Sunday, January 31, 2016

Beer Calendar: What To Do in February 2016

So here we are; one-twelfth of the way through 2016. From the Super Bowl to Love Day to Leap Year, February has a lot going on it, especially for its 29 days. The beer event calendar takes full advantage of it.

While I'm on somewhat of a book signing event hiatus, I'll still get my plug in here for you to check it out. If you somehow have still not seen the book, check it out over at my publisher's site. Or to buy, send a note to me, ping, or drop by your local bookstore such as Barnes & Noble.

As always, if I'm missing any that you feel should be on here, let me know.

$20 and under, down to and including FREE...Pay As You Go (PAYG) also included here

Mon. 2/1; 6 p.m.-9 p.m. — An Evening with Garrett Oliver & Friends at City Tap House-Logan in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Mon. 2/1; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Bottle Shop Happy Hour at Local 44 in Philadelphia, Pa. [$Free]
Tue. 2/2; 7 a.m. — Groundhog Day Hawaiian Shirt Beer Breakfast and Lucky Cat Beer Prognostication at Grey Lodge Pub in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Tue. 2/2; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. — Have a Blast With a Ballast Point Happy Hour at Tria Taproom in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Tue. 2/2; 6 p.m.-10 p.m. — Annie Are You Oak-Aged? at Hawthornes in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Tue. 2/2; 12 p.m. — Meet Jeffers - BarrelMeister at Firestone Walker at Monk's Café in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Wed. 2/3; 4 p.m. — Grand Opening at Bar Hygge in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/4; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. — A Pink Elephant in the Room: Brewery Huyghe at Tria Taproom in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/4; 7 p.m. — Karneval Kostume Party at Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/5; 3 p.m.-6 p.m. — Friday Night Sampling at Bell Beverage in Philadelphia, Pa. [$Free]
Fri. 2/5; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — 1st February Event: New Belgium Tasting and Taps at Bottle Bar East in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/5; 7 p.m. — Terrapin Brewing Tap Takeover at Jon's Bar & Grille in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/5-Mon. 2/8; All day — Chinese New Year - Year of the Monkey at Devil's Den in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/6; 12 p.m. — Nugget Nectar Firkin Tap at Bottle Bar East in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/6; 12 p.m. — Lost in The Woods with New Belgium Brewery at Monk's Café in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/7; 11 a.m. — Blind PigSkin Sunday at Bierstube in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/7; 7 p.m. — Superbowl of Draft Lists at Bottle Bar East in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/7; 6 p.m. — Super Bowl 50 at Brü Craft & Wurst in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/7; 6:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. — Super Bowl Sunday at Dock Street Brewing Company in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/7; All day — The Elder Bowl - Peyton vs. Pliny at Eulogy in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/7; 6:30 p.m.-11 p.m. — Super Bowl Party at Hop Angel Brauhaus in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Mon. 2/8; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Bottle Shop Happy Hour at Local 44 in Philadelphia, Pa. [$Free]
Tue. 2/9; 6 p.m. — Beer School at Coeur in Philadelphia, Pa. [$Free]
Tue. 2/9; 6 p.m.-11 p.m. — Mardis Gras at Interstate Drafthouse in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Tue. 2/9; 12 p.m. — Cocktail Jawn 3: Founders vs. Left Hand at U-Bahn in Philadelphia, Pa. [$10 + $PAYG]
Tue. 2/9; All Day — A Blast of Barleywine Past: Ballantine Burton Ale, or "The Greatest Beer Never Sold" at Tria Taproom in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Wed. 2/10; 9 p.m. — Bella Vista Beer Night at The Trestle Inn in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/11; 7 p.m.-10 p.m. — River Horse Keep the Pint Night at Hop Angel Brauhaus in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/11; 7 p.m. — Two Roads Rye 95 Release Party and Tap Takeover at Interstate Drafthouse in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/11; 6 p.m.-9 p.m. — 2SP Brewing Meet & Greet at Old Eagle Tavern in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/12; 3 p.m.-6 p.m. — Friday Night Sampling at Bell Beverage in Philadelphia, Pa. [$Free]
Fri. 2/12; 7 p.m. — Speak Easy Takeover Valentine's Day Event at Bottle Bar East in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/12; 5 p.m. — Victory Brewing 20th Anniversary at City Tap House-University City in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/12-Sun. 2/14; All weekend — Anti-Valentine's Weekend at Devil's Den in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/13; 12 p.m. — Terrapin Wake 'n' Bake Off at City Tap House-Logan in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/13; 5 p.m. — Cupid is Stupid, Suds for our Buds at City Tap House-University City in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/14; All day — Valentines Day Savage Sixtel Sunday at Kite & Key in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/14; 5 p.m. — OrValentines Day at Monk's Café in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Mon. 2/15; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Bottle Shop Happy Hour at Local 44 in Philadelphia, Pa. [$Free]
Thu. 2/18; 4 p.m. — Midwest Beer Night at Barcade in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/18; 7 p.m. — In The Garden Beer Night at Jerry's Bar in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/19; 3 p.m.-6 p.m. — Friday Night Sampling at Bell Beverage in Philadelphia, Pa. [$Free]
Fri. 2/19; 5 p.m. — River Horse Brewing Taps and Tasting at Bottle Bar East in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/19; 7 p.m. — Firestone Nitro Merlin & Cookies Night at Devil's Den in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Mon. 2/22; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Bottle Shop Happy Hour at Local 44 in Philadelphia, Pa. [$Free]
Wed. 2/24; 12 p.m. — Sour Beer Event at Bainbridge Street Barrel House in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/25; 7 p.m. — Weyerbacher Insanity & Riserva Vertical Tastings at Devil's Den in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/26; 3 p.m.-6 p.m. — Friday Night Sampling at Bell Beverage in Philadelphia, Pa. [$Free]
Sat. 2/27; 12 p.m. — Peche Mortel Day at Monk's Café in Philadelphia, Pa. [$PAYG]
Mon. 2/29; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Bottle Shop Happy Hour at Local 44 in Philadelphia, Pa. [$Free]

