Philly Beer Week 2015: Must Attend Events for Anyone!

Look. I’m no beer expert. I haven’t completed a single day of Cicerone training, I’ve never bar-tended or -backed (only patronized).

They say you never forget your first.... Philly Beer Week

They say you never forget your first…. Philly Beer Week

I’m merely a twenty something lover of all things Philly and all things Beer, and for one week (that boggles the space-time continuum by actually being 10 days!), I get to merge these loves in a manner never explored before I moved.
It’s as if the entire city (and, in some cases, the entire country (of brewers) and some distant, beer brewing pros from around the world) are throwing me a party (that I have to pay for) with all of my friends invited (even if I don’t know they’re my friends yet…) However, with over a thousand events (I don’t even think that’s an exaggeration. I think last year the event number hit over 1k!), it can be tough to parse out which event is best for YOU. Well, forget poring over the extensive Philly Beer Week website. Because I already spent most of last night doing that for you. Instead, sit back, relax, and pore over my (relatively) brief post about the must-attend events this year for every type of beer drinker under the sun!
I’m going to just go ahead and skip the super festive Opening Tap event, mostly because that type of thing isn’t really my bag. A little too much stimulation, too many beer options, and it just gets overwhelming to me. BUT if you wanna start the “week” off with a bang, there’s nowhere else you should be Friday, May 29th than The Armory.
For the Sweaty Beer Runner
Two events come to mind:
  1. The Craft Beer-Venture, 12pm Saturday May 30th – Starting at Varga Bar, this (FREE TO REGISTER) event is a fun-run through the city sponsored by Saucony Creek and Southern Tier Brewing with over 10 bars participating around the city. And loads of prizes. And it’s a Saturday morning.

    Basically: Does anyone wanna do this with me?

  2. Southern Tier Bridge 5k, 6:30pm, Monday, June 1st – Starting in Old City’s own Irish Pol, this event features a 5k across the Ben Franklin Bridge followed by some pretty incredible offerings from Southern Tier. Run 5k > get discounts on beer. Everyone is happy.
  3. Detox / Retox at City Tap House Logan 10:30 am-1pm, Saturday May 30th. $20 for a yoga class AND your first beer afterwards. Nama….stay all day after?

For the Dudes and Dames who Dig Drag

  1. BBQ – Brews, Broads, and Queens, 9pm May 30th
    The Goddess Isis does NOT want you to miss BBQ!

    The Goddess Isis does NOT want you to miss BBQ!

    Smokin’ Betty’s brings one of the ABSOLUTE COOLEST events of the entire year. Ladies in the brewing community, their awesome beers, and the drag queens that really tie the whole experience together. Suggested $10 donation at the door!

  2. German Beer Sparkle Party and Drag Cabaret at Alla Spina, June 2nd, 8pm. Hosted by Martha Graham Cracker, this is guaranteed to be a dazzling evening full of German brews, food specials, and Miss Martha Graham Cracker rocking the mic. $15 in advance, $20 at the door – Get LGBT Pride Month started right!
  3. (Yup there are 3 drag events to choose from) Leading Ladies Drag Night with Left Hand Brewing at Tap Room on 19th, Thursday June 4th, 7pm Their Left Hand rep Ryan Vaughan will be in full drag, as the staff of Tap Room! So pull up a seat, and get ready for a show!

For the Hungry Hop Hunter

  1. Pigs in Space at Percy Street BBQ, June 4th, 5pm-10pm. Y’all. Smoky pork treats (pulled pork, sausage, pig fritters. Oskar Blues brews. Theme attire suggested (i.e. get INTERGALACTIC with your accoutrements).
    A mechanical bull PIG to ride!
    Pigs in Space. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited.  Is that weird?
  2. Dogfish Head and Wells & Young at Local 44, June 1st, noon. I know, this is a Monday event at noon, so it might be hard to pull off. BUT think about this: The opportunity to bump elbows with Jim Robertson (Wells) AND Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head).
    Just show your boss this picture. I think (s)he'll get it.

    Just show your boss this picture. I think (s)he’ll get it.

    More Most importantly, enjoy Twice Fried Chicken from the folks at Resurrection Ale House. It’s worth the long lunch alone.

