Philly Beer Week 2013 from a Phirst-Timer

This time last year, I was JUST getting geared up to move from NC. I ogled Philly Beer Week 2012 from afar, following Twitter and Facebook like a stalker. Fast-forward to 2013 and I was ready for what was touted as “The Biggest Beer Week in the Nation”. With over 1,000 events during the course of 10 days (because 7-day weeks are for suckers and saps), I had to curate my week carefully (and, you know, continue to attend class, do homework, work at my internship, and maintain some semblance of responsibility). Luckily, I’m Type-A to a T and had lists on lists of beers I wanted to try, events I wanted to hit up, food pairings I was interested in, and a careful spreadsheet of my REM cycles to maintain appropriate homeostasis to sustain life (Fine, I didn’t track my REM cycles. But I DID fully engage in several naps to make up for lost night-sleep).

My first sight of PBW2013!

My first sight of PBW2013!

Friday, I had a whole schedule planned. I’d mapped out where I was going, had a time-frame, and a buddy to escort me from place to place. But you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men, so after a quick bite to eat, my beer buddy got a bit of tummy troubles and I was on my own.

One is the loneliest number (though Sixty-One by Dogfish Head does help the loneliness a bit)

One is the loneliest number (though Sixty-One by Dogfish Head does help the loneliness a bit)

Luckily, this was not an issue. Because during Philly Beer Week, if you’re a fan of beer, you’re NEVER alone.

Varga Gals and The Hammer of Glory make great buddies

Varga Gals and The Hammer of Glory make great buddies

And over the course of the next ten days (only 6 of which I partook in any beer shenanigans, a girl’s gotta rest sometimes) I basked in the glory of Philly Beer Week and all that it had to offer.

Let’s try this by the numbers (well, a few numbers)

Number of New-to-Me Beers Consumed: 27

Best Beer I Tried: Allagash FV13 Tart, rich in flavor and body, beautiful copper color, can’t beat it.

Worst Beer I Tried: Evil Twin Blind Eye PA Belgian IPA? I don’t think so. This was a mistake to order with dinner, and a bigger mistake to drink the whole thing. Some things just don’t go together. This is one of them (IMHO).

Number of Times I Visited Varga Bar: 4. I think I’ve established my new favorite bar in Philadelphia for beer, ambience, and cheese fries (that I need to try according to the internet)

Coolest Event: BBQ (Broads, Brews, and Queens) at Smokin’ Betty’s

Oh hell yes.

Oh hell yes.

Nothing goes better with beer than drag queens

Nothing goes better with beer than drag queens

Ultimate End of Beer Week Event: Bathed in Victory Beer and Cheese Pairing at Dibruno Brothers

Talk about some Summer Love.

Talk about some Summer Love.

And here's your cheese pr0n for the day.

And here’s your cheese p0rn for the day.

And this is how I felt at the end of the week:

WIPED City, USA!

WIPED City, USA!

Full Disclosure: It was an INTENSE week, and I didn’t even participate in all the days I could’ve… Looks like I’ll need to train a little harder for next year. But I don’t think I’d rather train for anything else.

Cheers to everyone who made PBW2013 incredible, to my new friends, to my new favorite bars and my new favorite beers, and to a year to prepare for PBW2014. That’s right, the dates are set and starting May 30th, we’ll do it all over again.

AC Beer Festival: Of Malts and Mustaches

First, I’ve gotta give a huge shoutout to Yelp for being my number one benefactor since I’ve moved to Philadelphia. From Yelp Elite events to gifting me tickets that they raffled off for the Philly Geek Awards to introducing me to new friends, Yelp Philadelphia (and Michelle, specifically, my lovely community manager) has just welcomed  me with open arms. And, since all I do is win (win win, no matter what), I won a pair of tickets to the AC Beer Festival from my beloved Yelp.

Upon my winning, I did what any social media maven would’ve done. I decided to see if I could upgrade this (already incredible) experience. I bragged about what a great beer drinker I was on the festival’s facebook page and, shortly before my Friday Festival trip, was informed that I’d be able to do some judging during the festival. Beer AND judging things?

Heaven.

