BeerCamp Philly 2011: Serving 10 Gallons to the Masses 

Photo by the ever talented and lovely Marissa, who writes the most excellent Food in Jars.

It seems like eons ago, but on June 4 Ray, my dearest friend Rach and I served nearly 10 gallons of Bathtub Brewery’s homebrewed beer to a crowd of beer enthusiasts. And it was AWESOME.

We joined the BeerCamp crew earlier in the year, meeting 1-2 times a month at IndyHall where we would taste each others beer, chat and slowly figure out how we wanted the event to turn out (though really, Kelani, Johnny, Dave and Alex were the logistical masterminds behind ALL of it…we just made the libations!)

And then the first weekend of June rolled around and we hauled 4 cases of our bottled beer into the patio/garden area of the Jamaican Jerk Hut on South Street. We iced down some bottles, poured chilled beer into mammoth pitchers … and then got to drinking our fellow brewers’ beers during the VIP Brewers Hour.

Mel and Rach serve Bathtub Brewery's homebrews at BeerCamp Philly

Mel and Rach behind the table, working the crowd. Gotta love Rach's "Say wha?" face.

The three of us worked seamlessly as a team, with 2 people pouring while the other either cracked open bottles, ran to get food, or took a bathroom break. Rach and I attracted quite the crowd from time to time, and it was funny to see guys’ reactions to the fact that I was a brewer, not just a “table babe.” Ray and I fielded a fair amount of questions, and even Rach picked up enough lingo to explain what she was serving. We’ll make a brewer of her yet!

We served the much hailed Bee Sting and a new beer, simply named Cherry Wheat (recipe to be posted soon). We were happy with our offerings, but what blew us away was people coming up to the table and saying, “So we heard about this Bee Sting …” Say wha?! Apparently our fellow brewers were sending folks our way, heaving praise on our little hybrid pale ale. Talk about an awesome feeling.

Parker samples the Bee Sting

Parker samples a Bee Sting as a friend looks on

And we surprised more than a few people with our Cherry Wheat. Typically you say “Cherry Wheat” and people shudder at the Robitussin-like memory of a bottle from Sam Adams. But our brew was far from that. Instead, it was light, wheaty and a balance of sweet and tart. Attendees were shocked and asked for seconds.

After sampling the beers of my fellow homebrewers throughout the night, I’m proud to say I was part of BeerCamp, and I’m pretty sure Ray would agree with me. Why at least half these brewers aren’t pro already floors me. What I was drinking that night was innovative and downright delicious.

Tom and the Big Spoon Brewery Gang

Tom (far left) and the rest of his Big Spoon Brewery crew

Tom, from Big Spoon Brewery, brought his Wobbly Bass Brown, Mmmmm Creamy Milk Stout—and for the lucky—some bottles of his Russian Imperial Stout brewed with coffee. We were blown away and super happy when he took the Brewer’s Choice Award at the end of the night. People’s Choice Awards went to MelloProto Brewing’s Blood Orange Berliner aka B.ö.B., Saint Benjamin Brewing Co.’s Transcontinental (a California Common or “steam” beer) and B WeeRd Brew D’s CHOCRILLA, a stout brewed with sarsaparilla.

The food was fantastic, the beer superb and the company we kept was excellent. I can’t wait until the next BeerCamp Philly event!

Last 3 photos courtesy of Ray who isn’t in any photos because he was too busy taking them!




BeerCamp Philly Preview 

Mel and Ray at the Beer Camp Philly BrewfestPhoto by the ever talented and lovely Marissa, who writes one of my favorite canning blogs, Food in Jars.

Yeah, I know, we disappeared again. Bad homebrewers. BUT, during those 2.5 months, we brewed 10 gallons of beer, which we served to fest goers on Saturday for the 2011 BeerCamp Philly event. We had an AMAZING time and served possibly the best rendition of our Bee Sting Ale to date. Ray and I were incredibly proud of our beers and our fellow homebrewers.