  3. First Friday Beer & Ice Cream at Little Baby’s! 6pm, Friday June 5th – Try the collaboration Pepper Lavender Ice Cream paired with Liason Saison from Saint Benjamin Brewing, this event is a great excuse to scoot up to Kensington/Port Richmond. Stop by Pizza Brain while you’re up there. Because what goes better with beer (and ice cream) than pizza (and more beer? Yep.)

For the Ladies 

  • Sadie Hawkins Dance with Allagash & New Holland at Varga Bar 10pm, June 2nd – Invite your favorite fellow or lady out for a night on the town and take your Tuesday night to the next level by taking advantage of the swanky suggested attire. PLUS Dr. Joel from New Holland and Suzy from Allagash will keep you dancing all night long. You might even nab a corsage (and then take a picture of it in the bathroom. That’s a cool thing to do.)

    Way better than high school prom

    Way better than high school prom

 For the Gents
  1.  The 5 O’clock Shave with Kimpton Hotels, 2-5pm May 31. Hit up this boutique hotel for $20 straight razor shaves from The Duke Barber Co. and exclusive brews from Barren Hill Brewery and tasty bites from Square 1682. Or if that’s not your style….
  2. Beers & Beards: The Great British Beard-off at The Dandelion 4pm, June 2nd. Because Wells and Young + Philly Beard Society Beard Contest = Joyful Jordy. Happy Hour pricing and prizes for the best bearded bros.

Get Cultured

  1. Future Sensations and Beer Garden at The Oval – All week. I bet this lighting exhibit will be EVEN cooler with a few beers in your belly.
    Just saying.
  2. A Rabbi, a Priest and a Minister walk in to a bar again and again. Fergie’s Pub 4pm, Sunday May 31. Check out three men of faith who run beer clubs through their churches and use beer to reach their congregations. Special guest God!

This is just a smattering of the ZILLIONS of options for #PBW2015, and if you’re curious the other top events I’d recommend visiting, I’ve made this outrageously optimistic, physically-impossible-to-visit-all spreadsheet of Philly Beer Week Top Events.

So feel free to check it out, let me know if you’d like to join in any of the fun, and… if you’ve got a good beard and need a cheerleader on June 2nd, you lemme know.

See you Monday, June 8th. I'll be the one sleeping the day away.

See you Monday, June 8th. I’ll be the one sleeping the day away.

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Spring Fling with Bing Bing (Dim Sum)

If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Unfortunately, I think Philadelphia has a case of the opposite. We, as a city of foodie folks, expect the very best from our chefs. The new ones. The veterans. The young ones. The oldies (but goodies). And then, if they don’t deliver to every single expectation…. Philly people get ticked. I feel like there’s a general air of disappointment that surrounds eaters in this city when they enter a restaurant that’s been hyped up.

Like those overly aggressive dudes that go into every bar, party, or pub ready for a fight, they, too, are looking for someone (or something) with whom they can take issue. I say this because I finally had a chance to mosey down to Bing Bing Dim Sum, East Passyunk’s new contemporary dim sum spot opened by the fellows that brought you Cheu Noodle Bar. Everyone that I’ve talked to has given this place the typical “Oh yes, it was decent BUT __________.” I’m here to tell you it was delicious.

Pac Man Bun: scrapple, quail egg, and pickles

Pac Man Bun: scrapple, quail egg, and pickles

Admittedly, my last dim sum experience was what I like to call my “brush with death” at Joy Tsin Lau, a mere few days before one of Philly’s biggest food poisoning outbreaks. So maybe all there was to go was up…. but I think it’s more than that. I think it’s perfectly cooked quail eggs and savory scrapple. I think it’s an outdoor seating and happy hour that, though newly launched, brought joy to my tastebuds (and wallet).

$5 bites, $3-5 bevvies

Cumin lamb rolls ON FLEEK. Truly, these were ethereal. Crunchy and filled with a tangy, stringy lamb. Oh, yes.

Sure, it’s not “bargain dim sum”. But I don’t think you’d want it to be. You pay a bit of a premium for something new, something different. And with dumplings like these, you get what you pay for:

Jade dumplings full of shrimp and leeks

Jade dumplings full of shrimp and leeks

My pal from grad school was in town and, though I love her, it’s hard to admit…. she’s gluten free. Yup, one of my best friends…. she can’t enjoy a normal beer, pizza, or bagel with me.

The struggle’s never been more real.

