March 28, 2013

Split Thy Skull

There is no shortage of great beer events in Philly. As a matter of fact, I'm sure that my wallet (and financial planner) would be much happier if I didn't follow so many beer people on Twitter and Facebook so I wouldn't always be so in the know about what was going on around the area. I can honestly say that as I sit here typing this there are - without my really even thinking about it - at least 4 events happening that I could (should?) be at. Instead, I sit here writing. And I'm okay with that, because I'm writing to tell you about a can't-miss event this weekend.

Split thy Skull - a Celebration of Barleywine will be held this Saturday, March 30 from 1 - 6 pm at Tattoed Mom on South Street. I've been to this event before and can attest to its awesomeness. This year - the 17th!! - promises more of the same. There will be at least a dozen local and national breweries represented by their finest, and some rarely featured, barelywines including:

Troeg's Flying Mouflan
Iron Hill The Situation
Widmer Old Embalmer
Duclaw Devil's Milk
Boulder Killer Penguin

The beers will be available both individually or in two flights of 4 each.

Drink enough of those and your skull will feel split for sure! And hey, what else are you going to do the Saturday before Easter? (Speaking of Easter, if you don't have plans you should definitely check out the 8th Annual Zombie Crawl, which also takes place on South Street. Tattooed Mom is one of several bars that will welcome zombies that evening.

Perhaps the picture of me below from the 5th annual crawl will pique your interest. Or maybe it will scare you away!

That's me in the pink. Trying not to smile. Because you know, most zombies smile 

March 18, 2013

Philly Beergasm

I love when I get the chance to do some good with my writing. So when Sam Watson of Collaborate Philly reached out to me about sharing the news about a charity event I was happy to say yes. Even better, it's a charity event that involves beer!

The event, Philly Beergasm, is being held on Thursday, March 28th at Yards Brewing, and benefits Philabundance. Philly Beergasm will be a true love letter to local beer culture. Local breweries Forest and Main and 5 O’Clock Brew, as well as Philadelphia home brewers, will be on hand to provide their fantastic beers. Local chef Dan Berlin of Bongo Zeptobrewery is preparing an all beer-centric menu. Specific items will be made with some of the beer provided by the breweries in attendance. Beer Cakes Philly will provide their delicious beer-infused desserts (and believe me, I can attest to the deliciousness of these desserts. It's what I served my guests at my birthday soiree!). Spodee will be on hand with their wine/beer cocktails. There will be live music, a raffle, a free tour of Yards Brewing for attendees, activities like "Cream Your Own Cupcake," and much more.

January 16, 2013

Dominion Oak Barrel Stout

One of the best things about writing a blog - even for someone who writes as sporadically as me - is that when I tell people that I write a beer blog, they're usually pretty in to it, and if they're in the beer biz, I sometimes score free beer. For instance, just last week I met a couple of cool guys who were visiting from Baltimore (well, one was from CA visiting his friend in Baltimore, but you get the point). We got to talking and it turns out that one of them is a sales rep for Old Dominion Brewing out of Dover, DE. Luck was on my side and he gave me a couple of samples of their brews - Oak Barrel Stoute and Double D IPA. Both were really good, and got me wondering why I don't see them on tap in Philly. This post won't answer that question, but it will give you my impressions of the Old Barrel Stout.

Peated and smoked malts serve as the malt foundation, and dry hopping is done with vanilla beans and oak chips. The pour is black, with some dark ruby brown overtones. The smell is of coffee, toffee, caramel, and vanilla. The taste is roasty and bitter to start, followed by a sweetness that is caramelly, chocolatey, and coffeey (I know it's not really spelled that way but it followed the others). This is a great beer! While I'm really loving stouts this winter (even with the somewhat mild weather), this is one I could enjoy on a more regular basis, especially since it's only 6.1% ABV. Unfortunately, my stash was limited to only 2.

Now, I'm not saying that you'll get to try the beer for free, but if you see Old Dominion around (and apparently it's available at Wegman's in PA), it's definitely worth a try. Cheers!