I owe you our newest recipe, the Cherry Wheat Ale, which we touted as “NOT Robitussin—OR Sam Adams Cherry Wheat.” People loved its light, tart flavor. Perfect for summer.

So stay tuned!





Belgium Comes to West Chester 

Ryan, Mel and Bob at Belgium Comes to West Chester

Amy told us to look like serious Beer Geeks. This is what we managed.

7:00 AM on Saturday found me curled up in my guest room bed, watching a streaming movie on Netflix. Then my phone began to buzz. Less than 6 hours later, I found myself at Iron Hill West Chester with Ryan, LeeAnne and her dad for lunch and Belgium Comes to West Chester.

There were 22 Belgian beers available to sample or order full glasses; for samples, you could pay $2 per 4 oz pour, or you could order a flight. We made the decision to order flights 1 & 2 (listed below).

1. Iron Hill Maple Shade, NJ: Flemish Red Ale
2. Iron Hill North Wales, PA: Sour Dubbel
3. Iron Hill Media, PA: Wee Funky
4. Iron Hill West Chester, PA: Saison
5. Iron Hill Wilmington, DE: Quadrupel
6. Sly Fox Brewing, Royersford, PA: Ichor
7. New Holland Brewing, New Holland, MI: Black Tulip Tripel
8. Stewart’s Brewing Co., Bear, DE: Stumblin’ Monk
9. Troeg’s Brewing Co., Harrisburg, PA: Scratch 34
10. Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co., Roseland, VA: Dark Abby
11. Yards Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA: Trubbel de Yards
12. Stoudt’s Brewing Co., Adamstown, PA: Tripel
13. Nodding Head, Philadelphia, PA: Rudy’s Kung Fu Grip
14. Flying Fish Brewing Co., Cherry Hill, NJ: Exit 4 Hoppy Tripel

I’ve had the beers from Flying Fish, Nodding Head and Stoudts and was pleased to see them again. I was absolutely blown away by Iron Hill Wilmington’s Quad. Typically, I find quads to be too strong for me, but this beer somehow hid its 11.8% ABV. I enjoyed the chocolate meets caramel maltiness as well as the dark stone fruit notes. I could have ordered a full glass, it was so delicious.

The table favorite was New Holland’s Black Tulip Tripel. BTT was smooth with hints of clove and esters. The program listed Michigan beet sugar as an ingredient, which I found interesting.

Prior to BC•WC, I hadn’t heard of Devil’s Backbone Brewing; I found their Dark Abby to be a party of plums and bananas, and quite good. They list Appalachian sorghum syrup as an ingredient for “extra sexiness.” The beer is also fermented with 2 Belgian yeast strains and finished with red wine yeast for dryness. Very interesting.

As for the beers we missed, they were:

Victory Brewing Co., Downington, PA: Golden Monkey
Cambridge Brewing Co., Cambridge MA: Tripel Threat
Dogfish Head, Rehoboth, DE: Red & White
Ithaca Beer Co., Ithaca, NY: Brute
Harpoon Brewing Co., Boston, MA: Frites & Geeks
Brooklyn Brewing Co., Brooklyn, NY: Sorachi Ace Saison
Brooklyn Brewing Co., Brooklyn, NY: Local One
Manayunk Brewing Co., Philadelphia, PA: Yunker’s Nocturnum

I’ve had the offerings from Victory, DFH and Ithaca (Gold Medal Baby!), but would have liked to have sampled Tripel Threat from Cambridge (they blew me away at GABF) and Frites & Geeks from Harpoon.

Iron Hill West Chester's Gerardus Maximus

Iron Hill West Chester's Gerardus Maximus

To draw the afternoon to a close, I ordered one of West Chester’s specials, Gerardus Maximus, a bold hoppy red ale that danced along the lines of imperial in regard to ABV. I found it refreshing and a nice way to cut through the sweetness of the Belgian samplers.

The lovely Amy Strauss also ran around and snagged so many excellent photos for West Chester Dish. Check them out!

P.S. Do you know how many times I typed “Wester Chester” while writing this post? A lot.