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Tue. 2/2; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. — Terrapin Meet & Greet at Barren Hill Brewing Company in Lafayette Hill, Pa. [$PAYG]
Wed. 2/3; 7 p.m. — Sierra Nevada Tap Takeover at Geraghty's Pub in Burlington, NJ [$PAYG]
Wed. 2/3; 6 p.m. — Stoudts Brewing Tap Takeover at Dog and Bull in Croydon, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/4; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. — Stone Night at Pinocchio's in Media, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/7; All day — Super Bowl Sunday at Hulmeville Inn in Hulmeville, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/7; 3 p.m.-5 p.m. — Superbowl Sunday Free Beer & Bread Sampling at The Greeks Next Door in Narberth, Pa. [$Free]
Wed. 2/10; All day — Stone Brewing Rare Gems at Fingers Wings & Other Things in Conshohocken, Pa. [$PAYG]
Wed. 2/10; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Firestone Walker Milk & Cookies Event at Pinocchio's in Media, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/11; 6 p.m. — Oompa Loompa Chocolate Stout Beer Release at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Ardmore, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/12; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Flying Fish Tasting at The Beer Shoppe in Ardmore, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/13; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Half Acre Tasting at The Beer Shoppe in Ardmore, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/14; 4 p.m.- 8 p.m. — Love is Bitter, Love is Sweet Beer Release at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Media, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/18; 5 p.m. — Beer & Food Pairings at Crooked Eye Brewery in Bristol, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/18; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. — Magic Hat Night at Pinocchio's in Media, Pa. [$PAYG]
Wed. 2/24; All day — One-off The Dock with Ballast Point at Fingers Wings & Other Things in Conshohocken, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/25; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Victory Event w/Java Cask at Pinocchio's in Media, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/27; 2 p.m.-6 p.m. — Barrels, Big Beers and a Polar Bear Multi-Tap at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Media, Pa. [$PAYG]

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania / Other (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Mon. 2/1; 7 p.m. — 2SP and Terrapin Beers at Two Stones Pub in Kennett Square, Pa. [$PAYG]
Mon. 2/1; 5 p.m. — Victory Wing Night at Liberty Taproom in Reading, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/4; 5 p.m.-8 p.m. — Charity Cask Night at Bethlehem Brew Works in Bethlehem, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/4; 5 p.m. — Almanac Tap Invasion at Hunger N Thirst in Lancaster, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/4; 4:30 p.m. — Vintage & Vinyl at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Del. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/4; 5 p.m. — Dogfish Head Big Beer Weekend at Liberty Taproom in Reading, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/4; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — RAR launch party at Pickled Pig Pub in Rehoboth Beach, Del. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/4; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. — Free Samples at Goshen Beverage in West Chester, Pa. [$Free]
Fri. 2/5; 5 p.m.-8 p.m. — Not Your Daughter's Thin Mint Release Party at Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company in Dover, Del. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/5; 6 p.m. — Stable 12 Tap Takeover at CJ's Doghouse in Kulpsville, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/5; 3 p.m.-10 p.m. — First Friday, Firkin, & Flatbread Night at Saucony Creek Brewing Company in Kutztown, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/5; 11:30 a.m. — Incubus Friday at Sly Fox Brewing Company in Phoenixville, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/5; 11:30 a.m. — Incubus Friday at Sly Fox Brewing Company in Pottstown, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/5; 5 p.m. — Beer Tasting: New Belgium at Washington House in Sellersville, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/6; 12 p.m.-4 p.m. — Make It Funky Multi-Tap at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Lancaster, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/6; 12 p.m. — Rise Or Shine Beer Release at Mispillion River Brewing Company in Milford, Del. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/6; 6 p.m. — Long Trail/Otter Creek Tap Takeover at Bistro on Bridge in Phoenixville, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/6; 1 p.m.-5 p.m. — British Invasion Multi-Tap at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Phoenixville, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/6; All Day — Super Bowl Saturday at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/7; 12 p.m.-5 p.m. — Super Beer Sunday at The Fridge in Lancaster, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/7; 10 a.m. — Kegs 'n' Eggs at Levante Brewing Company in West Chester, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/11; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Victory 20th Anniversary Celebration/Tap Takeover at Bulls Head Public House in Lititz, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/11; All Day — Nugget Nectar Event at Ulysses Gastropub in Wilmington, Del. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/12; 5 p.m. — Starr Hill Brewery Hearts and Hops Night at Federal Taphouse in Lancaster, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/12; 5 p.m. — Rose Tripel & Chocolate Stout Beer Release at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Phoenixville, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/12; 5 p.m. — When Ballast Point Gives You Lemons at Union Jack's On The Manatawny in Boyertown, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/12-Sun. 2/14; All weekend — Valentine's Weekend at Stewart's Brewing Company in Bear, Del. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/13; 4 p.m. — Beer and Chocolate at CJ's Doghouse in Kulpsville, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/13; 7 p.m. — A Chocolat Pairing Party at The Other Farm Brewing Company in Boyertown, Pa. [$10]
Sun. 2/14; 11 a.m. — Sunday Morning Sex at Porters' Pub in Easton, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/14; 12 p.m.-4 p.m. — Chili Challenge at Victory Brewing Company in Parkesburg, Pa. [$Free Admission & $PAYG]
Sun. 2/14; 12 p.m. — Anti-Valentine's Day at ShawneeCraft Brewing Company in Shawnee-on-Delaware, Pa. [$PAYG]
Tue. 2/16; 6 p.m. — Shorts Brewing Montgomery County Launch Party at Craft Ale House in Limerick, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/18; 12 p.m. — Queen of Wands Bottle Release at Mispillion River Brewing Company in Milford, Del. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/18; 6 p.m.-9 p.m. — Faithful and Fearless Beer Release at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in West Chester, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/18; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. — Ballast Point Victory at Sea Day at Barley Mow Craft Beer House in West Reading, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/19; 11:30 a.m. — Third Friday Firkin Fest at Sly Fox Brewing Company in Phoenixville, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/19; 5 p.m. — Night of the Czar Beer Release at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Wilmington, Del. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/20-Sat. 2/27; All week — Lehigh Valley Beer Week at Establishments around in Lehigh Valley, Pa. [$Varies]
Sat. 2/20; 11 a.m. — Wood? at Union Jack's On The Manatawny in Boyertown, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sun. 2/21; 11 a.m. — Dark Beer Day at Liberty Taproom in Reading, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/25; 7 p.m. — Firestone Brewing Event at Isaac Newton's in Newtown, Pa. [$PAYG]
Thu. 2/25; All Day — Free Will Brewing Unleashes their Cool Stuff at Teresa's Next Door in Wayne, Pa. [$PAYG]
Fri. 2/26; 11 a.m. — Toss Back the Taps Happy Hour at The Side Bar in West Chester, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/27; All day — Cham-Beers-Burg Homebrew Competition at Good Ta Go in Chambersburg, Pa. [$PAYG]
Sat. 2/27; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. — Girl Scout Beer & Cookie Event at 16 Mile Brewing Company in Georgetown, Del. [$20]
Sun. 2/28; 12 p.m.-8 p.m. — 2nd Anniversary Celebration at Barley Mow Craft Beer House in West Reading, Pa. [$PAYG]

