As prior engagements prevented me from going to Opening Tap on Friday night, Beer Week 2011 started for me on Saturday. With a couple friends coming in from out of town (one who had spent the past 6 months in Spain) it was quite serendipitous that there was plenty for us to do in the city. We had decided that we would plant ourselves in Northern Liberties/Fishtown for the day instead of trekking all over, sometimes limiting your options during Beer Week just makes life easier.
Photo courtesy of Stephen Lyford
First up was Johnny Brenda’s “it’s a FiRKin RiOT!” for some real ale and lunch. Despite the fact that I had passed this place countless times driving to and from Temple over the past 5 years I had never once stepped foot inside. The British inspired event featured over 15 firkins that would be tapped over the course of the day, some standard English menu items, and of course UK rock blasting all day long. It was tough deciding which brew to go with since so many were quite rare but I opted for the Dock Street Curried OMG Pale Ale first. We had this beer on tap at work and I had really enjoyed it so I was expecting to love this incarnation but didn’t get too much out of it. I was expecting the curry to come through a lot stronger than it had but still…a damn fine beer to have on a humid day sitting outside as we were.
I’ve been on a bit of a hummus kick lately so Meridith and I had to give thier plate a taste which was really fantastic, I could’ve scarfed it all down by myself. The obvious choice for lunch however was the fish and chips complete with a cup of vinegar, just the perfect meal for the occasion. We were there a little on the earlier side and some of the firkins that I was initially looking forward to wouldn’t be tapped until later so I went with one I had already had, Flying Fish’s Wild Rice Double IPA, Exit 16. A little lighter in appearance than most DIPA’s but it doesn’t hold back in the flavor department. Medium bodied, grapefruity, hoppy, and deceptively smooth, this is one of the best beers Flying Fish has ever made so if you happen to see it out at any point you’d better order up! We couldn’t stick around too long so it was farewell to the folks at Johnny Brenda’s although I was a bit disappointed I was missing Victory’s Yakima Glory firkin. I also wish they had been pouring full pints from the firkins, I don’t think the Brits would have appreciated the smaller serving sizes…just saying.
Photo courtesy of Standard Tap
We made our way to Standard Tap were the annual Kingpin contest was already underway where everyone’s favorite local breweries compete to see who can kick their pin first. This year’s lineup included Yards Brawler, Troegs Hopback, Sly Fox Phoenix Pale Ale, Philadelphia Brewing Kenzinger, Dock Street Summer Session, Flying Fish Exit 11, and my personal choice, Weyerbacher‘s version of a Black & Tan i.e. Double Simcoe IPA and Old Heathen Imperial Stout. Double Simcoe is possibly my favorite DIPA so I wasn’t going to pass up this behemoth concoction which did not disappoint at all. While either one of those beers would have probably been too heavy for a mid-afternoon brew, combined they balanced each other out just fine. This seemed to be the crowd favorite and the most interesting choice there but I later found out that Dock Street ended up taking the grand prize, that Summer Session does go down quite easily so I’m not surprised. Pours from the firkins at Johnny Brenda’s were $5 as they were at Kingpin, the difference being Standard Tap pouring full pints of local goodness…thanks for that.
It seemed like everyone was at least stopping by this event with reps from nearly all of the present breweries and other beer scene notables mingling about including the legendary Hammer Of Glory which I got an obligatory picture with…it’s just something you need to do. Meridith wasn’t too fond of the pin offerings but they had Weyerbacher Blanche (her favorite) on tap which made her happy while I snuck in a glass of Sly Fox’s Saison VOS before we left to meet up with the rest of our group.
This was a good start to Beer Week 2011 and the day continued on with a few more stops before heading home but I’ll save those for the next post.