A Dogfish Head Holiday

Here’s a fun fact: despite eating, drinking, and breathing Philadelphia, I was actually born in Delaware. The “Small Wonder” is known for a few things (other than where I came into this world):

Now, I’m a big Dogfish Head fan. Founder (and James Beard Award-Winning) Sam Calagione is pretty much a rockstar in the craft beer world, and I get a little giddy on those lucky occasions I get to rub elbows with him.

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Philly Beer Week: Bringing Beer Buddies Together!

But last summer I had the chance to do something I’d actually never done before: Visit and explore the home of Dogfish Head AND stay in the historic Dogfish Inn.

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Just over two hours from Philadelphia is the coastal Delaware town, Lewes, that’s home to the Dogfish Inn. The Inn is about 11 miles from the brewery in Milton  and 6 miles from the Brewpub. Perfectly nestled for an epic beer-themed weekend getaway!

Our room was ADORABLE, with a large bed and a cozy little desk area (everything is available to purchase, but the growler was complimentary, perfect for taking on a brewery tour and filling up with the good stuff!)

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Beach chairs for the nearby sandy shores, and a tote bag I still covet

While the thin walls of this charming spot made for some semi-sleepless nights, the kitsch and vibes were so stellar, it was easy to forget. BONUS: Who needs sleep when you can mainline Chicory Stout Coffee in the little lobby-visitor center?

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While we planned our own little tour of the area, and drove ourselves from place to place (don’t worry, we waited until we got back to our room before we enjoyed our growler’s contents), you could always let the DFH team plan your weekend for you, with some pretty epic Packages (from brewery tours & swag to a honeymoon getaway!)

Other bonuses?

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Access to the elite fleet of Dogfish Head’s beach cruisers AND a wonderful little fire pit that fills up with like-minded, beer-loving guests at night!

Now, to answer a few questions I’ve had since my stay:

  • The rooms can range from $209-$349, or potentially more during the weekends. I was lucky enough to WIN a two-night stay during the off-season (mid-September) but it could definitely be a splurge for some.
  • There’s ZERO beer sold on-site. Luckily, there are restaurants and shops nearby so you can stock up on all your DFH beer needs!
  • Yes, there’s beer soap in the showers. Yes, it’s amazing. Yup, I took the remainder of the soap block home with me.

Next time you’re thinking of a beachy weekend (or playing hooky, lots more availability during the weekdays), and wanna soak up some brews and seaside views, consider the Dogfish Head Inn. And then head over to Milton to stock up on all the beers, spirits, and swag you can get your hands on!

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Beer-loving Babes!

Cheers to vacations fueled by beers!

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Philly Beer Week 2017 – 10 Events You Can’t Miss!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Philly Beer Week – There’s nothing quite like it. And, with ten days (or less, who knows when you’re reading this) until Opening Tap, the city’s beer bars, reps, and drinkers alike are gearing up for Christmas in June.

2017 marks the 10th Year of this 10 Day Beer Bonanza (“week” is a relative term, right?) and I’m pretty sure that folks are pulling out all the stops to make it the most memorable year to-date. As I did before in 2015 (missed most of last year due to a poorly timed Whole 30), I spent an unreasonable amount of time poring over the lineup of events. I recognize that not all the events are released yet, but I think enough are out that I’ve crafted a pretty dynamite list.

I wouldn’t recommend attending all 10 of them. But, if you do, best of luck to you and your liver.

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May the odds be ever in your favor…

  1. For the person who takes Thursday off… The Hammer of Glory Relay – June 1st, ALL DAY
    For $10, you can hop a seat on a double decker bus and follow the iconic HoG (Hammer of Glory) throughout the city, watching as it passes from spot to spot using themed vehicles, roller derby gals, weird man-powered machines, and ridiculous costumes. Most of the stops, coincidentally, are bars, so if day-drinking is your thing, you can’t start the “week” off any better.
  2. For the one that likes to run for fun… Red Owl Tavern / Founders Brewing Almost 3k – June 3rd, 10am18527242_1358343947548692_3634553842382043062_o.jpg

    Y’all. 3k… that’s not even 2 miles, so no excuses. $30 gets you your first beer, your last beer, a glass, and a t-shirt. PLUS FITNESS! The run is around Independence Mall, and you’ll be hanging before (and hopefully after) at Red Owl Tavern sipping on tasty Founders brews. The ideal way to start your PBW Weekend!

