Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beer Dates in History: July Anniversaries

20 years Flying Dog Lost Coast 15 years Big Sky Brewing Carolina Brewing Cooperstown Brewing Gritty McDuff's (Freeport) Stewart's Brewing Company

Philly Beer Week 2010: Contemplations, Conversations, Ruminations, and an occasional Diatribe: Part 8

(This is the eighth in a series of ten installments documenting both my time during Philly Beer Week 2010 and insights provided to me by customers, importers/distributors/representatives, brewers, brewery owners, publicans, et cetera. All of whom wanted their comments to be aired, but very few who wanted their name associated with them. Some of you may not appreciate the anonymity, but that's the way it needs to be if we're going to talk about these things around here. You'll need to trust in me that I've gathered up all of these notes and opinions during PBW '10 and am sharing them with you in order to continue the conversation about what will make a better Philly Beer Week 2011.)

Click back to see the seventh in the series. Click forward to see the ninth in the series.

I was once asked: "Did you ever stop to think that maybe Philly Beer Week isn't really about us?" And by 'us' this person was referring to the experience, well-traveled, already-spending-from-our-deep pockets beer geek extreme.

And it got me to thinking. He's quite likely correct. Or at least, the statement seems more likely that it should be correct than incorrect.

If you bear with me here and think a little more about that statement for a minute. Shouldn't the overarching goal of Philly Beer Week really be framed around the Base Market for Craft Beer--i.e. the entry- to mid-level craft beer drinkers? The bottom of the pyramid, if you will. The outer fringe beer geeks at the top of the pyramid are already spending almost as much of their discretionary income today on craft beer as they can. There's not that much more long-term gain from this proportionately small segment of the market. So, to the event planners, don't try to woo the hard core beer geeks; woo the newbies with your events during Philly Beer Week.

After all, if you pay attention to some of the online nose-in-the-air forums, you might have caught wind that many were blowing wind about what they deemed the unworthiness of the Monk's Café Lambic Beer Dinner and the beers that it was serving. As if a dinner with 3 renowned Belgian brewers, 7 variations on the Lambic theme, and accompanying courses of food created by a renowned Canadian chef was not enough. Dunno, maybe these guys thought $100/pp was too much (maybe it was, maybe it wasn't; it's too close to splitting hairs to argue, I'd say), maybe they were disappointed not to have secured a ticket, or maybe just maybe you can hardly ever satisfy this type of beer geek.

Just because an event doesn't impress you does not invalidate the worthiness of an event. For those not there, imagine seven pretty damn good beers--Had I had more than half of them before? yes....but, that doesn't bother me in the least...why would I turn away two and a half glasses of Rodenbach? I had the Doesjel the night before at Teresa's. I love it; why wouldn't I want to have it again the next night?---Imagine accompanying courses of good food coming out of the kitchen headed by an acclaimed chef from Toronto. Imagine three of Belgium's most famed Lambic beer makers and blenders in the same room talking with you about their vision of beer. Imagine a palpable buzz in the room because of all of these elements. Wouldn't you want to be there? Maybe you're saying "not so much so". Maybe you're saying that $100/seat was too much. That's a debate that could go on for some time without firm resolution. It didn't seem to phase the room full of people who did attend. Maybe you'd rather hunt down, trade for, tick off the most obscure beer you've never had, give it a rating put it into a database. I guess that Monk's wasn't serving any of those beers on that particular evening. Oh well, to each our own. But, do you know what two different brewery representatives and one brewer said off-the-record to me about people like you this week?..."that you're a-holes. But, Congratulations, you've got a lot of notches on your beer post".

Oops, I seem to have begun to veer of course here. But, the point--going back to the original statement near the top here--was that if you're one of those people that I'm describing, maybe Philly Beer Week is not about you and not trying to impress you with the most rare beer in the world that you've never had. Maybe these event planners are looking to interest a wider swath of beer drinkers, ones that they can convert into longer-term customers who still have more discretionary income to spend.

Continuing down this road of target demographic....For event planners, I'd propose that even if you pack your venue at least half full, an event is not a successful event if the majority of the attendees are the industry insiders and "usual beer geek suspects." It may very well be a fun and festive event, but you haven't done anything to grow and extend your customer base. One of these type of celebratory events every now and then is fine (I'm not trying to take the wind of the sails on these type of events...I'd even throw in a qualifier and say that I occasionally attend these type of events and they can be a WHOLE lot of fun!), but hardly anyone can base a viable, sustainable business model on freebies to insiders and the wallets of the extreme fringe.

You must grow your customer base in the craft beer world from the outside in to continue its future viability; that means not catering too much to the extreme.

Touchy topic, I'm sure...though one I continued to hear murmured by both bar owners who appear to be getting fed up with the finicky extreme and consumers alike who sound a bit miffed by some of what appears to them to be insider-ism amongst some brewers and the beer geek extreme.

Your thoughts, if you will?

Coming tomorrow...let's take a step back and not leave out the regulators and enforcers.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010: Contemplations, Conversations, Ruminations, and an occasional Diatribe: Part 7

(This is the seventh in a series of ten installments documenting both my time during Philly Beer Week 2010 and insights provided to me by customers, importers/distributors/representatives, brewers, brewery owners, publicans, et cetera. All of whom wanted their comments to be aired, but very few who wanted their name associated with them. Some of you may not appreciate the anonymity, but that's the way it needs to be if we're going to talk about these things around here. You'll need to trust in me that I've gathered up all of these notes and opinions during PBW '10 and am sharing them with you in order to continue the conversation about what will make a better Philly Beer Week 2011.)

Click back to see the sixth in the series. Click forward to see the eighth in the series.

Event Planners take note: if you planned an event at the last minute (fess up, that's most of the events on the PBW '10 calendar)--and by last minute, I mean less than a month...okay, I'll be generous and say less than two weeks prior to June 4th--you dramatically underestimated the needs for folks to plan their Philly Beer Week experiences...particularly in June.

I'll stand up and say "I hear you and understand that the planning of beer/bar events are not necessarily those of long-range planning." I'll give PBW kudos for rolling out better tools this year than ever before, albeit in the last week or so prior to (and the iPhone app, just a few days prior to) the PBW kickoff. These tools worked well.

But, they worked well for the extreme beer geekerie of whom much of this year's PBW had to rely on. I say this because (and, no one can claim to have scientific/demographic evidence of PBW take this with a grain of salt) the average beer-drinking community that you really want to pull out for these events have a much busier life in June than they did in March last year...or any year.. The hardcore beer geeks knew PBW was coming and many did just about whatever they needed to do to get to as much as they possibly could during the 10 days.

Your more average craft beer drinker, the ones you really want to market to? Graduation Parties, End of school year (mostly for their kids...for some others, themselves), weddings, lawn and garden work (yes suburbanites with lawns and gardens are a much greater part of PBW than many may wish to acknowledge), family vacations, just to name a few are all things that most of your target market will not and can not move around to come to an event that you just announced last week.

Event-Planning, particularly in June, means advance planning more than it does in March. All we have to do is point to the numerous cancelled and reduced price/reduced scope events and the events that did not nearly fill the space that they were intended for. The time of year and amount of advance planning are two critical items to keep in mind when event planning for PBW '11.

Oh, and regarding that comment about suburbanites? Another gem from one of them who said: "The City needs to accept and appreciate that suburban beer drinkers probably support the Philly Beer Landscape more than city residents themselves do."

Now, of course, hardly anyone can substantiate that statement. But, there is certainly an air of city versus suburbs in the planning and conducting of PBW events, not necessarily a topic that I'd planned to really address in any detail. But perhaps you'd like to.

Your thoughts, if you will?

