I managed to make it to 5 Beer Week events over the weekend, the final weekend of Beer Week. Let me just say off the bat that I love Beer Week. The slogan is "America's Best Beer Drinking City" and I'd say it's hard to argue that. I'm sure a few places tried to just get in on the act by throwing up some cheesy last minute events but all of the events I went to were well thought out, featured special beers I'd never otherwise get to try, or were just plain fun. Here's my final four events reviewed:
Breckenridge Brewery Night at Devil's Den
First let me say that Devil's Den has one of the best happy hours I've been to. It's from 5-7 (many end at 6) and ALL of their drafts are 1/2 off. Even the special one off beers for this event were half price during happy hour. Additionally, they have some great snacks in the 3-4 dollar range, including fantastic chick pea fries that my wife has been raving about for months and I didn't get it until I tried them on Friday--they were fluffy yet creamy, spicy and delicious. Nothing on the snack menu quite filling enough for a dinner probably, but cheap snacks to go with discount beer, who can complain? Now, the event. They were tapping a bunch of specialty beers. I first tried the Double ESB aged in whisky casks made for Breckenridge's 20th anniversary. I had never heard of a Double ESB, much less one aged in whisky casks. But as I told the Breckenridge rep who we met, I love ESBs and I love whisky, so it's a match made in heaven. Truth be told, I had a whisky aged beer later in the weekend that I think was better, but I'm getting ahead of myself. After that I had a collaberation beer made by Stillwater (known for saisons) and De Strusse (from Belgium). It was a dark saison, very malty but still saison-like. A bit strange but fun. My wife had the Breckenridge Tripel, a pale ale made with a belgian yeast strain. It was tasty. She also had Weyerbacher Que?bec, a summer beer from their Brewer's Select Series, with names based on the NATO phonetic alphabet. (It's the "K," it's hard to explain. I have a buddy who can explain it to you if you like, but it has to do with the locals calling it Ka-bec). Anyhow, Devil's Den was fun.
Beat the Heat Wheat Night at Brauhaus Schmitz
Brauhaus is a great German beer hall on South Street. Authentic food, costumes, music, the whole nine. I've eaten there but have been meaning to go back to get beer served by the liter, like we had in Germany. My wife and I both had a liter of Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat--the beer wench warned it would be "a lot of tangerine" but for me it was great. I enjoyed every drop. It's not typical to drink wheat beer from a giant mug but it seemed fitting given the name of the event. We also had some German cheeses and meats and shared a fantastic pretzel.
SPTR Extreme Beer Brunch
We only had time to stop for one drink with friends at the Taproom's end of Beer Week party. They had a bunch of Russian River regulars and rarities. But I was there for one beer: Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Breakfast Stout is at the top of a lot of folks' all time beer lists. I don't feel I've had it enough to make the claim that it's in my top five, but I know it's damn good, why not put some in bourbon barrels and taste the results? It was great stuff. Barrel aged beers can tend to have a strange finish, and this was no different, but it was a great overall balance and interplay of the sweetness of the stout with the vanilla and "whisky-ness" of the bourbon barrel.
Shel Silverstein Brunch at P.O.P.E.
For my final event I went to a children's brunch with a toddler. And it was great fun. Pub on Passyunk East had a brunch featuring readings and songs from the famed children's author. A representative from Ommegang was there, she called their Hennepin a benchmark American saison, but I still think Helios from Victory and one or two others I've had may be better. The brunch burger was very good, featuring bacon, chedder, and an egg. They even cut the roll so you can see the egg, if you can picture what I'm saying. The guy that played the guitar and sang poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends was very good, and got the kids into it. A few people read poems and stories, including the Ommegang person. Fun for all. A fitting end to Beer Week. Oh wait, I almost forgot...
Beer Gelato at Capo Giro
The walk from POPE to our house goes right by Capo Giro, a gelateria that makes delightful flavors such as basil, sea salt, as well as more standard flavors. This week they made beer gelato. I had a Rogue Chocolate Stout, perfect in ice cream form, with the bitterness from the hops making for an interesting but welcome sensation. I had it with tiramisu, which was a great complement to the stout flavors, with bitter chocolate dust swirled throughout.
And after all that beer, I went home and had a nap as the Phils handled the Cubbies one more time.