Monday, June 06, 2011

Philly Beer Week 2011: Day 3 Wrap-up

Link to Day 3 Pictures (Google/Picasa)

Did, Saw, Heard: Sunday and Monday seemed to have so much potentially in store for me, both as a "consumer" and has a "beer writer", that Patty and I picked one of those Expedia 'unpublished' rates and got a Loews hotel room for nearly a steal.

This turned out to be a wise move in so many ways and probably the most enjoyable way to enjoy PBW, without the stresses of needing to get home either by car or train and out of either necessity or sheer exhaustion.

We arrived in the City maybe an hour later than we had planned, but it didn't matter regarding our supposed plans to head to Memphis Taproom for its Vintage Brunch that I continue to hear so much about; it's a ticketed event, just one minor detail that I neglected to pay attention to. Tickets had long been sold out, so we thought maybe he'd head to Kennett instead where a lovely-sounding brunch with Sly Fox was going off on an a la carte basis.

But, by the time we checked in to the hotel and looking at the rest of the day's plans, we walked as far as Brauhaus Schmitz where we plunked down for a great lunch. A burger with mushrooms, Emmantaler, and crispy fried onions went oh-so-well with both the Uerige Doppel Sticke and the Bayerischer Bahnhof Leipziger Holzbock. Patty's Wienerschnitzel was accompanied admirably by a tall glass of K├Ânig Ludwig. Really enjoyed the salted radishes to munch on first as well.

After having a liquid dessert in a Samichlaus (I've never previously had on draft, so this was quite a treat), we make our next walking segment north on 7th Street. I used the very handy PBW mobile app to have it tell me that there was a "nearby event" at Cooperage Wine & Whiskey Bar.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I sort of wrote off Cooperage for two reasons, neither very good and both way too uninformed and knee-jerk. One was I thought they were related to Cooper's in Manayunk and the other was that, well hell, the name is Wine & Whiskey Bar. But then I reminded myself of two of my Beer Week Rules.

The two big rules of Beer Week, for me, are to be sure and check a few new places that I've never been to before and to check out the not-so-typical establishments to see how they are approaching and presenting beer, not just during Beer Week, but during the rest of the year as well.

What a score! Stopping in a Cooperage -- which is inside one of the City's gems of a building, the Curtis Center -- got us to meet a Rehoboth hometowner, Matt Patton, who was in town lending his hand to the cause. Not that Sam couldn't do it all by himself, but he's over 40 you know?! ;-)

Matt struck us as a similar-looking, maybe younger version -- speaking of age -- Sam Calagione and was full of just as much information. He's a manager at the company's Brewings & Eats and was helping to cover Wendy's territory as she was across town at other events. Turns out Cooperage, typically closed on Sundays, turned out a crowd of about 30 or so while we were there. They were serving up a bunch of DFH goodies and we indulged in one and some nice convo with Matt before heading back across town.

We opted for a cab this time around as we were beginning to get pressed for time. The cab deposited us on Monk's doorstep and we could not imagine the mad house that was about to present itself to us. The front bar was crazy enough, and I'm not talking about the presence of Bengel and But, for as crowded as the front of the house was, the back was as packed as I've ever seen.

It was the Meet 'n' Greet with Lost Abbey's/Port Brewing's Tomme Arthur. How he could be meeting and greeting through the crowd is beyond me and, in fact, he seemed to relish his time near the back door where many were catching some fresh air.

But, the joint was crowded for good reason. A few sips of the geek-coveted (I'll count myself in there too, thank you) Red Poppy and rare(r) Framboise. Both were delicious, but any thoughts of breezing in and out for a beer or two before our Iron Hill dinner at Good Dog were just plain ol' silly thoughts. But, good times nonetheless.

Then it was on to the first multi-course meal for in the next 24 hours. This one? An eight course meal. Eight brewers at eight Iron Hill locations brought a beer of theirs and had it featured with the solid cuisine coming out of Jessica O'Donnell's kitchen at Good Dog that she has become rightfully acclaimed for.

The crowd, with a solid Iron Hill representation as expected, was fit into the second floor dining room; a tight squeeze, but not too uncomfortable. The dinner went long, maybe an hour longer than expected, but the time was needed to help make room for all of the food and beer along the way. It's interesting to take along someone like a Sean Paxton -- known for his epic, marathon-long type meals -- and watch his reaction. The man's got some stamina. I never saw jet lag kick in for him as he made his way to Opening Tap on Friday and continued to push right on through to this dinner and beyond.

Like other dinners and events I'm sure to encounter during PBW, this Good Dog dinner will deserve much more than just a few cursory comments here. If I can drop in a note about the house-cured beef salumi paired with Lappy's strong Belgian Ale, The Cannibal and the cured salmon pastrami with Tim Stumpf's Roggenbier, then I'll at least have given you a flavor for some of the night's highlights.

Of course, observing yet again the close camaraderie of the Iron Hill family can be a highlight all in and of itself.

Did you think we were done after the Iron Hill/Good Dog dinner? Ha, to think!

No, we saddled up with Sean and made our way over to Nodding Head to check on his "preparation", a.k.a. "check on" (er, "sample"?) his Palo Santo-braised Brisket, for Monday's lunch with Dogfish Head. A few texts later we were heading out in to a cab with one additional partner-in-crime, David Walker from Firestone Walker, and headed over to Grace Tavern for our two last T.U.D.s. Hey, I said we got a hotel for a reason, right?!

I'm not going to share much from Grace Tavern because it turned out to be simply a nice way to end the long day of PBW events that we embarked upon over 12 hours earlier. It was a couple of nice beers with some of the industry's finest brewers. Curt Decker had gathered these fine folks at the quiet Grace where there was no scheduled beer event and practically no other customers. Saying any more would just be name-dropping, and I'm not like that :)

Missed (according to others): You might wonder, with the kind of day that I created above, what I could have missed. There's no doubt that I was disappointed to have missed the Vintage Brunch, but was able to console myself after a few sips of Doppel Sticke. Well, according to others, a few other spots worthy of stopping at included the East Passyunk Day of Beer, Saison Sunday at Khyber Pass, and Russian River sours at Tria (yes, I was even offered a last minute ticket!).

Oh yeah, and how I was in the City and did not catch any of the Bike Race is beyond me, particularly considering that Bridgid's and Kite and Key both had appropriately-themed events occurring during the race.

Tomorrow: Another big day which will begin with Punk Rock, Finger Sandwiches, Paxton, Decker, and Calagione...amongst a host of others I learned after our late night meetup tonight. Likely a stop at The Four Seasons to see the kickoff of the 'With Love Beer Garden'. And possibly a stop at Doobies (for Uinta and/or Flying Fish), Oyster House (weekday special firkin), Farmers Cabinet (Stillwater-inspired cocktails), and Kite & Key (Founders). If the call comes through for a seat at the Deschutes dinner at London Grill, that might preempt a whole lot other stuff in the pipeline. Oh, the worries!

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