Events Over $20

Fri. 2/5; 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. — Beer & Brewing 101 at Philly Beer School in Philadelphia, Pa. [$39.98]
Sun. 2/7; 6 p.m. — Super Bowl Party at Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia, Pa. [$50]
Tue. 2/9; 7 p.m.-9 p.m. — Beer and Chocolate Beer Dinner Lite at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Philadelphia, Pa. [$55]
Tue. 2/9; 7 p.m. — Dinner with Tomme Arthur - Lost Abbey Brewery at Monk's Café in Philadelphia, Pa. [$125]
Sun. 2/14; 5 p.m. — Valentine's Day at Bottle Bar East in Philadelphia, Pa. [$TBD]
Sat. 2/20; 12 p.m. — Beats, Brews, and BBQ at World Café Live in Philadelphia, Pa. [$45-$60]
Sun. 2/21; 12 p.m.-4 p.m. — Band of Brewers at World Café Live in Philadelphia, Pa. [$20+$PAYG]
Sat. 2/27; 12 p.m.-5:30 p.m. — Bierfest at German Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa. [$20-$78]
Sat. 2/27; 4 p.m.-7 p.m. — Winter's Warmers 2016: A Homebrew and Chili Competition at Skybox Event Center in Philadelphia, Pa. [$30-$40]

Philadelphia's close suburbs (within 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)

Greater Philadelphia Metro / Eastern Pennsylvania / Other (beyond 20 mile radius of Philadelphia)
Sat. 2/6; 7 p.m.-10 p.m. — New Belgium Brewing's Lost In The Woods Sour Beer Release Party at The Fridge in Lancaster, Pa. [$50]
Sat. 2/6; 3 p.m. — Grilled Cheese and Craft Beer Tasting at World Café Live in Wilmington, Del. [$40]
Mon. 2/15; 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. — Anniversary Beer Dinner at Victory Brewing Company in Downingtown, Pa. [$65]
Mon. 2/15; 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. — Anniversary Beer Dinner at Victory Brewing Company in Kennett Square, Pa. [$65]
Mon. 2/15; 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. — Anniversary Beer Dinner at Victory Brewing Company in Parkesburg, Pa. [$65]
Tue. 2/16; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. — Beer and Chocolate Pairing Multi-Tap at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Voorhees, NJ [$25]
Sat. 2/20; 12 p.m.-5 p.m. — Hibrewnation at York Expo Center in York, Pa. [$20-$55]
Sat. 2/20; 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. — Beer & Yoga at Victory Brewing Company in Kennett Square, Pa. [$35]
Sat. 2/20; 11 a.m.-12 p.m. — Detox & Retox: Brew Yoga Series at Saucony Creek Brewing Company in Kutztown, Pa. [$30-$35]
Sat. 2/20; 6 p.m.-9 p.m. — Bottoms Up For Prostate Cancer at The Desmond in Malvern, Pa. [$60-$209]
Sun. 2/21; 10:30 a.m. — BrewAsana Beer & Yoga at Free Will Brewing Company in Perkasie, Pa. [$27.37]
Sun. 2/21; 9 a.m.-12 p.m. — Craft Beer & Yoga at Chatty Monks in West Reading, Pa. [$30]
Sat. 2/27; 6 p.m.-10 p.m. — Mardi Gras Brew Fest at Stoudts Brewing Company in Adamstown, Pa. [$35-$40]
Sat. 2/27; 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m. — Kennett Winterfest at Downtown in Kennett Square, Pa. [$20-$100]
Sat. 2/27; 3 p.m.-6 p.m. & 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. — Friend Fest at Beltzner Hall at Kutztown Fairgrounds in Kutztown, Pa. [$10-$35]
Sun. 2/28; 9:30 a.m.-10:45 a.m. — Stretch and Sip at Levante Brewing Company in West Chester, Pa. [$25]
Sun. 2/28; 12 p.m.-7 p.m. — Screw Winter Clambake: Beer, BBQ, & Bonfire at Free Will Brewing Company in Perkasie, Pa. [$30-$35]
Mon. 2/29; 5:30 p.m. — Beer Dinner at Bulls Head Public House in Lititz, Pa. [$35]

Friday, January 29, 2016

ShawneeCraft and Brigantessa hit all the right notes in South Philly

In keeping with my new year don't-call-it-a-resolution, I gladly took Brigantessa's invitation to join them as a guest for dinner at their southern Italian-themed restaurant in South Philly last Thursday, January 21. Pardon the delay here with my follow-up thoughts and review as The Brew Lounge was, maybe not completely shut down, but at least slowed down since the Great Blizzard of January 2016. Brew Lounge HQ received a reportedly official 30.1" of snow. Measured in stacked beer cans, it was approximately 4.5-5.0 cans of beer in my driveway. (scroll for pictures below)

Back to the topic of last Thursday. As I'd mentioned last week, these early months of 2016 will see me returning to a much more normal mode of engaging live and in person at beer events and related "stuff" after a frantic last couple of years related to the book.

Brigantessa is owner/chef Joe Cicala's second place behind his celebrated Le Virtù, also nearby in South Philly. With this invitation came my expectation that I'd find a relatively new restaurant (to me, at least, given that it's been open since the fall of 2014 and is widely talked about with high praise) and a brewery that I certainly don't see/taste enough of.

For the dinner, bar manager Elliotte Samartino teamed up with Cosmo Iacavazzi from ShawneeCraft Brewing Company to put on dinner with what appeared on paper to be a well-conceived set of pairings. Brigantessa seems to roughly translate to "female bandit" and I'm not sure which stole the show more at this dinner.

The dishes of food showcased a wide variety of kitchen talent at Brigantessa — from pasta to pizza and savory meat to sweet dessert. If this was to be a representation of what I can expect from a return visit, the beer dinner did a very good job in nudging me in that direction. In addition to a solid kitchen, the beer side of the bar program is managed well with a lineup of sixteen draft lines pouring imported Italian beers along local/regional favorites.

ShawneeCraft Brewing Company is located on the same property as the Shawnee Inn and The Gem & The Keystone and co-owned by the same family. You can imagine what type of fantastic getaway weekend that this makes for.

As for the ShawneeCraft beers that Iacavazzi was representing from the Pocono-region based brewery, from my book research (the brewery is in the book, if it wasn't already assumed), I'd been quite familiar with the Apiarius (which, in the book, I described as a "very food-friendly beer, particularly with lighter fare" and was sourced with honey from hives on the brewery's property) and the Double Pale (named a "Beer Lover's Pick" and "...delightful floral aromas with easy-going bitter flavors...pair with a bowl of spicy chili or gazpacho..."). But I'd not run across the Farmhouse, the Sub Rosa, nor the Imperial Cacoa Porter.

After the Farmhouse light awakening of our palates, the Apiarius was being served from the can (love seeing this!) and was a perfect accompaniment for the light croquette antipasto introduction to the dinner. The Double Pale, a signature beer from ShawneeCraft that I mentioned above, provided an excellent hop-forward pairing with the pizza, bursting with incredible flavors of its own from the artichokes, olives, and chilies.