  3. For the one who loves Sunday Funday… Poppin’ Wheelies and Doing the Hula June 4th, 12pm-7pm 

    Two parter – Part 1 – Noon, get some hair of the dog whilst at Drury Beer Garden for some epic Big Wheel Races in the back. Or just laugh and laugh while sipping Evil Genius offerings.
    51PQ9835YGL.jpgPart 2 – 3pm Head just a few feet over to Tiki for an all-male hula contest. Just try to keep your 2SP beers down as these hairy, bearded brutes shake their groove things…

  4. For the nerds who love brews and views… Raven Society Rooftop Biergarten with Sam from Dogfish Head, June 6th, 6-9pmScreen Shot 2017-05-23 at 2.25.05 PM.png

    The Dogfish Head will be flowing, Sam Calagione (founder and owner of Dogfish Head and recent James Beard Award recipient) will be speaking, and the sun will be setting. This will likely be one of the most Instagrammable events… Just saying.

  5. For the one who never wakes up early enough for brunch… Breakfast for Dinner with Rob from Allagash – Jose Pistola’s, 9pm-midnight 

    If you’re like me, you might prefer your eggs served alongside kegs. And if you’re NOT like me, you’re not really a morning person. Head over to Jose Pistola’s to have your (pan)cake and drink beer, too.

  6. For the karaoke all-star… LIVE-Band Karaoke at Johnny Brenda’s with Yards! June 8th, 8:30pm
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    Yeah, I’m sure you’ve done karaoke. But have you ever done karaoke with a live full band?! Let the Yards brews give you the liquid courage you need.
  7. For the Mrs. Doubtfire fan… Left Hand Brewing’s PBW Drag Show Taproom on 19th, June 8th – 8-11pm
    Taproom on 19th is known for their burgers and beer year-round, so you can be sure that the draft list is going to be incredible when they’re highlighting Left Hand Brewing. But, let’s be honest, you’re not just coming for the drinks.18274940_1368095863272820_3503969321176695260_n.jpg
  8. For the one that still can’t stop singing “I’m on a Boat“… Beers & Boats at Bartram’s Garden June 8th, 4-8pm
    This is always a crowd pleaser AND has been known to sell-out, so get your tickets fast! $15 gets you a 30-minute kayak rental & your first beer. PLUS, on the Schuylkill, you can sing as loudly as you want (important if you’ve already indulged in a beer or two…) Don’t worry, lifejackets are mandatory!
  9. For the Picasso of Pilsners, or the Kahlo of Kolsch… PBW: The Art of Beer at Frankford Hall, June 6th, 7-9pm
    A picture’s worth a thousand words, but that art on bottles and cans… that’s priceless. This event is a panel discussion on beer label design featuring the artists behind Tröegs Independent Brewing Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company, Hill Farmstead Brewery, MikkellerForest & Main Brewing Company and Highway Manor Brewing! Edutainment at it’s finest.
  10. For the grand finale… Tailgate Olympics at Devil’s Den, June 10th, 12pm-6pm
    No better way to kick off the last weekend of PBW 2017 than with games galore. Giant Beer Pong, Washers, Huge Jenga, & Cornhole to name a few… Bring out your inner jock and soak up the Saturday sunshine with your friends from Free Will, Yards, Evil Genius, 2SP, and Weyerbacher!

There are TONS of events this year, really with something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie, in it for the games (keep your eyes out for the goldfish and turtle races), a sweet-tooth, or looking for super rare brews… You’ll have a harder time not having fun during the first 10 days of June than you will finding a beer-focused way to spend your days!

Philly’s #NOSHHH: Snapchat Style

(TLDR; Play along with this silly #NOSHHH Philly Snap Story)

Look, I’ve sung the praises of Snapchat before, and I’ll sing them again and again. But there’s perhaps no circumstance more awesome for this incredible, mostly evanescent social media app than a night out exploring something that most of your friends may not know or have access to.

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Like a sexy party featuring bites and sips !

I’m talking Snap Stories, and, this weekend, I was talking #NOSHHH. According to the fine folks that put this bad boy together (Home Brewed Events and Spirit Forward):

Noshhh is a collaboration project between Home Brewed Events and Spirit Froward to help promote Philadelphia’s local handcrafted industry.

What better way to do so than with a killer speakeasy-themed party featuring local vendors doling out everything from (The) Bacon Jam(s) to beer from Saint Benjamin, spicy Cheng’s Chicken from Wokworks to coffee and desserts from United by Blue. I toted along my buddy, Samaya, and we had a wild ride eating and drinking everything we could to some killer tuneskies from .

LUCKILY, I saved this little story which you can watch HERE.

If you refuse to watch that INCREDIBLE YOUTUBE VIDEO, first of all, you’re missing out.

