - Beer and Breakfast for Dinner ($TBD for a beer dinner paired with beers from Free Will Brewing Company.)

@Stewart's Brewing Company, Bear, Del. — Fri. 12/6 and Sat. 12/7 - Wild Game Weekend ($PAYG for buffalo, rabbit, antelope, elk, bison, shark, wild boar, and camel to go with Stewart's award-winning beers.)

@The Hyatt, Morristown, NJ — Mon. 12/9 - Weyerbacher Beer Dinner ($45 for a four-course meal served with four Weyerbacher beers.)

@The Institute, Philadelphia, Pa. — Sat. 12/7 - Coffee, Chocolate & Barrel Aged Event (2 p.m.-7 p.m.; $PAYG for a combination of beers with chocolate, coffee, or aged in oak or bourbon barrels. We will be preparing lamb with a special coffee & Knob Creek smoked maple bourbon dry rub and sides. There will also be house-made chocolates and some with bourbon in them for the day as well as all the Knob Creeks bourbon to pair up.)

@The Victoria Freehouse, Philadelphia, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Wells Imperial Pairings Dinner (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $30 for a three-course dinner served with Wells Brewery's Bombardier, Courage Russian Imperial Stout, and Banana Bread and featuring James Chapnick from Wells.)

@TJ's, Paoli, Pa. — Sun. 12/8 - 10th Anniversary Aftermath Brunch (11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; $PAYG for Sunday Morning Benediction...you'll need it after last night.)

@Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - The American Craft Beer Cookbook Book Signing (4 p.m.-6 p.m.; $PAYG for lite fare and beer samples. We’ll also be tapping a delicious firkin of Hop Ranch at 5 p.m. Author John Holl will be hanging out in the beer hall, signing books, and answering any and all beer/food related questions.)
@Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, Pa. — Sun. 12/8 - Brunch with Santa (10 a.m.-2 p.m.; $25 ($12 for children) for a timed seating at 10 a.m. or 12 p.m. Children's price includes a photo with Santa.)


Homebrewing, Charity, Schooling, and Miscellanies
@Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, Pa. — Thu. 12/5 - Charity Cask Night (5 p.m.; $PAYG as 100% of sales from Dry Hopped Explosion – Fegley’s Hop Explosion with extra cascade hops - will be donated to the Autism Speaks organization.)

@Cavanaugh's Rittenhouse, Philadelphia, Pa. — Wed. 12/11 - Brew and Chew (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $25 for a craft beer open bar paired with appetizers.)

@Keg & Kitchen, Westmont, NJ — Mon. 12/9 - Beer School (7 p.m.-9 p.m.; $30 for a winter brew-based session with a speaker TBA.)

@Resurrection Ale House, Philadelphia, Pa. — Wed. 12/11 - Beer School (4 p.m.; $PAYG to learn a little something about the beer we love to serve at Resurrection. You can pay what you wish and 100% of your Beer School donation goes directly to Share Our Strength.)


Assorted seasonal extravaganzas
@Appetites On Main, Exton, Pa. — Thu. 12/5 - End Of The Year Party (7 p.m.; $PAYG to celebrate another year of fabulous friends and delicious beer with The West Chester Beer Ladies. We are going to show off our finest ugly sweaters while we drink some fine brews.)

@Iron Hill, Maple Shade, NJ — Sun. 12/8 - Winter Warmer Release Party (6 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG for the release of our most popular spice beer, Winter Warmer, and five additional seasonal beers.)
@Iron Hill, Newark, Del. — Fri. 12/6 - Ugly Sweater Party (5 p.m.-8 p.m.; $PAYG for the release of two holiday-themed ales. Plus, an Iron Hill pint glass filled with candy for anyone dropping off a new, unwrapped toy for Toys For Tots.)
@Iron Hill, Philadelphia, Pa. — Sat. 12/7 - Iceberg Beer Release (1 p.m.-5 p.m.; $PAYG for the release of four strong, bourbon- and ice-aged beers: Bourbon-aged Rasputin’s Revenge, Old Behemoth, Van Damaged, and Velvet Hammer.)
@Iron Hill, Phoenixville, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Milk & Cookies with Santa (5 p.m.-10 p.m.; $PAYG as you enjoy the Phoenixville Christmas Parade with the release of our English-style Milk Stout, with patio seating during the parade and complimentary cookies for kids.)
@Iron Hill, West Chester, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Steal the Cheer Beer Release (5 p.m.-9 p.m.; $PAYG to join in the cheer for the release of Scrooge and Yuletide Winter Warmer. The first 75 orders of a Scrooge or Winter Warmer will receive a limited edition Santa Beard pint glass.)

@Local 44 Bottle Shop, Philadelphia, Pa. — Sun. 12/8 - Santa Visits the Bottle Shop (12 p.m.-3 p.m.; $PAYG for a good old fashioned opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap. Free treats for the kids and free beer for the grups.)

@The Cambridge, Philadelphia, Pa. — Wed. 12/11 - Allagash Tap Takeover - Ugly Sweater Edition (4:30 p.m.; $PAYG for true tap takeover of as many Allagash beers (over 20) and ugly sweaters as you can handle.)

@The Victoria Freehouse, Philadelphia, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Christmas Ale Spectacular (4 p.m.-7 p.m.; $PAYG for a special Christmas Ale Happy Hour with Ridgeway, St. Peters, and more. Flights at $15 and Devils on Horseback.)

@Washington House, Sellersville, Pa. — Fri. 12/6 - Holiday Beer Tasting (5 p.m.; $PAYG for some flights of Winter Warmers and other hearty beers.)