Luckily, Bing Bing gets it. Beyond our Pac-man Buns, scallion pancakes, and the lamb rolls, we enjoyed a variety of gluten free options that tasted anything but.

Green beans with fermented garlic and crunchy fried quinoa

Green beans with fermented garlic and crunchy fried quinoa

Fried cauliflower with shrimp salt, lemon, and scallion

Fried cauliflower with shrimp salt, lemon, and scallion

The vegetables, our first two dishes of the night, were filling and delicious enough to make an affordable, tasty meal for one. But dim sum is all about MORE.

Scallion pancakes with black bean hummus

Scallion pancakes with black bean hummus

Un-pictured: a delightful set of (gluten free) ruby red beet dumplings full of tofu and crispy garlic, and a bowl of (also gluten free) ginger scallion rice, chicken, furikake, long hots, and a pickled egg that had me playing the fun game where you see if you can pluck single grains of rice using your chopsticks.

If your food tastes that good, you’ll find a whole new set of skills.

Rice noodle rolls with garlic sausage, peanuts, and herbs

Rice noodle rolls with garlic sausage, peanuts, and herbs

These rice noodle rolls came out last, after I thought I couldn’t fit any more food in my belly. I was (luckily) mistaken. This nutty sauce, complimented by the hot chili oil Bing Bing has on each table, were full of garlicky sausage that both sated any leftover appetite, and guaranteed I wouldn’t be smooching any vampires that night. Not that I’m into that kinda thing #teamJacob.

Sure, we went during Happy Hour so the prices on some of the items were a little cheaper. But between the four of us, each getting at least one (DELICIOUS) alcoholic beverage, we came out paying $100 before tip. I’m more than cool with that. Throw in a wacky, dumpling themed decor (they’re everywhere. Even in the bathrooms) and you’re in for a unique night, to say the least. And while I rarely encourage anyone to follow the advice of Sylvia Plath (for assorted reasons), I think she’d make a hell of a food critic.

Free Fitness in Philly All Summer Long

Philly is really blossoming lately, isn’t it? And I’m not just talking about the revolting trees that make me feel ill when I get a whiff of them. Nope, Philly has become a social butterfly’s dream, from street festivals to beer gardens to outdoor parties and al fresco dining, it’s clear that we’re all out of our cocoons.

Unfortunately, if I simply enjoyed every single one of these events willy-nilly, I could end up like a chubby butterfly who can’t get too far on her wings. Like our dear friend Heimlich, the star of A Bug’s Life.

Not getting too far on those wings, Heimlich.

Not getting too far on those wings, Heimlich.

Luckily, I’ve been squirreling away some information and compiling it into a list that’s perfect for anyone. ESPECIALLY:

  1. Folks who wanna save their hard earned dollars to spend on those super fun summer parties.
  2. Folks who wanna fit into their sexy summer swimsuits down the shore (or even just at North Shore).

I’ve been working on a Free Summer Fitness in Philly spreadsheet (that is definitely a work-in-progress) listing all the recurring summer workouts that you can join in for free (or, for a low, low, “pay what you can” cost) that hopefully can help all of you stay fit AND ball on a budget in your bitty bikini!!

Sure it’s a little run and yoga heavy…. but don’t we all wanna get sweaty and stretchy in the summer?

Weekday options are plentiful:

Click image for hyperlinked version

Click image for hyperlinked version

And, on the weekends, when you’re not playing dramatic games of beach volleyball in cut-off jorts and dog tags, you can check out a few of these:

Happily welcoming any more suggestions

Happily welcoming any more suggestions

Also, if you’d like to hit up a few workouts in the meantime, I’ve assembled a little pu pu platter of free introductory classes or trials at local gyms to investigate (I’m pretty sure most of them come with air conditioning, a bonus.)

Free Class and Trial Memberships

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 10.36.31 AM

That sauna at Weston is so clutch.

I invite y’all to share this list with your friends and family that’s trying to stay fit this summer, and welcome input from anyone that knows of run clubs, bootcamps, free intro classes, or anything of that nature. I’ll update the post if I hear anything from you. So, ya know, if you’d like to shoot me a suggestion or invite me to join your sweaty beach volleyball team, hit me up in the comments or Twitter!

See you on the sand, SUCKAS!

Every Iceman needs his Elsa, right?

Every Iceman needs his Elsa, right?

