Monday, June 07, 2010

Philly Beer Week 2010: Day 3 Wrap-Up

Link to Day 3 Pictures

Link back to Day 2 ----- Link forward to Day 4

What Saturday lacked in The Brew Lounge's participation in Philly Beer Week 2010 (see Day 2 if you don't know of what I speak) was completely made up for with a very pleasant Sunday outing. With Patty staying at home, this means, however, that you'll be subjected once again to my quite suspect photography skills (you'd never guess that I was the photography editor of my high school yearbook, now would you?). Though, she was pleased to see her work recognized by the esteemed Jack Curtin who commented on her keen eye and quick shutter finger in capturing William Reed, nightclub dancers, and other activity from Day One.

I began my Sunday with a solid breakfast at home of eggs, bacon, bagels, juice, and coffee. No way I was going to be undernourished on Day 3.

I figured with the city likely to be one traffic nightmare after another (related to the annual Bike Race that takes place in of Philly's truly great sporting events/assets to be sure), I opted to begin my Sunday with a quick pop-in at Capone's just outside Norristown on Germantown Avenue. This would then facilitate the Germantown Avenue tour That I planned to take into the City, thus avoiding the Manayunk Mess of people, logjammed traffic, and people leaving SOGO ;-) (if you don't know SOGO, then you don't know! but ask, and maybe I'll tell you)

Quick? HA! This was not to be from the moment I spied my barstool, looked across the bar, and was beckoned by Mr. Dan Bengel. Here we go, I thought...the slippery slope! My 30 minute planned stop turned into around 90 minutes, with as perfect of a sampler as I could have imagined (3 from St. Somewhere and 1 from Cigar City). But then, a special midwestern brew from Boulevard was offered up by John, another fellow barstool jockey, and then, Mr. Big Dan insisted we split an appropriately small glass of Cigar City's brandy barrel-aged Hunahpu. My first experience with this incredible imperial stout was a wonderful one, but certainly an indicator that my time at Capone's must come to a close if I was to stick to the rest of my so-called schedule.

Bob Sylvester stopped in with Jordan Fetfatzes (Bella Vista Beverages) for a couple of hours at Capone's. The affable Bob took time to stop at each table to talk Florida Beer with the folks who had come out to taste some of his fine beers, especially the Saison Athene...this one particularly shone when served after being aged 18 months in wood.

Even though this event was not part of the official 2010 PBW Calendar, I felt it important (as apparently have many others during the restaurant's 4 events that they've conducted over the past 3 days) to stop in for a visit at one of the region's must-stops for great beer and great beer events. My Philly Beer Week is really to be about focusing on the positive, and that's what this stop-in was all about.

Off I went, but not before bumping into Sara (formerly of Ortino's Northside) who was heading in to meet up with Brian, Dan, and John. So, I can only imagine that the leisurely Sunday afternoon lollygagging continued on for a couple of more hours.

Next up on Germantown Avenue was General Lafayette Inn & Brewery in Lafayette Hill, just on the suburban side of the city's northwestern boundary. Chris DePeppe (Beerheads) was there hosting a dog-friendly event called Suds 'n' Buds where the dogs got to play freely behind the restaurant in the bed and breakfast's fenced-in front yard. Maybe 15 people, 10 dogs came out for this event? It seemed like a nice afternoon for the folks to kick back and enjoy some beer while allowing their dogs to get some quality social time and exercise.

Me? I was hoping to try the Copper Crow IPA, one that's been getting some nice reviews. But, alas, the second (or was it third?) batch had just been kicked earlier during brunch, so I went to my fallback beer--and the beer that put Chris Leonard and Russ Czajka on the map for me--the Chocolate Thunder porter. And, just like that it was time to move on.

I'd fallen a bit behind schedule due to the maniacal machinations of Big Dan back at Capone's (fine, fine! I'll take some responsibility as well). I was still intent on hitting up Johnny Brenda's and City Tap House, with not much room for error on the Schuylkill Expressway to get me home in time for the puck drop at 8:20.