I scampered up the AC Expressway with a friend of mine, a beer festival newbie, touting how much fun we were going to have. Oh, and reminding him that he’d need to find something to do with his time while I judged. I grabbed the tickets and was shuttled over to my station.

Let's do this thing.

Let’s do this thing.

We were given SUPER strict rules. We couldn’t leave our station at all during the judging. We couldn’t wear lipstick (not so much a problem for me and my bearded cohorts, but good to know), we couldn’t know which beers we were tasting (only the styles), and we couldn’t have non-judges into the judging area.

So much judgment.

Serious business.

Though they had us slated to do 5 categories, it was obvious after the first two we’d be cutting it close on timing, so we cut off after 3. Luckily for me, since I was not accustomed to having beers brought to ME during a festival, and 30 tiny tastings add up fast.

The categories I got to taste were American and Canadian Lagers, Amber Ales, and NJ brewed (my favorite, two coffee stouts, DELISH!)

Don't let the grin fool you, I was pretty harsh.

Don’t let the grin fool you, I was pretty harsh.

After a bit of phone confusion, I found my buddy. Only something was missing….. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first. And then I looked down.

Real men wear kilts?

Real men wear kilts?

When I’d left him, he was wearing trousers. And somewhere in that hour and a half, he’d traded in for a utilikilt.

I have no understanding of men’s fashion, so I’m sure he knew what he was doing. I was ready, however, for some beers.

Like this one:

WINTER IS COMING!!

WINTER IS COMING!!

I’d been itching to check this beer in on Untappd since I’d heard it was coming out. And, while it wasn’t my favorite (never been too partial to blonde ales), it very much got my hyped up. And before you knew it, I was armed and ready for the rest of beer fest.

Yup, that's a harpoon. And yes, they made me give it back shortly after this.

Yup, that’s a harpoon. And yes, they made me give it back shortly after this.

I’ll admit, I’d been a little spoiled by my last beer festival.  You know, just a little something called the Great American Beer Festival. So when I got to Atlantic City’s Convention Center, I was overwhelmed. Maybe it was the prevalence of semi-nude promo girls (sorry, no pictures of them. Felt too creepy.). Maybe it was the smaller scale with a chaotic vibe. Maybe it was that there seemed to be no organization to the booths (GABF was organized by region. And it was AMAZING.) Luckily, there was one thing that was NOT lacking in AC.

BEARDIES!!

BEARDIES!!

AC’s Beer Festival was jam-packed with men rocking some incredible beards and even MORE fantastic mustaches. In fact, the Garden State Beard and Mustache Society seemed to be a major sponsor (I love that that’s a real society.) We had a blast. I enjoyed the HELL out of Dogfish Head’s Palo Santo Marron Randallized through coconut. Basically, falling in true love with the DFH pourers, generally speaking. And, after prancing about, listening to some weird music, drinking all the beers, and taking a cab back to Ocean City, it was quick to sleep.  Luckily, I had quite the treat waiting in the morning….

Brown's Donuts

Brown’s Donuts

I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to wake up than the dreamiest of all foods I know.

AC Beer Fest, you’re A-okay with me. I hope to see you next year.

 

 

 

Where’s Waldo (or, in this case, Jordan)?

The past few weeks have been chaotic. So many papers and assignments and applications and meetings. And let’s not forget that from March 21-24, Nordstrom had Triple Points. But really, what’s been keeping me from writing was the other stuff (I’m great at blogging and shopping. Can I go to grad school for that?)

Mostly, I’ve been feeling like this:

Can I just stay down here?

Can I just stay down here?

Luckily, I’ve sprinkled a few fun moments in the mix.

For instance, inspired by Lauren’s Quest, I made my my own quest on the hunt for Pliny the Younger.

FINALLY!

FINALLY!

After waiting for about an hour and a half (the things I do for love…) I finally obtained the hop bomb of my dreams.

Nice photobomb, baldy.

Nice photobomb, baldy.

Did I mention that this all happened at 11 am on a Monday? Nothing like a little day drinking to start a week off right….

I also celebrated the first day of Spring the only way I knew how.