Coming tomorrow...we'll dive yet a bit deeper into what the PBW target demographic should be.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Beer Calendar: What To Do in July 2010

By now, I'm trusting that all of you in and around Philadelphia are recovered from the onslaught of Philly Beer Week 2010. Are you ready to get back on the monthly beer calendar wheel? Here we go 'round again... 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 Fri. 6/11-Sun. 7/11 - World Cup at Brauhaus (specials and giveaways early morning 'til the games are over) @Brauhaus Schmitz, Philadelphia, PA (7:00am-5:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 6/30 - Weyerbacher Sampling @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; Free) Thu. 7/1 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (July's selection: TBD) @Triumph, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/2 - Beer Sampling (Beer Floats) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Sat. 7/3-Sun. 7/25 - Tour de France (Duvel specials and other cycling-related fun) @Devil's Den, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Sat. 7/3-Sun. 7/25 - Tour de France (Duvel and Ommegang specials and other cycling-related fun) @Old Eagle Tavern, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Fri. 7/9 - Xmas in July @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/9 - Beer Sampling (Victory) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Fri. 7/16 - Lunch with Ithaca Brewing @Jose Pistola's, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG) Sat. 7/17 - Handmade Market @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (11:00am-3:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 7/17 - Bite Me @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (2:00pm; PAYG) Tue. 7/20 - One Year Anniversary @Varga Bar, Philadelphia, PA (PAYG for some one hour period from 9pm-2am) Fri. 7/23 - Beer Sampling (Dogfish Head) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Sat. 7/24 - Wheat Beer Fest @South Philadelphia Tap Room, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/30 - Beer Sampling (Sly Fox) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Sat. 7/31 - The 12th St./Mad Decent Block Party featuring Victory @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (12:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Philadelphia's close suburbs Fri. 6/11-Sun. 7/11 - World Cup at Victory @Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA (2:30pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/2 - Incubus Friday @Sly Fox, Phoenixville & Royersford, PA (all day; PAYG) Fri. 7/9 - Friday Night Tasting (Stoudt's) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free) Fri. 7/9 - Warrington Boys Bring Their Brews Home @Wegmans, Warrington, PA (4:00pm-7:00pm; Free) Wed. 7/14 - Specialty Keg Wednesdays (Brooklyn Dark Matter) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (11:30am; PAYG) Thu. 7/15 - Craft Brew Night (Troegs) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/15 - Blues Brews 'n' BBQ @Ron's Original, Exton, PA (PAYG) Fri. 7/16 - Friday Night Tasting (Yards) @Exton Beverage, Exton, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free) Fri. 7/16 - Non-Denominational Winter Solstice in July @Pinocchio's, Media, PA (all day; PAYG) Sat. 7/17 - PBW Recap @Teresa's Next Door, Wayne, PA (PAYG) Sun. 7/18 - Grand Opening @Wegmans, Malvern, PA (7:00am; PAYG) Sun. 7/18 - Beer Geek Celebration @Hulmeville Inn, Hulmeville, PA (12:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 7/21 - Specialty Keg Wednesdays (Brooklyn Buzz Bomb) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (11:30am; PAYG) Thu. 7/22 - Hops , Malts, & Hill Farmstead Brewery Debut in PA @Capone's, Norristown, PA (beginning at 12:00pm with Meet the Brewer from 7:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 7/22 - Brewery Promo Night (Southampton Publick House) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; Free) Fri. 7/23 - IPA Challenge @High Street Grill, Mount Holly, NJ (8:00pm-10:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/23 - Friday Night Tasting (Southampton) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free) Sat. 7/24 - 1st Anniversary Party @Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, Maple Shade, NJ (1:00pm-5:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 7/24 - Featuring Rogue Brewery @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (12:00pm; PAYG) Sun. 7/25 - All-grain Homebrewing Demonstration @Pinocchio's, Media, PA (12:00pm; Free/PAYG) Wed. 7/28 - Keg Tapping Wednesday (Founders Devil Dancer) @Isaac Newton's, Newtown, PA (all day; PAYG) Thu. 7/29 - Craft Brew Night (Ballast Point & Coronado) @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Thu. 7/1 - Charity Cask Night (July's selection: The Grove) @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/2 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (July's selection: Zitronenweizen) @Triumph, New Hope, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 7/7 - Brewer's Reserve Barrel Tappings (July's selection: Sour Apricot) @Triumph, Princeton, NJ (6:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/9 - The Cure for the Summertime Blues @Blue Dog Pub, Lansdale, PA (6:30pm-8:30pm; PAYG) Sat. 7/24 - Christmas in July @Pearly Baker's, Easton, PA (PAYG) Mon. 7/26 - Matt Guyer Bartends for Charity @Craft Ale House, Limerick, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 7/30 - Cask Night (Sixpoint Righteous & Tröegs Pale Ale) @General Sutter Inn, Lititz, PA (5:00pm; PAYG) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Sat. 7/3 & Sat. 7/17 & Sat. 7/31 - Craft Beer & Artisanal Cheese Tour @Old City, Philadelphia, PA (3:30pm-5:30pm; $45) Sat. 7/10 - Royal Stumble @Nodding Head, Philadelphia, PA ($45) Tue. 7/13 - Local Beer/Local Food Dinner @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $TBD) Tue. 7/13 - Grilled Cheese & Beer Tasting @World Café Live, Philadelphia, PA (8:00pm; $35) Wed. 7/14 - Beer for Winos @Tria Café, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-8:00pm; $60) Sat. 7/17 - Good Food, Good Beer, and the Rest is History @New Market, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; $38/$32/$24) Thu. 7/22 - Craft Beer Dinner with Sly Fox @Chifa, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $65) Sat. 7/24 - Summer Ale Festival @Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, PA (6:30pm-10:00pm; $25/$55/$80) Philadelphia's close suburbs Wed. 6/30 - Ayinger Beer Dinner @Iron Abbey, Horsham, PA (7:00pm-9:00pm; $50) Sat. 7/17 - Pour-a-Palooza @PJ's Pour House, Westmont, NJ (12:00pm-4:00pm; $30/$35) Tue. 7/20 - Iron Hill presents...Wild About Beer Class series (World Class Wheat Beers) @Chester County Historical Society (across from Iron Hill), West Chester, PA (6:30pm-9:00pm; $49.95) Sat. 7/24 - Buy Fresh Buy Local with Victory @Paradise Farm Camps, Downingtown, PA (6:00pm-10:00pm; $100) Sun. 7/25 - Victory Beer Dinner @Restaurant Alba, Malvern, PA (6:00pm; $65) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Wed. 7/7 - Meet The Brewer Series Presents… (Sixpoint Craft Ales) @Spinnerstown Hotel, Spinnerstown, PA (7:00pm; $45) Thu. 7/15 - Third Thursday Beer Dinner @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (6:30pm; $35) Sat. 7/17 - Hops, Vines, and Wines Festival @downtown Selinsgrove, PA (2:00pm-6:00pm; $40/$10, currently sold out) Sat. 7/24 - Battle of the Bands @Stoudt's, Adamstown, PA (6:00pm; $25) Sun. 7/25 - Arctic Alchemy Brunch @Bethlehem Brew Works, Bethlehem, PA (10:00am; $25)

Philly Beer Week 2010: Contemplations, Conversations, Ruminations, and an occasional Diatribe: Part 6

(This is the sixth in a series of ten installments documenting both my time during Philly Beer Week 2010 and insights provided to me by customers, importers/distributors/representatives, brewers, brewery owners, publicans, et cetera. All of whom wanted their comments to be aired, but very few who wanted their name associated with them. Some of you may not appreciate the anonymity, but that's the way it needs to be if we're going to talk about these things around here. You'll need to trust in me that I've gathered up all of these notes and opinions during PBW '10 and am sharing them with you in order to continue the conversation about what will make a better Philly Beer Week 2011.)

Click back to see the fifth in the series. Click forward to see the seventh in the series.

What do 1,000 beer events in 10 days look like?

I'll argue for the third year that it does not include a fixed-price dinner scheduled to be available during all of a restaurant's open hours for 10 days.

Or a happy hour with dollar-off beer specials that you carry every other day of the year.

I'd even argue that it's barely a meet-the-brewer event where an importer/distributor/sales rep shows up instead of the owner/brewer...sometimes it is, but usually not.

What was the most common response (almost always the first response) when I asked everyone 'how are you doing this fine Philly Beer Week?', 'what have you been doing...finding?', 'are you having fun?' cetera. The answer almost always included: "1,000 events is too many."

Too many for a consumer to plan around. Too many for establishments to manage (some had as many as three in one day). Too many to distinguish many from one another. Too many such that multiple reports of brewers being double-, even triple-, booked were disappointing and unacceptable.