The Sub Rosa, a Quad, was good, but the fantastic handkerchief pasta (the Fazzoletti) and lamb ragu could have been paired with muddy water and I wouldn't have noticed. An excellent dish of food that I don't see on their website's menu. Hopefully, trusting, that this comes up from time to time on their specials menu.

For all the goodness that proceeded them, the most excellently executed pairings of the night, in my opinion, were saved for the last two. Pork Shank and Altbier? Words escape me; an absolute stunningly seamless integration of flavors from plate to glass and back to plate again. Off-the-bone meaty goodness and a light tinge of smoke from the beer went together like Jack and Diane. Where that reference came from, I have no idea.

The dessert was a fun tease from the printed menu — what? Arancini for dessert? — to the presentation. Cutting into these balls of tender rice revealed sticky sweetness in just the right portion size along with the perfect wingman — the Imperial Cacoa Porter — that capped off a very well conceived and executed dinner.

An overuse of superlatives is not typically my thing. But when a dinner like this worked out in every way hoped for, well, it seems appropriate. Can't wait for our next, non-event, dinner at Brigantessa.

Following here is the menu from the ShawneeCraft Beer Dinner at Brigantessa on January 21, 2016.

Intro Beer: ShawneeCraft Farmhouse Ale

Antipasto course: ShawneeCraft Apiarius served with Pancetta-celery Croquettes, 'nduja stuffed olives, and peperoncino

Pizza course: ShawneeCraft Double Pale served with Mozzarella di Bufala pizza with sheep's milk ricotta, artichokes, olives, and Calabrese chilies

Primo course: ShawneeCraft Sub Rosa served with Fazzoletti with whey-braised lamb ragu, pecorino, and fennel pollen

Secondo course: ShawneeCraft Altbier served with Braised Pork Shank with polenta, Piennolo tomato agrodolce, and caper berries

Dolce course: ShawneeCraft Imperial Cacoa Porter served with Gianduja Arancini - fior di latte arancini with a nutella ganache center

(Brigantessa's well-conceived menu to pair with ShawneeCraft's beers on January 21, 2016)

(ShawneeCraft's Apiarius)

(Brigantessa's Pizza with ShawneeCraft's Double Pale)

(Brigantessa's Braised Pork Shank with ShawneeCraft's Altbier)

(Brigantessa's Fazzoletti pasta with lamb ragu with ShawneeCraft's Sub Rosa)

(A trio of ShawneeCraft's finest from Shawnee on Delaware, Pa.)

(Brigantessa's Gianduja Arancini)

(This is what pre-gaming a beer dinner on Amtrak looks like with a mighty fine altbier and girl scout cookies.)

(This is what pre-blizzard shopping at 11:30 p.m. after a beer dinner looks like.)

(And, finally, this is what roughly 30" of snow looks like, measured in beers.)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: January 21 - January 31

Let's close out January's weekly calendar of events here with the last 11 days of the month. As usual, plenty to do from the cities to the mountains. Soak it up!

While I don't envision any book events for at least the next month, I'll continue to stick a quick plug here pointing you to: a) my publisher; b); c) As always, thank you for your continued support.

As you review beer events, don't forget As always, they host an impressive listing of beer event draft lists to help better inform your beer event planning.

Click through here for a look at the full monthly calendar of beer events around the Philadelphia region.

Ardmore, Pa.
Fri. 1/22; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. - Ommegang and Boulevard Tasting at The Beer Shoppe ($PAYG for a lineup of beers to sample from Ommegang and Boulevard breweries.)

Conshohocken, Pa.
Thu. 1/21; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. - Stoudts Sampling at Fingers Wings & Other Things ($PAYG for sampling with Joe from Stoudts.)
Wed. 1/27 - Warm Up With Weyerbacher at Fingers Wings & Other Things ($PAYG for Weyerbacher's 20th Anniversary, Heresy, Quad, Sunday Morning Stout, Tango, and Winter Ale.)

Kulpsville, Pa.
Fri. 1/29 - Terrapin at CJ's Doghouse ($PAYG for Terrapin's Wake N Bake, Cinnamon Roll, and plenty of other goodies from Terrapin on tap.)

Lancaster, Pa.
Fri. 1/22; 5 p.m. - Victory Tap Takeover at Isaac's Pickle Bar ($PAYG as all taps are dedicated to beers from Victory Brewing Company.)

Maple Shade, NJ
Wed. 1/27; 6 p.m.-10 p.m. - Luca Brasi Beer Release at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant ($PAYG for the re-release of the 2011 Iron Brewer competition winner, Luca Brasi, our coffee-infused English stout.)

Media, Pa.
Thu. 1/21; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - New Belgium Night at Pinocchio's ($PAYG for a night of beers from New Belgium.)
Thu. 1/28; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Captain Lawrence Night at Pinocchio's ($PAYG for a night of beers from Captain Lawrence.)

Newark, Del.
Thu. 1/21; 5 p.m.-8 p.m. - A Wee Bit of Scotland Beer Release at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant ($PAYG for Wee Heavy, a full-bodied Scotch-style ale with a distinct malty-sweet character and The Highlander, an assertive malty sweetness with just a touch of roasted character in the aroma and flavor.)

Oxford, Pa.
Mon. 1/25; 5 p.m.-9 p.m. - Bog Turtle Rochambeau Rouge Red Ale Release at SawMill Grill ($PAYG for the release of the young brewery's Rochambeau Rouge - a caramel, malty, toasty Red Ale.)

Perkasie, Pa.
Sun. 1/31; 12 p.m.-7 p.m. - Sour Sunday #1 2016 Edition at Free Will Brewing Company ($PAYG to celebrate being sour with this super fun and rare opportunity.)