WEEEEE!

WEEEEE!

Rita’s. I am so sorry if you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about.

The day AFTER the first day of spring, it snowed. Go figure.

I’ve also been getting back on my cheese game. God bless the year of cheese.

Promise, that wasn't all for me.

Promise, that wasn’t all for me.

Evalon from LaClare is an incredible goat cheese from Wisconsin that I paired with a dessert wine with some of my buddies last night. Fairly firm, this award winning cheese is almost like a hybrid between a gouda and an Asiago cheese. I bet it would shred well, but instead, we just ate it in chunks like the animals we are. On rice crackers.

Threw in some cheddar just for a bit of variety.

Threw in some cheddar just for a bit of variety.

Other than cheese, I’ve been wolfing pizza and thai food down like a champ. Jumping from meeting to meeting doesn’t always leave the most time for cooking at home. So, this morning, in order to clear my system and start Easter weekend fresh, I hauled my sleepy butt over to Pure Fare for a Green Pineapple Ginger smoothie. And a little calm from the chaos.

Let's do this.

Let’s do this.

I’m not a very religious lady, but I can already see this is going to be a Good Friday.

 

 

 

Craft Beer for Breakfast

I recently entered a contest for tickets to the legendary Brewer’s Plate event in Philadelphia. The rules, a la Philly Beer Scene:

Don’t forget about our contest to win a pair of VIP Tickets (a $280 value) to this years #BrewersPlate ? Send us a picture of your favorite beer (local only) and food pairing along with a brief description of the dish and pairing. Fair Food Philadelphia will help us pick a winner.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to enter as my pairing and, though my mind initially went to cheese (as it almost always does) I figured let’s pair a PA beer with a Philly favorite. And thus, my perfect pairing was born. A craft beer breakfast to please my palate. And it’d be selfish not to share it with the rest of the world, right?

The best part of waking up

The best part of waking up

As a general rule, I don’t enjoy coffee. Unfortunately, this means that when I make my way to Federal Donuts (long-time readers might recall the time that I staked my place outside to be their first customer in their Center City location), I can’t sip on the legendary cold brew that Michael Solomonov and his team whip up as I nibble on my hots and fancies. Luckily, I think I’ve found a combination to fill the mug-shaped hole in my heart.

Check out that cereal crumble!

Check out that cereal crumble!

 

The perfect match to Federal Donuts’ French Toast Fancy. Lancaster Brewing Company’s Milk Stout, a flavorful, roasted cold brew of the alcoholic type, provides a rich and malty complement to Federal’s take on my favorite breakfast dish. The sweet, cakey donut glazed with a brown sugar icing and crumbled cinnamon crunch cereal is a the ideal match for this coffee-flavored stout. As the beer warms, hints of chocolate cut through some initial bitterness, coating the tongue with just the slightest hint of sweetness to round out the experience. A match made in Heaven, if Heaven was located both on Sansom Street and in Lancaster, PA.

While I romantically love the French Toast donut on its own, the experience is only heightened paired with the right beer.

What would be your dream food and beer pairing?

OR if you hate beer (which is such a shame, and I’m sorry for your loss), what would be your perfect match to a delicious donut?

Sunday School at Tria

I’m not big on religion. I don’t go to church, temple, or meeting for worship any more. For me, lately Sundays have meant traveling, or scrambling to finish up schoolwork, or napping on a bus. Or maybe a combination of the three. But today, despite a cold that just picked up mid-week (to my chagrin), I had my Sunday all to myself. I could do whatever I wanted to do. I could sleep all day. I could go workout (though that one was less likely all hopped up on Dayquil and zinc). I could online shop for spring break. OR, I could be semi-productive. And, with a hamper full of dirty laundry and a bare pantry, I went for the latter.

Two loads and a delicious Mexican omelet later, I was left wondering what was up next. And then, courtesy of my new friend, Ian (aka the Dashing Rogue), I was alerted to a wonderful Sunday pastime. Enter Tria’s Sunday School.

Sunday School, according to Tria’s site:

Learn about and enjoy a different not-so-common wine, cheese and beer every Sunday—at incredibly low prices. School was never this delicious! Limit one each per guest at the Sunday School price. Please, no returns: if you try it, you buy it.

