Ready to Split Thy Skull?

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With beer guru Michael Jackson wrapping up his Book and the Cook appearances in town this weekend, it’s a little hard for brew fans to focus on next week.

Nonetheless, Beer Philadelphia magazine will thoroughly clear the fog with its annual Split Thy Skull fest next Saturday.

And, yes, this barleywine tasting is as cranially challenging as it sounds. Barleywine, for background, is not wine – it’s strong beer, usually over 8 percent alcohol, and heavy on the hops. It’s usually released in midwinter and, if not consumed by Easter, is perfect for cellaring till next year.

This year’s lineup includes Dogfish Head Raison d’Extra, a knockoff of the Lewes, Del., brewery’s Raison d’Etre that – at 20.2 percent alcohol – is a rival for the world’s strongest beer crown. Also pouring: Penn St. Nikolaus Bock (10 percent), Rogue I2PA (9 percent), General Lafayette Mad Monk 2000 (10.4 percent), Old Dominion Millennium (10.4 percent), Silly la Divine (9.5 percent), Stone Old Guardian (9.91 percent), Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2000 (10.5 percent).

The fest is 1-6 p.m. at Sugar Mom’s Church Street Lounge (225 Church St., Old City). No cover. Pay by the glass.

Brewhouse, part IV

You know that brewpub at 12th and Filbert streets, at the Reading Terminal Headhouse?

Yeah, the one that was developed by Red Bell, then opened as Dock Street, then changed its name last May to Independence? Well, starting this May it’ll be called Reading Chop House and Brewery.

The management group that runs Sam & Harry’s, the Washington, D.C., steakhouse, is taking over operation of the troubled 2-year-old brewpub. The plan is to close down briefly in May, then reopen with a new menu.

The brewery, run by Tim Roberts, will stick to four basics: IPA, kolsch, strong scotch ale and oatmeal stout.

Beer radar

* Word from Kensington is Yards Brewing brewed its first official batch at its new facility at Amber and Haggert streets. Born and raised in Manayunk, the 7-year-old micro has spent nearly a year outfitting the circa 19th-century Weisbrod & Hess brewery.

* The new label from Miller Genuine Draft features large “MGD” block letters because most drinkers ask for the stuff by its initials. But Miller, looking to court Latin consumers, helpfully alerts retailers, “Hispanic consumers preferred the new packaging, with over 80 percent calling it stylish, classy and attractive.”

* Lycos, the Internet search engine, says Budweiser, Guinness and Miller are its three most popular beer-related search terms. No surprises there. But coming strong at No. 18 is Duff, Homer Simpson’s favorite (but fictional) brew.


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