Food & Fun & Drink | 30 July 2012

PBW 2012: A Beer Odyssey

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Photo from the Grey Lodge, courtesy of Love Brewing Company

Have Beth and I mentioned that we love beer? I forget. Well rest assured; we love beer.

When we first started hanging out, Beth was already well into her beer snobbishness. Sadly, I had not yet seen the light and was singing that tired refrain of the old Dennis Leary bit about Cranberry Nut Crunch beer and how stupid new and exciting things are. My gateway drug was Blue Moon, which begat Hoegaarden, which begat Tröegs Dreamweaver, and before I knew it I was turning down Miller Lite and all of its “triple hops brewed” nonsense (one of our favorite Doogie Horner bits). Then I saw Beer Wars and became either a) an avid supporter of local, independent brewers, or b) a sanctimonious ass about beer, depending on your outlook.

Now Beth and I live in a lovely, malty, carbonated bubbly world of barley and hops, and we are definitely in the right city for it! We live right down the street from Philadelphia Brewing Company, and we practically stalk Tom Kehoe at Yards Brewery (Hi Tom! Hi!). And those of you who are regular readers of BBDB have read about our homemade GingerBury Ale Nuptial Beer.

So when June rolls around every year, we become giddy schoolgirls over Philly Beer Week, the annual celebration of all that is right and good in the world. Now that the smoke has settled, we’d like to share some of our highlights from a wonderful week of beering.

June 1st (Opening Day)

We traditionally start off PBW at Memphis Taproom, one of our favorite places since we moved to the Fishtown area four years ago. Every year for PBW they host No-Repeat Beer Week, where they power through almost 100 beers until they are tapped. And the pickin’s are glorious:

During our first Beer Week stop we enjoyed the Firestone Walker DBA and the
Bøgedal No. 130, not to mention some delicious cheese and fried green tomatoes. If you have not been to the Taproom yet, then it is something you must do. For serious folks.

Then it was off to The Boiler Maker, a new spot for us that didn’t disappoint. As its name suggests, the bar does inventive shot and beer pairings, and on this night featured additional hot dog pairings and all Pennsylvania taps! While we love beers from all over the country and the world, its the local brewery events that make PBW special for us. Beth’s not usually a shot gal (those who know her best can explain why) but she was really feeling the Neshaminy Creek Mudbank Milk Stout paired with Eagle Rare Bourbon and the Gamble Mill Duncan’s Oatmeal Stout paired with Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka.

I went with a dog pairing, the Sly Fox Hefewizen Doppelbock and dog w/egg yolk, pork belly & hops mustard. Hits the spot.

We capped off the night with our partners in beer crime Randy and Andrea at legendary Monk’s Cafe (Go there and eat mussels. NOW.) where we enjoyed the Sierra Nevada Wood-Aged Hellraiser: Knock On Wood and especially the Iron Hill Brewery/Brasserie Dupont Special Collaboration: Dupont Speciale Belge. This special PBW 2012 creation was delicious and is still floating around the city; check it out while supplies last.


June 2nd

It may be cramped and too close for comfort when it’s packed, but Eulogy‘s Belgian beer selection is well worth the lack of elbow room (for a couple beers, at least). We stopped in for a tap takeover by Ommegang, one of our favorite breweries (where we visited for our mini-Honeymoon this past December). We were able to sample some of their rarer beers like the Aphrodite and Gnomegang, as well as the always welcome Three Philosophers, a classy beverage for only the classiest of us all:

Free swag!

This somewhat blurry night ended at the Irish Pol, where the 30 different taps all pour out something inviting and the jukebox offers a full night’s worth of classics. They had one of my faves – Oskar Blues Old Chub Scotch Ale – and Beth fell in love with the Dark Horse Plead the 5th Imperial Stout. Then we woke up the next day.

June 6th

It was a busy week for us, so unfortunately we weren’t able to get out much during the week (fortunately for our wallets), but when we did it was well worth it. The City Tap House patrons made us feel pretty old and the crowd seemed to consist of a lot more light beer pounders than beer enthusiasts, but you couldn’t tell from the incredible Sixpoint Brewery Tap Takeover. Their selections were all over the map, including a lot of experimental brews:

The Signal Smoked IPA was a thing of beauty. Kudos!

June 7th

After working sound for a theatre rehearsal, we stopped into The Bards for a quick bite and brew. I saw Beth’s eyes bug out at something behind me as she excalimed, “Is that Norm MacDonald?” And good god it was. A legend was in our midst!

We didn’t want to gawk or cause a big scene as it seemed like he was enjoying some post-show down time, so we simply asked our waitress to offer him his next drink on “some really big fans.” We were doubly thrilled to find out that we had bought him a Yards Brawler! You’re welcome Norm, and thanks for the comedy.

June 9

And the best is saved for last. While we had a blast all day and all night on the last Saturday of PBW, the best event of the day, and the entire week, was Memphis Taproom‘s Home Brew Beer Fest (An All-You-Can-Eat Hot Dog Extravaganza). For four glorious hours, we were treated to some of the finest home brews in the city as well as the Taproom’s signature hot dog creations at their beer garden. There seriously wasn’t a single stinker in the entire lot of brews:

Standouts included Tim Patton’s Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. Transcontinental, Ryan Hudak’s Gnarly Beard Brewing Canadian Bacon Smoked IPA, Ryan Ritter’s Love Bite English Ruby Mild, and Bombshell Brewing Company‘s Liaison Lavender Saison.

Beth and I are both excited to see these home brewers thriving in our fair city and expanding to open their own breweries. We’ve been following Tim Patton’s story for a while now, and since his recent zoning hearing went so well, he’s well on his way to beer greatness! We are seriously siked to be able to walk into Saint Benjamin’s and buy some Transcontinental. If you will it, it is no dream.

While we no doubt love drinking beer, we’re also naturally obsessed with beer design. Observing beer branding and packaging both old and new, we long to work with some local brewers in realizing their vision. So by all means, if you are a brewer looking for branding or web design, let us know. We may even work for beer!

Stay tuned for part two of this little beer series: Love of the Label.

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