Win a Trip to Belgium and Brew Some Beer 

I just had this gem drop into my gmail inbox:

PHILADELPHIA, PA — One regional brewer and one local beer drinker and will get a chance to win an all expenses paid trip to Belgium to help brew a Philly Beer Week (PBW) collaborative beer with world-renown brewer Dirk Naudts of De Proef Brouwerij.  The two lucky winners will be selected during a fun party on Wednesday, November 17 starting at 7 p.m. at McGillin’s Olde Ale House (1310 Drury St., 215-735-5562) in Center City.

Beers lovers can enter a raffle ($5 per ticket or 5 tickets for $20 to benefit PBW) to select the brewer that they would like to send to Belgium.  At 8:30 pm, one raffle ticket will be picked and the person who entered, along with the brewer named on their entry, will win the free trip.

Philly Beer Week 2011Well hot damn! Talk about the experience of a lifetime! The email contained a partial list of participating breweries:
Dock Street Brewing Co.
Dogfish Head
Flying Fish Brewing Co.
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant,
Lancaster Brewing Co.
Manayunk Brewpub
Nodding Head
Sly Fox Brewery
Stoudt’s Brewing Co.
Twin Lakes Brewing Co.
Troegs Brewing Co.
Victory Brewing Co.
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Yards Brewing Co.

The opportunity to brew with ANY of these brewers would be phenomenal. So, the lucky person who gets his or her “golden ticket” pulled will get to work the brewer of their choice and Naudts to develop a special porter recipe, which will then be poured during Philly Beer Week.

According to Don Russell—or as all us Philly folks know him, Joe Sixpack—the porter is a classic beer style in the Philadelphia area. “It has been brewed here since before the Revolution,” Russell explains. “It’s an extremely flexible style that allows all kinds of interpretation by inventive brewers.”

This specially-brewed porter will be the fifth in De Proef Brouwerij’s ongoing Brewmaster’s Collection series, which started back in 2007.




GABF 2010 — The Beers 

Great American Beer Festival 2010The Great American Beer Festival: 3 days, 450 breweries, 2,000 beers. And when it came to beers that were judged, we’re talking about 3 medal types,  79 categories, 519 competing breweries, 133 judges from across the globe and 3,601 beers judged. Hot damn!

We attended the Saturday afternoon members-only session, which gave us the opportunity to mingle with fellow AHA members for 4 hours. You do no consume 2,000 beers in 4 hours; this is why many people buy multiple session tickets, but we felt one was enough.

Below is a list of beers Ray and I tried (alpha by brewery name); some breweries wowed us enough to try all their offerings, but usually we managed 2 per brewery visited. And we skipped any beer we have had previously.