That sounded good to me. And, after a quick jaunt down the street, I found myself faced with this delightful lineup:

Ready for some Schooling

Ready for some Schooling

As you might be able to tell, I steered clear of the wine choice for the day (though the SPARKLING MALVASIA SECCO did look divine) and stuck with beer and cheese, two of my favorite treats that could possibly be enjoyed on a Sunday (or really any day).

On draft, Dock Street Brewing Company’s Sexy Beast, a chocolate stout. According to the writeup at Tria:

With 22 pounds of Belgian chocolate—100% cocoa, no sugar—thrown into the boil, this Sexy Beast is quite the well-endowed Imperial Chocolate Stout. The unsweetened chocolate yields a silky smooth texture and adds a bittersweet bite to the roasted, toasted malt flavors. Pouring a sultry jet black, Sexy Beast flaunts a funky, almost smoky complexity due to a unique new Belgian yeast strain originating from Eastern Flanders.

I found myself kind of wishing that perhaps a little sugar WAS thrown in with the cocoa. This beer, while rich in flavor, displayed that telltale burnt taste that I am not too fond of in a lot of chocolate and coffee flavored beers. The line between toasted and charred might be a little too thin for my liking. As I’ve just recently enjoyed Sixpoint’s 3beans  more than one should be able to reasonably enjoy a beer, maybe I’m just a little spoiled.

Luckily, the spoiling continued with a bite of the chosen cheese of the day. And, since it’s the year of cheese and all….. Well, I consider myself a fortunate lady that such an awesome deal exists every week.  Here’s a bit about the Meadow Creek Mountaineer to the Tria writeup:

The mineral rich soils and deep, pure well water provide the natural sustenance that allows the cows to produce the highest quality milk. Today’s cheese was inspired by traditional Alpine-style cheeses from Savoie and the Valle D’Aosta. Mountaineer is a semi-hard cheese made entirely from Jersey cow’s milk, with a smooth supple texture, natural brown rind and off-white to pale yellow interior. Aged in cellars for a minimum of six months, Mountaineer develops a complex flavor, predominately nutty and sweet with hints of butterscotch.

This melt-in-your-mouth Mountaineer was paired with caramelized onions (served with the TINIEST spoon. Which apparently makes me silly-happy….) and, as it’s inspired by Alpine-style cheeses, I think it inspired me to say that, in general, I’m a big fan of the Alpine style of cheese.  Though described as semi-hard, I felt like at points it was bordering on soft territory and was easy to cut through with a butter knife and enjoy with the accompanying bread and garnish. For less than $10, this beer and cheese combination were just what I needed for a late Sunday lunch. And, as the beer clocked in at a comfortable 8%, I got to enjoy the rest of my grocery shopping with a pleasant little warmth in my belly, making those guacamole samples in Whole Foods doubly appreciated.

Rest assured, I’ll be back to Tria soon. And I might just have to go ahead and clear off my Sunday schedules for the future.

What does your Sunday schedule usually entail?

How about your DREAM Sunday schedule?

Harpoon Brewery Tasting: Drink Up, and Welcome to Boston

Yes, the main reason I went to Boston was to be with my fraternity. But, when in Rome, right?

Harpoon Me.

Harpoon Me.

While I didn’t get a chance to visit Sam Adams or Night Shift, I did manage to worm my way over to Harpoon Brewery for their legendary 2pm tasting. Basically, folks show up to the bar, they describe the beers and, for one hour, carte blanche to drink all you can drink care to drink. And, with so many options, it was hard to resist….

Taps a Plenty!

Taps a Plenty!

Ciders, Rye IPAs, UFOs… Oh baby.

Highlights for me?

Chin chin!

Don’t mind the lack of makeup. This was the first thing I did after a 7 hour bus ride.

100 Barrel #44 El Triunfo Coffee Porter – I can’t get enough of coffee porters lately.

Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA – Wow. Never expected to like this. What a great surprise.

Chocolate Stout (Though I can’t imagine drinking more than a little bit of that sweet stuff!)