Too many that many events were either not attended or under-attended (did you read the comment in last week's City Paper that London Grill did not get a single attendee for its Boon Brewery event, one.)

In addition to the week of PBW move from March to June, Cannibalization was the oft-quoted reason for disappointing turnout to many events. My own running event last year attracted 60 runners. This year, the number was around 25. Part of the reason was the nasty June weather, part of the reason was personal calendar conflicts, and part of the reason, I'm convinced, was events that pulled people in different directions.

I thought I was fatigued last year looking through 600+ events on the calendar. That was nothing compared to all of the distracting "non-events" cluttering up the calendar this year. Police it? Wow, I sure would hope it does not come to that..but something needs to be done.

Quality, not quantity. I'd tell you which "principals" said that in 2008, but I said I wouldn't attach names in this Series.

Are you someone who thinks more equals more equals better?

Your thoughts, if you will?

Coming tomorrow...we'll dive a bit deeper into how Philly Beer Week events are planned.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Goose Bumps

With the remainder of the World Cup now focused on the rest of the World, this is a fun look back to the U.S.'s big win last week.

TJs is serving PBW "scraps" and brunch today

(Just another day in Philly Beer Paradise)
You went to the Phillies game yesterday? You watched the World Cup action somewhere else where there was cable service? You took the kids to the pool on the hazy, hot, and humid Saturday June afternoon? You missed TJs day of Philly Beer Week Leftover Scraps? No worries. There was a comfortable barroom full (or half full, let's say) of people eager to get their lips on some Russian River Registration, Tröegs Scratch 31, Bear Republic Crazy Ivan, or Ballast Point firkin-served simcoe-dry-hopped Big Eye IPA among many other palate-pleasing goodies. Me? I couldn't let the day go without the Petrus Oak-aged Pale...I love Consecration from Russian River, but this Petrus might, just might, be even better in my opinion. Give it a try, if you haven't.
(Well-traveled beer geek, Lee, with the beers he accurately and blindly named; do I detect a Philly Beer Geek 2011 candidate in the room?)
A shout-out to Lee, of southern Delaware County/northern State of Delaware parts unknown, who accurately and blindly named all three samples that he was served. Wonder if he's ready for next year's Philly Beer Geek?! TJs began serving a Sunday brunch a few months back. So, now that you're waking up and had a cup of coffee, you might want to think about heading over to TJs for brunch and some liquid goodness. According to their website, the picture below of yesterday's draftboard is still accurate. Go get 'em and enjoy! Take your growler too. (UPDATE 6/27 afternoon: according to TJ's tweets, Russian River Registration kicked during brunch today)
(There have been more numerous Woody sightings than usual of late in the Philly Metro must be out for summer, eh?)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Something Sweet brewing at Tröegs in....

...HERSHEY. Gentlemen, and ladies: Now, when you take the kiddies to Hershey Park or the Museum--Or when you go on a couples retreat to the Hershey Spa & Resort--Or are looking to fill in the gap across an east-to-west Pennsylvania state-wide Pub Crawl--and are looking for good beer in Hershey, PA...come the end of next year ("Fall 2011" in their words), Tröegs will be right around the corner. The next chapter in the 15 year history of the brothers' brewery begins now.

Just when I thought I was on the downside of my business week, in comes a text from an enterprising young man from the brewery who wondered if I'd checked my email during the day. Of course, I figured; I stay fairly well on top of my email, day job and whatnot permitting, during the day. But, I hadn't seen anything. (someone was obviously anxious for me to help get the word out late on a Friday afternoon!)

Well, that's because it had just popped in there within the past 30 minutes or so. "Tröegs Brewery Announces Expansion..." read the title from Mr. Ed Yashinsky. Well, hot diggity that sounded like worthy news to me. Of course, the intrepid Bryson and Curtin (listed here alphabetically, of course) had already posted something up 'cuz that's their way.

In addition to the new brewhouse, there will be a barrel-aging room and a tasting room (inside and out) to complete the "interactive" experience. See more below for details in their words straight from the press release. Exciting times for south central PA! Now, I'm off to TJs to celebrate with some Scratch 31 (Citra).

HARRISBURG, PA — Chris and John Trogner, founders of Tröegs Brewing Company, announced today they have reached an agreement to open a new craft brewery in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Construction on the existing facility, located at 200 E. Hershey Park Drive, will begin immediately with a projected completion date of Fall 2011.

"This is an exciting new chapter for Tröegs Brewery," said Chris Trogner. "When John and I started planning the brewery in 1995, we didn’t even know if we would ever make it to the actual brewing stage. Since opening in 1997, we have been fortunate to grow the Tröegs brand and increase our distribution into eight states. This new location will allow us to maintain our commitment to Central Pennsylvania and continue pursuing our brewing dreams in a state-of-the-art brewery with an expanded tasting room to give our customers an even greater beer experience."

"Hershey is a special place, not just for people who call it home, but for the millions who come to visit each year," said John. "We want to create an experience that compliments the other Hershey attractions, creating an even more vibrant and exciting destination for all visitors," added Chris.

As part of the new facility, Tröegs Brewery will be installing a new brewhouse, fermenters and a kegging line. Once the new brewery is operational, all equipment will be moved from the Harrisburg plant to Hershey with no interruption to the beer production schedule. "Running two facilities simultaneously will create a series of challenges," said John Trogner. "But we need to continue producing beer in our current location until the new location is completely operational."

The Hershey facility will provide a unique brewing experience -- featuring a 5,000 square foot tasting room with the new brewhouse as the focal point of the room. The tasting room will open onto an outdoor seating area. "Visitors in our tasting room will be sitting literally in the middle of the brewhouse, said Chris Trogner. “They will be able to watch our brewers in action."

When designing the concept for the new brewery, the goal was to make a customer really feel like they are a part of the brewing process. Visitors will be able to watch the brewers in action and take a self-guided tour down a window-lined hallway through the heart of the brewery. The smell of barley and hops will fill the air as the customer gets a glimpse at the fermentation process, packaging room and oak barrel-aging room, and lab. One exciting addition to the layout is the pilot brewing room where experimentation takes place and their famous Scratch beer series is dreamt-up and made. Tröegs will also continue to provide guided tours of the brewhouse on designated days.

"John and I have visited a lot of breweries over the years and we want to create an interactive facility where our customer really gets an understanding of what goes into making quality beer, Chris noted. “We want to showcase what we do best."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010: Contemplations, Conversations, Ruminations, and an occasional Diatribe: Part 5

(This is the fifth in a series of ten installments documenting both my time during Philly Beer Week 2010 and insights provided to me by customers, importers/distributors/representatives, brewers, brewery owners, publicans, et cetera. All of whom wanted their comments to be aired, but very few who wanted their name associated with them. Some of you may not appreciate the anonymity, but that's the way it needs to be if we're going to talk about these things around here. You'll need to trust in me that I've gathered up all of these notes and opinions during PBW '10 and am sharing them with you in order to continue the conversation about what will make a better Philly Beer Week 2011.)

Click back to see the fourth in the series. Click forward to see the sixth in the series.

Hammer of Glory.

I'll admit it. Last year, when this thing debuted I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Sure, it was beautifully crafted. And used in the spirit of tapping firkins, it had a functional use as well. But, the symbol for Philly Beer Week? I didn't know if it would survive as the ubiquitous symbol of Philly Beer Week.

By the end of this year's Opening Tap on June 4th, the word of mouth both in real life and in online forums was spreading the legend of the Hammer of Glory. Okay, so the symbolism has took, though I'm still a little sketchy on the name (reminds me of the movie comedy, Blades of Glory), but why quibble?!

This thing has become as big or bigger than just about any other event during the 10 days. It was shear brilliance this year with the 15 or so mini-events that broke out around each stop on the afternoon-long criss-crossing tour that it took.