I was pleasantly surprised at my ability to easily slide through the city coming down Henry Avenue (I opted off Germantown Avenue at this point since Earth Bread + Brewery was not opening until 4:30pm), Hunting Park, Kelly Drive (now just having been reopened after the Bike Race with virtually no cars yet on the road), to 33rd Street, to Girard....across town hitting most lights 'green' to Girard and Frankford where Casey Hughes (Flying Fish) and Nick Johnson (Tröegs) sat outside like beacons (or sirens?) calling me to crash on the rocks of Johnny Brenda's.

A parking spot out front was not too difficult to come by. Johnny Brenda's remains one of my favorite venues in the city...the building's got real honest-to-goodness character, to say the least. And, to be hosting a solid brewery like Tröegs, its brothers (Chris and John) and "ambassador" (Nick) paired up with some right solid local music (some of which included brewery employees like Ed Yashinsky), this quickly became one of my early favorite events of PBW 2010 thusfar. At least, shall we say, favorite of those I've attended. Otherwise, the Hammer of Glory Tour might instead be at the top of my list.

Some rockin' music, great beer peeps to hang out with, some rockin' beers (roggen beer, yes! the Citra hop-based Scratch 31, yes! in a new oak barrel? yes!) made for a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. Then, it was time to add my one last stop before heading home for the Stanley Cup Finals game five.

Mr. (or Brother?) Woody Chandler had stopped in to Johnny Brenda's and although he has been working his way into a Driver's Permit and License (yes, you read that how I buried that deep within this posting?!...let's see which of you fastidious readers pick up on it), he's always up for a ride across town. He hadn't been to City Tap House yet and was also interested in checking out the Deschutes premiere that was scheduled.

After dropping off Woody and parking the car (feels like 'Driving Mr. Woody', eh?!), I made my up the elevator and inside to dip into some Hop Henge and The Abyss, two wonderful beers which I've previously only had on the West Coast or GABF...unless you count the bottles that I've flown home with me to drink in the backyard.

We'd arrived too late to get a picture with the brewer, but in enough time to find John Doherty, a couple of Fishtown Beer Runners, The Philly Beer Girl (Helene), and numerous other fans of Deschutes beer.

But, the place certainly would not have been what you'd call crowded. Unless perhaps it was busier closer to the kickoff of the event at 4pm? But, then again, neither was Johnny Brenda's...and these were two very solid events of interesting and unique offerings. Now, of course, Smoke 'Em if Yous Got 'Em at Yards was occurring simultaneously as were dozens of other events, but from reports I've picked up on along the way, attendance at most events has not exactly what I'm guessing most would have hoped for or wanted.

It then brings me back to the question I posed the other day: Is 1000 events too many? (Well, actually, I stated that in my opinion it is, but I am asking for your own feedback as well.) I'll continue to think it is, but will reserve final judgement for a week from now when the post mortem begins. Thus far, though, it seems that in this warmer weather, just as many potential participants (maybe) are doing not as many things as in past years and they're being stretched across almost twice as many "events" as last year. I'll be anxious to hear more from the proprietors and event organizers as the week wears on.

Until then, it's Day 4. Happy (continued) Philly Beer Week 2010! Today and tomorrow may turn out to be the two best weather days of PBW 2010. Enjoy and be safe.

and thus endeth (perhaps) the TBL posting with the most parentheticals ever (?)

1 comment:

kmudrick said...

Yes, too many events, and too many establishment resorting to.. shall I say, shady, "marketing" ploys to get people in the door. And a lot of events seem to be repeats beer-wise, with just a change of venue. The best day I've had so far was Saturday - walking around the entire city, a little bit here, a little bit there, no real plan, just stopping in when something caught our eye.

I was absolutely shocked at the lack of people at the Deschutes event. I thought it would be packed to the gills. Seriously, the Abyss is one of the top 3 russian imperial stouts in the world. Mentions of PtY have people lined up out the door - I think that beer is worthy of equal praise.