Saturday, November 12, 2011

Craft Beer Express, Twitter, and the catchall whatnot

Do you follow me on The Twitter? I wouldn't blame you if you don't. After all, if I didn't do what I do, I probably would not either. I'm not helping my case here, am I?

But, when circumstances present them as they did today, Twitter does (gulp) seem to be an acceptable way of communicating. It's been interesting in the almost 4 years that I've been on Twitter to see The Brew Lounge's list of "followers" grow. And, as it's grown I've seen the list, from what I can tell, grow into a largely different group than reads the traditional website and Facebook.

So, as my computer at home has nearly exited this earthly life and I was setting off to try and enjoy Craft Beer Express rather than primarily "working" it, I opted to leave the big-boy-camera and other baggage to weigh me down at home.

What the first part of the last paragraph suggests is that until I replace the home computer, I won't be able to upload pictures and do any real, honest-to-goodness writing.

Enter The Twitter.

Craft Beer Express, Nov '11
I set off on the train armed with nothing but internet access and photography via my iPhone. I love my smartphone as many of you do as well. But, this would be cutting some new ground for The Brew Lounge.

This would be the first time I attempted to cover anything only over Twitter...and while on-the-go. I had Twitter usernames for linking and hashtags stowed away in my noggin.

Don't get me wrong; I'm still not a Twittering fool. But, I did post a dozen or so Tweets with accompanying pictures.

The iPhone takes a decent photo and the new OS does come with capabilities to do more picture editing on the fly within the photo software.

And for someone that tends to go on and on with these word things, a little bit of 140-character control could be a fine thing, I suppose.

Johnny Brenda's
I hit up Johnny Brenda's first for a brunch that no one who is serious about beer and food should ever miss. On this day it was the Wet Hop Rodeo which meant all sorts for fresh/wet hop/harvest beers, accompanied by some fine food out of the kitchen, and some country/western on the turntable. Yup, that's right. Banjo-picking music on a turntable, with a DJ, in Philly. That doesn't happen often, I'm sure.

Oh, the food...oh my, yes, the food. Big ups to co-owner William Reed for steering me into the Smoked Pork Hash. A wonderful pile of potatoes and pork, covered by two over-easy eggs. The Yards Cerebus went nicely with this dish and made it on to my best-of list for the day.

I could've sat there and listened to banjos and plaintive wailing and drank from the stellar beer list all day.

Jose Pistola's
From there, it was the El back across town to meet up at Jose Pistola's with a group of friends that were attempting to do the whole bus route thing.

Organizers reported over 1,000 bus passes being sold. Attendees that I spoke with reported the buses being more efficiently run than ever in the past. I'd like to see this type of bus arrangement organized for Philly Beer Week 2012. I know it was something discussed back in '08, but never seemed to come to successful fruition.

After a quick trip around City Hall to see what all this Occupy mess is about (much cleaner and organized than many would have you believe, but this isn't a political forum; just sayin' what I'm seein'), I headed down 15th Street to find owners Joe and Casey holding court along with a funk trio and a bevy of great beer.

I could have stayed here all day as well; go figure.

I was pretty well filled up from the brunch at Johnny Brenda's that it didn't make much sense to get into the funky cheeses at Pistola's. But, the funky beers? That was a different story.

Ah, remember the quaint old days when Russian River beers would disappear in the half-blink of an eye? I get there 4 hours after opening and they were still pouring Supplication (one of my absolute faves from this northern California giant) and Consecration (not too shabby either, y'think?).

Temptation was kicked, but all that meant was a second glass of Supplication. Passed it around the table since no one else was dabbling in it and all I saw was a bunch of smiles and generally favorable reactions. Even from my stalwart Miller Lite drinking buddy, Kelley ;-)

Brauhaus Schmitz
Then I embarked on a much-needed mile-long walk (that pork hash was still hanging around!) with good beer peeps David and Sarah where we got into the subject no one can yet stop talking about: Penn State football. It's great when we can all agree (in this case, it was agreement that the whole story stinks from every angle and that Joe-Pa may be legendary in the sense of winning a lot of football games but after being a part of a (alleged) 15 year cover-up of some of the most heinous crimes imaginable (folks, that's a whole third of his revered coaching career), he can no longer be seen as a legendary role model, even in spite of all the other good work he has done; but, this isn't a socio-political column, just sayin' what I'm feelin').

We arrived at Brauhaus Schmitz in between buses, so it wasn't too difficult to get our first beer lined up and a seat on the bench.

After a couple of Tweets, owner Doug Hager found me and we ended up chatting for a quite a while. He mentioned in a follow-up Tweet of his own yesterday, that Saturday was the best business day of his restaurant's life.

Here's a guy with a lot going on. Baby on the way. Expansion plans (which sound very cool, btw. Let me see if I can dig up some more electronic details that I can share with you. Think of it has a back room beer garden with some extra special taps). Christmas Village (moved to Love Park this year, no connection to Occupy Philly, btw). Springtime Germany trip. And, one more thing that I can't talk about publicly yet, but think of it as very good exposure for his business.

Oh, and a beer from Brauhaus Schmitz also made the best-of list for the day: Duck Rabbit Doppelbock. So smooth, so rich, so delicious. They don't call themselves the "dark beer specialists" for nothing.

Guess what? I could have stayed here all night as well. I almost tried, as it was my longest stay of the day.

Race Street Café
From there it was on to Race Street Café, from where Joel Armato from New Holland (he's not a doctor, but he plays one in the beer world) had already taken off for the wilds of East Passyunk Avenue.

That didn't stop me, however, from adding Race Street Café to the list of first-time stops for me on this particular Saturday. Sad to say, though, it was a list of only one.

Another best beer of the day award went here to New Holland's funky Golden Cap Saison.
Cozy place that I could envision myself at quite a bit if I lived in the neighborhood.

One more beer
Before catching the train, a Yards IPA at The Irish Pub at 20th Street made it on to my Craft Beer Express roster, though the Pub is from the CBX. It's been quite a few years since I've last stepped in here, and in for a brief 20 or so minutes, it felt like those "old days" again.

Oops, did I say last beer? Well, back to one of my first Tweets of the day: " When #CBXPhilly starts/ends with train at 30th Street Station, Bridgewater's is there for you--Fade To Black #FTW "

Yes, I had 12 minutes until my train and already had ticket in hand. So, finally I was able to put Left Hand Dan Conway's opinion to the test. Fade to Black, a Pepper Porter. Yes, as awesome as he described when I bumped into him at Exton Beverage while he was making suburban rounds last month. You should find this beer, if you already have not. I'd like to find this in bottles, if that's possible.

There you have it. Craft Beer Express by iPhone and Twitter (with a wrap-up here and a few more words, for those of you that like that sort of thing).

What say you? Do you like The Twitter? Or perhaps better asked: Do you use The Twitter? And, would you like to see me doing more of the abbreviated event coverage using Twitter? I'm not going anti-social with my head down tapping away at my phone and acting like I'm paying attention to you while I'm on Twitter, Untappd, FourSquare, Facebook, email (what's that?!), BA, RB, etc know who you are, unless you're in denial. But, I will attempt to do more social media stuff while out-n-about if that's the kind of thing you guys dig.

Or, please also feel free to tell me to go stick my head up Twitter if you absolutely loathe this sort of idea. I'd like all the feedback, not just the positive.

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