Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Writing This Ship: Part 12 - Wrapping up PBW, CBC, and WBC. Now? Really? GABF is coming.

It's about time to bring this Writing This Ship series to a close. See above for a full "directory" of postings that attempted to catch me up with previously-unpublished stuff over the last few months. It also served to get the routine and creative writing flowing again.

Somewhere along the way, I'd mentioned that I'd be concluding with Philly Beer Week (June 2016) and World Beer Cup/Craft Brewers Conference (May 2016). I'd originally planned two longer postings on each subject separately, but at this point it just feels *so* dated, that I've decided to scrap that plan, combine the postings, and slim it back to just a few paragraphs. Plus, I had to ask myself how much you really cared to read about stuff that's at least a few months in the past at this point.

And then that will just about consider me "caught up" just in time for the Great American Beer Festival to roll around and give me a bunch of new stuff to report and discuss.

Philly Beer Week showed up on our doorsteps just as the aftermath of the Craft Brewers Conference was being cleared out of our collective bedraggled beer bodies. In hindsight (though, to be fair, I believe the idea actually was floated), it may have been a wiser idea to conduct PBW concurrently with CBC/WBC. Imagine the kind of display that would have made of the area's beer scene! Because by the time the massive show was put on for the brewers of the world in May, PBW was teed up to kick off just a few weeks later.

And it was noted. Major events not sold out. Out-of-town "dignitaries" not returning to town after having already been here for CBC. A relatively smaller set of higher-quality events on the official schedule. But, it was fine. You can catch my index of what I covered during PBW over here via this link.

Don't misunderstand, though, plenty of good things did take place. The Fillmore served as an excellent new host for Opening Tap and I strongly suggest that this not change in 2017. For what's touted as one of the country's finest 10-day displays of "the best" beer scene, the opening night should bring special attention - in a worthy venue - to what the following nine days have in store. It took an out-of-towner to once again put on one of the more impressive displays - Deschutes Street Pub. And, the Jose Pistola's crew continued its consistent run of interesting, fun, and tasty beer events. So did Alla Spina, Brauhaus Schmitz, Devil's Den, Fergie's, Good Dog, Grey Lodge, Johnny Brenda's, Kite & Key, Memphis Taproom, Monk's Cafe, South Philly Tap Room, Ubahn/Bru, and many other top-notch bars that continually carry the torch.

I understand that there's some revamping happening with the board behind PBW for 2017. It is, after all, the tenth annual occurrence of the country's first such Beer Week. It certainly deserves a refresh, a revamp, a restart, and a kick in the pants so that we ensure the best possible presentation of beer in and around Philadelphia. I assume, hopefully that's not too much to assume, that the website will be addressed. Because, oh my, the website that so much was invested in for PBW 2016. I don't think I need to say much more; it was one of the most talked about topics in June and I'm confidently hopeful that it will be dealt with accordingly in 2017.

So that was Philly Beer Week; open to the public, come one, come all. The previous month, the annual Craft Brewers Conference descended upon the city and its convention center along with the biennial World Beer Cup. Technically, everything about the mass gathering of industry professionals is closed to the public. It's several days of keynotes, breakout sessions, vendor demonstrations, and private events. However, through the years, the CBC has been identified as an opportune way in the host city for which local bars, other businesses, and event organizers can benefit from the annual industry convention by hosting brewers, owners, importers, et al for public events like special releases, tasting, dinners, etc.

This year in Philly, by some counts, there were around 150 special events at area bars, breweries, and restaurants open to the public where fans could meet, greet, eat, and drink with visiting brewers and other industry personnel. So, with industry folk spread out from the convention center and all around Philly for several long days and nights, consumers spending their money chasing great beer at the aforementioned events, and event planners creative juices ebbing, it wasn't a stretch to think that PBW would take a hit because of it all in 2016. It was fine, but no doubt obviously suffered a bit as a result of the crush of activity in May at CBC/WBC.

What happened at CBC/WBC? There isn't much more detail to dredge up, since I put out a bunch of information back at the time. I was front and center in the photographer's pit by the award ceremony stage and attempted to tweet out every local winner in as real time as possible while also grabbing pictures of them approaching and on the stage. Lotta hustle, you think?

As we look forward to a couple of weeks from now when the 2016 GABF medals are awarded in Denver, here's a look back at, first, 2016 WBC awards followed by 2015 GABF medals earned by local breweries.

2016 World Beer Cup local winners:

~ Iron Hill-Wilmington (Valentinus IPA - Silver for Double Red Ale)

New Jersey
Departed Soles (A Dark Night - Bronze for Gluten-free Beer)
Kane (A Night To End All Dawns - Gold for Wood- and Barrel-aged Strong Stout)

Conshohocken (Puddler's Row ESB - Silver for Classic English-style Pale Ale)
Iron Hill-Lancaster (Bedotter - Gold for Belgian-style Tripel)
Iron Hill-Media (Solzhenitsyn and Russian Imperial Stout - Silvers for Aged Beer and British-style Imperial Stout, respectively)
Iron Hill-West Chester (Overload Stout - Silver for Coffee Beer)
Lancaster Brewing (Jump Seat Black Lager - Gold for American-style Black Lager)
Roundabout (Heini's Good Cheer - Silver for Old Ale or Strong Ale)
Spring House (Kerplunk! - Bronze for Chocolate Beer)
Stoudts (Maibock - Gold for German-style Bock or Maibock)
Straub (Kolsch - Bronze for German-style Koelsch)
Susquehanna (Shady Spot - Gold for Fruit Beer)

And here is a reminder of the 2015 Great American Beer Festival local winners:

Jailbreak Brewing Company (Laurel, MD) - Van Dammit - Belgian-style Strong Specialty Ale
Saucony Creek Brewing Company (Kutztown, PA) - xReserve Ale 05-15 Peach and Ginger Saison - Belgian-style Fruit Beer

~ Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant (Philadelphia, PA) - The Cannibal - Belgian-Style Strong Specialty Ale
~ Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant (Lancaster, PA) - Russian Imperial Stout - Imperial Stout
~ Sly Fox Brewing Company (Pottstown, PA) - Grisette - Belgian- and French-Style Ale
~ Spellbound Brewing (Mt. Holly, NJ) - Palo Santo Aged Porter - Wood- and Barrel-aged Beer
~ Stoudts Brewing Company (Adamstown, PA) - Oktoberfest - Vienna-Style Lager

Flying Fish Brewing Company (Somerdale, NJ) - Red Fish - Extra Special Bitter
Marley's Brewery & Grille (Bloomsburg, PA) - Pack Dog Peanut Butter Ale - Specialty Beer
Mispillion River Brewing (Milford, DE) - Wonka Bar - Chocolate Beer
Susquehanna Brewing Company (Pittston, PA) - Goldencold Lager - Munich-style Helles
The Church Brew Works (Pittsburgh, PA) - Millennium Trippel - Belgian-style Tripel

One parting thought about CBC/WBC is that I learned quickly that it's much more difficult (perhaps less costly, but yet much more difficult) to consume and enjoy the CBC/WBC when it's in your hometown. With the overwhelming concentration of industry people in town, convention happenings, and events scattered about town in just four days, it actually is more overwhelming than PBW and is compounded by the fine art of balancing the home life when the convention comes to your hometown as opposed to traveling to it out-of-town. But, for you dear readers and friends, I will happily suffer the workload.

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