Philadelphia, Pa.
Thu. 1/21; 4 p.m. - Winter Beer Night at Barcade ($PAYG to shake off the winter’s chill with some tasty brews.)
Thu. 1/21; 6:30 p.m. - ShawneeCraft Beer Dinner at Brigantessa ($65 for a five-course dinner served with ShawneeCraft's Apiarius, Dubble IPA, Sub Rosa, Altbier, and Imperial Porter.)
Thu. 1/21; 7 p.m. - Fat Head's Release Party at Devil's Den ($PAYG for specials on all Fat Head's drafts.)
Fri. 1/22; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Heavy Seas Tasting at Bottle Bar East ($PAYG for a tasting of beers from Heavy Seas.)
Fri. 1/22; 6 p.m.-9 p.m. - Sly Fox 20th Anniversary Party: Yes We Can at Grey Lodge Pub ($PAYG for all the Sly Fox cans we can get our hands on, plus Sly Fox 20 on tap. Canwood Derby, Can Craft Contest, and more.)
Sat. 1/23 & Sun. 1/24; 1 p.m.-4 p.m. and 5 p.m.-8 p.m. - Winterfest Brewfest at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest ($PAYG for a weekend full of local and regional beers and music.)
Sun. 1/24; 4 p.m. - Band Of Brewers: Opening Act at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia, Pa. ($5 as last year's winners HueMan of Forest & Main and newcomers this year, House Plant of Tired Hands perform. Beers from both breweries will be featured on tap.)
Tue. 1/26; 8 p.m.-11 p.m. - Tuesday Tapping at Lucky's Last Chance ($PAYG for a lineup of beers from Stoudts.)
Thu. 1/28; 5 p.m. - Bella Vista Night at The Trestle Inn in Philadelphia, Pa. ($PAYG for new drafts from Naked all night long.)
Sun. 1/31; 11 a.m. - Sour Bowl II at Brü Craft & Wurst ($PAYG for a full 32-tap takeover including 28 Sours and 4 IPAs.)
Sun. 1/31; 11 a.m. - Stout Bowl at U-Bahn (11 a.m.; $PAYG for 14 over the top stouts, plus a firkin of something hoppy.)
Sun. 1/31; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. - "Heady" Fat Head's Brunch at McCrossen's Tavern ($PAYG for four beers from Fat Head's, including Bumble Berry, which pairs quite well with our blueberry waffles. Live Grateful Dead/jam band music by Looseleaf.)

Phoenixville, Pa.
Sat. 1/23; 1 p.m.-5 p.m. - British Invasion Multi-Tap at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant ($PAYG for eight English style beers and a traditional British-inspired menu.)
Sat. 1/23; 5 p.m.-11 p.m. - Robbie Burns Night at Sly Fox Brewing Company ($PAYG for Gang Aft Agley Scotch Ale and Burns Scottish Ale pouring from the taps, the bagpipes piping, and the arrival of the Haggis (6:30 p.m.) will be marked by Ian Turnbull's reading of Burns' Ode to a Haggis. Celtic Spirit will play music throughout the evening.)
Thu. 1/28; 7 p.m. - Fat Head Brewery Tap Takeover at Bistro on Bridge ($PAYG for Fat Head's Head Hunter, BumbleBerry, Sunshine DayDream, Trail Head, and Shakedown.)

Stroudsburg, Pa.
Sat. 1/30; 6:15 p.m. - Pocono Winter Beerfest at Sherman Theater ($35-$50 for over 75 taps of your favorite stouts and ales, live music, and tasty food.)

Voorhees, NJ
Thu. 1/21; 4 p.m.-7 p.m. - Bandana Extravaganza Beer Release at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant ($PAYG for Bandana IPA, an American IPA with a delicious lemon, melon, citrus and a subtle pine character.)

West Chester, Pa.
Fri. 1/22; 4:30 p.m.-7 p.m. - Friday Night Sampling at Goshen Beverage ($Free tasting samples of beers from Lancaster Brewing.)
Fri. 1/29; 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. - Friday Night Sampling at Goshen Beverage ($Free tasting samples of beers from Leinenkugel.)
Sat. 1/30; 1 p.m.-6 p.m. - Belgium Comes To West Chester at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant ($PAYG as regional breweries to showcase the best locally craft-brewed, Belgian-style beers.)

West Reading, Pa.
Thu. 1/21; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. - Spring House Tap Takeover at Barley Mow Craft Beer House ($PAYG for a night of beers from Spring House Brewing Company.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

St. Benjamin Brewing celebrating the statesman at City Tap House

On one hand, I wouldn't call it a resolution. However, I did come down the home stretch of 2015 seeing a planned slowdown in my book events as the perfect opportunity to getting back out there on the brewery, bar, and event beat. It's something I'd built my reputation on - that is, getting to know the breweries, their beers, the bars they're served in, the events they're poured at, and the people behind them all and serving up to you the sights, sounds, tastes, and information to help you with your own beer journeys.

The book gave me a perfect platform to highlight some of the best around PA, NJ, MD, and DE. But, the content hosted here at The Brew Lounge certainly took a hit in favor of the book project. With that slowly moving from the forefront, I'm getting back to the old business as usual and doing it with two things in mind. First up, I'm getting back out there to bring you the best of the beer world as I experience it first hand. Second, work on a second edition of the book could begin as early as next year so staying on top of the new breweries and bars/events that their beers are served at will be of extreme importance so I can hit the ground running if and when that time comes.

So when the e-mail came reminding me of City Tap House's event this past Monday in Philadelphia just off Logan Circle to commemorate Ben Franklin's birthday with a special holiday lunch and beers from, naturally, St. Benjamin Brewing Company, I immediately bumped it up my priority list of things to do - after getting my painting chores done first.

(I should also add - and, going forward, intend to make an overt practice of disclosing such matters - that I paid for my own parking, my beers, and my food. These days, with seemingly more chatter than ever about selling out, vested interests, and other grey area topics, I plan to make sure that there's no question as to my independent status. When a tab is paid for by a brewer, bar owner, a PR firm, or otherwise, I'll be sure to make note of it so that you can calculate your own measure of my bias. Not that I haven't made this effort in the past, but I plan to be much more disciplined about making the point.)

Why would I "immediately" bump the event up? It wasn't that I haven't been to City Tap House before. Well, back to my opening comments. Especially during the last year of marketing and selling my book, I've really let new-ish things slide. That is, keeping up on new brewery openings, brewery expansions, and sharing information in this ever-confusing and changing beer scene.

In this case, the subject is St. Benjamin. They've been creeping up into a larger presence on the city's brewing scene since opening back in 2014. They were in the appendix of my book as "Open Now" with a short description that read: "A 3-barrel brewery bringing uniquely flavored, quirky, and well-crafted beers to the beer drinkers of Philadelphia. Planning to add a pub room in 2015." But with a small portfolio of beers and slow ramp-up into the market, I couldn't get them into a space within the body of the book. With the exception of occasionally running into their beers at Standard Tap or Johnny Brenda's, that was the last I really had on St. Benjamin.

Until now. And boy have I missed out on the progress of the last year. This week's event was primarily to unveil the brewery's new Franklin's Abbey line of Belgian-themed beers. For me, though, it was much more. Call me a slacker - of course I am, I already admitted as much - but I learned that the brewery has expanded from the original 3-barrel brewhouse setup to a 10 hectoliter (roughly 8.5 barrels, which I love the introduction of the math, thanks). Speaking of brewing, also heard first-hand that former consultant, Gordon Grubb, has moved back full-time to Nodding Head which, yes wait for it, is apparently very close to getting that first brew in the tanks in South Philly.