Second of all, you might miss the prep for us eating our way through all these sauces…

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Rock the Roll Sauces are INCREDIBLE, especially the Ginger Sesame Barbecue sauce. I’d never imagine I would wanna put BBQ sauce on fish… and yet here I am, wishing for some salmon for all that sauce.

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Major props to Two Brother Hummus for getting me hype enough about chickpeas to make a hummus pun (SEE VIDEO FOR PROOF). Also, for making buffalo chicken hummus that belongs on every respectable crudite platter in the country.

Don’t worry. I drank some things, too. You’ll have to see the video for the craziest one (Spoiler Alert: three words – cookie shot glasses). BUT, as a self-proclaimed brown liquor abstainer, I was terribly pleased with the offerings from New Liberty Distilling. A Pennsylvania Whiskey had both my date (who’s spent her fair share of time in Kentucky) and my self boggled… until we tasted it.

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Whiskey and Punch. Delightful combo…

I’m not saying I’m gonna run off to grab bottles off the shelf at the liquor store (at least not right away). But Kinsey’s given me hope to hang with the badasses putting away whiskey like it’s water (ya know, as long as mine’s diluted with a lot of water. Or punch.)

I could yammer on about #NOSHHH until the cows come home. But really, just watch the video. And maybe, one day, when I decide to not be a cheapskate, I’ll post videos like this on the actual blog!

HUGE thanks to Home Brewed Events and Spirit Forward for the invite, keeping my eyes on what y’all have coming up next (spoiler alert: Coffee and Beer after hour event next week….)

MBFW: A British Bach Bash

My Best Friend’s Wedding” – The 1997 hit featuring a young Julia Roberts pining for Cameron D’s man just moments before their wedding.

My best friend’s wedding (MBFW): the upcoming 2016 production wedding featuring my boon companion Claire and her fiancé, Theo, a strapping young Brit who’s taken a shining to my favorite Brooklyn babe.

Where we last left off, these lovebirds were celebrating their future wedding with tarts and Pimm’s Cups at a Rustic Engagement Party. It was a classy affair.

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The Bachelorette Party…. decidedly less so.

Ok, I kid, I kid. If you know Claire, you’ll know that she strictly forbade any of the typical debauchery of a Bachelorette Bash. No sexy police officers or firemen went Magic Mike on us. There were no phallic tiaras or necklaces. The only sign of the corruption of Claire was this artfully done wall courtesy of this garland kit from Paper Source. Maybe there were some questionably appropriate straws, but don’t worry, they didn’t leave the confines of our quaint Asheville Airbnb.

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From all along the East coast (ok, let’s be honest, Jersey, NYC, and rogues from Philly and Richmond), 8 of Claire’s nearest and dearest (and one gorgeous puppy) gathered in Beer City, USA. We made sure that, immediately after arriving, we enjoyed a few of the city’s signature cocktails (spoiler alert: it’s BEER!)

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Don’t worry, she shared.

And after visiting Burial Beer Co. (where we appreciated their INCREDIBLE Bolo Coconut Brown and their gorgeous Tom Selleck painting), we figured “Hey, let’s keep this party going.”

Luckily, Twin Leaf was merely a stone’s throw away (seriously, I could probably throw a stone from the one and hit the other. I LOVE ASHEVILLE SO MUCH!) We enjoyed some spirited competition….

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Laser-like focus

And some competitive spirits (ok, you got me, it was beer again).

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Flights at Twin Leaf: A MUST!

We also hit up Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium. Unfortunately for y’all, my camera could not capture the glory of this house of sours, this barrel-aged paradise…. Or maybe I was too busy sipping the nectar of these brewing gods to whip it out. Either way: it was amazing.

Thoroughly versed in the fermented brews of the town, we scampered (Uber’d*) home for some homemade tacos and gal time.

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Fueling up while cooking

I’m gonna shoot you straight: after a day of travel and brewery hopping, I’ll be the first to admit: I was asleep before 10pm.

No shame in my well-rested game. 

Plus, we had a big day ahead of us. Trombatore Trail and the Blue Ridges beckoned, and we could only heed the call. So, we suited up.

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Holly channeling her inner Damian a la Mean Girls

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SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE

As a non-hiker (I walk to the bus stop like, every day. Sometimes I walk to get a hot dog when I’m on the beach. That’s nature, right?) This 5-mile round trip hike… was tough.

But I’ll do almost anything for a good photo op, right?

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Sorry, Ashleigh. Blame the crummy log/tripod

There was a light at the end of the tunnel, though. And that light…. was more tacos.

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Bangkok Shrimp and Crispy Fish

White Duck Taco Shop: MUST visit on any Asheville jaunt.