Their Bourbon Barrel Aged Fig Porter was a little bit less flavorful than I expected, but I loved the concept. Maybe they’ll give it another try sometime.

Hmmm, better luck next time.

Hmmm, better luck next time.

Even more of a treat? Hanging with not one but TWO of my buddies from UNC!! Fiona (the tiny one on the right) was my roomie all weekend and Patty (the tinier one on the left) JUST SO HAPPENED to be visiting Boston for the weekend. Fancy meeting y’all here!

BUDDY SYSTEM!!

BUDDY SYSTEM!!

And, once we got a little silly off of tasty brews, the most essential part of the day happened. My ONLY real meal of the day, from the most-delicious Yankee Lobster for an infamous Lobster Roll.

I could eat seven of these. Easy peasy.

I could eat seven of these. Easy peasy.

The verdict?

Such a harsh judge

Such a harsh judge

Couldn’t get enough. The fries were crisp and well seasoned, but the lobster roll…. So meaty, still light (not too heavy on the mayo/sauce, which I can support), and the side of coleslaw was top notch.

If these lobster rolls weren’t a little steep in price (read: $18), I think I would’ve ONLY eaten them all weekend.

Alas, we had to get back to Cambridge and start partying….. Free tasting, insane lobster roll, cocktail parties…. tough life, right?

If you’re in Bean Town on a weekday, get thee to a tasting (2pm or 4pm). AND, if you’re there on a weekend, check out one of the tours! I didn’t have a chance to check it out, but I’ve heard only good things.

Also, if you’re trying to have a lobster roll party, please don’t hesitate to invite me.

 

 

One Last Chicago Post

I promise.

I feel like I’ve been dragging this out forever, but mostly it’s because I’ve been swamped with welcome-back-to-school hullabaloo (which included 45 minutes of class in which the professor never showed up. WELCOME BACK, am I right?!)

Since there was a Chicago Food post and a Chicago Beer post, I figured this one could pick up all the leftover bits and pieces. So, sorry if it’s long. But there are some pretty pictures!

Sweat. I know I’ve been less focused on this in my blog, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten it in my life. And, since no trip would be complete without breaking a bit of a sweat (whether in the gym or on the dance floor), my buddy Caitlin and I hit up a Werq dance fitness class. I didn’t take any pictures of the class, but I can describe it as a super-hyped Zumba without a focus on any type of Latino music really. It’s some of the most current music I’ve ever had in a fitness class, and in addition to knowing all the words to all the songs, I couldn’t stop shaking it the entire time. Great moves, high energy, if you’re into that kinda thing (and you find a class near you, I found that they might not have trickled heavily over to the East coast yet), I’d totally suggest you hit it up.

For the Vegans, look no further than Native Foods.  With locations in Boulder, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, San Diego, and Chicago, this vegan sensation makes some fantastic dishes that make you say “Lacto-Ovo WHO?! Meat WHAT?”

Fountain Drinks!

Fountain Drinks!

Instead of soda, they offer these tasty fountain options. Katie preferred her tea-lavender-lemonade combo with a bit of slapped mint.

Gotta slap it for flavor.

Gotta slap it for flavor.

In addition to the INCREDIBLE sweet potato fries that I split with Katie, I went with the Ensalada Azteca.

Si, Papi.

Si, Papi.

Fresh avocado, cucumber, and jicama salsa with romaine, currants, toasted pumpkin seeds, and cilantro atop quinoa and served with Mango-Lime vinaigrette. So good. So, so good.

We later hit up Piece Brewery and Pizzeria for a little bit of the two things they do best.

Ben, going in for the kill.

Ben, going in for the kill.

IMG_9213

Cheers!

We went with Plain: traditional New Haven pizza, a generous amount of red sauce topped with garlic, extra parmesan, and EVOO. This mozzarella-less pizza was fresh to death, and the two of us demolished it. Katie went with something a little different.  White with CLAMS! I tried a bite, but it was not my cup of tea. Or my shell of clam.

Served with lemon wedges! She said it tasted like Clam linguini.

Served with lemon wedges! She said it tasted like Clam linguini.