I learned that St. Benjamin has a core set of beers - that'd be the Hopligation (east coast IPA), Transcontinental (California common ale), Liaison Saison, Junto (German Kolsch), Inca (Indian Cream Ale), and Foul Weather Jack (English Mild). That they do special series such as the Saison du Jour (ranging from 5.6%-8.2% ABV after nine versions thus far) and the Troubleshooter Pale Ale (six installments to-date experimenting with a wide variety of aroma, flavor, and bitter hops).

And that the tasting room/pub is on track to be open to the public in the spring, most hopefully in time for the Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) which descends an estimated 10,000+ brewing industry professionals to the city for its annual convention.

Owner/brewer, Tim Patton, and sales/events manager Jackie Cusack were on hand Monday at City Tap House along with six of their beers on tap. Hopligation (7% ABV) and Franklin's Abbey Triple stood out to me, with Hopligation earning its way into a full pour for me after sampling the rest of the lineup. The Franklin's Abbey Stout and Foul Weather Jack English Mild (4.5% ABV) also did an excellent job representing their respective styles.

The last on that list got me into a conversation with brewer/owner Tim Patton about how we can go about providing all the support possible to help keep classic styles alive, such as his English Mild that I truly believe belongs on every beer lover's list of beers to drink in Philly. Oh, and I might make mention as well of the Pork Belly Benedict that accompanied these beers, particularly the stout, quite nicely. BEN-edict, get it? As you were...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Post-Christmas gift: Tröegs Nugget Nectar is back

It's back — the one major release in the Mid-Atlantic that beer lovers have been setting their post-New Year's calendars to each year. And the Tröegs team, along with their distributing partners Penn, have blanketed the region with "First Squeeze" events from their home turf of Hershey, Pa. to Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, and beyond to newer markets of MD, VA, OH, NC, NY, and MA. At the events, they are handing out Nugget Nectar art prints, bottle openers, and stickers.

Pouring from the taps include the Nugget Nectar (often both on CO2 and on handpumps) along with fan favorites like the dependably solid Hopback Amber Ale, seasonally appropriate Blizzard of Hops, chart-topping newcomers Solid Sender Pale Ale and various Scratch beers, and the big burly monsters Mad Elf and Impending Descent.

In Philadelphia, the kickoff event was on January 13 at Kite & Key, longtime friend and supporter of the brewery. As such, brothers/owners/brewers Chris and John Trogner drove an old Chevy truck proudly flying their corporate flag and delivering the first keg to be served. Check out the brewery's Instagram feed for fun pictures of the truck, the commute, and the tapping.

It's been a busy 2016 thus far for Tröegs, with news breaking this month of the brewery's continuing expansion plans. Quite an odyssey for these guys, first with their move from Harrisburg to Hershey (announcement in 2010) to the building of the new brewery (my coverage of it) to the unveiling in late 2011 (more full coverage from me in addition to a full set of pictures).

Hershey was a destination for many other reasons before Tröegs came along. Now, with the continually growing world-class brewery, there's more reason than ever to visit them in person if you've not yet done so. I can't wait to see what the remainder of 2016 holds for these guys. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying my own sixtel (and probably some cans too, who am I kidding?!). Stop by if you can.

(inside Kite & Key on Jan. 13, there was definitely no stopping the Nugget Nectar revelry)

(the good stuff flowing from Kite & Key's taps on January 13)

(Brothers Trogner — Chris and John — have certainly made good on their promise of world-class beer in Central Pennsylvania through the years, first from Harrisburg and the last four years from Hershey)

(Jim Kirk, co-owner Kite & Key, had the honor of hosting Chris Trogner and his brother at the only First Squeeze event that the brothers will be attending in Philly to roll out the 2015-16 Nugget Nectar.)

(John Trogner pours fresh Nugget Nectar for a thirsty crowd at Kite & Key.)

(A wall-to-wall crowd came out to find Chris Trogner and a handful of Tröegs beers on tap at Kite & Key.)

Then on Thursday, January 14, Regional Sales Manager, Nick Johnson, and Sales Representative, Matt Hasson, dusted themselves off from the Wednesday night kickoff and continued at The Pour House in Exton, Pa. Here, the happy hour crowd swelled by 6 p.m. and the handpumped firkin kicked barely an hour later. The Nugget is loose; go getchyer self some.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Weekly Beer Calendar Update: January 14 - January 20

Looks like you're going to have plenty of opportunity in the next seven days to eat well, drink well, fest well, and find new beers in the greater Philadelphia market. Go get 'em!

While I don't envision any book events for at least the next month, I'll continue to stick a quick plug here pointing you to: a) my publisher; b); c) As always, I graciously thank you for your continued support.

As you review beer events, don't forget As always, they host an impressive listing of beer event draft lists to help better inform your beer event planning.

Click through here for a look at the full monthly calendar of beer events around the Philadelphia region.

Ardmore, Pa.
Fri. 1/15; 5 p.m.-7 p.m. - Tröegs Tasting at The Beer Shoppe ($PAYG for a lineup of beers to sample from Tröegs.)

Boyertown, Pa.
Fri. 1/15 - Aloha Sculpin! at Union Jack's On The Manatawny in Boyertown, Pa. (5 p.m.; $PAYG for a special firkin tapping of Ballast Point Pineapple Sculpin IPA and other Ballast Point brews on tap including Grunion, Even Keel, Peppermint Victory at Sea, and Peanut Butter Victory at Sea.)

Chalfont, Pa.
Thu. 1/14; 5 p.m. - Fat Head's Tasting Event at Blue Dog Tavern ($PAYG to welcome Fat Head's to Bucks County.)

Croydon, Pa.
Tue. 1/19; 7 p.m. - Nugget Nectar First Squeeze at Dog and Bull ($PAYG as Dog & Bull will be the very first bar in Bucks County to tap Nugget Nectar. We will also have Tröegs Dreamweaver and Scratch beer Impending Descent on tap, as well as Troegenator, Perpetual IPA, and brand new pale ale, Solid Sender in bottles for you to sample.)

Downingtown, Pa.
Sat. 1/16; 9 a.m. - Beer & Yoga at Victory Brewing Company ($30 for a yoga class taught in our Downingtown brewpub, then treat yourself to a tasty menu paired perfectly with our delicious seasonal Victory brews.)

Ewing, NJ
Sat. 1/16; 10 a.m. - Bottle Release at River Horse Brewing Company ($PAYG for the limited release of the new Imperial Chocolate Porter.)

Exton, Pa.
Thu. 1/14; 5 p.m.-8 p.m. - Tröegs Tap Takeover at The Pour House ($PAYG for the annual release of Nugget Nectar, plus HopBack Amber, Impending Descent, Solid Sender, and Scratch #213.)

