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I took some time off work on Thursday (the first and only such occurrence during this year's PBW) since I had TBL Admin work to do related to the Amazing Beer Race I'm conducting on Sunday. I kept it to the straight and narrow with my appointments until I was crossing town from east to west (next destination: Local 44) and I punched up the iPhone app to ask it what was occurring and closest to my location....voila--the Dunk Tank for charity at London Grill.
I walked down 23rd street over an hour after the festivities had begun. Steve Mashington from Yards and Casey Hughes from Flying Fish had already been giving his dunking(s), but plenty more awaited Dan Conway (Left Hand) and Eric VanZile (Ithaca). Dogs were barking (the ones from PAWS that wanted to be adopted, money was being raised for Alex's Lemonade Stand among other charities, and great beer was being poured outside (like Yards Saison, Flying Fish Exit 6, and a few others).
I hung out long enough to pay my respects once again to the Hammer and do a bit of informal meet 'n' greet. Then, before finally heading to Local 44, I felt it prudent to stop in at long ago hang out Tavern on Green (currently The Belgian Café) to see Megan Maguire doing her own meet 'n' greet thing with her stable of Ommegang and Duvel beers. BPA, Triple Perfection, Duvel Green, Abbey Ale were just a few of the draft and bottle selections that she had pouring.
Had a pleasant conversation with a couple of guys who had just finished up their run for the day. We talked about the beautiful intersection of great tasting/craft beer and running. Maybe I'll see one or both of them on Sunday for my Run. It was just one and done as I still needed to make my stop at Local 44.
At Local 44, the draft list impressed as always, but what I was really there for was a one-year-old bottle of the timeless Orval beer. My lunch never happened earlier in the day, so I figured that provided I didn't want to be a wreck at the Philly Beer Geek Finals, I'd better put some food down there with my beer. And, food at Local 44 (or Memphis or Resurrection, for that matter) never disappoints.
This time it was a Falafel sandwich, quite possibly just about the last thing I'd picture myself ordering at Local 44. But, boy would that be a mistake. A tasty and satisfying sandwich, especially with a little siracha sauce drizzled over it. And, the Orval? Just as perfect as you'd expect this beer to be. Mostly dry, crisp, slightly dry and funky. A perfect beer a warm afternoon.
Then, it was off to gather Patty up at 30th Street Station and head out to Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant where I was to be announced as an "illustrious judge" and some nonesense about how great and helpful "my spreadsheet" was! But so far only one person has taken Jack to his advice for buying me a beer because of it. Even Jack last night reneged on the (at least) two beers that he owes me. What's going on around here anyway?!
Instead of trudging up the hill to Dawson Street (an old underage--sshhh--college hangout..I think the statute of limitations has worn out, yes?) to meet Jack and Carl for dinner, we ate out on Manayunk's patio amongst all the pretty and cool happy hour peoples. Some sushi, some pizza, and a Bills Pils. Not too shabby.
It was time to head upstairs just before 8:00pm for the introductions. Five judges, Six contestants. Two women and Four guys being judged by a motley crew of...well, motley Lew maybe?? Lew definitely tried to steal the show from the contestants as Jason Harris and Carolyn Smagalski tried their best to reign him in (occasionally) and contestants tried to keep straight faces.
There was a round of lightning trivia, stump the judges, blind beer tasting, open-ended/vague questions, and local beer philosophy. Through it all, two contestants stood head and shoulders above the rest. Steve Hawk and Kate Stewart wowed the crowd and us judges with their knowledge, quick wit, and composure...and a little bit of showmanship as well. Steve finished solidly in first place representing Hulmeville Inn and Kate in second for the Iron Abbey of Horsham. The others had flashes of brilliance and represented Philadelphia well with their mastery and geekerie of beer.
But, in the end, we judges convened outside on the patio for yet one more beer and a quick confirmation that the other four judges felt the same as I. The only question was to whom to award third place. We threw up a quick and hokey tie-breaker but it didn't change the outcome, so we left them tied for third.
And, with that a few hearty souls wandered back to Dawson Street and Patty and I slipped back to the Schuylkill Expressway to head home for the dogs.
As you head into the last 3 days of PBW...the iPhone has been updated earlier this week...now boasting "Same amount of beer, less head.....with Minor stability and performance enhancements." Sounds like a good thing.
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