The beers from Piece were solid, not great.

After Piece, we moved onto my favorite part of the night. Emporium Arcade Bar. Two words.

X-Men (that’s one word, right?) Pinball.

Pinball Wizard

Pinball Wizard

I basically love this concept, and will be hastening to Philly’s own barcade stat to enjoy beer and arcade games STAT.

Three Aces was how we spent Saturday brunch. Burger and Soup to keep us warm. But not just any burger.

Come to me!

Come to me!

I present the Ace Burger: aged cheddar, trimmings, bacon jam, aioli, fries, garlic and hops pickle (which we mostly avoided). The fries were incredible, the burger…. NEXT LEVEL. PRETZEL ROLL, PEOPLE!

And, though I enjoyed the HELL out of some sushi from Coast on Friday night with my buddies Caitlin and Sierra, the lighting was not amenable to blog pics.

Just enjoy this tipsy pic of us all, and know that Chicago is a glorious place to be, whether you’re eating, drinking, dancing your face off, or visiting lady (or gentlemen) friends!

I surround myself with total babes all the time.

I surround myself with total babes all the time.

Next stop: Boston. My bus leaves on Thursday night, I’ve gotta whip up an itinerary!!

Any recommendations?

Duck… Duck…. GOOSE! (Island Clybourn Tour/Tasting)

This trip to Chicago focused on a few key points:

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Seeing friends, with whom to eat and drink

That was really it. We didn’t visit the Bean. I didn’t demand a walk along the shore of Lake Michigan, and I didn’t want to see any improv comedy troupes. I wanted to eat and drink my way through the city.  And, luckily, my friends came through. Big time.

All the Geese.

All the Geese.

For half my trip, I stayed with my buddy that I’ve known approximately forever: Caitlin. The most seasoned of my Chi-town buddies, she’s been living in the Windy City for over a year now, and hadn’t visited Goose Island’s Clybourn Brewpub yet. That obviously had to be remedied.

Dirty bird.

Dirty bird.

On Saturday, Caitlin, her husband, and I bundled up and head over for a “tour” and a guided tasting. I toss the “tour” in quotations because, much like the Brooklyn Brewery “tour”, it was mostly an opportunity to stand inside of a room in which pieces of the brewing process go down but, since it’s a small area, there’s not an actual tour, more of a lecture from someone knowledgeable. In our case, it was Brad Dessy, former member of the DePaul Men’s a Cappella and generally handsome bearded brew dude.

Glowing with pride (and also probably because I'm still not that great at using my camera.)

Glowing with pride (and also probably because I’m still not that great at using my camera.)

After a mini crash course in how beer’s made (because, as he admitted, people who don’t brew don’t care, and those who do brew already know how it’s made), Brad touched on what made this Chicago Island beer so great.

  • They use water STRAIGHT from Lake Michigan, 5 gallons of water for every one gallon of beer.
  • Goose Island is Chicago’s oldest functioning brewery
  • Goose Island’s head brewers intended to bring British styles of beer to Chicago, modeling off of post-Prohibition-style beers.
  • They produce enough beer to make one new beer a week, debuting on Thursdays (in case you’re in town.)
  • Goose Island’s brew pubs were not included in the acquisition of Goose Island by AB In Bev, so they continue to hold tight to the “craft beer” status. Sweet.
  • Goose Island is very proud of their work with cask ale. We didn’t try any of this, so I can’t speak to the quality, but Brad seemed stoked about it, and if you can’t trust a male a cappella singer who brews beer, who CAN you trust?
  • In the summer, they work with local farmers from the Farmers’ Market to create all sorts of crazy collaboration beers, mixing peaches, honey, spices, truffles, hot peppers, and peas into beer.  Noted, I’ll have to head back some summer!!
Brew-tiful

Brew-tiful

I’d already enjoyed a Star Cluster IPA before/during the “tour”, and noticed the brew pub was still dolled up for the holidays as we walked up to the tasting.  No surprise, we went from Light to Dark in our beers.

Let's do this!

Let’s do this!

