Wednesday, March 11, 2009

PBW 2009: Day 5 Wrap-Up and Day 6 Preview

Link to Day 5 Pictures

What I did: @Exton Beverage, a tasting of barleywine ---> On my way to wherever the car would lead, I stopped off at Exton Beverage, knowing that they were doing a daily style sampling for their customers during PBW. Happenstance happened and it was barleywine that was being poured on Tuesday, Day 5, from Brooklyn, Clipper City, Sierra Nevada, and Victory. Not too shabby for a tasting, eh?

The daily tastings, plus a beer education table shows that the guys at Exton Beverage are serious about helping customers learn more about the beer that they are (or maybe are not) drinking.

@The Drafting Room, for no reason ---> I moved up the road a mile or so to find my Lancaster County correspondent dining with a friend at The Drafting Room's bar. I figured that I probably would not get another chance to check out TDR during PBW, so this was a nice and short happy hour with a friend (and Sean, Heather, and Howard too!). But, I got a chance to see the excellent two beer/two courses special that they're running all week along. Check it out over here.

@Uno Chicago Grill, Sly Fox and craft beer ---> If you read closely around these parts, you probably know that I have been a bit critical of some of these so-called "events" during Philly Beer Week. I don't mind if a bar of suspect nature hosts a little something for their customers. I do believe that there are, though, different levels of trying.

And, at some point, there are establishments that have crossed the line, in my opinion, between an event that promotes craft beer in the way that Philly Beer Week aims to and an event that is just a mere advertisement for their business.

So, you can imagine my curiosity (and, admittedly, skepticism) for places like Uno Chicago Grill and the degree that they would go to to promote their so-called events. After all, there were something like 33 events at 7 Uno locations on the official calendar. I still don't believe that Uno's should be permitted to list an event every day on the Philly Beer Week calendar, thereby for example counting as 10 events at its Exton location. Considering especially that only one of these days in Exton had an actual representative from the brewery, the other days were not even offering any type of special or discount to promote the beers...merely the "opportunity" to taste these beers.

But, at the end of the day, this is really mostly about promotion right? And Uno seemed to be doing it right.

All that being said, before I even opened the door in Exton, I noticed that Uno's spared nothing at promoting their recently revamped beer menu. Notices around the front entrance about PBW and Sly Fox, table tents on the bar and tables, and signs in the men's restroom (can't speak for the ladies...though, that would be interesting to note as well)...all good signs...but what about the staff?

The staff would be the ultimate test. Do they get pre-shift meeting notes about the beer? Can they simply get through the beer list without stumbling or coming across as underinformed? In my case, the bartender Brian that took care of me was all over the beers....happy to promote them, willing to talk about Philly Beer Week from his perspective, and enthusiastic about the new direction that Uno's taking with regard to beer.

With a positive experience from the minute I walked in the door, I figured I could indulge in a deep dish pizza. It's been a long time since I've done this, so I started with Phoenix Pale Ale (hey, that makes two days in a row with this Sly Fox beer), then added a Weyerbacher Fireside Ale to go perfectly with my pizza.

There you have it. Another chain/"mainstream" restaurant taking a fresh look at its beer offerings. Kudos to Uno's.

So ended Day 5. Nice and easy. I had plenty of reasons that I could have once again hopped the train into center city. But, after 4 days of running (both literally and figuratively), scaling back just a bit on Day 5 seemed appropriate given what the next 5 days are expected to bring. I'm anxious to hear recaps of things like Victory's Beer Dinner at The Four Seasons, the Cheesesteak Throwdown between Sly Fox and Lagunitas at the P.O.P.E., and other frivolity around the city.

Come to think of it, there is one recap that's already out there. Jack Curtin came out for his first PBW event and made every minute of it worthwhile from the sound of his description. Go check out his review of what sounded like an amazing brunch at Teresa's Next Door with Dogfish Head riding shotgun...or was it the other way around? He links to Gina Talley, where The Femme Fermental supports his glowing review and provides pictures as well.

What I might do tomorrow: Wednesday night will primarily focus on the Center City Pub Crawl, one of 2008's highlights.

Center City Pub Crawl ---> The ordered lineup kicks off at 6pm and includes: @Jose Pistola's (Stoudt's Pilsner); @McGlinchey's (Yards Smoked Polish Wheat); @Good Dog (Iron Hill Pig Iron Porter); @Black Sheep (Flying Fish Hoppy Belgian Tripel); @Nodding Head (Nodding Head Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse); @Fergie's (Troegs Nugget Nectar); @Time (Sly Fox Gang Aft Agley); @McGillin's (All 7 brewers and their beers)

@Jose Pistolas, Stone ---> maybe some Stone can be found there during the Pub Crawl; thing is, the stops on the crawl don't last very long, so we'll see

@Black Sheep, Sprecher ---> ditto the Jose's comment; but like Stone I would love to find some Sprecher along the PBW this year (last year's Day 1 of PBW was where I finally discovered Black Bavarian)

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