Skip Navigation

March 16, 2009

Philly Beer Week 2009: Winding Down and Wrapping Up

I promise this will be the last Beer Week post until next year—because Beer Week is over. *sniff*

My Beer Week ended with a whimper rather than a bang. For the last three days of Beer Week, I strayed rather far from my “plans,” such as they were. On Friday, I was planning to head solo to Eulogy Belgian Tavern for Brasserie d’Achouffe night, but when Anne expressed an interest in some Beer Week action, we switched the plan and headed back to Teresa's Next Door for Chimay Night.

Although Chimay is one of the most widely-available Belgians, I believe I have only had one before. We ordered a flight of three: Red, White, and Blue. (I should repeat this on Flag Day.) All were very fine, but I particularly liked the spicy White (the tripel is my favorite Belgian style). As good as the Chimay was, the big surprise and thrill of the evening was tasting Monk's Café Sour Ale (a “Flanders Oud Bruin”). I have only had a couple of sour ales before, and I think this was my favorite, mostly because I felt it was well-balanced and not too sour or too anything.

Saturday came and went with no beer outings. On Sunday we stopped at Moriarty’s (after the Go Green Expo), because they were one of the places hosting Ballast Point. They still had two on tap: Abandon Ship Smoked Lager and Black Marlin Porter. I had the porter, which was exceptionally smooth and satisfying without any heaviness.

I didn’t come out of this year’s Beer Week with much of a shopping list, but I did make mental notes of a lot of new places I would like to get to during the year. In that respect, the promotional side of Beer Week in lifting the profile of local bars is working very well indeed.


For me, every week in Philly is beer week. Just less crowded.

You said it. Although I haven’t been to Monk’s in years because of the crowds, and I had the same problem the one time I hit Local 44.

March 13, 2009

Philly Beer Week 2009: Summit at Bridgewater’s Pub

I knew I wanted to support one of my favorite haunts, Bridgewater’s Pub in 30th Street train station, by showing up at least once during Beer Week. They were holding tastings almost every day, and I pass through 30th Street every day. Ergo, easy peasy. Thursday was the day I picked, and the featured brewer happened to be Summit Brewing of St. Paul, Minnesota. They were pouring (in Summit pub glasses!) three Summit brews: Maibock, Great Northern Porter, and IPA. The Summit IPA is often on tap at Bridgewater’s, and I have had it a number of times, but the other two were new to me. My favorite was the Porter, but then I love porters.

March 12, 2009

Philly Beer Week 2009: Ithaca Beer at Teresa’s

Since “discovering” Ithaca Beer at the 2008 Craft Beer Festival, I had been waiting for them to be distributed in southeastern Pennsylvania, which happened sometime last summer. The first sign I noticed was that McGillin’s began serving Apricot Wheat in early August. Not long after our local distributor, Hatboro Beverage, started carrying them, and we picked up the Variety Pack. I have had only four of their beers, however, so I was looking forward to sampling their other efforts.

Ithaca was well-represented during Beer Week. Tuesday’s schedule showed that Ithaca was holding events at three locations: the Foodery, Misconduct Tavern, and Teresa’s Next Door. Decisions, decisions. Ultimately, I chose Teresa’s if for no other reason than its proximity. I felt quite inconspicuous from my perch at the end of the bar and ordered the flight of all four featured Ithaca brews along with some food to wash it down.

Tart, tangy and sweet all at once. Fruit-juicy delicious. I am definitely acquiring a taste for the sours.
Keller Pils
Crisp and dry, more hoppy than bitter.
Bourbon Ten
A huge, sippin’ beer. Reminded me more of a sherry than a whiskey.
Flower Power
I need to try this again, because while it tasted fine, I actually couldn’t decide where to place in the continuum of IPAs. You know what this means, don’t you? More data is needed!

I am more enthusiastic about Ithaca than ever, thanks to this very pleasant evening in one of my favorite places.

March 10, 2009

Philly Beer Week 2009: Session Beer Project

Beer Week festivities continued last night with a visit to The Tiedhouse in the Franklintown (Fairmount) section. (The Tiedhouse is "tied" to the General Lafayette Inn, a brewpub in Lafayette Hill. Despite the alliance, they also serve beer from other brewers.) I was intrigued by the focus of this tasting: a roundup of “Session Beers.” Our tasting tutor was no less than Lew Bryson, who is the primary proponent—if not originator—of the Session Beer movement. I had been reading Lew Bryson’s blog for a while, and was looking forward to hearing him speak as well.