Gettysburg, Pa.
Sat. 1/16; 12 p.m.-5 p.m. - Hibrewnation at Allstar Complex ($20-$55 for an uncompromising exploration of beer with a side of rare and hard to find.)

Lancaster, Pa.
Sat. 1/16; 3 p.m.-5 p.m. - Saturday Brew Review at Isaac's Pickle Bar ($25 for a four-course meal paired with four brewmaster picks from Victory Brewing Company.)

Lansdale, Pa.
Fri. 1/15; 7 p.m.-9 p.m. - River Horse Tap Takeover at Blue Dog ($PAYG for some of our limited release Barrel-aged Barleywine, along with other favorites like our IPA, Special Ale, and Belgian Freeze.)

Media, Pa.
Thu. 1/14; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Bell's Night at Pinocchio's ($PAYG for a night of beers from Bell's.)
Fri. 1/15; 11 a.m. - Fat Head's Launch at Pinocchio's ($PAYG for special release of Fat Head's beers.)

Philadelphia, Pa.
Fri. 1/15; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. - Manayunk Tasting at Bottle Bar East ($PAYG for a tasting of beers from Manayunk Brewing.)
Fri. 1/15 & Sat. 1/16; 7 p.m.-11:30 p.m. both nights - Big Philly Beerfest at Pennsylvania Convention Center ($45-$75 for two big nights of 100+ breweries with over 300 beers to benefit Animal Rescue Partners.)
Sun. 1/17; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. - Ben Franklin Sixtel Sunday Birthday Celebration at Kite & Key ($PAYG to celebrate the birthday of our country's greatest citizen with one heck of a tap list.)
Mon. 1/18; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. - Ballast Point Brunch at City Tap House-University City ($PAYG for a very unique pairing for your MLK holiday.)
Tue. 1/19; 6 p.m. - Coppertail Beer Dinner at Pizzeria Vetri-Chancellor Street ($50 for a four-course meal paired with beers from Coppertail Brewing Company.)
Tue. 1/19; 7 p.m. - Fat Head's Release Party at The Cambridge ($PAYG to meet the brewers, drink some great beer, and enjoy some great "headwiches".)
Tue. 1/19; 8 p.m.-11 p.m. - Tuesday Tapping at Lucky's Last Chance ($PAYG for a lineup of beers from Peak Brewing.)
Wed. 1/20; 10 a.m. - 120 on 1/20 at Grey Lodge Pub ($PAYG for a sixtel of Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA.)

Phoenixville, Pa.
Fri. 1/15; 11:30 a.m. - Third Friday Firkin Fest at Sly Fox ($PAYG as at least one other beer joins our ever popular Chester County Bitter on the handpumps.)

Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Thu. 1/14; 7 p.m. - Dogfish Head Beer Dinner at Salt Air ($60 for a five-course meal paired with Dogfish Head's Namaste, 75 Minute, Pennsylvania Tuxedo, Midas Touch, and Fort.)
Wed. 1/20; 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. - East vs. West Beer Dinner at Pickled Pig Pub ($TBA for a night of great East Coast and West Coast food and beer and help us welcome the west coast breweries who have set up shop in the east.)

Wayne, Pa.
Sat. 1/16 - Fat Head’s is Here at Teresa's Next Door ($PAYG for a few super fresh beers from a brewery that will be sure to please that winter hoppy craving.)

West Chester, Pa.
Fri. 1/15; 4 p.m.-6 p.m. - Friday Night Sampling at Goshen Beverage ($Free tasting samples of beers from SweetWater.)
Tue. 1/19; 9 p.m. - Firestone Walker 19th Anniversary Tapping at The Side Bar ($PAYG for Firestone Walker's 19th Anniversary Ale tapped right before Mystery Box Trivia starts.)

West Reading, Pa.
Thu. 1/14; 5 p.m.-10 p.m. - St. Boniface/Columbia Kettle Works Tap Takeover at Barley Mow Craft Beer House ($PAYG for the new collaboration with St. Boniface & Columbia Kettleworks Double Dry-hopped Kettleface.)

Wilmington, Del.
Thu. 1/14; 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. - Tap Takeover at Ulysses Gastropub ($PAYG to enjoy some wonderful food with some even better beer from Yards. Golden Hop IPA makes an early appearance in Del.)
Fri. 1/15; 5 p.m.-8 p.m. - The Return of Riverfront IPA Beer Release at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant ($PAYG for the release of Riverfront IPA, our most popular seasonal beer.)
Sat. 1/16; 3 p.m. - Grilled Cheese & Craft Beer at World Cafe Live ($40 for two of the best things on earth paired together in unexpected and delicious ways. Bring your vegetarian friends, too — we can accommodate them on all pairings.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Beer Lover's Mid-Atlantic book -- More to Come

If you've looked closely enough at my book, you likely discovered the Appendix entitled "More To Come". In all the 416 pages, this is secretly one of my favorite sections. At the time, no other installment in the Beer Lover's series of books across the country had a section like this.

I added it in a nod to the rapidly expanding number of breweries in the region and my admission that there would be no way I'd ever be able to keep up with the current state of affairs. Not that the book ever pretended to be an exhaustive, complete snapshot of the industry, but by adding this appendix, it gave notice to either the quality places that would already be open by the time the book finally hit bookshelves or that stood a very good chance of opening in 2015. Keeping in mind that I completed the manuscript in August 2014, this appendix required no small amount of research, a bit of prognostication, and a dose of good luck as well.

Even though a few more dozen have either opened or been put on the drawing board since then, here are a few from the appendix that I'm looking forward to tracking in the next year as I ramp up to a potential second edition.

  Blue Earl - these guys became Blue Earl after a trademark dispute over the name Warlock and are doing good things in Smyrna according to locals. I heard their name again in December when I did a book event in Dover and Smyrna-based The Drunken Baker was in attendance too. They mentioned the town's Painted Stave Distilling in addition to the brewery. They had good things to say about Blue Earl's operation, which opened in May 2015. My appendix had them listed as "projected early 2015" (got that part right) and being run by two guys with "45+ years of combined homebrewing experience" and "old-world style with an American twist". I need to see for myself.

  Denizens - These guys opened in July 2014 just as I was putting the bow on my book's content, so I listed them in the "Open Now" category of the appendix. At that point there was no time to make a well-informed visit and find space for them in the body of the book. But knowing that one of the founders/brewers was Jeff Ramirez, whose resume includes Iron Hill, told me that I should be keeping them on my radar. I still haven't found my way back to Silver Spring since researching the book. What I'd like to do is visit again once Quarry House Tavern re-opens since the devastating fire last year. It should be a visit of highs and lows between the subterranean visit to QHT and a first-time visit to the brewpub's outdoor, and dog-friendly, rooftop beer garden.

