Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Philly Beer Week 2011: Day 4 Wrap-up

Link to Day 4 Pictures (Google/Picasa)

Video #1 and Video #2 from Punk Rock and Finger Sandwiches at Nodding Head (YouTube)

Did, Saw, Heard: Monday was the second day of what will probably go down as the two biggest days of my PBW '11. Which is a kind way of saying that Monday got off to a lazy start. Coffee and a breakfast sandwich in the room and checked out just in the nick of time to get over to the only "required" event of the day for me: Punk Rock & Finger Sandwiches.

I've had a blast helping to show Sean Paxton around town for his first visit to Philly. (Still asking what took him so long!)

Joining his event at Nodding Head became the fourth (maybe fifth, if I've lost count) Home Brew Chef that I've attended from Maine to California. The guy knows how to cook and loves to share the love and information behind his brewing, cooking, and the intersection of the two.

Plus, it doesn't hurt that he's one of the nicest guys you'll run into an industry almost-full of nice guys and ladies. Joining him in delivering the theme of the event was mister nice guy, too, Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head. From what I understand, Sam not only began his day as a rock star at Nodding Head, but ended still rocking out at Jose Pistola's more than 12 hours later -- after stopping in at 3 other DFH-sponsored events along the way.

But back at Nodding Head, there's so much information that I could share with you, but these are meant to brief notes. So let's see how I can boil this down for you and perhaps I'll come back at a later date and summarize what I believe may turn out to be a top 3 event of PBW '11.

Curt Decker, true rock star of the Philly Beer Scene. Not only can he pull together an event with star power like Paxton and Calagione, he's such a likable guy who is master at creating strong relationships to the extent that the likes of Cilurzo, Walker, Arthur, and Grossman all came out to be "customers" at this afternoon soiree. He doesn't do many events, but when he does (and to be when he and his team do events), they are near guarantees to be winners for all involved. Not winning like Sheen and Dykstra, winning like Decker.

Okay, I'm sure he doesn't want all the attention. Sean Paxton. Master of the kitchen, master of the camera (I could take a few lessons from him on both counts), master of interpersonal relations with his "guests". He was an instant hit everyone I was with him during the first four days of PBW. He worked the crowd and the mike with ease. He and Sam were a great tagteam duo presenting beer and food.

Each "finger sandwich" was packed with so much flavor and so much care into each ingredient, that it was astounding they all held together so well when picked up. Without getting into each course, I was blown away by what I thought was the clear winner (and I heard many others echo similar comments): the Dogfish Head Hellhound (this is a beautiful beer) paired with Paxton's "CubAno" which was built with Local Pork infused with Nodding Head's Old Sot, slow-roasted for 12 hours, with added ham, Gruyère, Nodding Head Phreddie Sour Tripel Pickles, and Dogfish Head 90 Minute Yellow Mustard. Yeah. Oh, and it was smartly paired with Dogfish Head Hellhoud.

But how can I stop at just one? The brisket brined in DFH Palo Santo was astounding (both the night before, heheh, and the day of) and was pretty decent paired with Nodding Head's Zephyr altbier.

Alright, that's enough. I've decided I'll come back to this at a later date and give you guys a full rundown, I'm getting hungry.

After finally wrapping things up at Nodding Head, we moved along. First plans were to catch a firkin of whatever was going on the bar top at Oyster House (downstairs). It turned out to be from Dock Street, but wasn't due for another 30 minutes or so. My next stop was a brief 20 minutes or so with Lew Bryson and Mat Falco (Philly Beer Scene magazine) at the Four Seasons 'With Love Beer Garden'. There might have been 200 or so people there and it looked like it might turn out to be everything they want it to be as the official/unofficial meeting place/central HQ for Philly Beer Week. I spent so little time there, I can't say for sure; but should be able to after visiting for longer on Thursday, Day 7, with Sly Fox.

The last stop of the evening, like I needed a third multi-course meal in 24 hours!, was London Grill for the Deschutes dinner with head brewer Larry Sidor. This turned out to be quite an anticipated dinner, given Deschutes on-again/off-again scarcity in Pennsylvania, so when Sean and I got the call we proceeded accordingly to 23rd and Fairmount Streets.

We had the timing wrong by an hour, so even though we hadn't planned on the welcome hour, beers, and butlered hors d'oeuvres, it was a nice unwind time from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. with a few samples of Twilight, Inversion, and Black Butte and socialize informally with Sidor and a few of the folks from the brewery and Muller (local importing distributor) that came along for the dinner.

The four courses coming from Mike McNally's (Terry's ex) kitchen were nicely paced and provided for some real nice pairings with the beer. A particular standout for me (and, I believe, the general consensus at our table was the Black Butte Porter and its roasty flavors with braised goat meat mole.

It's probably about time to finally bring this day's wrap-up to a close. I should probably do a separate writeup, as well, for this Deschutes dinner. I took a cab back across town with Sidor, Jason, and Angel to our respective hotels, from where I finally departed the City after four days of incredible beer culture.

Missed (according to others): Would have loved to have stopped in for Sly Fox and De Proef at Race Street Cafe to check out the collaboration beer and meet up with Alan Shapiro again, but it was always way across town from where I was and where I needed to be next.

We left Nodding Head 30 minutes too soon to be able to catch the Dock Street firkin underneath the brewery at Oyster House. Would have been nice, but needed to keep moving. Did see Marilyn outside and talked quickly about how to make the Philly Beer Run even bigger and better next year. More, much more to come.

Also, I had grand visions of heading to Doobie's (love that place, don't tell anyone) to catch up with either the Uinta guys (met them at Celebrator's anniversary a couple of years back, great guys and company) or Flying Fish and Casey Hughes (no introduction necessary, right?), but the timing just didn't work out the way I needed it to in order to pull that off.

Tomorrow on Day 5: 24 hour shutdown day.

Though, if I had my druthers, a few less rings on my tree and no job that expects me to be present and creating output if I expect to be paid, I might be doing things along the lines of Dunk Tanks, Mechanical Bulls, Forum of the Gods, Taco Tuesday, New Holland at McCrossen's (in my old 'hood), Yards firkin at Oyster House, Cigar City at Noble American, Ithaca at Chifa, Stoudt's and Krauts at Brauhaus, and learning how to tweet at the Weyerbacher/Four Seasons 'With Love Beer Garden'.

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