Not surprisingly, Lew made the case for session beers eloquently. Macro brewers, of course, already produce session beers by the tanker-load in the form of their “lite” offerings, but Lew’s session beers are low-alcohol beers with flavor. To help drive the point home and calibrate our palates, he gave everyone a taste of Miller Genuine Draft Light 64. The MGD64 was barely recognizable as beer, and succeeded in dramatizing the incredible difference in flavor between beers of similar ABV. Lew then turned the floor over to brewer Russ Czajka, who described the brewing process and technical challenges of making low-alcohol beer. We ordered a flight of all seven of the session beers:

As much as I love me some big beer, I have to say I didn’t miss much flavor in any of these diminutive brews. I thought the English Stout wanted for nothing, and I especially liked the Economizer and Brawler.

But enough about beer; I really should mention the food. I was all set to order the cheesesteak spring rolls, but they were out of them, so I settled on the hot turkey sandwich on ciabatta, which was awesome.

March 8, 2009

Philly Beer Week 2009: Opening Tap

I wasn’t planning on writing a separate post about Opening Tap, but after writing up the Craft Beer Festival, I realized that even after sampling 29 beers, there wasn’t one I would single out for special mention. In contrast, the comparatively smaller group of brewers represented at Opening Tap yielded several I thought were memorable.

Whatever Earth Bread + Brewery was serving was quite interesting; the program identified it as Weak Mild IPA. The two smoked beers were fun—Railbender’s Railbender Ale and Yards’ Grodziski Smoked Wheat. The Grodziski was the smokier of the two, although not as smoky as the Rauch Porter we had at Victory last week. That was really Bacon-in-a-Bottle. Anne and I both really liked River Horse’s Double Wit. I was also very impressed by the Highlander Stout from Stewart’s Brewing, kindly brought to my attention by Dave Martorana of Two Guys on Beer. Suffice to say that the selection at Opening Tap was more unusual and interesting than the much-larger selection at the Craft Beer Festival. Plus, we all got Hammered, so to speak. That is all.

March 7, 2009

Philly Craft Beer Festival 2009

We survived Philly Beer Week’s Opening Tap last night at the Comcast Center (and according to a friend, we were “on the news”). It was a lot of fun—Mayor Nutter showed Olympian form tapping the first keg, there were lots of new beers to try, and even though the event was sold out, it wasn’t too crowded.

Today we went to the Philly Craft Beer Festival, our third year attending. This year, the Festival fell within Philly Beer Week, competing with about 40 other events. It’s a great opportunity to try a lot of beers in a short time, and a great party to boot. The band was different this year, Dirk Quinn instead of The Bullets. They mostly covered fusion tunes written before they were born. They were excellent, although I didn’t spend a lot of time listening to them. Another change was the addition of a large tent at one end of the hall. Best of all, the weather was glorious. It was about 70, much warmer than any previous festival, and all the doors were left open.

We fell a little behind last year’s pace and tasted a mere 30 beers (and one hard cider). I was happy that there were lots of new beers (to me, anyway) to try. There are only a couple on this list that I have had before (in order of tasting):


My scorecard, for what it's worth, is here:

March 5, 2009

Philly Beer Week “Plans”

Last year I posted my Philly Beer Week schedule a month ahead of time; this year, only a day ahead. That’s simply a symptom of my state of mind this year. Beer Week has grown so much in just one year (and it was already huge last year), that I am simply overwhelmed. I got tickets to two events in plenty of time, but other than that haven’t planned much of anything. Just for fun, though, I tried listing the events I am interested in even if I don’t get to any of them (which is why I’m calling this list my “plans”). It’s a mix of new places and old favorites and things that sound otherwise interesting. It’s funny how my attitude about money has changed. Last year, I gave a lot of thought to spending $40 for the Craft Beer Festival. This year, that seems like the low end of the price range. So while the sticker shock is gone, I am just not committed to beer enough to go to more than two pricy events. For that reason, virtually all the events I have listed are pay-as-you-go.