(In case you’re wondering, that’s a Hop Zilla original shirt, made by my buddy Robin for me for this year’s GABF. Be jealous.)

The beers we tried included:

  • Shine On (a saison/farmhouse style ale)
  • Loud and Thirsty (a dortmunder lager that I hated)
  • Caber Toss Wee Heavy (we all wore kilts when we tasted this scotch ale)
  • Voyager IPA (a delicious IPA that I was quite fond of tasting)
  • Honest Stout (Tasty, but nothing to write home about)
  • Liquid Inspiration Stout (mmm roasted malty and great)

The “guided tasting” got a little wacky by the end, as I noticed that many people stopped paying attention (maybe they were already drunk? I saw a few ladies throwing back Bloody Marys and mimosas pre-“tour”). Also, it was clear that the room was a little big for Brad to handle all at once, but his efforts were admirable.

Perhaps he should’ve sang to us?

ANYWHO, for $10, we enjoyed a little new knowledge about Goose Island, 6 beer tastings, and a lovely pint glass to take home.

And who doesn’t enjoy a little afternoon buzz?

Not us. We love that style of buzz.

Not us. We love that style of buzz.

We bundled back up to venture out into the cold once again. And, even though it’s been about four days since this tour…. I still think my bones are thawing.

What crazy ingredient would you put into your Farmer’s Market series beer??

Has anyone brewed with broccoli?

 

Sharing is Caring: Philly Bottle Share

Wanna find all most of the cool beer people in your city at one event? Might I suggest throwing a bottle share event? Not only will everyone FLOCK to the opportunity to enjoy each others’ company, but I guarantee that they’ve all been holding onto something special. A bottle, big or small, that they’ve been itching to show off and share in the company of fellow beer geeks.

Let your Geek Flag fly, y’all!

And, in Philly, despite being tardy for the party (err…. the RSVP), I managed to secure a coveted spot to one of these events, Bottle Share #2 hosted by Philly Tap Finder and Philly Beer Scene. I grabbed my Prickly Passion Saison from my beloved New Belgium, which I’d been saving for something (though I didn’t know what until last Sunday) and was dropped off, bottle in hand, inches away from Soup Kitchen Cafe, our hosts for the afternoon/evening.  And, shortly after the rare beauties hit the table, the bottles started popping.

Some of them were corked, so there were literal bottles popped.

There were some incredible brews brought to the table (literally). And I fell in love with a few. Highlights?

  • Cigar City’s Cucumber Saison
  • Terra Incognita, the collaboration that Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and Boulevard Brewing Co (made specifically for the Savor beer and food festival, which I’d love to attend in 2013 when it moves to NYC! Fingers crossed things work out…)
  • Prickly Passion Saison

    Beautiful bottle!

  • Flemish Primitive Wild Ale and Crooked Stave’s Pure Guava Petite Sour (the only other time I had Crooked Stave was at the Sour Beer Tasting Class!)

    The Mac and Cheese helped

There were so many other beers that I tried/enjoyed, but I think I was itching for some sour brews. And, though that picture washes out the mac & cheese, I promise, it was creamy, cheesey, and heavenly.

To let my inner vegetarian out, I requested the veggie-friendly dish first (there were lots of meaty sammies too, I’ll get to them next).

Just beet it.

Goat cheese, arugula, beets!! Totally enamored.  However, since it was a small portion and I needed something to soak up all that beer, I tried a few of the other offerings….

Sorry for the lousy framing of this picture, I was hungrier than I was interested in snapping the perfect shot

Meatloaf sammy, pulled pork on a perfect little roll (my favorite!), and short rib sloppy joe. True story: I tried them all. Just call me quality control….

The rare and exotic beers flowed freely, the conversation and geeking out was incredibly pleasant, and I felt like I was among my people. That also resulted in very few shots OF those people, as I was trying to chat and enjoy and not get drunk all at once. This inevitably resulted in a glass of water or a handshake occupying my hands much more than the camera.  But man, we did some work.

Just a fraction of the bottles consumed.

Big thanks to Jared from PhillyTapFinder and Mat from Philly Beer Scene for putting it together AND for letting me know I snuck in off the wait-list.  Because this was an event NOT to be missed.