  1. Mo’TCHO Risin (21st Amendment)
  2. Back in Black (21st Amendment)
  3. Volksbier (Bear Republic Brewing Co.)
  4. Cuvee de Bubba (Bear Republic Brewing Co.)
  5. Le Contrebassiste (Bell’s Brewery)
  6. Bison Organic Chocolate Stout (Bison Brewing Co.)
  7. Bison Organic IPA (Bison Brewing Co.)
  8. Bad Knees (Cambridge Brewing Co.)
  9. CaCow! (Cambridge Brewing Co.) This was my first beer of the fest and it completely blew me away with it’s amazing chocolatey goodness. A strong rival to the pint of Rogue’s Double Chocolate Stout that I had Friday evening.
  10. Arquebus (Cambridge Brewing Co.)
  11. The Colonel (Cambridge Brewing Co.)
  12. 1919 choc Beer (Choc Beer Co.)
  13. Signature Dubbel (Choc Beer Co.)
  14. Signature Quad (Choc Beer Co.)
  15. Shillelagh Stout (Cooper Canyon Brewery)
  16. Tamarillo (Dogfish Head)
  17. GraintoGlass (Dogfish Head)
  18. Canadian Breakfast Stout (Founders Brewing Co.) Woo-hoo whiskey!
  19. Devil Dancer (Founders Brewing Co.)
  20. Ad Astra Ale (Free State Brewing Co.)
  21. Stormwatch Ale (Free State Brewing Co.)
  22. Matilda (Goose Island Beer Co.)
  23. Bourbon Country Brand Coffee Stout (Goose Island Beer Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  24. Colette (Great Divide Brewing Co.) SILVER MEDAL
  25. Hades (Great Divide Brewing Co.)
  26. Belgica (Great Divide Brewing Co.)
  27. Aged Hibernation (Great Divide Brewing Co.)
  28. Glockenspiel (Great Lakes Brewing Co.) A tasty weizenbock
  29. Rye of the Tiger (Great Lakes Brewing Co.) A rye IPA, possibly my new favorite style.
  30. Bourbon Barrel Stout (Green Flash Brewing Co.)
  31. Le Freak (Green Flash Brewing Co.)
  32. Maggie (Grumpy Troll Brewery, Restaurant & Pizzeria) Okay, so I had to try a beer that has the same name as my parents’ rambunctious yellow lab. Maggie is a double ESB that impressed both of us.
  33. Iroquois Wheat Beer (Horseheads Brewing)
  34. Horseheads IPA (Horseheads Brewing)
  35. Hot-Jala-Heim Beer (Horseheads Brewing) I picked this beer up, but after finding the flavor to be too peppery for my tastes, I passed it along to Ray, who LOVED it. He found there to be a lot of chile aroma in the nose and a nice slow burn.
  36. Blanche de Hill (Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant)
  37. The Cannibal (Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant)
  38. LeBleu (Ithaca Beer Co.)
  39. Super Friends (Ithaca Beer Co.) Collaboration beer with Brewery Ommegang, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Flying Fish Brewing Co., Southampton Publick House and Valley Brewing Co., producing an American IPA fermented solely with Brett.
  40. Wee Heavy (Mad Fox Brewing Co.)
  41. Rauch E. Balboa (Manayunk Brewing Co.)
  42. Tritessa (McKenzie Brew House)
  43. La Folie Sour Brown Ale (New Belgium Brewing Co.)
  44. Imperial Berliner-Style Ale (New Belgium Brewing Co.)
  45. Garden State Stout (New Jersey Beer Co.) Ray was pleasantly surprised by this beer from North Jersey, his old stomping grounds.
  46. Tread Lightly Ale (New Planet Beer Co.)
  47. 3R Raspberry Ale (New Planet Beer Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  48. Green Menace IPA (North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery)
  49. Espresso Imperial Stout (North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery)
  50. Bourbon Barrel Stout (Odell Brewing Co.)
  51. Friek (Odell Brewing Co.)
  52. Woodcut #4 (Odell Brewing Co.)
  53. Deconstruction (Odell Brewing Co.)
  54. Coconut Porter (Pagosa Brewing Co.) The coconut comes out immediately in the nose, and better yet, it follows through for the entire time it’s in your mouth. It also tastes like real, fresh coconut, not some plasticky extract. Ray and I were both pleasantly surprised. This would make an excellent stout float. SILVER MEDAL
  55. Soaker’s Stout (Pagosa Brewing Co.)
  56. Poor Richard’s Ale (Pagosa Brewing Co.)
  57. Milk Stout (Portsmouth Brewery)
  58. Rye Not (Portsmouth Brewery)
  59. Whipper Snapper (Portsmouth Brewery)
  60. Gose (Portsmouth Brewery)
  61. Bitto Honey IPA (Prism Brewing Co.)
  62. Tea Party Pale Ale (Prism Brewing Co.) Ray tried to joke with the volunteer about the unfortunate name of this beer (brewed with tea), but got the surly response of “Not my beer” in return. Oh well.
  63. Ugly Pug (Rahr & Sons Brewery)
  64. Superfly Dunkel Rye (Ram Restaurant & Brewery)
  65. Sunshine Nectar (Redstone Meadery) A lovely session mead made with apricots. Bright and smooth.
  66. Nectar of Hops (Redstone Meadery) Yes that’s right, this is a session mead made with hops. The flavor is mellow and slightly sweet, and the hop flavor shines.
  67. Black Raspberry Nectar (Redstone Meadery) Lovely purpley-pink and slightly tart.
  68. Simcoe IPA (Rock Bottom Breweries)
  69. XXXX IPA (Shipyard Brewing Co.)
  70. Smashed Pumpkin Ale (Shipyard Brewing Co.) My first pumpkin of the fest … really knocked it out of the park with the nose and flavor.
  71. Cherry Bomb (Strange Brewing Co.)
  72. Cherry Kriek (Strange Brewing Co.)
  73. Buffalo Sweat (Tall Grass Brewing Co.)
  74. Oasis (Tall Grass Brewing Co.)
  75. Munsterfest (Three Floyds Brewing Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  76. Bin ich schwarz genug fur dich? (Three Floyds Brewing Co.) This takes the cake for funkiest name. A decent Schwarzbier.
  77. Butthead Bock (Tommyknocker Brewery)
  78. Maple Nut Brown Ale (Tommyknocker Brewery)
  79. TPS Report (Trinity Brewing Co).
  80. The Flavor (Trinity Brewing Co.)
  81. Old Growth (Trinity Brewing Co.)
  82. Stop Making Sense (Trinity Brewing Co.)
  83. Jewish Rye Beer (Triumph Brewing Co. of Princeton) Possibly the BEST rye we’ve ever had. It tasted like someone put a fresh-baked slice of rye bread in the glass. SO GOOD.
  84. Flying Mouflan (Troegs Brewery) GOLD MEDAL
  85. Northstar Imperial Porter (Twisted Pine Brewing Co.)
  86. Big Shot Espresso Stout (Twisted Pine Brewing Co.) BRONZE MEDAL
  87. Fifteen (Weyerbacher Brewing Co.)
  88. Lima (Weyerbacher Brewing Co.)
  89. Jormungandr’s Revenge (Pro-Am competition entry between Dogfish Head and homebrewers Kyle Kernozek and Michelle Dickey)
  90. Red Velvet (Pro-Am competition entry between Eagle Rock Brewery and homebrewer Donny Hummel) GOLD MEDAL
  91. Ryed Hard and Put Away Wet (Pro-Am competition entry between Rockyeard Brewing Co. and homebrewer Adam Glasser) SILVER MEDAL