January 9, 2013

A Worthy Beer

I was out in Minneapolis for New Years Eve. As I said to anyone who would listen, who doesn't want to go to the midwest in December/January? Yes, it was cold. There were wind chill advisories because temperatures were expected to feel like negative 20. It's all a matter of what you're used to, though. I went to the gym one morning and while I walked out in my heaviest winter coat buttoned to the top (which was over half my face), my hood pulled up, and gloves on, another woman who was leaving with me felt that only yoga pants that came to her mid-calf, flat shoes with no socks and an unzipped hoodie were necessary to make her feel warm.

While I'm sure you're not interested in the thinness of my blood, you may be interested in a tasty beverage I had while I was out there - Fulton's Worthy Adversary. The 9.2% ABV Russian Imperial Stout was up to the challenge of warming this Philly girl on the coldest of days. Pour was an inky black. Smell was of dark fruits, coffee and chocolate, and the taste followed with coffee, chocolate, roasty malts, and a touch of alcohol coming through. With such a big beer you'd expect the alcohol to be stronger. The fact that it wasn't was both delicious - and dangerous! You could easily get yourself in to trouble with this beer, especially if you don't realize how big it is going in to it.

Laugh at me as you may for visiting one of the coldest spots in the US during the one of the coldest times of the year. I think I got the last laugh by getting to try some of this amazing, locally brewed (Fulton is in Minneapolis) beer.

January 2, 2013

My best beer moments of 2012

Let me start off by saying I had a lot of great beer in 2012. A lot of it. But since I don't feel prepared to write about all of my favorites, instead I'll write about my favorite beer moments from throughout the year.

1) Not being hungover on New Years Day. Okay, so technically this is kind of like the absence of beer, but as someone who has spent many a New Years Day feeling hungover, it was really refreshing to wake up feeling great. I credit friends of mine for getting married on New Years Eve, and for not having a good beer selection at the reception. Thanks also to John for being a dancer and keeping me on the dance floor most of the night.

2) One of the rites of passage every February is the release of Pliny the Younger. I've had it the past 2 years, but this year I got to have it with John who has never had it before. It was nice to share the experience with him, since I know he had tried to get it in the past but wasn't able to.

3) Having Pliny the Younger (on a separate night than the one mentioned above) as well as Hopslam and Nugget Nectar. Talk about a good night of drinking!

At Closed For Business (SC)

4) In April, John and I went on a road trip. We drove as far south as Charleston, SC, and along the way we made many stops that included great beers. The Churchkey in DC is an amazing beer bar that I can't wait to get to again. We also stopped at the bar in Charlottesville where the Dave Matthews Band got its start. Afterward, we headed to Asheville -- which anyone who knows anything about beer will know it's a beer city. And finally on to Charleston, where we had lots of delicious food and some great local beers. It was an unforgettable trip, and proved that we can travel very well together -- even when driving for hours at a stretch.

Beer Scene Awards at WCL
5) In May, Philly Beer Scene had their first annual Philly Beer Scene Awards. It was a red carpet event held at World Cafe Live and one fun night. I can't wait for it to happen again this year!

Me and the HOG during Beer Week!
6) Philly Beer Week. Enough said.

7) I celebrated a big birthday this past summer. We chose to have a party at City Tap House, and couldn't have picked a better spot. Huge space, beautiful outdoor seating, so much great beer! Best of all, Lee Marren of Stone Brewing provided a keg of Ruination 10th Anniversary as part of the celebration, and Andy, City Tap House manager, opened a magnum of Blue Chimay (!) so that everyone could toast a birthday cheers. Now that's turning 40 in style!

8) The premiere of "Beeradelphia -- The City of Brewery Love." This event was right up there with the Philly Beer Scene Awards. A fun night of beer people getting together to watch a great movie was made even better by all the familiar faces on the screen (including a few unexpected spottings of my own!).  I wonder if everyone claps, whistles, and cheers at Hollywood viewing parties when they see someone they know? Regardless, I'm sure we had them beat with all the brews being served that night.

