[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Despite claims from certain so-called “friends”. I have witnesses that the Hammer of Glory was safely returned to those responsible for it after I touched it. I also wish to point out that I have an alibi for Saturday’s Fishtown Festival festival, which is the last place the Hammer was seen. I am hoping that the Hammer eventually finds its way back home.]
Someone needs to pinch me. Or maybe more appropriately, hit me with a hammer. Philly Beer Week kicked off with it’s usual bang when Mayor Michael Nutter used the official Hammer of Glory to tap a keg of Brotherly Suds 4. And we got to attend as members of the media. Yeah, I laugh whenever I say it too.
Normally this would have been an event that we would have missed, much to the dismay of my friend Patrick, over at Crafty and The Beast. He’s long brow beat me at my inability to get off my lazy ass and make a trip to a Philly Beer Week event (he’s a regular Forum of the Gods attendee) in what he calls “separating the geeks from the meeks.” But as much as some of the events really look awesome, we’ve just never made it up there. Until this year, and we have the awesome guys at It’s Just the Booze Dancing to thank.
A few days before the kick off of PBW, G-Lo emailed me that he had media passes that they couldn’t use for the Brewer’s Breakfast that was going to be held on Saturday and wanted to know if we wanted them. Once I confirmed that “we” were available that day (don’t laugh, I’m not the social planner/calendar in this relationship) he sent an email to Jennie Hatton, of Profile PR and asked that we be added to the list.
Sadly, Jennie emailed that the breakfast had been cancelled which I was willing to accept, and figured we’d miss another year. But Jennie asked if we wanted to attend the Opening Tap instead. Did we? Ok, I’ll be honest, I didn’t run this one past the calendar before I accepted. Bad me.
The next thing we knew, we were standing in the VIP/Media line at the Independence Hall Visitor’s Center being signed-in and wrist-banded. After we checked-in we met up with Patrick, who had volunteered at the event, and walked out to the front lawn to witness the tapping ceremony by Mayor Michael Nutter. Using the Hammer of Glory, and with the tap being held by Tom Kehoe of Yard’s Brewing, Nutter swung a mighty blow!! OK, so Dominic Brown isn’t in any danger of losing his status of currently being Philly’s hardest slugger, but it was strong enough to tap the keg of Brotherly Suds 4 that had been collectively brewed by Iron Hill (Mark Edelson), Nodding Head (Gordon Grubb), Flying Fish (Gene Muller), Victory (Bill Covaleski) and Yards (Tom Kehoe), who collaborated to decide on the style of an English summer ale with citrusy hops.
Not long after the tapping was over, we entered the VIP tasting where about 20 breweries were pouring bottles of some awesome beers such as Evolution Brewery’s Migration Fall 2012, Manayunk’s Siembra, Neshaminy Creek’s Leon Russian Imperial Stout, Fegley’s Arctic Alchemy and Insidious, Yard’s Grand Cru, Sly Fox’s Incubus, Sam Adam’s Stoney-Brook Red, Dock Street Trappist IPA, . But the highlight for us was getting a chance to talk to Weyerbacher head brewer, Chris Wilson about his Philadelphia Inquire Brew-vitational award winning Riserva 2012. Luckily we’d tried it earlier because as we were talking to him, they ran out of bottles. But that didn’t keep Chris from offering Tracey seconds.
Soon however, it was time to venture out into the regular tasting which just put the “off” in “off the charts”. The main hallway of the Visitor’s Center was filled with the entire length with beer booths. Beers were flowing freely amongst the historic back drops and displays. The event was crowded, but didn’t seem crowded as the wait for beers was never that long, and there seemed to be plenty of time to have a quick chat with a brewer or representative. We got a chance to stop by Doylestown Brewery, Saint Benjamin (opening in the fall), Lancaster Brewing, Rock Bottom, Susquenhanna, River Horse, Naked Brewing and a few more.
At the end of the hallway the expanse of the event became apparent as Patrick asked, “Have you been upstairs yet?” Upstairs? Where is this magic staircase? Oh yeah, right there in front of me. I blame the beer. At the top of the stairs we found a balcony full of booths (including Boxcar, Weyerbacher, Prism, Manneken-Penn, and Evil Genius) an outside patio full of booths (including Nodding Head, Dockstreet, Round Guys, Yards, and Samuel Adams), and a room full of even more booths (including Victory, Iron Hill [pouring their Petite Fortunella and Sweet Leaf IPA], Shawneedcraft, Flying Fish, Stoudts, Fegley’s, and Twin Lakes). This really put the “off” in….oh, wait. I’ve already used that. It was at this time that I bumped into Seen Through The Glass writer and Session Beer Project creator, Lew Bryson. Lew is a force in the craft beer/whiskey world but he also shares the distinction (along yours truly) of cutting his internet beer teeth in the old Usenet Rec.Food.Drink.Beer group. We reminisced for a bit about the time we spent on there, and then went our separate ways. Lew to go back down into the crowded hallway, and me to explore the beauty of the upper level.
At this point you’re probably thinking this event JUST.COULD.NOT.GET.BETTER!! Wrong!! Suddenly a man walked up to me and introduced himself, “Hi Ed, I’m G-Lo! And this is LimpD!” Wow! One half of Booze Dancing in the hizzzzz-house!!! OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking, “Oh god, here he goes kissing BD’s collective asses because they hooked them with media passes for Opening Tap!” Well you could NOT be more wrong. I’m going to kiss their asses because they were one of the first blogs to follow me when I started, and they’ve always been overly kind and gracious to me. Which… includes….hooking us up with media passes for Opening Tap….(looks down)…yeah, I guess you were right. Anyway…if you’re into beer and whiskey and NOT following them, shame on you!
After a bit of conversation, we grouped up and set back to the task at hand, and without further ado we entered the upstairs room. Now here is where that awkward moment that can happen at beer festivals started to occur. To paraphrase the 10th Doctor (which people will tell you I do WAY to much), people think that beer festivals are a directly line of cause and effect from the first beer to the last. When actually, they’re more like a big ball of wibbely-wobbley, timey-whimy stuff. And this is when the event got a little timey-whimy. Yeah, I had a fully charged camera, and I even had a digital recorder on me, so there should be no reason why I can’t give you a detailed account of what was in there and what beers we tried. But I can’t. By that time I was just having a blast hanging out with Tracey, Patrick, G-Lo and LimpD, trying beers, discussing beers and trading stories.
Well, I can tell you this one thing. It was here that I finally got to meet up with Twin Lakes brewery Rob Pfeiffer. Rob and I have conversed a few times on my Facebook page, but this is the first time I’ve ever had the chance of shake his hand. And I just have to say, that man is the HAPPIEST guy I’ve ever met, LOL. And why not? After all, his “work” life revolves around making beer. Why wouldn’t he be happy?
Before we knew it, it was time for the event to end and for everyone to say goodbye. But not before we stopped by at the Lancaster Brewing booth to talk to head brewer Bill Moore and the excellent work he’s brewery is doing for the Wolf Sanctuary of PA, and shared some conversation on the elevator down to the parking lot with Yard’s head brewer Tom Kehoe. Opening Tap as was awesome time, and we thank all the brewers and volunteers who made it so.
Special thanks to G-Lo for the hook-up, and Jennie Hutton for her graciousness in adding us to the list.