From those I've heard that saw it at least once during the afternoon of June 4th, or heck for that matter anywhere during the many weeks leading up to PBW '10 (this thing is like the Phillie Phanatic with off-season appearances!), some sort of story bordering on urban legend wasn't far behind. Maybe none much more than this year when Jim Kirk of Kite & Key and Nick Johnson of Tröegs incorporated its leg from Kite & Key to Nodding Head into a mock funeral for a Blackhawks mannequin that was put on display for the Chicago Blackhawks players as they boarded their bus outside The Four Seasons hotel before game three of the Finals.

It will be one of the events that I'll dread missing the most as I await to see how the organization attempts to out-do itself with next year's Hammer of Glory Tour. Well done, folks.

Were you there for any of The Tour?

Your thoughts, if you will?

Coming tomorrow...we'll dive a bit deeper into how a Philly Beer Week event is defined and if they should be "policed" in future years.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

To the homebrewer...

....that gave a bottle of their beer labeled "Quad 9/06" to me somewhere around 3 years ago--Thank You and Congratulations! It crept up to the front of my cooler and was finally popped last night. It's held up well and tastes wonderful! Cheers

Philly Beer Week 2010: Contemplations, Conversations, Ruminations, and an occasional Diatribe: Part 4

(This is the fourth in a series of ten installments documenting both my time during Philly Beer Week 2010 and insights provided to me by customers, importers/distributors/representatives, brewers, brewery owners, publicans, et cetera. All of whom wanted their comments to be aired, but very few who wanted their name associated with them. Some of you may not appreciate the anonymity, but that's the way it needs to be if we're going to talk about these things around here. You'll need to trust in me that I've gathered up all of these notes and opinions during PBW '10 and am sharing them with you in order to continue the conversation about what will make a better Philly Beer Week 2011.)

Click back to see the third in the series. Click forward to see the fifth in the series.

While this conversation is not a direct reflection upon Philly Beer Week, the topic certainly impacts the Philly Beer Landscape and how future Philly Beer Weeks might look if there is more locally-made beer and more of a true Philly Beer spin on The Week.

"There's too much imported beer (from elsewhere in the country and the rest of the world) saturating the market in Southeastern PA...overshadowing and sometimes shutting out a lot of good local beer."

Reading that statement reminds me of a gift horse's mouth. On one hand, I get the guy's point. A Yards event or a Dock Street event or a River Horse event...etc...can tend to be overshadowed (in some eyes) by, say, a Cantillon dinner, or a Chimay tasting, a Russian River unveiling, or a big Bell's boffo event. And, while they are all credible events, to some they take away from what they feel should be a primary focal point of Philly Beer Week...Philly Beer.

I get that point and appreciate it. Though, on the other hand, I haven't decided exactly where I come down in the argument; y'know...back to the gift horse again. What makes Philly and its environs great for beer is not only the beer that is brewed here, but the beer that we have access to here, as well as the knowledgeable folks that distribute it and the establishments that serve it.

So, if pushed, I'd probably come down more on the side of letting all play in Philly Beer Week and not trying to reign it in too tightly. However, I do agree to an extent that we do need a bit more of a focus on Philly Beer and that's where the argument for more Philly Beer comes in to the conversation.

The city has seven establishments that make some very good beer. Plus almost 100 more within a 100 mile radius of the City. Much of it is very good beer that covers the diversity of the beer spectrum. Some of it is featured front and center during Philly Beer Week events such as: City Tavern's nightly beer dinner featuring Yards Ales of the Revolution; a collaboration between Yards and Percy Street BBQ; Dock Street's music festival, cocktail competition, and seminars both this year and last; Triumph's hosted events featuring their own beers as well as those from around the country on guest taps; last year's Yards beer dinner at The Four Seasons;, I'm seeing a trend here. That is, there are a few handful of events prominently featuring some of the city beer (and then you get into some of the regionally-made beer from Sly Fox, Iron Hill, Flying Fish, Tröegs, etc.) and between all of these, are still accounting for less than 10% of the total PBW events.

In addition, Philadelphia Brewing's beers, Nodding Head's, and Manayunk's pop on sampling and meet the brewer event schedules elsewhere but not with a strong focus on their beers and businesses. Earth, Bread, + Brewery has yet to officially participate in PBW...just a statement, not passing judgement.

That being said, we need even more good local beer and more emphasis on it. Sitting at Dock Street, I commented to Carolyn Smagalski that this was such a perfect afternoon (save for just a touch of humidity and passing thunderstorms, right?!) What I meant was that at 50th and Baltimore of all places there is a community-minded establishment supporting local artists and causes and making their own art: award-winning beer and excellent food.

There is really only one other establishment like this in the City Proper: Earth, Bread, + Brewery. Don't get me wrong, the other five brewing establishments all have strong merits of their own both in what they produce as well as how they operate their businesses in their respective communities. But, why not a neighborhood brewpub in Lawncrest? in Overbrook, in Powelton Village, or Spring Garden? or East Falls, or Bustleton, or Queen Village, or Mayfair, or Elmwood, or Point Breeze....etc. Is my point clear?

There are so many neighborhoods with (I'm making a wild leap here) a lot of people who drink beer. Okay, listen, I'm not naive--I realize that some of these neighborhoods may not be the most economically viable locations for a brewpub. But, I'm also not talking about 30 bbl systems, or even 7 bbl for that matter, cranking out world-class beer. Let's start by putting good locally-made beer in everyone's mug within a city mile of their house. Keep it local, keep it real, make it great.

Then, let's have a Philly Beer Week that truly focuses as much on the local beer that's produced as the local pubs that serve it next to some of the best beers from the rest of the world.

Intriguing conversation, don't you think?

Your thoughts, if you will?

Coming tomorrow...we'll get a bit lighter again and discuss the Hammer of Glory.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Seriously, Corey, could your smile be any bigger?!

I'm sharing this because I know a lot of you know Sly Fox's Corey Reid and a lot of you wonder what he does as he wanders around the big states of NY and PA. Well, wonder no more. Hopefully, you don't need to log in to Facebook to see this picture, but you might. Beer Ambassadorshipping is tough stuff, eh Core? ;-)

Philly Beer Week 2010: The Survey and a Chance to Win Opening Tap 2011 Tickets

For all of my prattling on about soliciting feedback for Philly Beer Week, they now have an attendee survey up for your use. Like last year, it looks to collect some demographic information amongst other questions related to how you've learned about PBW and its events, where you spent any of the 10 days, what you enjoyed (and didn't), how PBW can be improved, and how much you spent. There are 22 questions and I can't imagine that it takes you more than 5-10 minutes to complete. Oh, and from my selfish perspective, if you learned anything about PBW events from The Brew Lounge, feel free to let them know that in the 'Other' box for question 15 ;-) Notification of this survey is seeping out via Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. To stand a better chance at hitting a wider swath of survey-takers, I think that it would be useful, as well, to link to it from the top of the homepage on, since they appear to be keeping the site alive for certain events to be posted on year-round. Complete the survey by next Monday (6/28) at 3pm (eastern time, I presume) to be eligible to win one pair of tickets out of five pairs to Opening Tap 2011. Change only stands a chance of coming about if you make your voice heard!

Philly Beer Week 2010: Contemplations, Conversations, Ruminations, and an occasional Diatribe: Part 3

(This is the third in a series of ten installments documenting both my time during Philly Beer Week 2010 and insights provided to me by customers, importers/distributors/representatives, brewers, brewery owners, publicans, et cetera. All of whom wanted their comments to be aired, but very few who wanted their name associated with them. Some of you may not appreciate the anonymity, but that's the way it needs to be if we're going to talk about these things around here. You'll need to trust in me that I've gathered up all of these notes and opinions during PBW '10 and am sharing them with you in order to continue the conversation about what will make a better Philly Beer Week 2011.)

Click back to see the second in the series. Click forward to see the fourth in the series.

Craft Beer is getting old.

Witness the 30th anniversary of Sierra Nevada...the "retirement" and turnover of the Anchor brewery by Fritz Maytag...the next line of family in the business at Stoudt's...etc.

Overheard during Philly Beer Week '10: "Sierra Nevada? That's my Dad's beer!" --as if to say that Sierra Nevada is an old man's beer to today's young craft beer drinkers.

Quite an eye-opener when you put it in that context, eh?

But, what it does mean is that we're well into the second, and almost third, generation of craft beer makers and drinkers.