This list doesn’t include the 2 beers we had from the Colorado Guild table (not listed in the program), but still, 90+ beers in 4 hours time. Wow. And a lot were medal winners (medals were announced starting at 1:30, so as winners were announced, suddenly those kegs were sucked dry).

Triumph Brewing Co.'s Jewish Rye

We were floored by Jewish Rye from Princeton's Triumph (NJ represent!)

We saw a lot of ryes out there, which were fantastic. The sours were out in full force, with someone asking me “Are sours the new thing?” I’ve been on the sour bus for a solid 3+ years now, but I do think they are uncharted territory for some.

However, I have to mention Trinity Brewing: Almost all of their beers tasted the of the same sourness. And not in a good way. I actually began feeling sick to my stomach, and we were only 30 minutes into the fest at that point. Ray and I feel that something let loose through that brewery, rendering the same off, highly-acetic flavor in their offerings. It was a shame. But in better news, Ithaca Beer’s Brute took gold for the American-style sour, which made me happy. They’re a great brewery.

Cambridge Brewing Co. wowed us, as well as their neighbor at the next table, Portsmouth Brewery. And Odells…nicely done with your offerings!

Ray declared GABF better than SAVOR 2010, and in some cases I have to agree with him. SAVOR did not bring its A-game this year, which definitely brings it down a notch. Also, the space was a bit tighter than GABF, and open space is always a good thing to have at a fest. Nevertheless, we had a great time and will be back for the GABF’s 30th anniversary in 2011.




Denver & GABF or BUST! 

Denver Colorado Beer Facts

Ray received an email from Jake, one of the minds behind the very amusing graphic you see above. Jake explained that the graphic was created out of Colorado state pride and to commemorate the upcoming Great American Beer Festival, and would be honored if we shared it. So why the heck not?