Philadelphia: City of (M)otherly Love

A fondness for Philadelphia runs in my family. I’ve been lucky enough to have my brother move in across the city and my parents are frequenters, though they maintain suburban roots. I must say, though, no one has embraced this incredible city I’m lucky enough to live in quite as much as my mother.

Our first Diner en Blanc!

Our first Diner en Blanc!

She spent much of her life living within spitting distance of the city, but since my move, she’s been itching to try anything and everything that makes it all so very PHILADELPHIA. And, in case your mom is the same, here are a few of my favorite “Mom Friendly Finds” for the City of BMotherly Love.

  1. Bird’s Eye View at XIX at the Bellevue 

    Find a time, ideally during the day (whether it’s Sunday brunch or lunch any other day, or teatime), get on OpenTable (still reservations for Mother’s Day!!), and grab a reservation for 2 (or 3, or 6. TRIO OF MOM/DAUGHTERS [or sons!]), and request a table by the windows at XIX. And prepare for one of the most picturesque meals of your life.

    Photo yanked from DrinkPhilly

    Photo yanked from DrinkPhilly

    It’s quality food on a very reasonable budget, and the ambiance just kills it. If you grab lunch or tea, splurge and get a glass (or bottle) of bubbly. Your mom is worth it. And so are you.

  2. Na-MOMs-DAY! (Yoga. IN case that wasn’t clear)
    Ok, that was sort of supposed to be Namaste. Whatever.
    Did you know that, during the summer, you can do yoga EVERY SINGLE DAY, overlooking a body of water, for free?!
    Race Street Pier – Morning and Evening M-Thurs, and mornings Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!
    Schuylkill River Banks – Tuesdays at 7am and 6:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am-12pm

    Photo courtesy of Yoga on the Banks Facebook!

    Photo courtesy of Yoga on the Banks Facebook!

    What mom wouldn’t wanna see you resume your former role as a “Happy Baby” overlooking the Delaware or the Schuylkill? Chase it with a

  3. All the World’s a Stage 

    When I was younger, my mom absolutely loved checking me out in some of my theatrical performances (started as Sneezy from Snow White, then peaked playing Ms. Goose, a psychiatrist for the characters of Grimm Fairy Tales who have gone crazy). While my days on the stage are over, our appreciation of the arts continues.

    Photo snagged from Theatre Exile's Facebook!

    Photo snagged from Theatre Exile’s Facebook!

    We checked out Theatre Exile’s performance of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and it, frankly, blew my mind. I laughed, I was deeply uncomfortable and, bonus, mom and I scored a drink upstairs at the in-house bar during intermission. Win-win-win. But if that kinda thing isn’t your bag, you could check out the Kimmel Center’s programming (dancing! singers! Broadway!) or the Society Hill Playhouse, great location for dinner after the show.

  4. Festivals for the Restival(l of us!) 

    What better way to show your mom a real taste of Philadelphia than to literally let her taste bites and sips of Philadelphia?! While she’s at it, she can scope out retail tents, local artists, and music, all in one place surrounded by the real “salt of the earth” Philadelphians that live and breathe this city daily?!Outdoor festivals, IMHO, are one of the coolest ways to explore the city surrounded by tens of thousands of your closest (potential) friends. They’re also happening ALL summer long!! And while I’ve already spoken about how to survive them, I’ll go ahead and say that I invited my mom to venture out this past weekend to the South Street Spring and Rittenhouse Row Festivals this past weekend, and she had a blast.

    And who knows, after eating and drinking your way through the crowds, you might end up getting matching piercings at South Street’s very own Warrior Piercing.

    Because the mommy daughter duo that pierces together.... is... awesome together?

    Because the mommy daughter duo that pierces together…. is… awesome together?

    Philly REALLY is a city ripe with opportunities to bond with any family member, whether it’s over food, drinks, performances, fitness, or simply shopping your way down Walnut Street. And, if you’re lucky, your mom can be the ultimate plus one/buddy/guest whatever you end up doing.

Wishing your mom, and really ALL moms, caregivers, and ladies out there, an incredibly Happy Mother’s Day full of all the best things.

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What’s your favorite “Mom-Friendly” activity to enjoy with your mama?

My mom proved she can handle just about anything, so I think my next goal is getting her out to Bob and Barbara’s for their Drag Show.

Dream big, right?