Your thoughts, if you will?

Coming tomorrow...a discussion about market saturation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

There IS such a thing as free lunch (and a 'Perfect 10') at Iron Hill

(Iron Hill's brewer, Bob Barrar)
At each of Iron Hill's locations, they are giving out free lunch at each of their respective locations for their 10th anniversaries as they roll around. (Don't bother trying to go in there now asking for a free lunch, I'm telling you about this after-the-fact ;=) Media, PA's 10th anniversary was celebrated up, Wilmington's rolls around in 2013...and Maple Shade's finally in 2019. Sorry, Jersey beer drinkers, you'll need to wait a few more years for your free lunch. As for the other birth dates, Newark (1996), West Chester (1998), North Wales (2004), Phoenixville (2006), and Lancaster (2007) round out the remainder of the eight locations. Not content to settle for a free lunch, Bob Barrar (oft-decorated brewer) brewed up a biggie of a beer and called it Perfect 10 to celebrate his brewery's anniversary. Why? Well, in their words, there are 10 reasons why... 1. TEN different hop varieties 2. One Hundred and TEN IBU’s 3. TEN Percent ABV 4. TEN lbs of Orange Blossom Honey per BBL 5. TEN lbs of hops per BBL 6. TEN grams of servo (yeast nutrient) 7. TEN years of Media Brewing 8. TEN minutes in the Hop Back on 46lbs of hops 9. TEN years of Bob Barrar, Head Brewer 10. TEN year celebration of Media Hop Heads It sounds like the word was spread effectively yesterday. A quick call into Media tonight and they're reporting back that the special 750ml Reserve Bottles have vanished. Growlers are still available for $15.75 plus tax. Congratulations to Bob and the entire Iron Hill crew for their continued success.

Philly Beer Week 2010: Contemplations, Conversations, Ruminations, and an occasional Diatribe: Part 2

(This is the second in a series of ten installments documenting both my time during Philly Beer Week 2010 and insights provided to me by customers, importers/distributors/representatives, brewers, brewery owners, publicans, et cetera. All of whom wanted their comments to be aired, but very few who wanted their name associated with them. Some of you may not appreciate the anonymity, but that's the way it needs to be if we're going to talk about these things around here. You'll need to trust in me that I've gathered up all of these notes and opinions during PBW '10 and am sharing them with you in order to continue the conversation about what will make a better Philly Beer Week 2011.)

Click back to see the first in the series. Click forward to see the third in the series.

Let's start off this series with a doozy. Apart from the number of PBW events conducted in June, perhaps no other conversation that I participated in was more passionate than that around the involvement of the Ladies of Delilah's Gentlemen's Club. While not many would begrudge their right to pay the PBW Membership Fee and list their events, almost everyone questioned the motives and the wisdom of allowing them to participate so significantly--particularly in the Hammer of Glory Tour and appearances around town--let alone the explicitly suggestive naming and describing of their events ("...hike up the pole...", " up our top...", "...nice cans..." for starters).

Perhaps one of my favorite quotes came from a customer of Philly Craft Brew scene.

"The Delilah girls? phelgh! If the PBW organization is so cot dam concerned about its reputation and being associated with St. Patty's Day, maybe it should consider the image it projects when associated with a strip club. Seems like craft beer is resorting to macro beer marketing tactics. Shame on Philly Beer Week."

and from another...

"I enjoy T&A as much as the next red-blooded male, but why it needs to be included in a marketing approach for craft beer is beyond me. Sounds like it's all about the money to me."

and yet another...

"Of course, we want our niche industry to be perceived as fun, relaxed, and not stuffy...but this takes it too far."

and from a long-time establishment participant in Philadelphia Craft Beer

"This is absolutely not the image of craft beer that we want to project. This is wrong in more than one way."

Interesting perspective and keen insights.

Your thoughts, if you will?

Coming tomorrow...we'll ratchet it down a bit with a light-hearted note about Sierra Nevada.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010: Contemplations, Conversations, Ruminations, and an occasional Diatribe: Part 1

Click forward to see the second in the series

After a slow week (except for The Drafting Room's 16th anniversary party) and a chance to breathe, reflect, and gather/organize my and others thoughts, it's finally time for a critical review of Philly Beer Week 2010. When I say critical, I mean both positive and negative. And, to be sure, there's some negative to go around this year.

If you feel like Philly Beer Fatigue is setting in, please bear with me. I think that you'll find a good bit of these next 10 days to be engaging and thought-provoking. I do hope you'll chime in--even if anonymously--to have your thoughts heard as well.

Now after five years of talking with each other, you know that more than 95% of what I do focuses on the positive in the world of craft brewing. I leave most of the exposés, rabble-rousing, and the dirt-dishing to the guys and ladies who get paid for it. However, as I've been reminded this year during PBW by folks in the industry (brewers, owners, reps, publicans, etc.), I have an important voice. The voice of the consumer. A voice that is often either not heard loudly enough or not listened to...closely enough.

As, then, a consumer beer blogger if you will, I can report to you what I did, saw, and heard during PBW '10. Better yet, if I am indeed a trusted consumer beer blogger, than I should be able to report upon the many conversations that I had with numerous industry players at various levels and coming from different perspectives.

Almost every conversation was begun with something along the lines of: "Please write about this conversation...but, please don't include my name...the potential repercussions from 'the organization' and 'the industry' are too great. But, these stories and opinions need to be aired and addressed."

So, over the coming 10 days, I will recount both favorable and unfavorable stories heard and experienced during Philly Beer Week 2010. A conversation with Don Russell was recounted in this week's City Paper in Philadelphia where he eluded to there being no need to revisit PBW specifics like the calendar scheduling or number of events. I hope that between the City Paper's account of PBW and notes like I and others continue to tell, that there will in fact be much more conversation and reconsidering to come about what comprises a successful Philly Beer Week.

I've posed this question before, to very little satisfactory response: What constitutes a successful event and how do we measure the impact of Philly Beer Week on local beer, bars, and organizations? With each upcoming day's posting, I hope to peel back some layers of the onion as we attempt to answer these tricky questions.

Let's begin with a bit of background of my personal PBW '10. I will try to keep this brief and tomorrow will return with the beginning of short stories related to the good and the bad of PBW '10.

~ My records show that... ... there was a 50% increase in total number of events in 2010 over 2009 ... there was a 40% increase in number of participating establishments in 2010 over 2009 ... 26 establishments from 2009 dropped out of participation in 2010 (two as a result of closing up shop) and 66 establishments joined for the first time (counting roughly 22 "barely new" establishments)

~ From my own personal angle, of the 10 PBW days from June 4th-June 13th, I... ... spent 5 in the city, 4 in the suburbs, and 1 day off (though, enough very good and rare Belgian beer was consumed to make a good beer event, nonetheless) ... took 3 train trips and 4 cab rides ... took 75% less time off from work than during last year's PBW ... went to 36% less events than last year (33 last year was a bit much, but even 21 this year was still a healthy sampling for someone with a "day job," I'd say) ... spent 20% less dollars on PBW as a whole than last year (but, lest you think I was "taken care of", I was only comp'ed at one event this year versus five in 2009) ... spent approximately 73% of my PBW dollars in the City and 27% in the suburbs (what this really means is that most of the bigger ticket items were in the City)

~ My favorite events included... ...
Johnny Brenda's/Tröegs music event - with 15 Tröegs beers available, including the firkin of Scratch 31 (one of PBW's best this year, imo), and great live music in a wonderful venue, this was a no-brainer as one of my favorite events of the year. Crowded, it wasn't, but then again, not much during the 10 days was (of course, more on that to come) ...
BrewDog and Stone at TJs - the only thing to make this event better would have been if Greg Koch had joined James Watt (BrewDog) at TJs--no offense intended for Lee Marren, Stone rep. The bar room at TJs was as full and lively as I've seen it in the middle of a Saturday afternoon in quite some time and between the beer and company, it couldn't have been any better way to wind down PBW ...
the Lambic Guys - first a meetup with Armand Debelder (Drie Fonteinen) at Teresa's Next Door and then with him, Jean Van Roy (Cantillon), and Frank Boon (Boon) at Monk's Café the following night for dinner, engaging conversation and their great Lambic beers made for a couple of special events ...
My Dock Street Run and Music Festival - I'm not saying this just because it was my event. As I emphasized last week, I never felt better about the state of Philly Beer than I did hanging out with the good people of Dock Street, industry folk that stopped by, other familiar faces, runners, and musicians. No one dwelled on the politics of PBW '10. Good music filled the air, ten establishments contributed prizes, runners ran strong through terrible weather, Dock Street staff took care of the beer, the food, and the hospitality..and all was very good with the world for a few hours.