What would you bring to a bottle share?

HOW ABOUT what would you bring to a potluck dinner with all of your classmates on a Friday night? (because I have one, but have to travel a bit with my dish… on public transportation….)

I wonder if I could host one of these of my own…. potluck bottle share at Chez Jordan? That sounds too cool…

The Great American Beer Festival 2012

In all the hooplah of writing about pre-fest hot dogs, my pre-festival sours class, and my post-festival New Belgium tour, I forgot one very important part of my trip to Denver.

The ACTUAL Great American Beer Festival itself!!

I promise, it was more beautiful than this when I walked inside.

Thanks to BeerGram’s generosity, I had tickets to the festival and was able to bring my tiny buddy, Melissa. We also had a girlfriend, Imee, to round out the crew. We were ready for anything the brewers had to bring.

I’m a gentle giant.

The brewers…. they were ready for us as well. There was literally something for every possible tastebud and beer lover.

Goose Island’s Gingerbread Dream? Come to mama.

Prima Pils + Snyder’s Sourdough: Basic Math

One of the very best parts was the beer and pretzel pairing featuring Great Divide, Flying Dog, and hometown hero, Victory Brewing Company! And that’s just the beer…. My long-time love, Snyders of Hanover, provided honey twists, classic Sourdough pretzels, and YUMMY flavored pretzel pieces!

There was the GABF Brewpub Pavilion, complete with samples of snacks to pair with beer.  One of my favorites? Barely Buzzed Beehive CHEESE!

Cheese, please.

Utah, you do good on the cheese front.

I met some fantastic folks.  Namely?

Pennsylvania Pals!

Bill Covaleski, President and Brewmaster from Victory Brewing Company. He’s still working on figuring out the perfect pairing for a Philly soft pretzel….

Another little beer lady!

Andrea Sanchez-Reyes, the founder and CEO of Beergram (and my benefactor!)

And, don’t worry, I repped my friends/family of #NCBeer to the best of my ability.  At one point, dissatisfied with their lack of knowledge about Sexual Chocolate, I actually ended up behind the Foothills Brewing booth, lecturing newbs to the benefits of my favorite Winston-Salem brewery.

Sorry for the phone pic, but we were in the zone. the fun, Foothills zone.

Movember even made a little appearance, a few weeks early.

No Shave November? No shave NEVER!

It was, without question, the most fun I’ve ever had at a beer festival.

It was the first time that I went in with the mindset:

HEY! If you don’t like this beer, just pour it out. Don’t force yourself to drink every sample. When they overpour for you, don’t feel bad pouring some out. You’re not offending ANYONE. Bonus? No blacking out or feeling ill the next day.

The result? I left the festival just as excited and happy as when I came. I was happy as a clown, but (slightly) less silly than one.

There were pieces that weren’t great. I REFUSED to wait in the lines for Cigar City and Dogfish, as they were running anywhere from 30-45 minutes, and that just seemed a little outrageous. I figure I can always take a road trip to DE (and a much longer one to Florida) if I REALLY need to try those beers.

One of the MAJOR highlights? The line for the ladies’ room was like, 1/3 the length of the one for the men’s room. Seriously, this event was a sausage fest.

Hee hee

(at one point, quite literally, thanks to New Holland’s salami samples!)

After getting my fill of all the wild flavors some breweries were offering (gingerbread, green chili, peanut butter cup, strawberry, sage, keffir lime!! WHOAH!) I ended my night the way the only way that made sense; parked in front of the Bear Republic booth, sipping Racer 5 IPA until last call. Couldn’t have been more perfect.

My buddies at Bear Republic let me pose with their sweet ride….

After hot dogs, beer education, and 3.5 hours at the festival, I think it’s no surprise I slept like a baby.  I’m already scheming how I’ll get back next year…. If you can do it, I think GABF is NOT to be missed if you’re interested in craft beer.

What’s the wackiest flavor of beer you’ve ever tried?

I gotta say the Sage Saison from Epic Brewing was pretty wild….

If you’re not a beer person, ever try any of those wackadoo flavored vodkas? 

::shudder::