Today we get on a plane for the Mile-High City and have a semi-busy schedule for the first few days leading up to the AHA members-only session of GABF that we’ll be attending on Saturday afternoon. We’re looking forward to visiting Great Divide’s tap room again, where this time we’ll be able to enjoy some food from Appaloosa Grill that uses some of GD’s amazing beers in the dish. Reading the menu makes my mouth water.

There are a ton of events throughout the entire city that I’m sure we’ll trip upon, but Friday morning is reserved for a very special event. Ray and I will be attending the Ladies of Craft Beer Beer for Boobs Brunch at newly opened Freshcraft. I’m excited to meet some of my fellow LadiesOCB face-to-face, and am even happier to see 50% of each ticket go toward breast cancer awareness. Aside from a stellar buffet, deals on pints and a great crowd, the sold-out brunch will feature special guest Sebbie Buehler—the face of Rogue’s Chocolate Stout. She will be presenting as an exclusive keg of Double Chocolate Stout to be tapped. Excitement!

Then after GABF, Ray and I have an entire week to play in Denver and the surrounding areas. We plan on going back to Boulder, possibly making it up to Fort Collins, and basically checking out all of Denver’s nooks and crannies (Thomas English Muffin style!), as we discover more about the city that wowed us on our honeymoon last year and convinced us it should be our new home.




Brewfests—What It’s Like on the Opposite Side of the Table 

Sly Fox tap handleOn Saturday afternoon I poured the heck out of Sly Fox’s brews at Geraghty’s Fall Beer and Food Fest, with proceeds benefiting the Burlington City Recreational Activities, giving kids the opportunity to be kids and play and keep them out of trouble.

I showed up, met Chris from Hunterdon and after listening to him rattle off a couple things I would need, I jumped right in. I iced my cooler coils and hauled the 2 kegs into a tub, icing them down as well. Everything was already connected, so I got a pitcher from the bar, cleared the lines and got my tap handles put on.

I was the very first table, with Yards to my right. Toby, Yards’ warehouse manager, was there with his girlfriend Maria. Toby manned the next tap handles down as a favor for Tröegs, while Maria poured for Yards. We poured ourselves samples to check the lines a little more thoroughly, and then settled in to wait for the brewfest patrons. Mel working the Sly Fox taps

The turnout was pretty light—not what I’m typically used to. Lines were nonexistent, that is, unless someone took too long to make up his mind about which beer he wanted. I was prepared, informing fest goers about Pikeland Pils‘ GABF awards and its light, crisp taste (perfect for a day that was in the 80s and sunny) or of the new seasonal, Oktoberfest and its Vienna malts and amber hue.

There were a lot of Pikeland Pils fans (makes sense … it’s one of Sly Fox’s top sellers). One the slightly stranger moments of the day was when a woman leaned over the cooler and giddily whispered to me “This smells like pot!” I smiled, told her hops and marijuana are from the same family and sent her on her way. (I didn’t think the Pils smelled at all like pot, but then again, my senses are more refined in regard to beer aroma).

I had another woman come back to me for a total of 8-10 times, saying she didn’t like anything else there—that included Victory Hop Devil and Festbier; Southampton Publick House’s Pumpkin; Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin and Autumn Fest, and a lot of other great beers covering almost every category—literally something for everyone—but everyone’s tastes are different.

As a whole, the fest goers were 98% male, and the women who were attending typically made a beeline for my table and Pils. I had a lot of people look at the dark brown beer in my personal pint glass and say “What are YOU drinking?” I’d smile, point to Toby down at Tröegs and say “Java Head Stout.” I love that beer!