~ Regrets, I have a few and they include... ... missing the Hammer of Glory, which you may recall Patty covered in part for me. This continues to sound like one of the most well-planned, well-executed, and creatively well-conceived events of 2010. ... missing the continuing 150th anniversary party at McGillins complete with the Clydesdales on Drury Lane! ... missing the Lambic Summit, or maybe Zythos, pick one. Afterall, the two events that I did with the Belgian Lambic brewers that came across could never be enough, right?! ... not seeing the Beer, Ninja, Cowboy "event"...or something else zany like it...because I love out-and-out good fun and a good spectacle ... T.U.D.? I mean, I did have my just wasn't at Fergie's as in past years. And, Fergie's is always a good time. However, occurring on the last day after my afternoon-long event at Dock Street meant it just wasn't going to be in the cards for me. ... not finding Jack, Lew, and whomever else at Dawson Street Pub. After the Beer Geek Finals, Patty and I drove right on past Dawson Street Pub. Yes, it's been over 15 years since I was last there and well, you know, it was dark (sort of sounds like one of Jack's excuses). I want to call this out before Jack catches up and roasts me for this one.

~ Best beers? This is tough one, but ones that stood out include... (in no particular order) ... Sierra Nevada Beer Camp "Exporter" - an easy drinking baltic porter that was a little light on the baltic, but not in a bad way. I'll be anxious to try some from the Russian River barrels that have been squirreled away in Santa Rosa, CA. ... Tröegs Scratch 31 (from the firkin) - apparently only one firkin of this remains, where it shall appear is a question anxious palates are asking. Until then, search it out on tap and maybe soon to come in even more bottles?! ... Stone dry-hopped Arrogant Bastard - the citra dry-hopping seemed to take a bit of the usual punch of this beer, in a good way ... Dock Street's Saison du Potts - just about perfect and very satisfying that this comes from brewer Ben Potts and the good people of West Philly ... Drie Fonteinen Doesjel - my first run-in with this beer that went very well with food both at Teresa's Next Door and Monk's Café...two good places to put the theory to the test ... BrewDog's Sink the Bismarck - the best? maybe not, but maybe the most interesting, the most drinkable, and the most beer-like 41% ABV beer that I've ever had. Believe it.

~ I still haven't found what I'm looking for, like... ... Philadelphia Brewing's Pharmhouse Arrest - apparently close to 60 kegs of this are floating around City accounts (at this point, maybe half that number?) ... Russian River's Registration Ale - sent from RR and named a bit tongue-in-cheek for the PBW festivities, apparently I'll be catching up with this at TJs on Saturday 6/26 ... more Brotherly Suds from Sly Fox - the collaboration beer that I only tasted once, at the Opening Tap. So, it's a bit difficult to register an opinion at this point ... Victory's Summer of Love beer - the one that they produced for PBW and the tourism bureau. I continue to get e-mails suggesting that I try it. I intend to do so as soon as possible.

So there's my baseline. Funny thing is when you think about it, no two individuals' Philly Beer Weeks could possibly look alike, do you think? In some ways, that can be a good thing I suppose.

Coming tomorrow...PBW '10, Gentlemen's Clubs, and the Marketing of Craft Beer and Beer Week in Philadelphia.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How much does the Philly Beer Landscape resemble Philly Beer Week on any given day? (The Drafting Room, McKenzie Brew House, and name a few)

(from left: Howard Weintravb-The Drafting Room- and representing Tröegs, Nick Johnson, Jeff "Moose" Musselman, and Ed Yashinsky)
(Howard Weintraub, right, with three of The Drafting Room's loyal customers, "Amish" Rob and a striking resemblance on his shirt, Richard Ruch, and Joe Meloney)
Take, for example, The Drafting Room's annual anniversary party (this week they celebrated their 16th). This past Thursday saw a few of the Tröegs guys stop in to help unveil the 16th Anniversary Ale at The Drafting Room. There was a "normal" keg of it, a bartop firkin, and a half dozen other Tröegs goodies on tap. Goodies like the vaunted Scratch 31 (citra kicked from what I discovered the following night) and a Scratch installment (28) that I hadn't bumped into before. That's not too difficult considering how often they zip these out into the market. Scratch 28 is described as a German-style Rye. One, to me, that is obviously about the rye malt, and not the rye bread/caraway seed characteristic that some similar beers possess, and also had a slightly noticeable hint of smoke through it all. I was up for a repeat run-in with this beer the following evening, to share with a friend and to reconfirm my suspicion this is a very, very nice beer.
(Russian River's Consecration gets second billing after all of the locally-brewed beer from Tröegs)
It was funny to me how--like at the Bear Republic event, where the Lost Abbey Angel's Share went almost undetected in the bottom corner of the chalkboard menu--Russian River's Consecration was sneakily hanging around the bottom of the menu. I did as any good beer drinker worth his ABVs would do. I polished off a few shorties from Tröegs and then moved on to my one last...the Consecration...for a good palate blasting.
(Steve Hayden from The Drafting Room pours the first glass of 16th Anniversary Ale)
(A glass of The Drafting Room's 16th Anniversary Ale, brewed by Tröegs)
Then, I moved up to find Patty finishing off a work-related gathering at McKenzie Brew House in Frazer. Nothing to long as you consider 'nothing' to be their Saison Vautour (now a menu regular, thank you very much Ryan and Gerard), a Dark Knight (a sweet and tasty 9%-er, brewed from inspiration of their homebrewing competition's winner, Matt Tarlecki), the 3 Threads (simcoe dry-hopped, wood-aged, blended beer that I've yet to get enough of after two tastings), and a Summer Session Ale (at 4%, I'll be just as happy drinking a few of these as I will be to offer them up to a "newbie"). They've got their guest taps as well that they appear to rotate through rather quickly. This particular night, it was the Great Divide Titan IPA. Not too shabby, eh?
(McKenzie Brew House, Ryan & Gerard are doing some of their most interesting brewing in three years)
And, through it all, I happened to punch up TJs website to find that they've announced a PBW cleanup event for next Saturday, 6/26. I could bemoan how this glut of inventory from PBW has forced TJs and other establishments to do clearout events and special pricing like this simply to get rid of a glut of inventory leftover from PBW. But, maybe instead I'll just use this as yet another example of how any given day can look like Philly Beer Week around the region. Go check out the list and tell me if you don't agree. Still truckin' and representin' out here in the western suburbs.

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Let's Go Get a Beer Doc"

Fighting in hockey is part of the game. In baseball, you shouldn't try to hard to watch or enjoy a fight or a tirade. However, watching the inimitable Wally Backman is just pure theater of the wackiest kind. Bet you haven't seen this level of intensity in a while have you? By the way, the reason I'm linking it here is purely for the love of baseball...but also Backman's signoff line at the end of the video clip. Happy Friday...Watch it all...enjoy! After you watch the first part below, Apparently, there's a part 2

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010: Comprehensive Coverage

Here we go 'round again. Philly Beer Week 2010. Bigger and Better than ever? Now in June. This was interesting to observe with the change in calendar and I'll have more on that aspect later.

With close to 1,000 "events" reportedly scheduled (and, yes, more on that later as well) across the Philadelphia region, there was promised to be something for just about anyone looking to have a good beer to toast the merits of the Philadelphia Beer Landscape from June 4th-June 13th. Lucky for us, the Landscape doesn't change or "go back" to anything different after June 13th....well, okay, perhaps with a bit less volume and intensity.

This page here will serve as my repository for all things Philly Beer Week 2010. My own notes, pictures, and wrap-ups. But, not one man, woman, or even a group could cover the whole thing, so I get by with a little help from my friends and link out to other perspectives down below. Let's get started!