We bopped for a bit, napped, showered, and dolled up. Because we had rezzis at Rhubarb.

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Angel or bride-to-be? 

Our resident videographer, Marianne, nabbed a shot of the blushing bachelorette before we ate our faces off.

There was goat cheese burrata, there were lobster corn dogs and rabbit rillette, and there were, of course, drinks.

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As for where the night went from there…. well, we’ve all gotta maintain some mystery around these female bonding traditions. Right?

See you at the wedding, ladies. Thanks for the memories. And the tacos.

 

 

Ghost Bottles with Garrett Oliver

The ever-wise UrbanDictionary defines fangirl as such:

A rabid breed of human female who is obesessed with either a fictional character or an actor. Similar to the breed of fanboy.

I don’t consider myself a fangirl too often. There was that one time with Jason Segel, but he and I both agreed not to dwell on that too much. However, when the opportunity presents itself to geek out over incredible beer with one of the humans that defines the craft beer industry (he, quite literally, wrote the book on the stuff. And then wrote the other book on beer [and food, COME ON!]), I can’t help myself.

I go a little gaga.

Well, guess what I did on Monday?

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You’re damn right I did.

You might remember me obsessively following Brooklyn Brewery’s events during their annual Philly Mash this summer. But Monday was something especially special.

The entire evening at City Tap House Logan featured a full-fledged Brooklyn Brewery tap attack. They had slews of those rare Ghost Bottles RIPE for the drinking. Proceeds from the sales of these bottles went to Philabundance. (This made me feel especially charitable when, between the roomie and myself, we sipped every single one.)

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I’d love to describe the beers to you, but I’m not cruel. See, chances are, unless you’re stalking all of Brooklyn’s events or a close personal buddy with one of the brewers, you may never see these bottles in your life.

I will say: they were fantastic, complex, and I can’t believe my tongue was #soblessed to taste them.

Then there was a panel of beer bros discussing the industry:

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Sorry for this shot, Curt. But doesn’t Garrett look SO CUTE?!

They talked shop. Highlights of this included:

  • Garrett Oliver comparing the beer industry to a) The Cage/Travolta classic, “Face/Off” AND b) Dick Cheney [had to do with him shooting you in the face, but being honest about it… You get it, right?]
  • Lew Bryson reflecting on how folks that exclusively drink “craft beer” putting back major brands’ spirits without giving it a second thought.
  • Garrett explaining how, when he hears someone mention “I’m thinking about starting my own brewery,” his first thought tends to be, “Of course you are.” I feel that.
  • How many brewers approach the industry for the love of money (there was a moment where it sounded like they were discussing an episode of ANTM).

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    We get it

  • Craft beer in the US: Sours make up like, 1/3 of 1% of sales, but about 80+% of talk.

There was a Q&A session during which I, giddily, asked Garrett Oliver what he would pair with the Philly classic, the Roast Pork Sandwich.

His answer was their Galahad (Local 1 aged on cider lees in bourbon barrels). I was drinking that beer at this exact moment. FATE! So we took a photo together.

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Garrett, myself, and Miles Moser, local Brooklyn rep AND fellow Tar Heel

I’m not saying that my heart was racing the entire night…. but I will say, it was tough to go to sleep following all the excitement.

Garrett, you beautiful brewer, you eloquent author, you magical man…. thanks for coming out. I’ll see you in Brooklyn soon, I hope. You bring the ghost bottles, I’ll bring the unending buckets of enthusiasm.

Shake Shack Shake Up: Beer AND Chicken!

I first learned about Shake Shack several years ago, while I was still in North Carolina, when my buddy dated some sort of manager or something. I don’t really remember his exact role, and I refuse to check LinkedIn for that kind of thing, but it was a very gentle introduction to the concept of what was already a staple in New York for nearly a decade.

Coincidentally, about 3 years ago, Shake Shack must’ve heard I was moving north, because they decided to open up their first Philadelphia location just about a month before I became a permanent resident of this fair city. Me and “The Shack”, we’ve had some good times together. Almost all were burger related, and I’m more than okay with that. And, when they decided to collaborate with Yards Brewery and La Colombe to brew a very special Coffee Stout, well, I had to make a stop to check out the brew!

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Philly, burgers, AND beer?! Speaking my language.

As Shake Shack, Yards, AND La Colombe are all about community, $2 from every pint sold was donated to City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. And, instead of the typical Yards Love Stout, this Coffee Stout is a dark ale brewed with roasted malt to create a smooth, creamy brew. La Colombe coffee beans infuse the beer with lavender, orange and caramel. It was a blend of typical CO2 pour and nitro, making it a realllllly smooth mouthfeel and experience.