At Lagunitas

At Bear Republic
9) In October John and I went to San Francisco for 8 days. It was a wonderful trip that included lots of wine and beer. We had a memorable night at Russian River, where a $15 beer flight allowed us to sample EVERY beer they had on draft! We also went to Bear Republic, and had a fun afternoon trying out some of the beers we can't get here. But the best night was at Lagunitas, where we were able to crash a private event after we told the guys who worked there that we were visiting from Philly and wouldn't be able to come back another night. As always, the saying "beer people are good people" proves true.
Our flight at Russian River

10) And finally --  the Stone Epic vertical tasting at City Tap House. This one just took place a couple of weeks ago and it was truly epic! We tasted all of the Stone Epics, except for the '02. Can you even imagine? As if that wasn't enough, each one was paired with a perfect food accompaniment.

So there you go. My best beer moments of the last year. What were yours?

December 30, 2012

New Years Eve eve

It's the night before New Years Eve and I'm with friends in Minneapolis. I feel like I need more time to come up with my resolutions (because 364 days haven't been enough, apparently). I don't really have the time to alone to reflect on this past year, but I'm hoping tomorrow will allow some "me time" for reflection. I need to do that in order to better see where I've been and where I want to go next year. Again, I'm sure I could have done this earlier than now, so maybe I'll work on not procrastinating next year. Anyway, one thing is for sure. I'll be looking forward to many more good times - and good beers - with friends and family. As always, this year has had it's shares of ups and downs but I'm once again lucky enough to have had more ups than downs. I hope that you can say the same and if not, then I'm wishing you a better 2013. Hopefully I'll be more consistent with writing next year (not strongly worded enough for that to be a resolution, but I can change that).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

December 17, 2012

Why I Love Philly

Recently, the Travel Channel featured the episode of Anthony Bourdain's The Layover in Philadelphia. I know there were were a lot of viewing parties throughout the city in places that were featured on the show. While I didn't make it out to view with my fellow Philadelphians, I had a great time watching it at home. I was proud of the city I love so much; Anthony showed the real diversity that exists in the city, proved that our food scene is far more than just cheese steaks (as someone on the show rightly pointed out, people who live here really don't eat them all that often), and made us look like we're more than just an angry group of people (minus the woman who gave the finger to the cameraman at opening of the show, of course) who throw snowballs at Santa Claus and beat up on tourists.

It got me thinking about why I love Philly as much as I do. Sure, there are problems. Our transit system isn't that great, regardless of what Anthony said. Our public schools are mostly failing. There are a lot of homeless people and panhandlers. But I don't want to focus on what's wrong. I want to focus on what's right.

My boyfriend grew up in Iowa and moved to the east coast about 13 years ago. He was the first person, but not the last, that I heard call Philadelphia "the biggest little city". It's true. It's one of the things that I love most about the city. Because I grew up in the suburbs of Philly, then worked in one of the largest ad agencies here, and because of my involvement in the beer scene, there's rarely a time that we go out and I don't run in to someone I know. It doesn't matter what part of the city we're in - chances are I'll know someone. Now, that might sound like my ego talking, but it's not. It's what makes Philadelphia feel like a community to me. The whole damn city is really just one big community! It's so easy to get to know the people who are interested in the same things you are, if you're willing to make the effort.

Also, it's an extremely approachable city. It's not as big, or as busy, as New York, which makes you feel like you can come in and really get to know the different neighborhoods and the people who live there. As much as I feel that there's a lot of community in Philly, there are distinct neighborhoods. Each one has it's own vibe and offers something to the people living there. I was lucky enough to live Fairmount for 5 years. It was quiet, tree-lined, and full of great culture and restaurants. Then I was even luckier to move to Bella Vista and live there for two years. It was hip, cool, and eclectic. Lots of amazing things going on in that neighborhood to this day, as the restaurants and stores continue to come in to that vibrant area.

Of course, nothing is perfect and Philly most certainly isn't. But to me, it's perfect in it's imperfection.