Friday, March 6
Opening Tap [Update: SOLD OUT]
Comcast Center
1701 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
7:00 p.m. $40
Even though it will probably be an absolute zoo, I can’t see missing this, what with Mayor Nutter promising to heft a giant hammer to tap the first keg. You just have to be there, even if you can’t see anything. Kind of like Obama’s inauguration.
Saturday, March 7
Philly Craft Beer Festival [SOLD OUT]
Philadelphia Cruise Terminal
12:30 p.m. $45
The only other ticketed event we are attending.
Sunday, March 8
Bell’s Eccentric Jazz Brunch
The Sidecar Bar & Grille
2201 Christian Street
10:30 a.m.
Jazz and beer, two of my favorite things. And I love Bell’s.
Ballast Point Keg v. Firkin
Bridgid’s Bar and Restaurant
726 N 24th Street
4:00 p.m.
I like Ballast Point’s Calico Amber Ale a lot, and I’ve never been to Bridgid’s.
Ballast Point and Hoppy Brewing - Meet The Brewers
TIME - Restaurant, Whiskey Bar & Tap Room
1315 Sansom Street
6:00 p.m.
Another chance to drink Ballast Point.
Monday, March 9
Lancaster Brewing Company
Bridgewater's Pub
30th Street Station
5:00 p.m.
I will try to get to Bridgewater’s Pub at least once this week.
Extreme Homebrewing Event II
Jose Pistola’s
263 S 15th Street
7:00 p.m. $50
I went last year and had a great time, but I just can’t afford it.
Deep Sea Diving with Ballast Point
The Institute
549 N 12th Street
6:00 p.m.
Ballast Point again.
The Session Beer Project
the tiedhouse
2001 Hamilton Street
“Join Lew and General Lafayette brewer Russ Czajka as they explore the world of full-flavored, low-alcohol beers.” I’ve never been to the tiedhouse, which opened last year.
Tuesday, March 10
Hook & Ladder Brewing Company
Bridgewater's Pub
30th Street Station
5:00 p.m.
Bridgewater’s Pub again. Someone from Hook & Ladder was handing out T shirts at Bridgewater’s just two weeks ago. I got me one.
Meet the Brewer: Ithaca Beer Company
Misconduct Tavern
1511 Locust Street
6:00 p.m.
Special affection for Ithaca and have never been to Misconduct
Wednesday, March 11
Actually, I am heading to New York for the “Philly Salon,” a showing of photographs by Philadelphia photographers at Robin Rice Gallery. Do they have beer in New York, too?
Thursday, March 12
Summit Brewing Company
Bridgewater’s Pub
30th Street Station
5:00 p.m.
Colorado Night - Really Taste the Rockies
The Grey Lodge Pub
6235 Frankford Ave
5:00 p.m.
The Grey Lodge is another favorite place that I don’t go to often enough even though it is relatively close to home.
Ithaca Brewing Sponsors “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
1501 E Passyunk Avenue
7:00 p.m.
I’ve never seen “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and I’ve never been to P.O.P.E., but I do like Ithaca’s beer.
Friday, March 13
Friday the Firkinteenth
The Grey Lodge Pub
6235 Frankford Ave
9:00 a.m.
Never been to a Firkinteenth and already missed the first one this year. I don’t know about that 9:00 a.m. time. We got to the Grey Lodge at 10:00 a.m. to watch the inauguration and were the only ones there for at least an hour.
Meet the Brewer: Chris Bauweraerts of La Chouffe
Eulogy Belgian Tavern
136 Chestnut Street
7:00 p.m.
Never been to Eulogy. Seems like a good reason to go.
Saturday, March 14
Uncle Jack's Beer Story Hour
Standard Tap
901 N. Second Street
11:00 a.m.
I love a good story.
River Horse/ Khyber Pub Grub Lowbrow & Local Food Pairing
The Khyber
52 South 2nd Street
2:00 p.m.
Sounds interesting. Promise “lowbrow” food and I’m there.
Sunday, March 15
Hardly. I’ll be in Jim Thorpe, PA, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day where there’s booze aplenty, although I don’t have much. I drink just enough to work up my courage to take pictures of the revelers.


We're going to the craft beer festival-- it's our first time. Maybe we'll see you amidst the throngs of people and beer.

Cool! We'll be at the afternoon session (12:30) and I'll keep an eye out.

oops- I thought we were going to the afternoon session, but we had tickets for the evening session. Sorry- we'll have to meet up some other time!

No problem! Hope you had a great time.