 

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If you’re near a Shake Shack and you see it around, FIND IT!! And drink it.

However, as the team for Shake Shack is insanely generous, they didn’t stop there. They wanted me to try something new.

Something…. chicken.

That’s right, Shake Shack is going BEYOND THE BURGER! And straight to Clucktown with their Chick’n Shack. This sammy is a crispy 100% all-natural and antibiotic-free chicken breast with lettuce, pickles and buttermilk herb mayo.

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I promise, I only ate most of this

Y’all: It’s so good. There’s been a lot of comparisons made to other chicken sandwiches, some local, some less local. But I beseech of you: go in with a clear mind. Order a Chick’n Shack. Get this beer (or the classic Shackmeister Ale). Get a side of cheese fries (do NOT skip the cheese.)

Pro-Tip: Order a side of cherry peppers (traditionally reserved for their SmokeShack). Take a bite of the sandwich, untainted. THEN, doctor the hell out of it by slathering on some cheese sauce and cherry peppers.

I don’t even know how to put into words that bliss. Heat, melted cheese, chicken, PICKLES! Rapture.

The fellows at Shake Shack Center City, Tom and ESPECIALLY Derek, took SUCH good care of us. In fact, they wouldn’t let us leave until  without a boozy adult dessert.

Yup, vanilla custard in a grown-up beer float.

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Talk about a sweet ending!

What I SHOULD have done after this meal: Take a long run with the Shack Track and Field group.

What I DID do: promptly waddled home and laid in bed, drifting to a full-bellied half food-coma, half-regular sleep.

SO MUCH THANKS to the entire team at Shake Shack for treating me to the tastiest pre-blizzard meal possible. Perfect prelude to a long weekend hibernating… If you have the ability to hit up the Shack in Center City OR University City, do yourself a solid, Chick’n up, and meet me when the snow melts in the spring for some Shack Track runs!

Summer Suds: BBQ Favorites with DuClaw Brewing

Disclosure: I received promotional consideration by DuClaw Brewing Company.

11537717_10102852820955758_8798687809808561519_n-1In life, sometimes stars align. And, in this case, those stars aligned in the most delicious fashion possible. DuClaw Brewing Company’s got two new summer brews, 4th of July is DAYS AWAY, AND they asked if I’d give them a try and pair these treats with some summer BBQ favorites.  The contenders:

Funk: A traditional American Wheat Ale serves as a solid baseline, but we couldn’t be content until we tore the roof off this sucker! Funk, our Blueberry Citrus Wheat Ale, sets the rhythm with a soulful fusion of American wheat and hops, before unleashing a stunning encore with big notes of blueberry and Meyer lemon. It’s no jive, you’ll just dig it!

And, of course, a wonderfully named blonde ale.

Morgazm: A refreshing, citrusy twist on one of our most popular brews of all time. The medium body, mild hop character, light fruity taste, and smooth drinkability of Bare Ass Blonde Ale is infused with grapefruit zest and dry hopped with Citra hops to add notes of lemon, grapefruit, and an overall tart character to the beer. The result is a highly drinkable, highly refreshing Blonde Ale with big citrus flavors and aromas that will leave your palate in ecstacy… but wanting more.

I thought, and I thought. A blueberry citrus wheat ale. A grapefruit zested blonde ale. And then my mind shifted.

See, the Game of Thrones finale was on that night, and I was a bit distracted. And then it hit me. I didn’t have to choose. I could have my beer, and eat stuff (related to Game of Thrones), too.

My buddies and I… We go hard when it comes to themes. So, when a Game of Thrones feast finale was proposed by some brilliant mind (COUGH me. COUGH), everyone jumped on it. So I won’t share every little bit, because we got nerdy and there’s some eats that would take far too long to understand. But let’s get to the beer pairings, eh.

Bread and Salt: Guest Right!

Bread and Salt: Guest Right!

Once guest right was invoked, we were ready to get to work.

In honor of Arya - Oysters Clams and Cockles (but just clams)

In honor of Arya – Oysters Clams and Cockles (but just clams)

Beer-steamed clams are not anything world-rocking. However, instead of a traditional lager to steam, we added a bottle of the Morgazm. With a beer-to-drink in one hand and about 50 clams on the table, we poured this zesty citrusy blonde over the little clams, thanking them for their contribution for the meal. And while some opt to boil these bad boys in a pot, we went for an oven-steam, since the oven was already on and our initial goals of outdoor grilling were squashed by an unwelcome guest.

Rain, rain, go away!

Rain, rain, go away!

And before we were ready to enjoy our clams, there were a few options to go with the blueberry citrus wheat. FIrst: Sansa’s favorite, lemon cake!