New Jersey
  Screamin' Hill - I was really enamored with the farm-based breweries of Maryland that I discovered in my research travels. Now, New Jersey has one of its own. Screamin' Hill opened in July 2015, after being listed in my book as "early 2015". Not too far off and good things, apparently, come to those who wait. The idea is that they'd be a "7-barrel brewery on a 100-acre family farm" in Upper Freehold Township, Monmouth County. Tasting beers in the brewery field with these guys is on a very short list of new places for me to visit and things to do in the coming months.

  Spoonwood - I hear from family that Spoonwood, in suburban Pittsburgh's Bethel Park community, is extremely popular. In a conversation with them, they convinced me that they were well enough on a path to opening that I included them in the appendix as "Open Now". They opened one year ago in January 2015. A "15-barrel brewhouse, fully complemented by an authentic wood-fired oven and premium wines on tap" (meads, ciders, and local distilled spirits, too) sounds like a kind of place that I'd be comfortable hanging out at. Maybe my April trip to western Pennsylvania will find me there.

What about you? Been to any of these four places and have an experience that meets my expectations? Any others you've found along the way that are interesting to note? It's a big beer world out there; hope you're enjoying the trip!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pouring in Pennsylvania: Fat Head's now officially in the Philly market

Last night saw the Fat Head's team roll out with mighty force (with Philadelphia regional rep, Justin Knosp) to Capone's in Norristown, Pa. The Gretz team (led by company president, Mike Gretz - far left in the picture above) accompanied the brewery that has garnered much attention, excitement, and awards in less than seven years since opening outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

The shortest back story to tell of their growth begins with the original Fat Head's pub in Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood. The wildly successful and rollicking bar/restaurant has been a destination ever since and owner, Glenn Benigni, partnered with Matt Cole (former brewer at Great Lakes, Penn, and others) in 2009 to open the North Olmstead brewery just outside Cleveland. In early 2012, they opened a much larger facility in Middleburg Heights with plenty of room to grow. Both were in attendance last night at Capone's and will be at several events this week in the Philly area.

Finally, late 2014 saw them add on a Portland, Oregon brewpub location, just down the street from the Deschutes brewpub. Does the future hold more brewpub locations added to the "family" in the future? Time will tell, but all signs point to yes.

In a nod to Matt Capone's long-standing support for Fat Head's, his bar was serving more of their beer (nine of them) than any other Fat Head's event listed on Battle Axe Porter, Bumble Berry Wheat, Goggle Fogger Hefe Weizen, Head Hunter IPA, Head Trip Tripel, Shakedown Stout, Sunshine Daydream Session IPA, Trail Head Pale Ale, and Fat Head's/Jackie O's Liquid Courage Collaboration Barleywine were all pouring last night. The broad range of styles and alcohol levels should serve to keep everyone in your beer-drinking group happy.

For the uninitiated, the Head Hunter is a simcoe- and centennial-based citrus/piney blast of IPA goodness. At 7.5% ABV, for some of us, this can be at least a half-session beer (cue the ridicule!) and exhibits the hallmarks of a very drinkable beer (esp. for IPA) for me. I've had many of the others on the list in the past and vouch wholeheartedly for them and while I didn't get to the barleywine as I'd hoped, the surprise for me in the bunch was the perfectly balanced and, wait for it, drinkable Trail Head Pale Ale. It's the citra hop variety that gets me every time and this one is a delight. At 6.3% ABV, I'm in the game for a few of these as well. Can't wait to see bottle/sixtels of this in the market. Plus, a portion of proceeds from Trail Head's sales goes to the Cleveland Metroparks Trails Fund.

Fat Head's is (officially) coming to town

So Fat Head's is coming to Philly, eh? Yes, they've been here and there around Philly for a little bit now, but this week it becomes official. I've been a big fan since I first had the Head Hunter IPA at The Bistro's Double IPA festival in, of all places, Hayward, Calif. back in 2010. No one knew what to make of it at the time. Fat Head's? From Pittsburgh? PA? or the Pittsburg (no "h"), CA city? East Coast? IPA, surely you jest! But, the beer was mighty damn fine tasting and it took first place knocking off all the other northern California usual suspects.

Since then, every year when visiting the original pub in Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood I watch the massive tap list get taken over by more and more Fat Head's beers as their brewery continued to grow in Ohio. Then, they announced a Portland, Oregon brewing location. I thought I recalled news about another location coming soon (North Carolina?), but I can't immediately put my finger on that tidbit. Also in the intervening years, Fat Head's began to rack up awards at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup — 16 as a matter of fact in 2011-2015 with five most recently in 2015. Head Hunter leads the way with three. Hop JuJu, Black Knight, AlpenGlow, Bone Head, and Battle Axe have two each.

Other than doing my bit to promote this fine brewery here, my next topic for discussion is around individual establishment promotion. I just caught the full list of events over at earlier yesterday (it was sourced from Fat Head's website) and it immediately caused me to wonder. I've seen some social media action during the past week about Fat Head's-related events. But, holy crap, 42 events during this week? Surely, I haven't seen that much.

So to the numbers I turned. I did a quick review of establishment websites, social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), as well as BeerAdvocate's event pages and discovered the following about the establishments' Fat Head's events this week:
  • 31.0% mention it on their website (69.0% do not)
  • 42.9% mention it on their Facebook page (57.1% do not)
  • 16.7% mention it on their Twitter account (83.3% do not)
  • 14.3% list it as an event (85.7% do not)
  • 21.4% mention it on their Instagram feed (78.6% do not)

Eight are listed on and two on So, they count too.

In another twist of the data:
  • 1 establishment mentions it on all five platforms (2.4%)
  • 2 establishments mention it on four (4.8%)
  • 6 establishments mention it on three (14.3%)
  • 7 establishments mention it on two (16.7%)
  • 8 establishments mention it on one (19.0%)
  • 18 establishments make no mention of it whatsoever (42.9%)
What to make of all this? If you've followed me enough around here through the years, you know of my affinity for events and the (good) marketing of beer. I'm a bit more sensitive than ever before now after having organized 51 of my own book-related events. It's one thing to see an establishment not follow-through on helping to socialize my book event that they are hosting, hang the posters, educate the staff, etc. It's another thing when these events that they are conducting are supposed to directly translate to significant bar sales through an event. I could be way off base here.

But, if this list of events is an accurate list of events, then why the heck aren't each and every one of them out front promoting? Have they thrown in the towel on advertising events? Are they counting simply on word of mouth? Am I missing other significant marketing channels? E-mail newsletters? How are they getting the word out? Of course, I'm generalizing a bit; but look at the numbers - 43% make no mention of their events on any of the five outlets that I counted.

In any case, I'm glad to do my part here both with putting the word out and showing up to support the establishment and the brewery. Great beer; glad to have them here finally on a permanent basis. Now where is that list of events?