Tuesday, March 10, 2009

PBW 2009: Day 4 Wrap-Up and Day 5 Preview

Link to Day 4 Pictures

What I did: @Monk's Café, JW Lees/Lavagulin ---> I believe the phrase 'calling an audible' applies here (heard that somewhere today, seems apt). I get a feeling that with the breadth and depth of PBW events, a lot of people will be calling audibles during the week. I got the earliest train I could and had almost an hour before the run was due to begin in the Fairmount neighborhood at Bishop's Collar. So, why hang out with the Rock Star Running Brewers for pre-game beers when I could hop a few blocks from the train station, albeit farther from Fairmount, to Monk's where Tom Peters was tapping a 6-year-old JW Lees wooden Lavagulin cask?

This smooth sipper was gone in less than 30 minutes. But, tougher than getting through my beer in time to head off for the run was getting through the thicket of 30-40 fellow beer lovers. Joel Armato (New Holland) and Mike Ellis (Teresa's Next Door) each have full dance cards during PBW, but found time to take in an early afternoon session with Tom, Jodi, and JW Lees. However, out I did head, to catch the '32' bus on Broad Street which cuts across the city to Fairmount via the Ben Franklin Parkway.

@Bishop's Collar, Run with Brewers ---> The Philly Beer Week weather was perfect for a fourth day in a row, though the winds were kicking up and conspiring against us runners. That, and the promise of an Avery/Dogfish/Sly Fox after-party at Bishop's Collar created the perfect atmosphere for a second Philly Beer Run, this one complete with no less than 4 brewers of high acclaim! Adam Avery, Sam Calagione, and Brian O'Reilly toed the line to lead around 45 other running beer enthusiasts through picturesque Fairmount and Kelly Drive. Not to be overshadowed (which Don Russell said that only Ben Franklin can do, ha!!), Tom Kehoe got on a scooter and, as advertised, with Wendy (Dogfish) and a six-pack of Sly Fox cans on the back to goad the runners along.

In both my Dock Street Run on Saturday and this run to/from The Bishop's Collar, the runners were the winners. At Dock Street, beer, food, and schwag were the prizes. At Bishop's Collar, a free (the first) beer was the prize, along with the chance to rub elbows with brewers, distributors, sales folk, and the like.

But, amazing even more still is that between these two runs, around 100 beer lovers took part in physical activity. Combine that little stat with the two bike rides that are taking place (30 riders this past Saturday; another ride scheduled for Saturday the 14th) and there is no doubt that we are all proving that it is entirely possible to have your beer and burn it off too.

The brisk pace was set early on by Sam Calagione and Adam Avery. A bit of machismo, you think?! But the gusty winds swirling along the Schuylkill River eventually slowed everyone into a more reasonable pace. At the turnaround point on Kelly Drive, Tom and Wendy doled out refreshments for those in need and pointed the runners back to the Art Museum.

Somehow, Tom and Wendy did not cause any accidents on their scooter that we know of. And, Brian O'Reilly did in fact finish, running, the run and I have the pictures and testimony to prove it. Oh yeah, and plus the empty cans of Pikeland Pils....even if no one waited for us at the Art Museum.

@the tiedhouse, Session Beer with Lew Bryson ---> What goes better after a mid-afternoon run than some good session beers? Well, to be honest, first a Dogfish Red & White and then an Avery Rascal went well...but, I mean after that? General Lafayette's The Economizer which has been getting a lot of well-deserved press of late for its light, fruity flavors and Coniston's Bluebird Bitter (classic English session) were two great starters for me.

Lew Bryson regaled the crowd of about 25 with his philosophies and experiences in the world of session beers. Then, Russ Czajka (General Lafayette's brewer) spoke of the techniques and challenges involved with brewing low-ABV commercial beer and the marketplace's acceptance of the beer.

My last beer turned out be my favorite of the evening and one that might deserve to be on hand in my cooler at home at all times. Uerige's Alt bier from Düsseldorf comes in at around 4.5% ABV and packs a nice punch of mostly malty flavors balanced with just the slightest touch of bitterness that makes for a real nice drink.