The Funk's on ME!

The Funk’s on ME!

Lemon desserts are ubiquitous in the summer, and this pairing of the tart lemon cake (featuring blueberries in the icing!) was outta this world. The aroma of the blueberries in the Funk was strong, but the taste was subtle, and this beer would pair nicely with any tart, bright flavored dessert.

While my buddy made the cake, some similar recipes are here:

The Funk, a blueberry citrus wheat, would also pair well with some seafood, and I may have enjoyed a few of these “dragon eggs” (sticky rice, avocado, and eel!) with the brewski.

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Khaleesi would be proud.

After a long time (maybe we SHOULD have boiled the clams, but we were in no hurry), our clams were ready!

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All of the sudden, that crusty bread makes a lot more sense, as it was the perfect way to soak up the juices from the lemon, the Morgazm, and all sorts of clammy goodness. For this one, there’s also not really a recipe for this one (add stuff into pot or pan, put over heat, wait for clams to open, gorge!) but if you’re jonesing for one, here ya go.

We also really liked the Morgazm with a marinated grilled chicken AND Theon’s favorite plaything (sorry, promise that’s all the nerding out).

10351393_10102852820766138_4234394620136596503_nThese beers would both make excellent additions to any summer celebration, but if you’ve already got the grill going…. why not just get them for this weekend’s 4th of July festivities?! While they wouldn’t be the FIRST beer I get at the store, they’re definitely beers for the beach, the BBQ, and the summer.

Thanks, DuClaw, for the opportunity.

Thanks, my GoT crew, for throwing down the gauntlet and grilling in the rain.

Thanks, George R.R. Martin, for HURRYING UP ON THE WINDS OF WINTER!

Off to dream of dragons…

Two Dames Do Dogfish Head

When I visited the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago, I was impressed with lots of things. The hoards of bearded beer bros. The wonder of Denver. The tartness of sours. The bitter hops that can be packed into imperial double ULTIMATE IPAs!! But something else struck me… The line for the Dogfish Head stand. It seemed to span a mile! WHAT WERE THEY ALL WAITING FOR?!

See, though I’m just mad for the brews produced by Dogfish Head, I was born in Delaware. I grew up there, and though I migrated to Pennsylvania when I was 10, it was “Delaware County”, a stone’s throw from Wilmington. It’s no surprise, then, that DFH was never perceived to me as “rare” or “special” merely…. present. Ubiquitous, even. That said, I get it. If you’re someone who doesn’t have access to the tasty beers from the First State, they become something to seek out. Rare gems. And where better to pan for gems than the source? (That was my best try at a segue. Don’t hate me.)

Paradise

Paradise

My dear buddy Claire came down right after the new year cracked so we could take a journey south to Milton to visit the brewery for the day. We were promptly greeted with tickets to the tour and four sample pours. I chose the four I hadn’t tried before, and we enjoyed a little pre-tour tasting

Working my way through the ranks

Working my way through the ranks

Beer's better with buddies

Beer’s better with buddies

Before I’d even started my fourth pour, it was time to tour!

And I have a confession….

The tour was (at least the portion we were on) dreadfully dull. I have a feeling it isn’t always this way, but we got shafted by a tour guide who somehow managed to make my absolute favorite topic boring, while periodically making me feel weirded out… Claire put it best, saying that Lars (our tour guide) left us feeling like his entire spiel was a long joke that never got the punchline, and never really taught us anything about what makes Dogfish Head special.

Not for lack of looking!

Not for lack of looking!

It’s okay. Their website can tell you plenty. All we knew was that, after about 30 minutes of saying what felt like nothing, we had to get outta there.

We left the tour early for greener pastures (after one last beer…)

One day I'll get a new hat. but that day isn't today.

One day I’ll get a new hat. but that day isn’t today.

Lucky for us, Dogfish Head’s Brewpub is in Rehoboth Beach, a mere 25 minutes away. So we hit the road for some eats and dranks.

Tapas, anyone?

Tapas, anyone?

Pickles, cheese, olives, and beer: What else could two gals ask for?

The beers were brewpub exclusives, Pennsylvania Tuxedo and Analog, and they were world-rocking. Claire had the higher ABV since I was driving, but we both made sure we didn’t leave empty bellied….

Oh baby.

Oh baby.

We each got a porchetta sandwich with MORE PICKLES (quickly becoming something I seek out, don’t offer to dining partners! #growingup), arugula, roasted (or was it “blistered”) red peppers, and a rich aioli that I don’t even really remember beyond just stifled moans of enjoyment from both of us.