And so the afternoon went on. Ray stopped by and got to hang out—I even let him pour a few beers so I could check out what else was on tap. I had a great time, up until I went to get a taste of Southampton’s pumpkin. On my way there, a short, grizzled man stopped me, and informed me how disappointed he was in me and Sly Fox and how we didn’t bring our A-game. I pointed out this was a Fall fest, we brought appropriate beers. He wouldn’t listen, just kept complaining. I finally told him I was only a volunteer, a homebrewer, and I had no control over what was sent. That still wouldn’t shut him up. So I told him that if he didn’t like what I had to pour, he could just skip my table, because there were plenty of other tables to visit. Seeing that he couldn’t be reasoned with, I stepped around him, got my pour from Southampton, and went back to my taps. Man, there’s one in every crowd I guess.

Ray on the tapsWhile the crowd remained light throughout the afternoon, I had a fun time talking with Toby and Maria, as well as the fest goers. I even had one gentleman, a homebrewer with 23 years experience, say I sounded like I was part of the industry based on the discussion we were having about homebrewing and Stoudts and prices. I smiled at that. Maybe someday I will be part of the craft beer industry—I think that’d be pretty damn cool.




Pouring for the First Time — Geraghty’s Fall Beer and Food Festival 

Sly Fox logoTomorrow I will be representing Sly Fox at Geraghty’s Fall Beer and Food Festival in Burlington, NJ. How freakin’ awesome is that? Immensely awesome.

Beerlass and Sly Fox Beer Slinger Extraordinaire Suzanne Woods put out the call for help this morning and I jumped on it. The chance to pour at a fest? Excellent. For Sly Fox? Too cool. At a new pub that’s a 9-minute drive from my place? How could I NOT volunteer?

I’ll be pouring 2 of Sly Fox’s top notch brews (to be revealed later), and alongside me will be beers from the following breweries:

Blue Point
Cricket Hill
Flying Dog
Flying Fish
Long Trail
Magic Hat
New Jersey Brewery




Philly Beer Week 

Philly Beer Week 2011 Yes, I know Philly Beer Week has come and gone. This year, the revelries took place Jun 4-13, with 195 participants and more than 1,000 successful events. Suffice to say, the event freaking blew up from 2009—which had 700 events over the course of 10 days—with a lot of new faces and venues clamoring to get in on the action. Talk about a good thing gone great.

In 2009, Ray and I attended a couple of events, but it was tough with some of the more interesting ones being smack dab in the middle of the workday. However, in 2010, we missed every single event. Not because we have no love for Philly Beer Week, but because we were A. super busy with condo prepping and ACL sprains; and B. going to SAVOR. But I downloaded the Philly Beer Week iPhone app—designed by six members of Philly’s CocoaHeads—and was pretty impressed.

So a month and change has gone by, the Royal Stumble survived, and I just received a press release letting me know to prep my drinking arm, because Philly Beer Week 2011 will be back with a vengeance, spanning June 3-12, 2011. According to the release, PBW 2011 will see the return of the Hammer of Glory (HOG)—”the official keg hammer of Philly Beer Week, and its over-the-top journey across the city to arrive at the Opening Tap, conveyed by everything from kinetic sculpture to zip line to Philly Roller Girls”; The Forum of the Gods, with some of the biggest names in brewing for an informal round table talk; and tons of events ranging from beer pairings to meet the brewer to festivals. There is also talk of an enhanced iPhone app, inspired by the 2010 version. I will definitely be downloading that!

So consider this a “Save the Date” of sorts, and prep that drinking arm. If Philly Beer Week could grow from 700 to 1000 events in a single year, just imagine what’s in store for 2011.




Royal Stumble 11 

Royal Stumble 11 line

Waiting in line, in the rain, in good spirits, for Nodding Head's door to open

Saturday, July 10 was Nodding Head’s annual Royal Stumble, this year being the 11th for the unique beerfest. Talk about an institution! The theme was “It’s Always Sunny at the Royal Stumble,” but as I alluded to in my previous Wee Bit Stumble video, that was a misnomer. Why? Because it rained from early morning until well after Nodding Head opened its doors to a soggy line of people.

But could rain keep us down? Hell no! This is the Stumble! This is the fest where breweries are clamoring to make sure your glasses are full, and your buffet plates have a nice assortment of pub food. I’m betting Nodding Head could move the Stumble into the dead of winter and folks would still come out, brimming with craft beer love and non-douche-baggery.