The Brew Lounge Wrap-up and Pictures
Friday June 4 - 6/4 Wrap-Up - 6/4 Pictures
Saturday June 5 - 6/5 Wrap-Up
Sunday June 6 - 6/6 Wrap-Up - 6/6 Pictures
Monday June 7 - 6/7 Wrap-Up - 6/7 Pictures
Tuesday June 8 - 6/8 Wrap-Up - 6/8 Pictures
Wednesday June 9 - 6/9 Wrap-Up
Thursday June 10 - 6/10 Wrap-Up - 6/10 Pictures
Friday June 11 - 6/11 Wrap-Up
Saturday June 12 - 6/12 Wrap-Up - 6/12 Pictures
Sunday June 13 - 6/13 Wrap-Up - 6/13 Pictures

Insights from other Prodigious Online Presences during PBW '10
Suzanne Woods, The Beer Lass
~~ Eating and Drinking her way through PBW '10
~~ A hilarious insight into sales rep chatter during PBW '10
~~ Do you know the way to Saint Nobodyville?
~~ Suck it Up: It's only Day 2
~~ Pre-PBW'10 Picks

Jack Curtin, The Liquid Diet
~~ Back to the future to the past, before the wrap-up in the beginning
~~ His wrap-up, briefly
~~ Notes #4, though I couldn't find #1, #2, or #3
~~ In which He gives credit to me, but mostly to Mrs. Brew Lounge
~~ The Crawl that Was or Was Not

Helene Roper, The Philly Beer Girl
~~ Days 5-8
~~ The Beginning

Don Russell, The Joe Sixpack
~~ A prelude on 5/13/10
~~ Philly Beer Geek wrap-up

Jay Brooks, The Bay Area Brookston (sorry, I made that up)
~~ Look who Came to Dinner
~~ Go Hammer, Go Hammer...don't hurt 'em

Lew Bryson, The Laugh
~~ A bit of This, That, and The Other...pick a posting for yourself and see

~~ Lots of content, mostly in the form of "their PBW picks"

Hammer of Glory video
~~ Head over to a Facebook video for a fun video of the rollicking tour that the Hammer took on Day 1

A Guy named Steve Lyford
~~ took off the whole week, took a lot of pictures, and finally hardly any have his extended arm in the foreground! Good stuff and amazing dedication, check 'em out

The Philly Beer Raid Debacle, discussed at Memphis Taproom

Reason.TV put up an interview on YouTube that you might find interesting in the continuing discussion of what happened back in March at Brendan Hartranft's and Leigh Maida's bars in Philadelphia. If you've been following the saga, there may not be much new for you in here...but it's an interesting first-person interview nonetheless.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beer Calendar Update: June 15th-June 30th

Since the remainder of June's beer calendar is a little light anyway (PBW'10 hangover), I'm going to give you the next 15 days rundown of what going on around the wide Philly Metro area. Then, in July, I'll resume the normal routine of monthly and weekly calendar updates. Oh, and in the meantime, if you'd like an easy way to look back on what I and others saw/did/heard during Philly Beer Week 2010, check out this link to The Brew Lounge's Daily PBW Time Capsule 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 Fri. 6/18 - Beer Sampling (Brooklyn Brewing) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Sat. 6/19 - The Terrible 2's: The Institute Turns 2 @The Institute, Philadelphia, PA (2:00pm; PAYG) Wed. 6/23 - Weyerbacher Sampling @Hawthornes, Philadelphia, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; Free) Thu. 6/24 - St. Jean-Baptist Day @Grey Lodge Pub, Philadelphia, PA (10:00am-10:00pm; PAYG) Fri. 6/25 - Beer Sampling (Yuengling) @Bell Beverage, Philadelphia, PA (4:00pm-6:00pm; Free) Sat. 6/26 - Giant Neighborhood Yard Sale @Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia, PA (10:00am-3:00pm; PAYG in the pub, call Leigh for Yard Sale setup details) Philadelphia's close suburbs Thu. 6/17 - 16th Anniversary Party with Tröegs @The Drafting Room, Exton, PA (6:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/17 - Perfect 10 Release Party (10th Anniversary) @Iron Hill, Media, PA (5:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/17 - Craft Brew Night @Pickering Creek Inn, Phoenixville, PA (6:00pm-8:00pm; PAYG) Thu. 6/17 - Blues Brews 'n' BBQ @Ron's Original, Exton, PA (PAYG) Fri. 6/18 - Friday Night Tasting (Bear Republic) @B&B Beverage, Doylestown, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; Free) Fri. 6/25 - Friday Night Sampling (Arcadia) @Beer Yard, Wayne, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free) Fri. 6/25 - Friday Night Tasting (Old Dominion) @B&B Beverage, Doylestown, PA (4:30pm-6:30pm; Free) Sat. 6/26 - PBW-"the scraps" @TJs, Paoli, PA (12:00pm; PAYG) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Wed. 6/16 - Celebrating our 20th Year @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (5:00pm-7:00pm; Free) Fri. 6/18 - Lancaster vs North Wales Cask Challenge @Iron Hill, Lancaster, PA (5:00pm-9:00pm; PAYG) Sat. 6/19 - American Classics--Beer and Food Pairing Event @all Pennsylvania Wegmans locations (11:00am-3:00pm; Free) Events Over $20 Philadelphia Tue. 6/15 - Russian River Beer Dinner @Monk's Café, Philadelphia, PA (7:00pm; $100...currently Sold Out, but call just in case) Philadelphia's close suburbs Tue. 6/15 - Victory Beer Dinner @Wegmans, Collegeville, PA (6:00pm; $30) Sun. 6/20 - Beer Dinner with Dad @Victory Brewing Co., Downingtown, PA (4:00pm; $50) Thu. 6/24 - Bangin' BBQ, Blues & Brews @Faunbrook Bed & Breakfast, West Chester, PA (6:00pm-9:00pm; $50/$85) Sat. 6/26 - Garden State Beer Festival @Battleship New Jersey, Camden, NJ (1:00pm-5:00pm; $40) Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania Fri. 6/18 - Celebrating Sierra Nevada Brewing (Dinner) @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (7:00pm-10:00pm; $65) Sat. 6/19 - Harrisburg Brewers Fest @downtown Harrisburg, PA (12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-8:30pm; $40/$35/$10...both sessions reportedly Sold Out but call just in case) Tue. 6/22 - Brooklyn Beer Dinner @Tap and Table, Emmaus, PA (7:00pm; $55) Thu. 6/24 - Third Thursday (?) Beer Dinner (Victory) @The Farmhouse, Emmaus, PA (6:30pm; $35)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010: Day 10 Wrap-Up

Link to Day 10 Pictures

Link back to Day 9

Arguably the worst weather day of Philly Beer Week 2010. But, first things first.

Many thanks from me and all of the prize winners to the following: Exton Beverage; Iron Hill; Local 44; Philadelphia Brewing; Sierra Nevada; Sly Fox; TJs; and Yards.

With the help of Dock Street and the aforementioned prize sponsors, I was able to put on the 3rd Annual Philly Beer Run (aka this year as The Amazing Philly Beer Race, modeled loosely on the TV game show by a similar name) yesterday on Day 10 of Philly Beer Week.

And on a more uncomfortable weather day the race could not have been held. So, you can imagine my delight that just over half of the original RSVPed participants showed up at City Hall enthusiastically awaiting the start of the run. Actually, I think I could detect a little disappointment that I'd decided to cut back on a portion of the route in the interest of getting them to Dock Street sooner for a beer and pizza....and to hopefully avoid heat exhaustion, dehydration, and/or getting a drenching from Mother Nature.

All appeared to avoid the first two, however many could not avoid the latter. Though, it did actually seem that those that ran the last mile or two in the pounding rain may have actually been more refreshed because of it. Hey! The heat index, afterall, was over 90°F.

Therefore, the route went from 6-7 miles instead down to 4-5 depending upon the route taken/chosen by each runner. It was fun to hear that--since this wasn't a timed race--a few runners decided to make at least one beer stop along the way!