We both left proud members of the clean plate club, stoked that our DFH dreams came true, just a little distance away from where we thought they would.

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for those off-centered ales, and with a setting like this outside…. well, I still recommend a visit!

Steampunk Treehouse, anyone?

Steampunk Treehouse, anyone?

It was still a solid day trip, and if you’ve got the time (especially in the summer) worth the trek!

Best brewery tour you’ve ever taken?

New Belgium still has my heart…

Di Bruno Brothers After Hours: MINE, ALLLLL MINE

The Year of Cheese is in full swing over here in Philly.  And, though I’ve been writing somewhat less (grad school coupled with a DSLR in dire need of repair is a lethal combination for blogging), it’s not for lack of eating delicious things and drinking incredible beers. However, I did round up an old point n’ shoot (is that what the kids still call these non-fancy cameras?) because in honor of my 26th birthday (and, of course, the Year of Cheese), I decided to celebrate with eight close friends at none other than Di Bruno Brothers’ Italian Market location for our very own After Hours party.

Hey, kid. quit throwing balls at my photo subject!

Hey, kid. quit throwing balls at my photo subject!

In case you aren’t aware, Di Bruno Brothers is basically a mecca for cheese lovers (or food lovers, wine lovers, Italian lovers, and even just a pair of actual lovers who want a set of romantic treats to eat). It’s been my go-to spot for exploring new cheese and the cheese mongers KNOW THEIR STUFF. And, if you’re a foodie who has at least 7 friends (or can find 7 strangers who have some dollars to spend on a culinary adventures), you can hit up DB’s Italian Market location for a most incredible evening.

Hello, adult beverages

Hello, adult beverages

Here are the deets: For two hours, from 7pm-9pm, after the store has closed, you and your 7 buddies (you can add more if you’d like, though it’s a small store so I wouldn’t push it too far) can grab any beverages you want (we went with wine and beer) and are invited on a cheese and cured meats tour de force presented by the mongers. You can sample cheeses that aren’t on the prescribed cheese journey, but pace yourself because the samples may seem small, but the richness is big, and the flavors go hard on the tongue.

Clearly, I was not excited at all.

Clearly, I was not excited at all.

The epicurean excursion begins with a cheese spread (a very spicy one initially) while your guests arrive. You can explore the diverse racks of ingredients and items and think of what you’re going to buy (and I say this because you’re definitely going to buy something. You get a 10% discount on everything you purchase that night, so choose wisely.) And the best part is, other people will try to enter the store.

But they can’t.

For that night, the store is ALL YOURS!

After the spread, you face another spread. That spread is any and every olive imaginable. Stuffed with everything from gorgonzola to feta to peppers to prosciutto. I wouldn’t call myself an olive fan…. that was before my night at DB Brothers.

Glorious

Glorious

My personal favorites were the gorgonzola stuffed and the peppers stuffed with provolone and prosciutto. But honestly, it all was incredible. And then, the formal tasting began.

What could be more formal than a ball of burrata?

Pour some SUGAH (er... salt) on me!

Pour some SUGAH (er… salt) on me!

Oh, just a ball of burrata drizzled with the fanciest olive oil known to mankind and sprinkled with this insane red (lava?) salt. I may have had my fair share (and two other people’s share) of this. Incredible.

This evening made me a little greedy.

Next, our mongers jammed some peppadew peppers with Capricho de Cabra, an unreal goat cheese, then drizzled the whole thing with chestnut honey and sprinkled with DB’s infamous Black Lava Cashews. That may sound like an aggressive description for an appetizer.

Well, it was an aggressive flavor explosion.

Come at me, bro.

Come at me, bro.

Ever imagine what it’s like to have someone present you with not one, not two, not three, BUT FOUR different prosciutto options?

Imagine no longer.

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And then, the mistresses of mongers laid out my favorite platter: The beer and cheese pairing party!

Dreams coming true

Dreams coming true

I brought to the table:

The IPA, though not at ALL coconutty, cut nicely through the cheddar. I wish I could tell you what it was, but the mystery remains. All I know is that the mouthful of curried cauliflower, cheddar, and IPA was on POINT. I don’t think I loved this beer alone, but with the mixture of flavors…. I’m into it.

I will lead the next one with the a recognition that I do not like Belgian Trippels, as a general rule. But paired with the washed rind, semi-soft  butteriness of the Willoughby, and my mind was changed. I shall submit to future trippels as long as there’s a spreadable cheese nearby.

Unfortunately, the Brett Beer was underwhelming and I ended up liking the cheese far more than the beer. Nutty and dry, with a little sharpness, this cheese was easily accessible and DELISH. The beer…. was forgettable.

