Saturday, June 02, 2012

Philly Beer Week 2012: Day 1 Wrap-Up

-->A link to the Philly Beer Week Index

-->Look ahead to a Day 2 preview
-->A link to Day 2 highlights

The beauty of doing a Philly Beer Week wrap-up is that there's almost no way in which I, or anyone else, can be wrong in my assessment. After all, with an average of 80 or so "events" a day (and let's be honest, after five years, there are still quite a few questionable "events" on the calendar, but let's move along), no one will or can see it all to render an opinion on how the whole of the day went down.

So, instead, here is my account of the first day, June 1, of Philly Beer Week 2012 based upon my whereabouts and meanderings. To the extent that I have credible second- or third-hand accounts of the day, I'll be including them in each day's wrap-up as well.

First, a link here to my pictures from day 1 of Philly Beer Week 2012.

And, then, some notes in no particular order other than perhaps chronologically.

~ Coming from the western suburbs, Amtrak is always my first option for getting into the city. For many reasons I've stated before, it's an all-around more pleasant, and faster, experience. If SEPTA got involved again with the special, discounted passes like they did a couple of years ago, that may change my mind on some days, but on this Day 1, it was Amtrak to the Broad Street subway.

~ Getting off at Ellsworth/Federal and then walking 4 blocks east to 18th Street, I find myself at the new American Sardine (sister establishment to South Philadelphia Tap Room) in the Point Breeze neighborhood where Scott Schroeder is serving up platefuls of wonderful cheese, including the incomparable Humboldt Fog.

~ Megan Maguire from Ommegang/Duvel USA is doing her energetic thing with a half dozen or so Ommegang beers including Witte, Hennepin, Gnomegang, Art of Darkness, Seduction. What a great way to start the evening.

~ For as "interesting" of a neighborhood as ASB is in, the ambiance is relaxing, the service attentive, and the food and beer varied enough to please many. I'll return for sure. (Plus, for sports fans heading to the south Philly complex, this is a pretty easy stop off the subway line on your way to/from games.)

~ Clouds are rolling in and winds are whipping up, so I make for a block north and seven east to Devil's Den, where the joint is packed with people searching out some new, rare, and otherwise interesting brews on the always-solid beer list at Devil's Den.

~ While I made new friends at ABS, at Devil's Den is where I began to run into numerous friends, both old and new. Case in point, Rich, a friend from college days was there with other beer-loving friends. And, Jordan Fetfatzes from Bella Vista was working as this was actually a "Bella Vista Bash" event. Many great beers. The Funky Buddha brewery (from Boca Raton, of all places!) is new in town and taking it by storm judging by how quickly the very tasty Cranberry Berliner Weisse kicked. Bella Vista Beverage is getting Funky Buddha around town quite a bit during PBW, so be sure to track them down.

~ At this point, the tarp was being taken off the field at the Phillies game, I was between beers, and frankly too hot to stay inside at Devil's Den. So I wandered off to check out Ms. Maguire once again, this time at P.O.P.E (Pub on Passyunk East) to see what this "world's smallest toast" with La Chouffe was all about.

~ Another hot and steamy and crowded place, so I stayed for one La Chouffe. Chatted with Megan a bit more. Got to know Ben Brown from Anchor Brewing (mid-Atlantic rep). And noted why there's little doubt that P.O.P.E. is certainly a top 10, if not a top 5 pub experience in Philadelphia. Period.

~ Made my way north and before catching a cab made an impulse pit stop for my first Pat's Steaks in over five years. Hasn't changed. And, I for one, am perfectly fine with that.

~ Cab deposits me at Fergie's where I had time for a half set from the John Train Band that was rocking out the beats to the beers of Sly Fox. Corey Reid was holding down the fort until Patrick Mullin, and perhaps others, from Sly Fox were due to show up.

~ With a very early morning Saturday looming, the prudent thing was to catch the 10:59 p.m. train westward. But that last Saison Vos hit the perfect spot.

~ What did I learn from my 2012 approach to PBW? That even while the main event, Opening Tap, is taking place with its many hundreds of attendees, there are still many great places to hang out around town with awesome people doing great things with wonderful beers. Isn't that what we say makes the Philly beer scene so great?

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