So KUDOS to all who came out to participate in the run and the challenges. It's a format that I'm likely to try out again in future events.

The pictures tell some of the story, so go and check out the link. Other than the running and the challenges, all that was left at Dock Street was to dry off, to win some prizes, and to kick back with great beer, delicious food, and fun music.

Because the point system had been started back in March with a run to/from Dock Street (also, runs in April (TJs) and in May (Resurrection Ale House)), the three guys that have done all four runs including yesterday's wound up in the top three spots.

Dock Street provided the top 3 awarded prizes based on points. Congratulations to Kevin Mudrick, Eric Bernstein, and Dave Casmay for taking home the top 3 prizes, respectively. Kevin and Eric are Fishtown Beer Runners as you can tell, these gents love to run for great beer! Dave is a veteran of Sly Fox in Phoenixville and you can often find him there and occasionally tooling around the Philly bar scene as well.

All of the other prizes were awarded on a raffle basis, so no one was excluded from being able to win a prize because they hadn't attended previous runs.

At the risk of sounding overly sappy, I must say that watching around 25 runners brave the heat, humidity, and thunderstorms to get to Dock watch them kick back and replenish at Dock Street.....and to watch many of them so pleased to win a donated clothing, glassware, or beer prize (bottle opener too, Patrick, I didn't forget!)....gave me such a warm and gratifying feeling. It's the kind of feeling that anyone conducting a Philly Beer Week event should feel.

I don't mean the sort of pompous, self-congratulatory warm feeling. I mean the kind of feeling that is happy to see runners struggle to accomplish be relaxing with each others company be supported by establishments that wanted to support me by donating be in the presence of Dock Street which so values its place in the community by supporting up-and-coming artists. To see prominent figures in the local beer scene, Don Russell and Carolyn Smagalski, show up in their gesture of support (er, maybe that was actually for the bands and Dock Street??).....

This, my friends, is what the craft brewing community has always been about--the support, the encouragement, the striving to be as big and best as you can be, with as little animosity as you're bound to see in any industry--that has always drawn me to the people and products of the industry. In the third year of Philly Beer Week, I feel and hear of some of this goodwill and camaraderie being chipped away at. For a few hours on Sunday, I felt that all was right with the world.

With the "work" out of the way, it was time to move on. Being so close to Local 44, it felt only right to stop in and see what we missed (or maybe didn't) from their day-long Russian River event.

How's this for timing?! We walk through the door just as Joe Sixpack is signing a check for beers that he bought for the bar....reportedly, the whole bar....or was that a joke on me?!

Here we ran into the omnipresent co-Chester Countians, the Hollands, John Doherty (speaking of omnipresent), and a few other beer runners that seemed to follow our lead from Dock Street. It was nice to bump into Brendan Hartranft who shared a quick beer with us before he retired for the night. He and wife, Leigh, put in crazy overtime effort these past 10 days to bring interesting beer and guests into their three establishments.

After a Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Exporter (not as baltic-y as I might have expected), and a couple of Russian Rivers (NOT the Registration nor the Consecration), and a really nice Port Brewing Hot Rocks Lager to go (well, what I meant was it was my last beer), we headed third place winner, Dave, a ride back to Paoli.

What else is in Paoli? Why, of course, TJs and My Personal T.U.D.! We'd spent the last night in each of the past two years closing up shop at Fergie's on Sansom Street for the big bad mamma jamma T.U.D. throwdown. It's quite a sight (and sound) to behold, but alas this year we just were not up to it.

Prudence got the better of us and instead we exercised prudence in the form of dinner and a couple of Stones and BrewDogs at TJs...thus making TJs the place getting the most visits from me in PBW 2010. Kind of fitting, I'd say.

There will be more to come from me in the form of a wrap-up of my impressions of this year's Philly Beer Week. Much was discussed and some was observed personally. Many were talking, but very few were willing to go on the record for obvious reasons. Once I distill it all down, it should likely provide for interesting reading and contemplation. It's time to think about Philly Beer Week 2011 and how to make it the best it can possibly be...there will be enough lessons (learned, hopefully) from this year. More to come...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010: Day 9 Wrap-Up

Link to Day 9 Pictures

Link back to Day 8 ----- Link forward to Day 10

Yup, Day 9 already. As long as June 4th took to finally get here, ten days of frothy frivolity are almost in the books. Some events from last weekend feel like a year ago, though.

Here on Day 9 yesterday, my plans were to really take it easy and make sure that the final preparations were all in place for my Amazing Philly Beer Race set to take place today and conclude at Dock Street, just as the live music and cookout are kicking off.

Of course, taking it easy is all relative. For starters, I busted butt in the yard, garden, and on the roof (gutters) getting caught up on things that have been, oh shall we say, neglected over the past several days?!

Then a few quick errands and dinner was in order. Of course, very close to home for me is a right fine establishment that happens to serve up some good vittles and also just so happened to have a wonderful little Philly Beer Week event going on.

Oh, was TJs in Paoli. And, with that we made our second PBW '10 visit to TJs.

Now, given the type of event, taking it easy was just about out the window when less than 60 seconds into introductions, James Watt, "Head of Stuff" at BrewDog offered up a sample of Sink the Bismarck, his latest entry into the world's strongest beer wars....yes, my friends, this reported 41% ABV beer slid down my gullet into my stomach warming and clearing everything in its path. Thing was, it was also a smooth and, yes, tasty beverage. But, maybe something that I should chase with some food straight away! (Settle down all you law enforcement types....this was a gift from the brewery and not an official part of the event. Don't go trying to start any trouble around here.)

A BrewDog Dogma here, a Stone Collaboration Saison du Buff there, and a Stone Citra Dry-Hopped Bastard (yup, this one's on the official "State List" as well!) in between to keep me happy during my "taking-it-easy-Saturday-Night"! :)

After a lot of socializing and good times (and a disappearing Jack act...reportedly wanted to eat somewhere else), we finally headed out.

Then it was home where neighbors Scott and Kathleen, undercover beer hunters and gatherers, came back from McKenzie Brew House with a growler of 3 Threads (an interesting barrel-aged blended beer (didn't get the full notes on this) and dry-hopped with Simcoe). As a good neighbor, I helped uphold the consumption end of things. This is a beer I want to learn more about.

Like that, nine days are history and there's one more today to conduct my Amazing Beer Race that concludes at Dock Street. If we have a few bits of energy remaining, we may stop in at Local 44 to see what remains from its Russian River blowout...the Registration Ale sounds worthy of seeking out.

Hang in there kids, we're almost back to Philly Beer Normal.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010: Day 8 Wrap-Up

Day 8 Pictures are all included below

Link back to Day 7 ----- Link forward to Day 9

(Howard Weintraub, Drafting Room host, left, and Mike Ferry, Brooklyn Brewery)
I promised after my Day 6 pictures at The Drafting Room that my 'people pictures' would improve next time at The Drafting Room, right? Well, I've got one for you at least..that sounds like an improvement to me!

The Drafting Room in Exton became my first repeat venue of PBW 2010. Mainly because on my way out after the Bear Republic event the other night, I noticed those words Sorachi Ace on the door...and Black Chocolate....and Dark---Matter...and Blast....and oh yeah, it was a Brooklyn Brewery event on Friday night. Done deal.

(A solid draft board greets customers at The Drafting Room)
Friday night didn't initially have anything planned for me. I'm basically tapering off in the second half of PBW '10. Too many other things to do and weather that just doesn't make it as fun to hang around drinking lots of beer, particularly high alcohol beer. No matter, it's still fun to try ;-)

So after work, I did a quick (couple-of-hours-quick) stop at The Drafting Room and shared a few nice beers with some friends that I just figured would be there. They did not disappoint.

(A solid happy hour/PBW crowd filled the bar for a couple of hours on Friday night)
And the affable Mike Ferry from Brooklyn stopped in as well to chat with the customers and wait out the rush hour traffic before heading back down into the City for a night of "networking."

All in all, a good stop in my third suburban night of PBW '10. Today, once again nothing planned..but, as usual, we shall see. Hello iPhone, what sayeth? Keep it close to home, you say? TJs (hm, yes, let's see....BrewDog and Stone....hows-a-bout that, eh?)