And dessert?

S’mores.

Dreamy

Dreamy

The combination of two of my favorite edibles on the planet: s’mores and CHEESE! Namely, Scharf Maxx 364, a tangy, sharp swiss, paired with dark chocolate and Italian Torrone.

Yes, we went there.

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Obviously, I hated every second and had a terrible time.

But, real talk, I would do this again in a heartbeat. It worked out to be about $50 per person, and we each came away with a Di Bruno reusable tote, full bellies, a take-home treat (each person’s was different) and 10% discount on all the goodies we picked up that night. That, to me, feels like a deal.

Yes, the Year of Cheese continues strong.

So You’re Moving to Philadelphia…

So, it’s official, Philly. I’ve been a resident for the past 13 months. That means a sweltering summer, a freezing fall, an unbearably cold (relative to Carolina) winter. Whole athletic seasons (which I’ve paid little to no attention to) have come and gone. I’ve seen the Mummers (and danced with a few), eaten dollar dogs, brunched at Honey’s, and spent many an afternoon in the sunshine at Rittenhouse Square. I feel confident that I could find something fun to do basically any hour of any day, and whether it’s a festival, a pop-up restaurant collaboration, a beer pairing, or a performance, I’ve enjoyed a TON of what Philly has to offer. Don’t worry, I’m still hungry for more.

That being said, one question that many of my buddies who’ve been living here for years on years have asked me is “How do you find all these cool things to do?” Well, it’s time to reveal my secret:

I outsource it.

That’s right, I just let OTHER PEOPLE find the fun for me, and follow their leads. But, I guess, since we’re all sharing today, I can let you know who those people are and take some of the credit for their legwork. So, if you’re moving to Philly and trying to figure out how to have some fun, eat some good foods, experience some incredible things, and feel generally “in the know” about Philly happenings, read on:

First up, Foobooz.

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An easy way to remember this site is it’s Food and Booze News in Philly. It tends to be my go-to for most of the events I’ve enjoyed the most, but that’s because eating and drinking is my favorite way to spend my “fun money”. New restaurant openings, food truck festivals, drink recommendations, and free stuff. That’s right, FREE STUFF Y’ALL! Keep that college student mentality going for LIFE!

Be Well Philly for when you’ve stuffed yourself with all that food and booze..

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Because we can’t just eat and drink ourselves into a stupor all day, every day. Right?

Right.

Outdoor yoga festivals, deals on spin class, master group fitness classes, the best places to get gluten-free desserts (luckily, I don’t need or want that. but someone might.), interesting running events throughout the city, and new gyms that are opening in your neighborhood!

Yelp Philly. Duh.

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If you’re a fan of crowd-sourcing judgment on all of the places to eat, drink, and be merry (as well as who gives the best haircuts, who is the most responsive property management group, and where to find late night groceries), Yelp is the obvious answer for any and all cities. But I’ll go ahead and say that Philly not only has an incredibly active Yelp community (check out the “talk” for laughs and insight alike), but our Community Manager, Michelle, is the queen of Philly Phun. Follow her on Twitter for all things Philadelphia. You won’t regret it.

Uwishunu (but don’t you?)

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Philly from the inside out? I can get behind that. They sometimes organize posts by neighborhood, which is always appreciated as someone who’s very loyal to a few particular locales (especially those reachable by the MFL).  Upcoming events for young and old, this is a super family-friendly site with something for everyone. Their weekend lineups are probably the most comprehensive ones I’ve found, and a great way to find something to do every single day of your respite from work.

Thrillist Philly: Much less family-friendly.

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Because sometimes, you don’t wanna know where to bring your nephew for an Easter Egg hunt. You wanna know where to find burlesque and bourbon, tequila and tacos, naked bike rides and the best water slides.

Thrillist is basically a grownup playground in a website.

Finally: Drink Philly (that’s an order)

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Food is fun, festivals too. But sometimes, you just wanna drink.  Luckily, there’s a site for that. Drink Philly has pulled together all the city’s best happy hours and drink specials in a matrix that is both searchable and filter-able. Search by neighborhood, time of day, type of special, whatever. Get the best deals on your booze all day long!! And they also regularly post about Brew and Chews, beer fests, First Friday specials, and other interesting alcohol-related tidbits.

I guess this one also isn’t very good for kids.

ANYWAY, feel free to check out my Twitter List if you’d like to follow each and every one of these folks on twitter.  This has proved the fastest, easiest way to stay abreast of Philly Fun, at least for this chick.

AND, if you have any suggestions, lemme know! I’m always down to check out a new blog/site to stay in the loop.