Unfortunately, time was running out on my deadline to get to 30th Street Station for my train to TJs in Paoli. Given the time, I would have taken the chance to have a run-in with Earth Bread + Brewery's new Stout, for which others have given an approving thumbs-up.

On Amtrak with Woody ---> Ah, the serendipitous beauty of an unplanned Train Session with Woody Chandler. Imagine my surprise when I'm making the train with 3 minutes to spare and I see a guy standing at the top of the escalator. At first, I thought it was just a confused traveler afraid of moving stairs. Well, maybe the confused part was right. Anyway, he was waiting on his wingman Christian Heim, brewer at Lancaster Brewing. They'd just wrapped up a Lancaster promotional tasting at Bridgewater's (Did it really take me 'til Day 4 to mention Bridgewater's?!) and were heading west.

I was unsuccessful in getting either of them to jump off the train with me in Paoli (though, Christian was willing to push Woody), but was successful in sharing a couple of German beers (a bock and a dark weizen) with the two of them. Judging from the conductor's conversation and demeanor, Woody's presence and m.o. is well known and perhaps even legendary (or is it infamous, dunno) on Amtrak. Why do I get a feeling that train conductors around the country probably know exactly what I mean by this?

@TJs, Ommegang ---> I knew I'd be pulling in late for this one. It "started" at 7pm, but apparently the joint was really jumping starting around 5:30pm. When I arrived just after 8:30pm, some of the beers were kicked, and the craze was just starting to die down. Craze to the point that ownership couldn't keep up with the Real-time Online Tap List (trademark: TJs, 2008). The Ommegang Abbey is really what I was hankering, but alas was kicked. I had the pleasure, instead, of a Duvel Green and a Houblon Chouffe with some chicken wings.

Phil Leinhart, brewmaster, took a pass and had Wes Nick and Megan Maguire (regional sales) representing instead. But, represent they did as they worked the room chatting up the few dozen people that were still there after 9pm. I learned that Ommegang's tickets for their annual Belgian festival go on sale April 1st. Though, apparently that's public knowledge on their website already. Mark thy calendar.

What I might do tomorrow: Tuesday, Day 5, is looking like a PBW day off (is that allowed?) for me. This is a tough decision, as there are a number of events that do look great in the city. Here's what is possible after a quick train ride into the city:

@Four Seasons Hotel, Victory ---> a meet 'n' greet precedes the dinner; I'd like to see how the high-end hotel accommodates the craft brewing scene

@McGillin's, Carol Stoudt ---> hanging out at McGillin's is a favorite Center City beer thing of mine to do...with Carol there, even more so

@Nodding Head, with Stewart's ---> two great beers and brewers that go great together

@the P.O.P.E. for cheesesteaks ---> dinner, check.

with Sly Fox and Lagunitas, check. south philly hijinx, for sure.

@SPTR, Tröegs Flying Mouflan ---> seems like as good of a place as any to have a run-in with this eagerly anticipated re-beer from Tröegs

If I'd rather do something in the suburbs, it could be a stop in to visit the crew at The Drafting Room, a check-up on how Uno Chicago Grill in Exton is promoting Sly Fox, and a drive up to Collegeville, or wherever Brother Paul's is, for a meetup with Andy Musser and some special Anchor beer. We shall see, we shall see, what 5 o'clock brings.


Adam said...

Ok. I'm tired just reading this.

Good to bump into you last night at TJ's. I was pleasantly surprised to see all the familiar faces.

Bryan Kolesar said...

Gotta bring it strong during PBW!!

Yup, definitely good to see such a crowd until around 11pm. Crowded events have certainly been the norm this year and everyone seems to be dealing with it well.

Unknown said...

Brian, you actually got some good coverage at the run. http://cbs3.com/slideshows/beer.run.philly.20.953740.html

Check out pics 32 and 57 for some "mug" shots (um... pun intended?)

Dr Joel said...

Brew Lounge fact checker checking in:

Ommegang = Wes Nick and Megan Maguire