Yards Brewery wins the Royal Stumble

Yards Philly Pale Ale wins the Royal Stumble for 2010!

This year, Ryan and LeeAnne joined us after I talked their ears off nonstop about how the Stumble is one of the quintessential fests of the year. Making our way up the stairs, Yards was the first to grace my glass, pouring me a tall one of their Philly Pale Ale. Crisp and hoppy, it was a great way to start. Yards also managed to kick their keg first, giving them the honor of being the RS winner. Yay for Yards!

After getting our first pour and winding through the boisterous crowd, we commandeered a table (like you do) tucked in a far back corner and went to the buffet in shifts to get pulled pork, mini latkes, mac salad, and for those interested, hot wings and franks. It was a nice spread that was replenished often, without being over the top, dry or skimpy.

The offerings for the day were:

Ray at Royal Stumble


Dock St.: Saison Du Potts
Dogfish Head: Festina Peche
Earth Bread + Brewery: Glutenus Minimus
Flying Fish: Farmhouse Ale
General LaFayette: Barren Hill Best Bitter
Nodding Head: Grog
Ommegang: Rare Vos
Philadelphia Brewing Co: Pennsylvania Pale Ale
Sly Fox: Helles
Stewart’s: Coffee Stout
Stoudt’s: Heifer in Wheat
Triumph: Saison
Troegs: Sunshine Pils
Twin Lakes: Greenville Pale Ale
Victory: Helios
Yards: Philly Pale Ale

There were a lot of familiar beers in the line up, as well as a few welcome surprises. Earth Bread + Brewery’s Glutenus Minimus knocked my socks off! The beer is gluten free and sits at 2.5% ABV. Despite the low ABV, the beer packed a punch in the flavor department. At first I thought I was drinking Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche when I snagged a sip from LeeAnne’s glass. Nope! It was EBB’s Glutenus, and the flavor sang of fresh, succulent peaches. I could sure use a growler of that!

Twin Lakes Brewing Co.’s Greenville Pale Ale was an organic offering and nicely showcased Cascade hops. The gentleman manning the taps was jovial and full of information about the beer and brewery, and it was nice to see a new face at the fest.

As always, Festina Peche was a welcome refreshment, as was Stoudt’s Heifer in Wheat (I proudly told the brewery rep that I was married there, which he thought was pretty damn cool). Triumph’s Saison was spot-on for the style and General LaFayette’s Barren Hill Best Bitter had a pleasant nuttiness about it.

I think the beer that surprised me the most was Sly Fox’s Helles Golden Lager. I have to admit, I’m not really a lager girl. I respect the style and how accurate a brewer needs to be with lager beers, but they’ve never been on the top of my list. However, I found the Helles exceptionally crisp and refreshing, with a little je ne sais quoi that made it really enjoyable. I also had a chance to chat with Philly’s one and only Beerlass Suzy about the state of beer in NJ, Denver-area breweries, and my awesome Oskar Blues Canarchy t-shirt (which looks to be unavailable now, per the website).

LeeAnne and her 5 lb bag of Artisan Coffee from Stewarts

LeeAnne and her 5 lb bag of artisan coffee from Stewart's

While Ray, Ryan and I were steadily getting our drink on, LeeAnne — who’s not a huge fan of beer — set about the challenge that Stewart’s Brewing Co. had put out: For every pour of their Coffee Stout you had, you would earn a sticker. The person with the most stickers got a 5-pound bag artisan coffee — the same kind that was used to brew the stout.

So LeeAnne, extroverted and friendly as she is, managed to amass 146 stickers, while not drowning herself in the stout (which was delicious, by the way). Instead, she went from person to person collecting stickers, all the while trying the beer a few times. Talk about entrepreneurial spirit.

We left the Royal Stumble shortly before the end with five pounds of coffee in tow, heading off through the humid, wet streets of Philly in search of our next great adventure for the weekend: roller derby.

Philly Roller Girls Roller Derby

Derby girls are faaaaaaast!