Before the epic distraction of Philly Beer Week descends upon the region for the next week, er 10 days, oops check that, 11 days, a small bit of housekeeping here to clear the deck. Actually, it's a rather large one. The large one that is/was the All Star Craft Beer & Wine Festival at Citizens Bank Park on May 20. I was skeptical at first about this undertaking but pleasantly surprised so much that it deserves sharing here.
For starters, to be quite frank, there aren't many of the standard-format beer festivals that I'm much interested in attending. Opening Tap tomorrow night, that's got a bit of a unique edge to it. The Brewers Plate every March in Philadelphia? A great celebration of food and beer that has sustained its excellence through the years. Count me in.
But a mass market - and what appeared to be a run-of-the-mill - beer festival? I contemplated for a while before accepting the invitation to attend. I'm not disappointed at all that I did. The main draw being the venue. And they made the most of it.
Let's take a step back first and make sure I get a plug in for the pre-game activity, also in South Philly. Finally after all these years of South Philadelphia Tap Room throwing its annual spring time Wheat Beer Fest, I used this opportunity to attend for the first time. It was a quick 45-minute, 2-beer, stop but afforded me the opportunity to have a nicely done Naked Black Currant Rising Wheat for the first time and revisit the very well made St. Benjamin Wit or Wit Out. Also met relatively new team member, Shawn Dulee, at St. Benjy's. Listened to some live music in the street and then proceeded to the ballpark.
Free parking (though not necessary in my case taking a Lyft) was a very nice touch. So was a live viewing on the outfield screen of the Phillies/Pirates game. Plus, access to the home team dugout, the basepath, and homeplate for unique photo opportunities. Live music, vendors, concessions, the Phillie Phanatic, and free future Phillies game tickets all provided a number of other aspects that made it a well-rounded fest.
And, oh yeah, then the beer. Beers were available from nearly 150 wineries and breweries. The festival utilized a significant portion of the concourse space on two levels, including the Hall Of Fame level where so much Phillies memorabilia is on display. All this in a 4-hour (plus one extra for VIP ticketholders) sampling session appeared to be quite the bargain at $49.50 and $70 respectively.
Needless to say, there were breweries and their brewers and reps (attendee friends as well) that were at the ballpark that I never found. That speaks to the scope of the event - one estimate had the attendance near 10,000, but I never confirmed that number. And for all this activity, there was hardly a moment where it felt uncomfortably crowded or that a beer or other beverage was not within easy reach. On the other side of the tasting table, my unscientific surveying of brewery reps also confirmed a well-managed event from intake and setup to rinse water, jockey box maintenance, and crowd control.
Well done to Upcoming Events, Jenna Communications, and everyone behind the massive and successful undertaking. Hope to see it again in 2018.
Now....on to Philly Beer Week 2017.
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